Member Spotlight: Q&A with Lyndra Therapeutics
Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and the great work they're doing to advance the life sciences industry and support the patients we serve. In July, we spoke with Tyler Grant, Director, Product Engineering at Lyndra Therapeutics. Tyler was one of the first two people to join the company after its founders. He has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Oxford and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Langer Lab at MIT.
Tell us about your organization, its mission and current initiatives.
Lyndra Therapeutics aims to change how people take medications to improve healthcare. Non-adherence to medication is a global epidemic that costs up to $300 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Rather than try to change patients to improve adherence, we’re changing the pill. Our mission is to make daily pills a thing of the past by developing the first ultra-long-acting oral pill that lasts a week or longer.
Our near-term focus is on small-molecule drugs where there’s an unmet need in therapeutic performance. Real-world outcomes in many diseases depend on taking the right amount of medication, with consistency. Lyndra’s platform could help ensure that patients consistently get the right dose, improving health outcomes.
How does your organization’s activities help patients now and in the future?
Our current pipeline is focused on developing drugs for diseases where replacing a daily pill with a weekly or monthly dose would improve adherence and outcomes. For instance, as many as 75% of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia relapse as a result of medication non-adherence. As we advance toward filing an application with the FDA to begin clinical trials for a once-a-week dosage of risperidone, a medication used to treat schizophrenia, we’re moving closer to getting a long-acting oral treatment to patients.
We’re also working on a sustained-release drug for Alzheimer’s with our partner Allergan to extend the time a patient can perform simple daily tasks without full supervision, alleviating stress for caretakers, who are often unpaid family members.
Globally, our therapies can also help address public health issues. We’re developing a weekly dosage of ivermectin, a drug that targets malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, that could boost the efficacy of population-level drug administration and help eliminate malaria.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?
One of the biggest challenges is the need to get therapies to patients faster. There are so many potentially life-changing drugs in development today, but it can take years to get them to the people who need them most. As a biomedical engineer, I believe traditional bioengineering techniques hold at least part of the answer.
For example, at Lyndra we’re developing formulations that can deliver drugs for up to a month following a single dosing event. Existing stomach models are designed to test immediate release dosage forms and testing in preclinical models is a slow, complicated process. We needed a faster alternative, so we designed a first-of-its-kind simulated gastric model that can replicate complex gastrointestinal motility patterns. The model enabled us to accelerate mechanical testing and improve product development cycle times. Currently, we are able to collect 30 days’ worth of data in just one day of testing.
What’s next for your organization? What are you focused on in the coming year?
Most recently, we announced that we’re developing an ultra-long-acting oral treatment for opioid use disorder. Medication-assisted treatments have been proven to decrease opioid use, but most people who could benefit don’t receive MAT treatment. There’s a critical need to make it easier for patients to access treatments and we’re looking forward to continuing our work with the NIH to get these treatments to patients.
In the second half of 2019, we’re expanding our Phase I pipeline and moving toward advancing multiple drug candidates, including our own therapies and drugs developed with partners, through clinical trials starting with an Investigational New Drug Application for schizophrenia. We’re also advancing toward a planned Phase II clinical trial starting in 2020 and scaling up our manufacturing capabilities as we continue to focus on drug development.
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