ABOzymes Biomedical – 26 January
ABOzymes Biomedical Inc. is an early-stage, Vancouver-based enterprise with an innovative, unique, and proprietary platform that will realize a world where blood type is no longer a constraint for those receiving a life-saving blood transfusion or organ transplant.
Their first product is an enzyme additive for a standard blood bag that first primes and then eliminates a marker on the red blood cell that determines blood group A rendering it group O. This enables the conversion of A-negative blood to O-negative blood, universal donor blood. This is a game-changing technology with significant commercial potential.
There are no approved products that convert blood type for this purpose, or known competitive products in development. A previous company, ZymeQuest, brought a product that coverts B blood to O blood to Phase 1 clinical trials; however, they abandoned the program due to manufacturing challenges and enzyme inefficiency, as well as a small market opportunity as only 1.5% of the population has B-negative blood. Furthermore, there are other companies trying to address the same issue through different scientific strategies, such as synthetic blood substitutes and artificial blood products, including stem cell approaches; however, these products are still in the very early stages of research.
The problem of a chronic shortage of universal donor blood is currently addressed through blood donor outreach in order to increase blood donations, particularly from universal blood donors. Furthermore, the short supply is managed through tightly controlled logistics, as well as restrictions on the use of universal donor blood in hospitals.
ABOzymes will develop the product so that it will be added to blood collection bags sold to blood processing facilities, such as the Canadian Blood Services and American Red Cross. ABOzymes plans to license their product to multinational blood bag manufacturers, such as Baxter, Terumo BCT, Macopharma and Fresenius Kabi.
ABOzymes is in early discussions with three large blood bag manufacturers. Furthermore, they are developing a partnership with a large US blood center in order to validate the use of their product within their operations.
Their biggest hurdle, and value inflexion point, is the outcome of their Pre-Submission meeting with the US FDA. In this meeting, they will receive guidance from the FDA regarding their product development pathway, or more specifically the data they will need to produce in order to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of our product. They hope to have this process completed by the end of Q2 2021.
ABOzymes recently closed a pre-seed round of financing, raising approximately $1.3M in equity investment, primarily through founders, family and friends. They anticipate launching their seed round in mid to late 2021, and expect to raise at least $5M. ABOzymes will also continue to pursue other non-dilutive forms of financing. Future funds will be used for preclinical development, GMP manufacturing, intellectual property management and operations.
Geoffrey Houlton, MB, ChB, President & CEO: Geoff is a physician as well as a former pharmaceutical executive, venture capitalist and CEO in the healthcare industry. Geoff brings his business management and executive experience to the team as President & CEO. Together with his medical background Geoff is uniquely suited to lead ABOzymes Biomedical to achieve its full potential.
Peter Rahfeld, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer: During his postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia, Peter discovered enzymes from the human microbiome that can convert type-A red blood cells to type-O, the universal blood group. This discovery inspired Peter to co-found ABOzymes Biomedical with the vision of making ABO-blood types obsolete and converting all donated blood to O blood.
John Barclay, MBA, Vice President, Business Development: John possesses over 15 years of progressive leadership experience in the life sciences, health care and technology innovation ecosystem. This experience includes time as the Executive Director of the American Society for Apheresis, thus providing ABOzymes with key knowledge of the US blood banking and transfusion medicine landscape.
Spencer Macdonald, MSc, PhD Candidate, Vice President, Product Development: Spencer studies high-throughput enzyme discovery as a Ph.D. candidate in Stephen Withers’ lab at the University of British Columbia. During his Ph.D. Spencer has focused on developing translational research to solve real world problems, which lead him to co-found ABOzymes Biomedical.
ABOzymes is also pleased to announce that Issa Nakleh will be joining the team in February as their CFO. Furthermore, they are in the process of finalizing their Scientific Advisory Board.