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Home » Oncology » Streamlined drug development process can meet patient needs quicker

Dr Rajan Jethwa

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Ellipses Pharma

Professor Tobias Arkenau

Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer, Ellipses Pharma

Graeme Horne

Head of CMC, Ellipses Pharma

Using holistic approaches is helping a major drug developer create and test drugs more quickly and cost-effectively to benefit patients.

Often, years of research can result in failure, with millions of pounds spent without a new drug making it to patients. Drug development company Ellipses Pharma believes its business model streamlines the process and enables pharmaceutical companies to get tried and tested compounds to market quicker.

Patient and drug manufacturer advantage

Focusing on oncology and a core purpose to accelerate development of cancer treatments, CEO and Co-Founder Dr Rajan Jethwa believes the company’s efficient approach has clear benefits to patients and drug manufacturers.

His company acquires drugs in their infancy from other developers and refines them through rigorous testing, research, trialling and problem-solving. They aim to prepare them for sale to pharmaceutical companies.

“If we do it well,” says Dr Jethwa, “we have a much higher chance of those drugs being successful. We improve our chances by engaging specialist cancer doctors and scientists at an early stage and designing the preclinical and clinical development plans, taking their guidance into account.”

De-risking drug development

Given the time-limited span of a patent, which can start well before the drug is commercially available, time saved in medicine development gives pharmaceutical companies a longer exclusive window to sell the product.

That is against a backdrop of changed public perceptions in drug development timescales following the Covid-19 pandemic where a vaccine was developed quickly. The company ethos is designed to de-risk a drug’s development while saving time and money.

Properly funding the development stage is pivotal. “That is our core pillar. We call it uninterrupted development capital, an uninterrupted flow of money that allows us to ensure each drug is funded properly without adding delays by having to stop and restart development with intermittent funding,” Dr Jethwa explains.

“That can save 3–6 years of additional patent life for the drug and leads to patients getting the drug sooner and for longer.” With seven out of every eight potential cancer drugs never reaching patients, de-risking chances of failure increases chances of success.

We are selecting a drug that already has
support from clinicians and designing
a trial that ensures the drug is tested
in the right patient population.

Prof Tobias Arkenau

Designing trials with clinician support

Before acquiring a drug, the company consults its Scientific Affairs Group of 300 global key opinion leaders — doctors, experts, peer reviewers — engaged anonymously via a bespoke digital platform developed by Ellipses for their views on the science and potential development gaps.

“The aim is to get consensus around how good the science behind a drug is,” explains Prof Tobias Arkenau, Global Head of Drug Development. “The next stage is designing the clinical trial in the right way; patient stratification, making sure the right patients go into the right trial for the right drug at the right time is hugely important,” he adds.

“These two things help to de-risk drug development; we are selecting a drug that already has support from clinicians and designing a trial that ensures the drug is tested in the right patient population. All of that should lead to a better success rate.”

Processes to help patients survive longer

Ellipses follows defined processes to tackle various challenges: determining the right amount of active compound, assessing environmental impact, scalability, patient-friendliness, regulatory compliance and evaluating toxicity and side effects. “We navigate these processes in parallel to get to a point in advance of first-in-human trials, knowing all the problems have been solved,” says Dr Graeme Horne, Head of CMC.

“The pillars of de-risking, asset selection and how a trial is built and designed, coupled with uninterrupted flow of capital and executing a clinical trial efficiently and effectively leads to more drugs developed in a faster timeline with a higher rate of success,” adds Dr Jethwa.

Moreover, he points to a plethora of benefits for patients who get a drug sooner. “The drugs have been rigorously tested, are shown to be safer and efficacious in treating disease for longer. Ultimately, we want patients to survive longer with a better quality of life.”

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