Dr Rajan George, executive VP and chief technology officer, Paladin Biosciences, Canada
Paladin Biosciences is a division of Paladin Labs, a
publicly-traded specialty pharmaceutical company listed on the Toronto
Stock Exchange. Paladin Biosciences has been in operation in Edmonton,
Canada, since 2001, originally under the name ViRexx Medical Corp and
in 2008, it was acquired by Paladin, one of the Canada's leading
specialty pharmaceutical companies.
Paladin Biosciences has been developing innovative targeted
therapeutics for individuals who suffer from infectious diseases and
cancer. Using its proprietary Chimigen Platform Technology, Paladin
Biosciences has developed a portfolio of biotherapeutic agents to meet
major unmet medical needs such as treatments for chronic hepatitis B
and hepatitis C virus infections, avian and swine influenza, alphavirus
infections, malaria and cancer. The company is now on the look out for
co-development as well as licensing opportunities with companies in
Asia, especially in India. In an interview with BioSpectrum, Dr Rajan
George, executive vice president and chief technology officer of
Paladin Biosciences, talks about his company and its expansion
Q Which are the major
therapeutic areas of focus for Paladin Biosciences?
Paladin is targeting various infectious diseases, mainly hepatitis B
and hepatitis C. The lead product of the company is a therapeutic
vaccine for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis B virus
infections. Chimigen HBV Therapeutic Vaccine is currently in late stage
preclinical development and there are plans to initiate a phase-I
clinical trial soon. The company is actively looking for partners in
Asia to advance this program, as it is a major unmet medical need in
Other product candidates in development are Chimigen HCV therapeutic
and prophylactic vaccines, prophylactic vaccines for influenza (H5N1
and H1N1), alphaviruses such as encephalitis, chikungunya, and malaria.
We are also developing a bionanoparticle technology to deliver siRNA
molecules to various cell types for RNAi and antiviral/ immunotherapy
Q Can you elaborate on
the technological aspects of Chimigen platform?
The company's proprietary Chimigen platform, which incorporates
functional elements of both antigen and antibody-based technologies, is
a unique, versatile and highly adaptable platform that can be used for
developing immunotherapeutic agents, RNAi and for cell-specific
delivery of biologicals including siRNA.
The Chimigen platform is a versatile vaccine technology designed to
target vaccines to specific receptors on antigen presenting cells,
especially dendritic cells, to elicit both cellular and humoral immune
responses in hosts. It is used to develop therapeutic vaccines for
patients with chronic viral infections as well as prophylactic vaccines
to prevent infections. Chimigen vaccines are recombinant proteins that
have selected antigens fused to the Fc fragment of a murine monoclonal
antibody through proprietary peptide linkers. This approach allows
efficient substitution of a desired antigen in the Immune Response
Domain (IRD) on the Target Binding Domain (TBD) backbone, permitting
the production of very effective multivalent vaccines.
TBD contains the antibody portion of the fusion protein and it allows
the vaccine to bind with specific receptors on the surface of dendritic
cells and other antigen presenting cells, facilitating antigen uptake,
processing and the appropriate antigen presentation. This results in
the induction of a broad immune response, both cellular (T cell) and
humoral (B cell, antibody) immune responses, against the selected
antigen(s). Induction of a broad and balanced immune response allows
the technology to be used to develop both prophylactic and therapeutic
vaccines and is a key advantage of the Chimigen technology. This
technology is designed to overcome host tolerance to chronic infections
and cancer, and this will allow Paladin to develop a wide range of
biotherapeutic agents targeting major unmet medical needs.
Q Does Paladin has APAC
specific strategy and what are its partnership plans in the region?
Paladin's lead program targets hepatitis B virus infections, which are
prevalent in many Asian countries, and its technology has broad
application in other diseases afflicting the region. The company is not
keen on expanding its operations in Asia, but it is looking for
partners in major Asian markets to develop Chimigen HBV Therapeutic
Vaccine and other therapeutic products. This partnership could be in
the areas of clinical trials and licensing. The ideal way is to partner
with companies in Asia, especially in India, which have established
vaccine and biotherapeutics development expertise.
Q Why do you think India
is the most suitable place for your company to establish partnerships?
India has a wealth of scientific expertise and is already emerging as a
biotech powerhouse. To realize its full potential, the Indian economy
must continue to grow and bring more and more of its people to the
global platform, and the Indian government must recognize the
importance of a strong, innovation-based life sciences industry. Other
than this, building partnerships with non-Indian biotechnology
enterprises that have technologies applicable to the unmet medical
needs of India would be an ideal approach to make India a leading
player in the life sciences sector.
Q What are the business
strategies of Paladin for the Asian market?
Paladin focuses on region-based product development. The company
carries out preclinical studies as well as clinical sample evaluations.
It expects manufacturing, product development and clinical trial
expertises from the prospective partner. The Asian partner could take
the preclinical product to either global or regional markets, as
Paladin is very flexible in these areas.
The company anticipates very limited competition in the therapeutic
areas which it is actively involved in.
Ajeesh Anand in Bangalore