The American Cancer Society in 2020 estimated around 60,530 cases of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in the US, with 11,180 cases of death post-suffering the illness. The impact of Leukemia isn’t small. AML is pretty common among adults and, if untreated, can lead to death.
In addition, the need to improve patient outcomes through the prevention of relapse or transplant associated toxicity still remains unmet, despite several modalities of chemotherapy being introduced in the market.
While several healthcare researchers have attempted to reduce transplant-associated mortality, there have been no significant clinical improvements in post-transplant relapse.
Addressing the concern, Priothera SAS has been a solution-led company that has engaged to develop and deliver Mocravimod, a molecule that supports the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. There has been promising clinical significance in the molecule’s attempts to rebalance the patient’s immune system.
Identifying the curative potential of Mocravimod, we at Insights Care Magazine reached out to Florent Gros, the Founder and CEO of Priothera, to learn more about the company’s journey.
Let’s dive in through the interview:
The Potential of a Molecule
Priothera is a clinical-stage pharma company developing Mocravimod (KRP203), a non-immunosuppressive molecule for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and potentially more hematological malignancies.
Florent was encouraged to share a few words on the development of the company, Priothera, to which she responded, “I was aware of the incredible potential of this molecule from my colleagues at Novartis that saw it first-hand.”
It was at this moment when Novartis decided to return the rights to the IP owner, Kyorin Pharmaceutical in Japan. Florent and Novartis’ colleagues discussed with Kyorin a potential spin-off involving Mocravimod.
After leaving Novartis in 2019, she led the IP acquisition and financing for this molecule from Kyorin, recruiting also a few Novartis senior experts who knew about the drug.
A Reliable Product
An organization is entitled to stand out in the market when its operations and structure are well supported by the team and third-party investors. Prothera is yet another company that is led by an extremely qualified and experienced team with a proven track record of innovative technological development in these and similar areas.
“We are supported by a renowned consortium of investors, including BPI France, the European Investment Bank, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Earlybird Venture Capital, Tekla Capital Management, and HealthCap,” notes Florent.
In addition, the company is having a range of supporters, Prothera’s products hold high value, contributing to the healthcare needs of the patients.
Reflecting on Priothera’s product, Florent states, “Our molecule has already been well-described: data from our multicentric open-label Phase II study shows that Mocravimod is safe, well-tolerated, and promising in improving patients’ survival and tackling GvHD.”
Solution to Care
Florent directs her attention towards Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) that is the most common form of leukemia in adults and progresses rapidly if left untreated, ultimately resulting in death within a few months of diagnosis.
The standard of care after chemotherapy is allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT), a well-established immuno-oncology procedure that is often the only curative option for many patients. Unfortunately, the curative potential of HSCT is still unsatisfactory; most patients will die after a few years.
In regards to providing solutions through Priothera, “Our goal is to address these immense unmet patient needs through this promising molecule. To date, about 45% of the entire AML patient population could be in our target group,” states Florent.
Climbing the Ladder
Florent’s educational background is in both biotechnology and patent and private law while holding a Kauffman Fellowship.
Florent adds, “I have 30 years of expertise in investment and intellectual property management in the biopharma space and also enjoyed recently being a serial biotech entrepreneur.”
In her journey towards the company’s development, she highlights that she had initially founded Handl Therapeutics in 2020 in gene therapy, which she later sold to UCB Pharms.
After the breakthrough, she is now the CEO and Founder of Priothera, and Chairman and Founder of Amyl Therapeutics. Alongside, she serves as a director of a public company in Poland, Captor Therapeutics. In recent times, she has joined Earlybird as a full partner in the Health II Fund.
Florent’s advice to young entrepreneurs who desire to venture into the healthcare sector is summed up by stating, “My main advice is to be focused and result-driven.”
“On a more practical note, I would recommend working on a high degree of differentiation for your offering. Specifically, I would suggest not focusing on platforms but on the product itself,” she concludes.
Reflecting on the scalability of the company, Priothera has now entered a global EU & USA pivotal Phase 2/3 trial with Micravimod as maintenance therapy over and after HSCT therapy, aiming at increasing survival. Mocravimod has rare disease labels and fast-track status with the FDA. The trial aims at registering the drug in Europe and the USA by 2025, in parallel to working on clinpharm clinical studies and commercial supply.
“I am looking forward to seeing some preliminary results!” marks Florent.