SMALL CAP SHARE IDEAS: Arecor Therapeutics

Arecor Therapeutics is going from strength to strength ahead of launching its insulin products.

The pharma group, which floated London’s junior market in June, has developed Arestat, a technology platform that allows drugs to be delivered more easily into patients’ bodies.

Earlier this month, the EU upheld a patent for the use of Arestat in certain vaccines following opposition appeal proceedings filed by GlaxoSmithKline.

Arecor has developed a a technology that helps some types of vaccines last longer

The patent protects the composition of a specific type of vaccines, called polysaccharide vaccines, some of which are used for meningitis or pneumonia.

They usually degrade and lose potency over time, however with Arecor’s technology they last longer.

‘The success that we’ve had here, in defending and upholding this polysaccharide vaccine pattern, really shows the strength and the breadth of the technology platform, which is important for us and, of course, important for our partners who are using the technology and the products that they’re developing and taking to market as well,’ chief executive Dr Sarah Howell said.

‘The global vaccine market itself is a valuable market, in 2020 the sales of global vaccines were $41billion, and it’s forecast to reach closer to $60billion by 2025. It’s a… growth market and we’re only going to see more of that, I think, on the back of Covid and mRNA, to see the explosion really of investment and interest in the vaccine space.’

Arestat is already being licensed to three companies for four products, but Arecor is also using it to ‘reinvent insulin’ to make it easier for diabetes patients to take their daily doses.

It has developed two formulations, an ultra-rapid acting insulin (AT247) and an ultra-concentrated rapid acting insulin (AT278), that would allow people to inject smaller doses fewer times per day.

Diabetes is on the rise along with those requiring high daily doses of insulin, so these formulations would make treatment more convenient and easier.

The rapid formulation, in particular, helps patients at mealtimes: normally – when we eat, the level of sugar in the blood rises quickly.

For diabetes sufferers, it’s important to bring it back to their healthy range swiftly to avoid complications.

As it is reformulating products, Arecor’s pipeline has few safety issues as the drugs have already been tried and tested but are being enhanced for faster delivery.

The AIM-listed group is discussing with potential partners how to design the next phases of clinical studies, so that they can generate data that will support potential agreements.

Last month, AT278 achieved the main goal of the first phase of clinical trials, which was to be no worse than the current standard of care, the low-concentrated NovoRapid.

It also showed a better PK/PD profile, meaning it moved more easily through the body and received a good biological response, which also topped the researchers’ initial expectations.

The group, which spun out of Unilever 14 years ago, will now move to further analysis of the results and then to phase two and three of trials, with commercialisation earmarked for 2025.

As for AT247, the focus is to support a system called artificial pancreas for type 1 diabetes patients.

Arecor has recently received clearance from the US authorities to perform a three-day study to demonstrate the efficacy of AT247 when used with insulin pumps.

It’s not a full clinical trial per se, but an addition to confirm the PK/PD profile observed in previous analysis.

Howell noted that the rapid acting insulin available today, such as the formulations produced by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, still require a high dose of liquid to inject each time.

‘There was an opportunity with our Arestat technology to develop very concentrated but rapid acting insulin.

‘We’ve overcome this challenge, as you concentrate insulin you’ll see a slower time action profiles of slower insulin, we’ve been able to counteract that and develop very fast acting but concentrated insulin,’ she commented.

‘For that high insulin patient population, which is mainly type 2 diabetic patients, they can have the best of both worlds, essentially, or the convenience and compliance of lower injection volume and potentially fewer injections a day, but a fast-acting insulin to help them really control that glucose and improve their longer-term outcomes.’

Shares are changing hands at 405p, having soared 70 per cent since IPO, but given the surefooted progress so far this is one to watch.