Drug discovery can be described as the process of identifying chemical entities that have the potential to become therapeutic agents. A key goal of drug discovery campaigns is the recognition of new molecular entities that may be of value in the treatment of diseases that qualify as presenting unmet medical needs. These diseases do not have definitively useful therapies, and are actually or potentially life-threatening. Marketed drugs at this point in time represent a relatively small number of drug target types. The traditional pharmaceutical research and development process suffers from a high attrition rate. The astonishingly high cost of traditional drug development meant that using orally delivered biologics to address therapeutic targets in the GI tract and other topical sites wasn’t commercially viable. That’s no longer true. Lumen’s patented biologic drug platform shortens the development process, reduces costs and risks, and accelerates time-to-market, making it the first company to make orally delivered antibody drugs commercially viable.
Patented technology with unlimited potential
A typical biosciences company assembles a group of individuals with a relatively narrow set of skills within a discipline and goes about its business. At Lumen, it’s the particularity of its key scientists’ individual skills and experiences—and the interplay among them—that have been a catalyst to discover and exploit the potential of this new platform organism. As a true platform company, the company is able to create its own portfolio of commercially viable biologic therapies, while establishing a foundation upon which an entirely new generation of scientific discoveries and therapies will be brought to market. Researchers around the world have long suspected that spirulina would be a valuable tool for making biologic drugs if only it could be engineered, but these efforts failed for decades. Lumen was the ﬁrst to achieve this breakthrough, and this in turn makes orally delivered biologics commercially viable for the first time. Lumen designs and manufactures therapeutics against disease targets that have been inaccessible to the biopharmaceutical industry because of the astonishingly high cost of traditional methods. Now, for the first time, Lumen can make antibodies and other biologics at a cost that allows for daily, high-dose, oral and topical delivery. Lumen’s current programs target markets that are enormous, the treatment modes of action are well researched, and the unmet medical need is obvious. Time, risk and money are the three wild cards of drug development. Lumen’s unique drug development environment improves all three because of the proven safety of the expression host (spirulina) and the speed at which it is able to develop and manufacture new biologics.
Reinvented how biologic drugs are invented
The long safety record of both spirulina and orally delivered biologics makes drugs far less risky for study volunteers and patients. And post-approval, Lumen’s patented technology enables it to manufacture orally delivered biologic drugs at a cost that’s two to three orders of magnitude lower than traditional biotech manufacturing systems. Taken together, these advantages lets Lumen develop solutions for diseases that have long frustrated researchers hampered by the limitations of traditional drug development tools. Lumen believes biologic drugs offer the fastest, safest and most effective way to treat many prevalent diseases that traditional biopharma tools have failed to solve. These cures are especially well suited to addressing the unintended consequences of antibiotics and to the developing world, where a lack of infrastructure makes traditional drugs unavailable to millions of vulnerable children and adults. Covid-19 is widely known as a respiratory disease, but its GI symptoms are well documented. The now-famous ACE2 receptor is abundantly expressed on the cells lining the GI tract, and over half of Covid-19 sufferers show symptoms of GI distress, and up to a quarter show only GI symptoms. GI infection by the virus can have serious long-term effects, and high enteric viral loads are thought to contribute to fatalities from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and wet-lung disease. Lumen’s Covid-19 product is designed to block GI infection and rapidly flush the virus from the GI tract, thereby reducing disease symptoms and potentially reducing transmission rates. Once drug developers come to fully appreciate the unique advantages of cost-efficient, orally delivered biologics, the number of potential druggable targets in the GI tract becomes overwhelming. To cite one example, an enormous amount of research has emerged in recent years linking dysbiosis — a disturbance in the normal composition of the commensal bacteria colonizing the human GI tract—to a wide variety of diseases, some of which manifest themselves far from the intestines. By their nature, intervening in any of these will require a precision approach: microbiome sculpting. And that precision will in turn require what Lumen’s platform is uniquely able to provide: large volumes of low-cost biologic drugs.
Meet the leader behind the success of Lumen
Brian Finrow is the Co-Founder and CEO of Lumen. He brings the skills and experience of a lawyer to a position that, in the biotech world, is more typically occupied by a scientist. This is essential to an enterprise like Lumen, which is rethinking drug development from the ground up to emphasize speed, efficiency and ease of delivery, and whose approach is so innovative that traditional ways of thinking about IP and regulatory pathways oftentimes do not apply.