MARKET OPPORTUNITY – Autoimmune and chronic diseases, including juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma and pulmonary inflammation, afflict patients of all ages, including children, affecting over 100 million patients in the US alone. In addition, the segment of the world’s population over 60 years of age is predicted to increase significantly over the next 30 years and beyond. This older population has a higher incidence of both chronic and infectious diseases and is at higher risk of disease-related morbidity and mortality. Taken as a whole, these segments represent a huge market opportunity for Mercia.
CURRENT THERAPY – Therapeutic modalities addressing autoimmune disease have largely exploited non-specific immunosuppressive agents that seriously compromise the patient’s overall immune system. The patient’s ability to ward off the risks of infection and, in the long term the risks from cancer, are severely impaired. More recently, the introduction of biological based therapies have improved but not solved some of these problems. Monoclonal antibodies are expensive to produce and require frequent administration which can be very burdensome over a lifetime of therapy.
CHALLENGE – Antigen-specific active immunotherapy for chronic and autoimmune disease takes advantage of the patient’s own immune system. However, to be successful, the therapy needs to maintain a delicate balance between effectiveness and selectivity. On one hand, therapy must induce a strong enough immune response so that disease-related targets that are inherently poorly immunogenic are recognized and neutralized. At the same time, the therapy needs to be selective enough so that the patient’s overall immune response is preserved to fight off infection and maintains self tolerance to target self molecules avoiding the risk of autoimmunity.
MERCIA’S ADVANTAGE – Mercia is uniquely positioned to transition its lead candidates into clinical development by building on its well established core technology. Unlike other therapeutic modalities, Mercia’s technology is effective at inducing robust protective antigen-specific immune responses, including antigen-specific regulatory T cells. Selectively avoids tissue destructive inflammation and preserves immune tolerance to the patient’s self antigens. The core technology has been proven safe in multiple clinical trials involving nearly 1,500 cancer patients, many of whom were elderly and/or immunocompromised. Effectiveness, selectivity, safety, broad applicability – these are the unique advantage of MERIT.
PARTNERING – Mercia is focusing its internal resources on rapidly building its pipeline of unique products and transitioning its lead candidates into clinical development. Mercia is looking for commercial partners to assist them in later stage development and marketing of these products.