GlycoMar's technology is built on the identification of saccharide molecules with anti-inflammatory activity. Molecules which do not have the correct characteristics for drug or other healthcare development are evaluated for development as personal care ingredients.
The development of new healthcare products relies on the availability of a continuous pipeline of novel molecules. The discovery process typically takes about 4-8 years. GlycoMar's discovery process has identified molecules suitable for consumer healthcare applications and candidates for drug development.
Traditionally nature has been an excellent source of new molecules, providing the basis of 30-50 % of all drugs.
Adapted from Cragg et al. 1997 J. Nat. Prod. 60, 52-60.
Historically, terrestrial natural products have been a premier source for commercially successful drugs such as aspirin (from a plant source, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin), heparin (from an animal source, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heparin) and penicillin and taxol (from microorganisms, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penicillin, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxol). Natural products are also the source for a large propirtion of consumer healthcare products such as vitamins and other supplements, skincreams, eye care, dental care, and gut health products. These include a number of glycomolecules such as alginate which comes from seaweed and is used in antacid products like Gaviscon, in wound dressings, as a nutriotnal supplement product, and as an excipeint.
Recently, however, there have been diminishing returns from attempts to further exploit terrestrial sources and with the lack of new hits generated from computational approaches, attention has increasingly turned to the marine environment.
The marine environment has not been a major focus for healthcare product discovery despite significant recent commercial successes such as:
- Yondelis® for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma
- Prialt® for the treatment of severe and chronic pain
The Marine Pharmacology web page currently shows 7 marine derived drugs with FDA approval and a further 11 in clinical trials, notably the majority of these are anti-cancer drugs.
The primary reason for neglecting marine organisms as a source of new products is the lack of know-how and technology. GlycoMar is among a small number of biotechnology companies that see this lack of know-how and the huge diversity of the marine environment as an opportunity for the discovery of new drugs that will address unmet healthcare needs. GlycoMar is seeking to exploit this significant commercial opportunity and has developed a proprietary technology platform, already validated through commercial partnerships, which has delivered a broad and deep portfolio of potential high value healthcare products.
Typical drug discovery and development programmes have a ‘funnel’ which delivers one new drug from about 10,000-20,000 candidates. GlycoMar’s focused approach to develop glycomolecules for inflammation significantly narrows this funnel. We believe we are on target to deliver one drug from a few hundred candidates.
The drug discovery process
- Marine Pharmacology web page: marinepharmacology.midwestern.edu/genPublic.htm
- Drug discovery from natural products www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v8/n8/full/nrd2950.html