An award winning biotech startup, AUM Biosciences, is addressing the low returns on R&D investment that currently exist in oncology drug development, with a view to improving drug availability and affordability, worldwide.
At present, only one in ten oncology drugs make it to market. This puts pressure on valuable R&D dollars, elevates market prices, and creates a significant gap in meeting medical needs in “pharmerging” nations.
In Asia, availability and affordability is a particular problem – with this continent accounting for more than 60 percent of all global cancer cases. However, the issue also exists in Europe, one of the world’s most advantaged regions.
As part of its “Asia to global” mandate, AUM is implementing a number of measures to reduce development costs, improve conversion rates, and help drugs that are originated or developed in Asia conquer global markets.
“With rising and unsustainable R&D costs, there is a need for a change in paradigm to smarter drug development models coming from Asia, so as to improve the accessibility of medicine globally,” said Chief Executive Vishal Doshi ahead of the Bio Connections Australia Conference.
“Historically, drugs have taken the route from West to East. We want to reverse engineer that and see more drugs going from East to West,” he added.
“We have seen some truly first-in-class research emerging from this region and believe that by providing the right commercial conditions, we can make a valuable contribution to the global oncology drug market.”
A holistic model
AUM’s model aims to accelerate early phase trials, in turn saving time and overall R&D expenditure. This will enable researchers to develop phase III-ready drugs that are cost-competitive globally.
AUM’s approach involves in-licensing from various partners – pre-IND or late preclinical – and exploiting regulatory and clinical infrastructures in Asia to speed up the development.
The firm will deploy biomarker-driven strategies and digital innovation to further de-risk the asset from Phase I to proof of concept. For late-stage clinical development and commercialisation, it will utilise external partners.
As a result of these measures, researchers can expect shorter drug development timelines and potentially submit smaller studies when gaining approval.
“Our goal is to ask the right questions right from early stages of clinical development in the drug development process,” said Mr. Doshi.
“By doing so, we hope that we obtain an output which has a higher likelihood of succeeding in later stages”.
A data-driven approach
The use of data-driven technology, like AI, will enable the firm to develop drugs more quickly and economically. Importantly, it will also help researchers make informed clinical decisions at the development stages.
In doing so, it will place the researchers at the forefront of technology innovation and allow them to compete in the global arena.
“The current technologies available can be great enablers to support AUM in making informed decisions to achieve greater success,” Mr. Doshi said.
AUM has built a first-in-class pipeline, positioning itself as a strong partner to work with in the industry.
So far, it has developed a number of key partnerships with pharmaceutical, biotech and oncology innovation companies. This includes A*Star, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms in India (C-CAMP). More recently, it has signed an MOU with a premier research university in Taiwan, Taipei Medical University.
AUM will leverage the expertise, techniques, technological innovations and other resources of these partnering firms to accelerate timeframes and reduce expenditure. The economy of scale will create efficiencies and cost savings in the development of new drugs, and allow a more cost-effective R&D process.
“We strongly believe in building robust partnerships to enhance and catalyse the development process,” Mr. Doshi concluded.
Vishal Doshi is to present at Informa’s Bio Connections Australia Conference where he will share further details of AUM’s Asia to Global mandate and how the firm has made progress towards its lofty goals.