External and Internal Programs
The NanoCluster technology can extend the lifecycle for a drug by increasing the patent life. Savara’s first goal is to dramatically improve the aerosol formulations of existing drugs such as budenoside for asthma. “If you improve the efficiency, you can cut the dose and possibly remove side effects,” adds Dr. Berkland.
Savara offers its dry powder formulation services to other companies. The first step typically starts with a feasibility study, during which Savara researchers formulate an aerosol version of the drug and return it to the customer. If the customer evaluates it and is satisfied, a license is negotiated. Savara can manufacture compounds at scale to support preclinical and clinical trials.
“We are gaining momentum in this service and have a healthy line of customers,” Neville says. Savara has a number of agreements ongoing, including some with top 10 pharmaceutical companies, to make aerosol formulations of existing and new drugs.
Savara is also evaluating a few drugs to develop internally. “We’ve made progress in the proof-of-concept stage and preclinical studies on some products as we assess the business risks and where to proceed,” Neville continues.
The initial focus is on drugs for respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bacterial infections, and tuberculosis. Aerosolized chemotherapy for lung cancer may be another option. Dr. Berkland has converted paclitaxel and cisplatin into aerosols using the NanoCluster platform. When tested alone or in combination, the drugs show desirable aerodynamic properties for inhalation, and they dissolve three to four times faster than micronized particles in the simulated environment of the lungs, he notes.
Savara recently moved its headquarters to the Austin Technology Incubator in Texas, while its laboratory facilities remain in Lawrence, Kansas. “Our objective for moving the company to Texas is to explore relationships with the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson, and other leading healthcare institutions in the state,” Neville says.