3 minutes on inflammation
Inflammation is one of the very basic things our body does to get rid of injured tissue, and when it works properly it’s a great thing. Naturally, there’s a bit of a problem when the inflammatory response goes wild: when you hear “autoimmune inflammatory response”, it essentially means that the body is mistaking its own cells for alien agents and trying to destroy them. Usually it doesn’t just happen as a one off, either, but permanently: your body is under the constant belief that your own nerves, skin cells or hip joints must be destroyed.
This is the cause of many common diseases including Psoriasis or Multiple Sclerosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis; a condition which causes your own immune system to destroy cartilage and bone with crippling effects.
It has been long known that a particular protein in the body, CD200, reduces the activity of immune response and could potentially be used to treat autoimmune inflammatory responses.
So could patients simply be treated with natural CD200? In practice, no. This molecule’s natural activity is rather weak, and using it as a medicament would be very expensive – synthesizing complex biological molecules isn’t cheap at all! But most importantly, since it is a naturally occurring protein, it cannot be patented. This will probably offend your sensibilities, but no patent means no business, and since no money can be made out of it no CD200-based treatment has ever been developed.
But the Oxford-based biotech Ducentis has extensively modified the structure of the “wild-type” molecule (naturally occurring), achieving two very important goals: (1) making it over 50 times more powerful than natural CD200, which would be enough to make this an effective treatment, and (2) modifying it enough so that it CAN be patented, making it a potentially very profitable business – anti-inflammatory drugs for rheumatoid arthritis alone are a $40bn market growing at close to double digits.
* What does $40bn mean? Since it is sometimes difficult to grasp just how large pharma/medical markets are, here’s a few comparisons with well-known investment favorites:
– the driverless car component market is expected to reach $15bn by 2025
– Google’s total net revenue in 2016 was $89bn, LinkedIn’s was $2,99bn
– global cloud-based app market is expected to reach $66bn by 2019, also with a double-digit growth rate.
Ducentis’ modified CD200 will now be tested on animals, as well as on human cells. If tests are positive and the program moves into clinical development, then initial clinical testing (referred to as phase II testing by pharma) could be concluded by 2021. If those are positive, according to their projections, then the Ducentis program could be worth £50 to £100M if sold to pharma buyers.
Leran more about the company, the project and the investment opportunity at https://capitalcell.co.uk/campaign/ducentis/