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NaturalAntibody, a company co-founded by THC Pathfinder, wants to reduce the time to manufacture antibody-based drugs by automating research. One of the first companies interested in the innovative approach is AstraZeneca, with further potential partners coming from major biotech hubs such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Boston.
Tar Heel Capital Pathfinder (THC) is a company that is intensively developing its venture building section and co-founding startups with the support of its specialists. Its recent projects include StreamCards and the Centre for Cannabis Medicine (Centrum Medycyny Konopnej), which offers medical services to patients in need of medical marijuana-based therapy. The creation of CMK became possible when medical cannabis was legalised in Poland in 2017 and the demand for specialists to provide cannabis-based therapies increased. At present, there is an operational medical marijuana clinic launched by LUX MED in Poland, and since 2018 the product has been available in pharmacies.
NaturalAntibody’s latest investment targets the growing market for antibody-based medicines. These drugs are used in oncology and the treatment of inflammatory diseases and already account for around half of the top ten best-selling drugs. The market is worth around $150bn and is expected to grow by 14%.
It now takes on average ten years to produce an antibody-based drug. This long period is due to the method used, which involves analysing each antibody individually to find the optimal solution. The selected antibodies are modified in such a way that they are effective and at the same time do not cause side effects. It is estimated that the number of possible combinations is 10 to the power of 18. Such a huge number of possibilities makes it virtually impossible to test all variants. The solution to this problem may lie in bioinformatics, which has so far been used only as an auxiliary tool. Automatic analysis of information can help find the right molecule already in the preclinical phase, which will effectively shorten the process of searching for the right variants. Therefore, NaturalAntibody has plans to use bioinformatics as a fundamental tool and not only as technical support in research.
The company became operational in November 2020 and is based on a commercialisation model. Konrad Krawczyk is responsible for the scientific background, while THC Pathfinder handles the business and technological support. The commercialisation model will allow the company to sell periodic licences for the use of tools or access to the data bank, and such a solution is expected to help generate income, which in the perspective of a few years may even reach several dozen million PLN. The company intends to invest intensively in technology, also through the use of grants. By the end of 2021, a decision is expected to be made to grant funding for two projects of PLN 20m. It is not excluded that the company will go public or acquire a foreign investor, but at the moment the company has not defined its development path.