Interview with Defence Therapeutics
Interview Defence Therapeutics: Platform strategy the key to success
time to read: 5 minutes | The interview was conducted by Nico Popp on July 19th, 2021 in Vancouver (CAN).
CEO and Director | Defence Therapeutics
1680 – 200 Burrard Street, V6C 3L6 Vancouver (CAN)
+1 (514) 947 2272
Table of contents:
What Accum™ is
news|financial: "You are a biotech company that has developed vaccines and created technology that precisely delivers drugs into diseased cells. Briefly outline what you do!"
"[...] Accum™ helps us target active ingredients precisely to the origin of infections or diseases. [...]" Sébastien Plouffe, CEO and Director, Defence Therapeutics
Our technology essentially modifies a particular protein by chemically attaching a small unit called Accum™ to it. Specifically, we can do this with antibodies or even DNA and RNA and modify them using our Accum™ technology. Once the biologic is taken up by the target cell and sorted into the endosomes, the Accum moiety breaks down the endosomal membrane, minimizing the non-specific degradation that occurs during endosomal maturation. Thus, the biologic is delivered to the cytoplasm of the cell in a native and undamaged state. If the product is an antigen, it is efficiently degraded by the proteasome machinery, resulting in effective peptide presentation to immune cells. If the product is an ADC, the drug is efficiently transported into the cytoplasm or nucleus of the cancer cell. To put it in simple terms, Accum™ helps us target active ingredients precisely to the origin of infections or diseases.
Synergy effects in various projects
news|financial: "Other biotech companies are working on one drug. You have several projects. To what extent do the two projects complement each other, are there also synergy effects in research and development? What role does the platform approach play for you?"
Although Defence has several products in the pipeline, they are all based on our Accum™ technology. For example, the technology helps us improve the therapeutic index of a particular antibody or ADC. The technology can also be used for vaccinations against infectious pathogens. To treat cancer directly, you can inject the Accum™ molecule, which is toxic on its own. Accum™ is the perfect example of a versatile platform.
What makes Accum™ unique
news|financial: "Your Accum™ technology helps deliver drugs directly into diseased cells. What are the advantages of this approach, and how unique is Accum™?"
"[...] Without Accum™, many drugs would be destroyed due to the acidic milieu in the endosomal microenvironment. [...]" Sébastien Plouffe, CEO and Director, Defence Therapeutics
Accum™ induces endosomal escape into the cytoplasm. Or in simple terms, it helps ensure that active ingredients arrive unharmed where they are needed from a therapeutic perspective. Without Accum™, many drugs would be destroyed due to the acidic milieu in the endosomal microenvironment. Our technology ensures that active ingredients are brought to where they have the best effect in the most effective way, undamaged.
Areas of application
news|financial: "In which areas can Accum™ be used?"
On the one hand, there is the area of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the effective delivery of chemotherapy. In this way, we deliver active substances precisely to the respective cells and support a very specific therapy. The second application is vaccines. Using Accum™, we protect specific proteins, such as RNA or DNA, from non-specific damage. The third application is direct injection using our AccuTOX approach. Since Accum™ behaves like a toxic molecule on its own, it can also be used in isolation for therapy.
Vaccination against cancer
news|financial: "You have just touched on the subject: Your vaccine AccuVAC showed 70% efficacy against established cancer tumors in preclinical studies with mice. How do you assess the results?"
"[...] When vaccinated with our vaccine, 7 out of 10 mice showed a response to the vaccine. [...]" Sébastien Plouffe, CEO and Director, Defence Therapeutics
The vaccine was given to animals with established lymphoma. Untreated, all animals would die in less than three weeks. When vaccinated with our vaccine, 7 out of 10 mice showed a response to the vaccine. More precisely, tumor growth was controlled in some animals, and the tumor regressed in others. The mice survived up to eight weeks.
Developments in the future
news|financial: "Do you see potential for further improvement of the vaccine? Are there other areas of application for potential vaccines?"
Yes, indeed. We are currently working on a second-and third-generation vaccine that uses multiple variants of the Accum™ moiety. Not only would this allow us to use better-acting Accum™ moieties, but it would also allow us to be faster and more efficient in breaking through endosomal membranes. In addition, we are testing different combinations with the vaccine, such as the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors (CTLA4, PD-1, LAG3...) and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-2, IL-12, IL-15...).
news|financial: "What might be the areas of application for these approaches?"
In sum, the Accum platform is highly versatile and can lead to various therapeutic applications. These include:
- The development of novel ADCs
- Optimizing currently available ADCs with limited efficacy
- The development of a protein-, DNA- or RNA-based vaccine for both cancer and infectious diseases
- Enhancing CRISPR delivery and efficacy
Clinical trials in humans?
news|financial: "What needs to happen for you to enter human clinical trials?"
We are currently in discussions to gain access to a suitable space in a hospital to manufacture our vaccine. Once this step is completed and we have identified the site, we will proceed with regulatory agencies such as Health Canada or even the US FDA and begin our Phase I clinical trial.
Communication to investors
news|financial: "You have attracted the attention of new investor groups in recent weeks. What are you doing to ensure that Defence Therapeutics' success story continues?"
"[...] We also intend to extend our vaccine platform to other infectious diseases. [...]" Sébastien Plouffe, CEO and Director, Defence Therapeutics
We will continue our work in a committed and focused way! We will soon demonstrate how our vaccine can be used in concrete applications: One focus is on treating cancer with specific tumor-associated antigens, but we also see opportunities for our technology around SARS-Cov-2. We also intend to extend our vaccine platform to other infectious diseases.
news|financial: "Research and development cost money. What is the status of Defence Therapeutics' funding? Are you planning to take any action, or are you already in discussions with potential partners?"
"[...] We are currently well funded to meet near-term goals and create value for shareholders. [...]" Sébastien Plouffe, CEO and Director, Defence Therapeutics
We are currently well funded to meet near-term goals and create value for shareholders. As soon as we have defined further targets, we will inform the financial market. Transparent communication around our technology and its further development go hand in hand with the questions of financing. Our shareholders have a right to be informed about all details. As our solutions are innovative and sometimes complex for laypeople to understand, we attach great importance to targeted communication so that investors can evaluate our progress and our perspective.
news|financial: "Thank you very much for talking to us."