Say goodbye to painful antibody injections. The UK biotech Intract Pharma has received a €1.6M grant to advance oral immunotherapy based on approved antibodies, causing less discomfort for patients.

The grant, awarded by public agency Innovate UK, will help Intract develop oral versions of existing antibody therapies. This could make the treatments easier for patients and increase compliance.  

The company is using a market-approved drug as a model for testing its tech. This drug is infliximab, approved by the FDA to treat inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Although Intract has developed the technique in a lab setting, much investment is needed to produce it on a commercial scale. “Receipt of this award is very timely,” Jack Firth, Business Manager of Intract, told me. “The award from Innovate UK will allow us to create a scalable manufacturing process.

oral immunotherapy Intract Pharma

While antibody therapies are normally degraded and rendered useless by the stomach, Intract’s Soteria technology is designed to protect the drug from the gastrointestinal tract’s harsh conditions. The drug gets released in the relatively stable large intestine, and specially designed molecules get it absorbed into the blood through the intestinal wall.

Firth expects that the technology will be tested in clinical trials within two years. To get there, Intract is working as part of an industrial collaboration, including UK companies Pharmidex, Quay Pharma and the Center for Process Innovation.

Other companies are taking part in the anti-needle crusade for oral immunotherapies. The UK company Tiziana is starting a Phase II trial of its oral immunotherapy for the liver condition nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. A project by the Swiss biotech Biolingus is aimed to fight the inflammatory bowel condition Crohn’s disease with antibodies delivered under the tongue.


Images from Shutterstock

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