Midatech: on track to become a leading profitable biopharmaceutical company

The pharmaceutical industry is one that relies, above all, on innovation and new ideas. New ways of improving existing treatments are vital and valuable

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The B-chain structure of an insulin molecule. Insulin attached to gold nanoparticles can be administered without using needles

Healthcare is a sector from which we demand more and more. Society’s expectation of health solutions, coupled with our ever-increasing knowledge, is driving the need to continuously develop and enhance medicine. During my career in healthcare, starting as a doctor before moving into business, I have seen this first-hand. This is what gives me the belief that I have in Midatech’s potential for success.

Although a physician by training, I have a strong background in company leadership and business development. I founded Talisker Pharma in 2004, which was the first and most important acquisition of EUSA Pharma in 2006. As president for Europe and senior vice president of corporate development at EUSA Pharma, I led the strategy that resulted in the acquisition of OPI and its ultimate acquisition by Jazz Pharmaceuticals in 2012. I am currently a non-executive director at Herantis Pharma (listed in Helsinki) and Insense (a private venture from Unilever), and, until joining Midatech, was chairman of Prosonix, guiding its successful transformation into a respiratory-focused business.

Most diabetics need to inject insulin several times a day, but we have developed a method of delivering it into the bloodstream through the inside of a patient’s cheek

I have also held senior positions at Johnson & Johnson and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. At Novartis, I was in clinical and business development, and was a director at the $1.3bn Arthritis, Bone, Gastrointestinal, Haematology and Infectious Diseases business unit and a member of the company’s Clinical Leadership Team. I joined Midatech as CEO in September 2013.

Changing the game
Midatech is an international speciality pharmaceutical company with two core technologies to aid the controlled delivery of existing drugs. By attaching a drug compound to gold nanoparticles (GNPs) so small that 20,000 would fit across the width of a hair, we can target specific sites of disease, and by encapsulating the drug compound within polymer microspheres just more than half the width of a human hair, we can control the time of release from a few days to up to six months. This precise delivery capability maximises the opportunity to treat diseases while reducing the potential for collateral impact; a lower dose with better efficacy and fewer safety issues.

An example application for this technology, and one for which we have recently signed a collaboration agreement with a major global pharmaceutical company, is the administration of insulin. Most diabetics need to inject insulin several times a day, but we have developed a method of delivering it into the bloodstream through the inside of a patient’s cheek.

Using insulin attached to the inorganic GNPs, formulated into a transbuccal dissolving film the size of a postage stamp, the patient simply places a strip with the correct dosage onto the inside of their cheek, removing the requirement for needles. Valued at more than $20bn, the market for this is clear; almost nine percent of adults globally suffer from either type 1 or 2 diabetes.

In oncology, another example application of GNPs is their unique ability to deliver therapies to specific cancer cell types. Due to the ultra-small size of nanoparticles, they can cross membranes including the blood-brain barrier, allowing for multivalent binding of therapeutic and targeting agents. We can configure chemistry for preferential uptake and offload, followed by free excretion once they’ve reached the target. The GNP technology has already demonstrated its ability for both preferential uptake in the liver and targeting pancreatic cancer cells, which exhibit preferential uptake of proteins. The glioblastoma and liver cancer markets are estimated to be worth more than $500m each.

Financial recognition
Midatech was initially funded by venture capital. Then, in December last year, we raised £32m in an oversubscribed admission to AIM in London. This will take the group towards profitability as we conduct further studies in preparation for the commercialisation of partnered and non-partnered products.

The group has two routes to commercialisation – licensing and own-product sales. These offer multiple shots on goal in a de-risked strategy. Midatech has collaborations with many leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as academic institutions. Programmes are underway to deliver revenues within priority therapeutic areas, which include cancer, diabetes and ophthalmology.

Since its foundation in 2000, Midatech has developed base nanoparticle technology to enhance the delivery of medicines in major therapeutic indications where clinical therapeutic options are limited. In so doing, we have built up unparalleled experience and, in conjunction with the IPO, we have developed a commercially focused strategy with a push to expand the company’s product pipeline through the acquisition of later-stage assets. In December 2014, the company acquired Q Chip, a privately held company with a polymer microsphere technology platform and a complementary portfolio in cancer and ophthalmology, adding the capability for temporal control of drug release.

Manufacture of the nanoparticles takes place at our recently upgraded, state-of-the-art facility in Bilbao, Spain, where we produce sterile material for use in human clinical trials and conduct initial-phase manufacturing of licensed products. Last year, a Midatech-led consortium was selected to receive a €7.9m Horizon 2020 EU grant to fund the manufacturing scale-up of clinical-grade therapeutics, based on our GNP technology, for use in clinical trials and in preparation for commercial production.

A solid plan
Midatech is on track to be a leading profitable biopharmaceutical company. Our M&A strategy primarily focuses on acquisitions of later-stage, strategic opportunities, with complementary focused portfolios or complementary technologies that are synergistic, accelerate revenue and are value-accretive to Midatech. We are actively seeking to incorporate companies and portfolios that will accelerate own-product recurring revenues and profitability, via products in the market.

The company’s strategy is to grow both organically and via acquisitions. My background gives the right experience to take Midatech on a journey that will lead to significant stakeholder value-creation for shareholders, patients and clinicians. The company is on track with the execution of its three-pronged strategy of driving revenue growth, developing the clinical portfolio and seeking attractive acquisition targets.