By Randall Osborne
West Coast Editor
With $35 million more in its coffers for ¿turning proteins into products,¿ as the company¿s president and CEO Peter Lanciano describes its mission, Altus Inc. said it will continue establishing partnerships and refining its Crystalomics platform.
Privately held Altus raised the cash through a private financing with Nomura International plc, of London, and U.S. Venture Partners, of Palo Alto, Calif., as lead investors, and participation from BankInvest, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Clariden Bank, of Zurich, Switzerland, among others.
¿To put it in perspective, from 1993 [when the company was started] to the other day, our total cash consumed was about $20 million,¿ Lanciano told BioWorld Today.
Since 1993, Altus has gained about a dozen corporate partnerships with firms interested in the methodology for using the crystalline state of proteins for making and delivering protein products, he said.
For the most part, those deals have not been disclosed, but the first therapeutics or medical products will begin to emerge from them ¿in the next few years,¿ Lanciano said.
¿We make hundreds of kilograms in a single batch, so we¿re talking really large scale,¿ he said. ¿We apply the technology, scale it up and transfer it into [partners¿] manufacturing facilities, and then they go off and finish their studies. A number of therapeutics are heading into human trials as we speak. I can¿t tell you how many companies have said, You¿ll never be able to do our protein,¿¿ Lanciano added, noting that the potential applications are many.
¿If you look at the small-molecule world, over 70 percent of all drugs made are made and delivered in a crystalline state,¿ he said. ¿In the large-molecule world, there¿s only one ¿ insulin.¿
Crystalomics streamlines manufacturing, ¿and you¿re able to create formulations that are highly compact, 100 percent protein by volume and weight,¿ Lanciano said, compared to 5 percent by other methods. Delivery can benefit, too, he said.
¿You can migrate from infusion to injection, from daily to weekly or even monthly dosing,¿ Lanciano said. ¿In certain disease states, you can migrate to oral.¿ Those diseases are in the metabolic and gastrointestinal areas, he said, and the former is the first area of focus for Altus¿ own clinical development program, toward which some of the funds raised will go.
The metabolic zone includes pancreatic difficulties for cystic fibrosis patients, kidney stones and more, he said.
In March, Altus signed a deal for up to $25 million in funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc. to develop its product, TheraCLEC-Total, for nutrition-starved cystic fibrosis patients. (See BioWorld Today, March 8, 2001.)
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, the drug development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, of Bethesda, Md., will provide access to its Therapeutics Development Network as well as the funding. TheraCLEC-Total is being developed as an orally delivered therapy to replace the blocked enzymes in people with CF.
¿If the market¿s willing, this will be our first and last private financing,¿ Lanciano said, repeating ¿if the market¿s willing.¿ He added, ¿I¿ve been in biotech since 1984, and I¿ve seen a lot of nuclear winters.¿ He started with Integrated Genetics Inc., of Framingham, Mass., and spun out from it IG Laboratories Inc., which was bought by Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass. (See BioWorld Today, May 22, 1995.)