High Tech Therapies

Written by Henry Martin . Posted in In Focus

Yves Decadt, Biolingus CEO, explains the innovative technology that takes injectable medicines and transforms them into pills

CEO Insight: Congratulations on making CEO Insights Most Influential companies list. What makes BioLingus so innovative and what sets it apart from its competitors? 

Yves Decadt: Macromolecules are biological molecules which are very sensitive to degradation in the body. As a result, all pharmaceutical products based on such molecules have to be injected. Examples are insulin, but also interferon and vaccines. And actually the most successful pharmaceutical products in the past 20 years are also such biological molecules.

As nobody likes injections, especially not daily injections (like with insulin), finding non-invasive ways of delivery is considered to be a “holy grail” in pharmaceutical development. BioLingus has succeeded in developing oral formulations for some of those macromolecules. There are a handful of other companies that are also developing such non-invasive approaches, but our technology is very unique.

CEO Insight: What is the technology that BioLingus has developed to enable non-invasive delivery and what are the main benefits over the more traditional method of injection? 

Yves Decadt: What sets us apart is that we use sublingual delivery, which is delivery under the tongue. The area under the tongue is an excellent drug administration site due to its thin layer of epithelial cells, robust blood flow, and closeness to mucosal immune receptor cells. Sublingual administration on itself is not new, but the application for macromolecules is.

In addition to that, BioLingus has develop a unique technology to stabilise these molecules, so that they do not degrade before they are absorbed into the body. Our technology for doing that is “inspired by nature”. Our human body, in the course of evolution, has become extremely good at degrading proteins and peptides (main constituents of meat). What we have done is looked somewhere else in nature, where the same proteins are stabilised instead of degraded.

We found that solution in the seeds of plants, where proteins have to remain stable and bioactive in extreme conditions of drought, heat and freezing cold. In the lotus flower for instance, bioactive proteins have been found that are more then 1000 years old. We have bio-engineered some of those solutions into our formulation and technology, and that has results in our core technology. We can testify now that nature is very good designer.

CEO Insight: The technology is known as high-tech and low-cost. How cost effective is this new treatment for healthcare budgets? 

Yves Decadt: Health-care budgets around the world are getting more and more under scrutiny. And within healthcare, the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals is “an easy and politically acceptable target” to tackle for governments. This results in pressure to get the price and cost of new medicines down, rather than up.

Our solution is cost-effective, because the cost of producing our oral formulations is substantially lower then producing injectable products. Furthermore, for some (immune-active) molecules, we are allowing to lower the dose, which also makes it less costly (and may reduce potential side-effects).

CEO Insight: Technological innovation is advancing the non-invasive delivery of biological drugs. Particular autoimmune diseases such as coeliac disease and metabolic diseases such as diabetes type 1 and 2, could substantially benefit from alternative forms of delivery. What does BioLingus’s solutions mean for medicine and those suffering from such illnesses?

Yves Decadt: Our aim is to develop our products for two main groups of chronic diseases in which patients have to take frequent injectable drugs : Diabetes and metabolic diseases : for those patients we may replace some of their daily injections by an oral product ; examples are type II diabetes, but also NASH, obesity and pre-diabetes. Auto-immune disorders : like type 1-diabetes, coeliac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis etc … ; in those diseases, our aim is not only to make the treatments non-invasive, but also to increase efficacy and/or lowering the side-effects. In addition to that, we are doing some partnering projects with companies and research institutes to test our technology in the development of vaccines and in immune-therapy for cancer.

CEO Insight: BioLingus is aiming at helping millions of people by developing needle-free therapies especially in developing countries where the often warm conditions can degrade the pharmaceuticals. What can we expect to see from BioLingus in this field ?

Yves Decadt: As formulated at Biolingus, sublingual dosage forms for many macromolecules are stable at room temperature, thus eliminating the need to cold-chain products. As a consequence, our technology is also very suitable to develop formulations for macromolecules in emerging markets and third world countries :

  • No need for a cold chain (logistical cost reduction and simplification), due to the high stability of our product – this is important in third world countries ;
  •  Reducing infection risk (e.g. with HIV) related to injections and the handling of needles, both for patients and care-givers ;
  •  Providing “high tech” at “low cost” and thus reduction of the overall cost of the treatment.
  • In general, “broadening access” to these treatments (“biological drugs” are in general the most expensive drugs around, and not always affordable in third world countries).

So we plan to develop some specific low-cost formulations for those countries, to “broaden access”, as WHO calls it. All these different projects, make us very excited about our future !

For information: www.biolingus.ch