Aqilion Project Strategy

Aqilion’s project strategy is built on five strategic cornerstones:

  • It is crucial to understand the underlying biologic principles and the project must have a lead candidate drug, or at least an idea of a model candidate.
  • We search for projects that target an unmet medical need that are likely to be attractively priced and reimbursed.
  • Strong IP, or the possibility of building a strong IP strategy around the project, is essential.
  • Since Aqilion is committed to early-stage ideas, it is crucial to select projects based on a strong industry focus regarding potential co-development partners and buyers of our projects. From the start and throughout the development phase, our projects must appear to be attractive on the radar screens of potential acquirers.
  • We prefer projects that target niche markets. Opportunities aimed at specialty pharma and orphan drug indications are of particular interest.

In addition to these five cornerstones, we carefully investigate whether projects can be developed within our business model and whether Aqilion can add substantial value to the project.

Scouting the best opportunities

New project ideas are generated internally or in collaboration with external innovators. We actively scout ideas by interacting with:

  • Academic groups
  • Small startups seeking funds
  • Projects scouted or recommended by members of the Aqilion network
  • Industrial projects suitable for repurposing or repositioning

The evaluation process, which is based on our five strategic cornerstones, usually begins with a pre-project phase during which our team becomes acquainted with the project and gains an understanding of the associated challenges and opportunities. In this phase, we may invest resources to advance the project as an investment case, or to obtain additional data.

The pre-project phase is important to establish trust and a shared vision of the project with external investors or partners. All early projects experience progress and setbacks. Courage, and integrity, as well as curiosity and intensive collaborative efforts are crucial for success over time.

Ongoing Projects

Adenovir Pharma AB

is developing new solutions for treatment of infectious diseases affecting the eyes. Adenovir Pharma was founded by researchers at the department of Virology, Umeå University, Sweden and AQILION AB. The initial development has been conducted at the University of Lund, Department of Organic Chemistry and at the University of Umeå, Department of Virology and in collaboration with AQILION AB and external service providers.

With unique patented technology and own product concepts, Adenovir Pharma aim to develop a new antiviral medicinal product for the treatment and prevention of epidemic keratoconjunctivities (EKC).

Belina

is developing a new improved treatment for breast cancer. Scientists from Lund University have shown that a parallel long-term treatment with a specific drug substance in combination with today’s breast cancer treatment regimens can lead to a significantly improved treatment outcome. Belina is in the early start startup phase, focusing on strategy for future clinical development.

Glactone Pharma

develops novel drugs that directly target the oncogenic transcription factor STAT3, currently in preclinical phase. Glactone is investigating the potential of combining its STAT3 inhibitors with existing immunotherapies to treat cancers that are resistant or respond poorly to existing immunotherapeutic treatments. STAT3 is an ideal target in combination treatments of therapy-resistant cancers, such as prostate cancer, with the possibility of expanding the project to other cancer indications.

Laccure

has developed a new product for the treatment and prevention of bacterial vaginosis to meet the needs of women for efficacy, safety and user-friendliness. Laccure’s novel, non-prescription vaginal tablet has been tested in randomized, controlled clinical multicenter studies including 126 women. The results show a cure rate of 80 percent following a single administration of one (1) vaginal tablet. Along with a good safety profile and by fully meeting women’s need for user-friendly comfort, this represents a major improvement in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.

Laccure AB was founded in 2007. In 2017 Laccure AB and Combe Inc., an international personal care company, signed an agreement awarding Combe the exclusive license to market and sell Laccure’s female health product globally. The license arrangement was terminated in the beginning of 2019 and Laccure continues to pursue commercialization.

Oncorena

is developing a drug based on the natural substance orellanine, a highly kidney-specific toxin from certain mushrooms. The therapeutic concept is to expose patients with advanced renal (kidney) cancer in dialysis (who cannot be cured by surgery) to orellanine in order to destroy metastases. The aim is to create long-term survival benefit for patients. Oncorena’s preclinical orellanine studies will be completed in 2019. Clinical development will begin in 2020. The current plan is to conduct clinical trials at clinics in Sweden, where patients with advanced renal cancer who are undergoing dialysis will be enrolled.

Trophea

addresses the medical need for an effective treatment of skin atrophy caused by long-term use of topical glucocorticoids. The project is based on an innovative combination of two well-known previously studied ingredients that seem to have a positive synergistic effect on skin atrophy. The first clinical study, a phase I study, began in early 2019 and is being carried out at Sjaelland University Hospital in Roskilde in Denmark.

Exited projects

Since inception in 2002, Aqilion, the legacy company for PULS (Partners for Development Investments in Life Sciences, P.U.L.S. AB), has started eleven portfolio companies. Seven of eleven projects have entered clinical phase to date. Four companies were divested, two of which were listed on the stock market. Only one of eleven was terminated.

AcuCort

AcuCort developed Dexa ODF, a thin film containing dexamethasone, a well-known and well documented glucocorticoid. The film is placed on the tongue and dissolves in 10-15 seconds without any need for water. Dexa ODF is the first glucocorticoid that is specifically developed for people at risk for acute allergic reactions and adapted for use in emergency and stressful situations by non-medically trained people. AcuCort is preparing applications for marketing authorization approvals in the EU (2019) and the US (late 2019/early 2020).

AcuCort’s vision is for Dexa ODF to be globally commercialized, well integrated and used in the treatment/risk management of acute allergic reactions and viral croup in children, and widely used against chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV.)

Founded in 2006 as a subsidiary of DuoCort AB, 2011 marked a new beginning for AcuCort and its development project when PULS acquired the company. On April 24, 2017, AcuCort AB was listed on Spotlight Stock Market (previously named AktieTorget).

AcuCort website 

LIDDS

LIDDS aims to develop effective pharmaceuticals based on NanoZolid®, targeting several cancer diseases. This innovative drug delivery technology enables local administration for optimal efficacy and less side effects through controlled release of the active substance for shorter or longer time periods. This approach may also reduce the total number of doses needed. Liproca® Depot, for prostate cancer, was the first product under development using this drug delivery technology. The patented drug delivery technology has also been used in combination with Docetaxel for the treatment of lung cancer, which has shown promising results in preclinical studies.

LIDDS was listed on Nasdaq OMX First North (Stockholm, Sweden) in 2014.

In December 2015, LIDDS and Recipharm signed an exclusive production agreement.

In September 2018, PULS sold all holdings (860,000 shares) in LIDDS.

LIDDS website

DuoCort Pharma AB

Plenadren®, developed by DuoCort Pharma, is a drug for the treatment of adrenal insufficiency in adults. It is the first pharmacological innovation for these patients in over 50 years. Plenadren® is a dual-release hydrocortisone tablet that is designed to imitate the normal physiological secretion of cortisol, thus improving treatment for patients with adrenal insufficiency.

DuoCort Pharma was a wholly on subsidiary of Pulsetten AB, which was founded and run by Aqilion (legacy PULS), for seven years from project concept through the development process to successful exit. The final value of the sale was more than SEK 1 billion, or 12 times the invested capital. DuoCort was acquired by the pharmaceutical company ViroPharma in 2011 (subsequently acquired by Shire). The exit provided a distribution of a total of SEK 205 million to the previous owners, giving them a healthy return on their investment. Unfortunately, legal proceedings with the new owner regarding milestone payments ensued, which Pulsetten lost. The loss of the expected milestone payments and the costs associated with the legal proceedings ultimately forced Pulsetten into bankruptcy as of August 22, 2016.

More about Plenadren®:

From the patient’s point of view (in Swedish)

http://www.bohuslaningen.se/nyheter/munkedal/livet-tillbaka-med-svensk-medicin-1.964403

 

Scientific publications:
Endocrine Abstracts (2017) 49 EP60 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.49.EP60
Treatment of patients with primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency with hydrocortisone modified-release (Plenadren®)


J Clin Endocrinol Metab.
 2012 Feb;97(2):473-81. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1926. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Improved cortisol exposure-time profile and outcome in patients with adrenal insufficiency: a prospective randomized trial of a novel hydrocortisone dual-release formulation.

Ambria Technology AB

Ambria Dermatology has developed a patented technology platform, pentane-1.5-diol, for dermatological and hygiene purposes. The technology makes it possible to develop new products with unique properties, as well as to improve dermatological and hygiene products already on the market, which means it can be used to extend the product life cycle of existing products.

Ambria Technology AB was sold in 2009 to Natumin Pharma AB and may generate earnings up to three times the investment.

Natumin website

Pharmapnea AB

Pharmapnea AB was based on the use of donepezil in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The project had shown good results and treatment efficacy with cholinesterase inhibitors in two clinical trials. An additional trial in 30 patients was conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, to clinically assess the dose response of donepezil in OSA. Patients were randomized and treated with 0 mg, 2.5 mg and 10 mg donepezil tablets. After completion of the study, data revealed that the results were not sufficiently conclusive. The board therefore decided to cease activities and liquidate Pharmapnea AB. The remaining funds were repaid to investors and the intellectual property rights were transferred to the innovators.

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