ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. & LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dr Kary Mullis, the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), the cornerstone of much of today’s DNA science, has entered a new joint venture with Loxbridge Research LLP to form Altermune Technologies LLC, focused on the development of novel therapeutics to combat resistant pathogens such as MRSA, C. difficile, pseudomonas, and pandemic influenza.
Dr Mullis takes on the role of Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) while Dr Charles Roberts, CEO of Loxbridge, becomes President of Altermune for the initial developmental period. Loxbridge will provide a milestone-based seed-funding funding package worth US$7 million.
Altermune is pioneering the use of ‘programmable immunity’. This involves re-tasking antibodies that are ubiquitous in all humans, present at a high background level, and which are ordinarily not tasked by the body in fighting infections.
Altermune uses ‘linker’ molecules to redirect these antibodies to selected pathogens. The linker molecules work through having two distinct ends. One end binds a consistent cell-surface target on the pathogen using an aptamer (a single stranded oligonucleotide), and the other end presents specific epitopes that attract the circulating antibodies.
Once attached to the pathogen, via the Altermune linker, the antibodies then activate a full immune response, heightened because they are the individual’s own endogenous antibodies, not synthetic administered ones. The approach therefore harnesses the power of the immune system, yet circumvents the disadvantages of administering monoclonal antibodies – such as immunogenicity and high costs.
Altermune has a strong team of in-house scientists, and a wide network of partnerships, including collaborative research arrangements with a number of leading Universities in the USA and Europe and corporate relationships with leading companies in oligonucleotide synthesis and aptamer selection.
Dr Roberts, CEO, commented:
“We are very excited about entering a joint venture with an innovator with such an awe-inspiring track record. The initial priority is to build on the compelling proof of concept of the Altermune platform, demonstrated in vivo against influenza – and against anthrax by US Air Force scientists – into a broad pipeline of compounds against clinically and commercially relevant pathogens, to undergo FDA approval.
Dr Mullis added:
“We chose to proceed with Loxbridge over other suitors because, unlike our other potential funders, the investment is smart money that comes with project management and hands-on commercial expertise. It seems to work very well that the investor is also the entrepreneur, able to pilot the project. This structure frees me from ongoing business administration, and enables me to focus on the science.”