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Aptahem on the need for more effective sepsis treatments

Aptahem on the need for more effective sepsis treatments

Aptahem on the need for more effective sepsis treatments

28 April, 2023

Biotechnology company Aptahem is developing Apta-1, a drug candidate whose purpose is to reduce the high mortality and severe tissue damage that can occur in sepsis. BioStock contacted Luiza Jedlina, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Aptahem, to talk about the need for better treatment options than antibiotics.  

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening inflammatory condition that affects nearly 50 million people annually, of which 11 million die. 

However, not all patients respond to today’s treatments, but their risk of tissue and organ damage remains. Thus, there is an extensive demand for better treatment options. 

Antibiotics are the standard treatment for sepsis

Today, healthcare focuses on treating the underlying symptoms of sepsis. Antibiotics, but also through anti-inflammatory treatments, fluids and oxygen.  

Diagnosing sepsis is however a challenge as the symptoms can be similar to other medical conditions. Examples of such symptoms are low blood pressure, chills, fever, breathing problems, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, sever pain and muscle weakness.  

Aptahem’s drug candidate Apta-1

Swedish Biotech Aptahem initiated its first clinical phase I study with their drug candidate Apta-1 at the end of 2022. The company’s preclinical studies indicate that the candidate has the potential to slow down the body’s uncontrollable inflammatory response. In addition, it has been show to modulate the body’s own defenceand repair or inhibit the tissue breakdown that leads to leaky blood vessels and poor oxygenation in the body. 

Comments from Aptahem´s CSO

Luiza Jedlina, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Aptahem
Luiza Jedlina, CSO and Co-founder of Aptahem

BioStock contacted Luiza Jedlina, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder of Aptahem. Jedlina talks about the company’s research and the need for a better alternative to antibiotics. 

Luiza, what do you think is the biggest flaw with today’s available treatments for sepsis?

– Antibiotics are often the first line of treatment for sepsis as they effectively control bacterial infections. However, with the increasing development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and concerns about overuse, there is a growing need for alternative treatments for sepsis.  

– While new antibiotics are being developed that are more effective against drug-resistant bacteria, there is a need to explore ways to use existing antibiotics more selectively and effectively. This requires proper identification of the underlying cause of sepsis, which may take time. 

– It’s important to note that antibiotics are not always effective for treating sepsis. Especially in cases where the underlying infection is not bacterial. Sepsis can be caused by a variety of pathogens, including viruses and fungi. In such cases, antibiotics are ineffective since they only work on bacteria. In cases of non-bacterial sepsis, alternative treatments such as antiviral or antifungal medications may be needed. 

– The use of anticoagulants, antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory drugs give more time for identifying the right antibiotics if needed. 

In what way does Apta-1 differ from these treatment options?

– There is a big focus on immunotherapy, showing promise for treating sepsis without relying solely on antibiotics. This approach involves stimulating the body’s immune system to fight off the infection. This can be done through antibodies, cytokines, and other immune system modulators. 

– Apta-1 could be this multi-effective modulator drug candidate, which acts in several ways simultaneously. This means that it, according to early studies, helps the body to control the immune response and inhibit the cytokine storm caused by inflammation. At the same time, it is antithrombotic, inhibiting adverse clot formation in the blood. It also potentially helps the body repair the damaged tissues and blood vessels, which together make it possible for the body to keep intense blood pressure down and inhibit organ damage. 

– It has also proven to be safe and tolerable in early studies. Further, it has been seen in preclinical and early clinical that Apta-1 works within minutes, which is of key importance when it is a matter of little time to act during an acute situation. 

Finally, what is happening right now in Aptahem and what are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

– Currently, we are focusing mostly on our clinical phase Ia study. The priority is to ensure that Apta-1 is diligently studied to establish good tolerance and safety. In parallel, we plan and perform supporting preclinical in vitro studies to gain as much understanding and knowledge as possible regarding the mechanism of action. This information will build additional ground for the later clinical studies’ design, especially for clinical phase II. 

– I will also participate in the world’s largest and most important haematology conference: ISTH. It takes place in June, and I will present Apta-1 as well as meeting leading scientists, medical doctors and pharma representatives.  

– I am most looking forward to completing the clinical study. Both the mandatory part Ia, which is ongoing and the proof-of-concept part Ib, which will start as soon as possible after the Ia part has been completed. 

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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