Watch: Everything you need to know about HaemaLogiX right now, CEO interview
12 October 2022
HaemaLogiX is a small Australian-based biotech developing antibodies to treat patients with an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma.
The company was formed in 2015 when it acquired the asset it is developing today as its lead candidate today, which is a monoclonal antibody called KappaMab.
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So on one hand you have a novel agent with which acts exquisitely precisely on the cancer cell, and on the other hand, because of that you probably have this incredible safety profile. Those two things seldom come together when you're treating cancer.
So, we're a small Australian based biotechnology company with a limited number of employees, who are doing great work in science and development of antibodies - antibodies to treat patients who have an incurable blood cancer called Myeloma.
HaemaLogiX was formed in 2015 when we acquired the assets of a precedent company, and at that stage we inherited from that precedent company, two critical employees being our Chief Scientific Officer, who had been involved in the original discovery of both the targets that are on the cancer cells pause myeloma and ultimately the antibodies that we have been developed to treat those patients with cancer with myeloma in this case. The second person who was involved in that precedent company, was our Chief Financial Officer. We have through the time period, with the expertise that we have around us and including more recently manufacturing, we have been able to move forward into the point of completing a Phase IIb clinical study.
What attracted you to the company?
Well, the technology was interesting to me. It was novel, and therefore has the potential to have appropriate Intellectual Property and exclusivity associated with it that provides security for a large pharmaceutical company. Obviously to be able to generate revenues over the longer-term horizon. It's not a me too that looks like other things that are on the marketplace, it looks different, it acts differently. Because it is so precisely targeted to the cancer cells and only the cancer cells but has a safety profile associated with it which is very attractive.
The second thing was there was positive data on patients who had been treated on drug alone. When treating cancer, one of the things you want to see in the early phases is does this drug work by itself. Because if it works by itself, you can reasonably assume that when you put it together with existing agents which have previously been approved, you may be able to enhance the outcome in patients who are doing okay but could do a lot better on a combination of treatments. We're not displacing something else. We're not having to replace something else for a new product. We're adding two existing standards of care and improving the outcome for patients, and that's a much easier process to commercialise and to generate long-term revenues.
How might multiple myeloma patients benefit from HaemaLogiX’s therapies?
But the the patient goes through multiple cycles of treatment typically. They have what they call a first line, and then once that become resistant to the first line, they move to second line, third line, fourth line and so forth and some patients who live long enough, may, you know, get as many as eight different lines of treatment. There is no cure at this point, so our goal has to be to treat the patient, improve the outcome of the existing standard of care as I talked about previously, but also to hopefully deepen the response and improve the quality of life as they are on treatment and not reduce their quality of life, and sadly in cancer treatments, often because of the toxicity of the agents, you are in fact also attacking fundamental processes and biochemical systems in the body, and that's where we think that this technology has a particular role to play, because of its precision and its safety, and we think we can add to the benefit, add to the longevity.
How large is the potential marketplace for HaemaLogiX’s technology?
The statistics of patients is not always easy to get on a global basis, and so typically we use numbers that come from just the U.S marketplace because it is the best characterized and we know it's the largest single market globally. And so in the US on an annual basis, around 30,000 patients a year, are newly diagnosed patients with myeloma and in the most recent data, we have - there's approaching 200,000 patients on treatment for myeloma in any one year. So, 30,000 newly diagnosed and 170,000 patients who have been on treatment for some years and a period of time going through those multiple lines of different treatment that we've talked about.
The market is estimated to be at about $20 billion dollars today, but because of the aging population globally, that number is expanding as we speak and has grown on an average of between 6% and 7% per year for about the last 15 years, and so today that $20 billion dollars and that 6% to 7% growth is forecast to be in the order of $30 odd billion by toward the end of this decade before we reach 2030, And so it's a large market and it's growing robustly, and pricing, because of the difficulty of development and the expense of development prices and profits from these kinds of inventions are significant, and they are an attractive proposition therefore to major pharmaceutical companies .
How do you plan to commercialise HaemaLogiX?
But ultimately as a company HaemaLogiX is a little organization. It is not going to be able to commercialize this technology globally ourselves, but the ultimate commercialization could come in several forms. It could be a Licensing Agreement with a large pharmaceutical company for individual products, or the whole portfolio of the company, or it could be an outright acquisition of the Company and all of the assets within it.
Typically, those sort of license or acquisitions begin with some kind of research involvement or collaboration where they come with a major company where they would undertake some research alongside us or with us or by themselves, with some inputs from ourselves to get comfortable with the technology. And that's not an unusual event when you establish a partnership that then leads into the ultimate sale or the ultimate licensing of the technology.
One of our challenges is to identify those companies that have some complementary interests, some expertise in this field or some particular technology which would be synergistic in some way shape or form. Without technology in treating these same myeloma patients and being able to engage with them in a set of commercial and scientific discussions, that would lead to an ultimate license or that acquisition.