Oxford Biodynamics plc: Foundations in place to take advantage of EpiSwitch® technology
We were delighted that Jon Burrows, CEO of Oxford Biodynamics and Matthew Wakefield, Chair, were able to update on the progress the company has made over the last year at a Yellowstone Advisory webinar. A recording of the event is available here.
Oxford Biodynamics has gone through a significant change of focus and reorganisation of business fundamentals over the last 12 months and there are now three clear pillars to maximising the potential from their EpiSwitch® technology and driving revenue. The three pillars are all linked and all will be important if the company is to achieve its potential.
The first area is in providing clinical diagnostic tests to help physicians improve their diagnosis of patient conditions and enabling these medics to make informed decisions about their patient’s care. OBD’s first test, the Covid Severity Test was launched in 2021 and can determine the risks of severe illness due to Covid. The test has taken longer to come to market and there are no figures yet on revenue or expected revenues but the test is in the market and the company are receiving enquiries. A lot of the learnings from taking this test to market have been applied to their “flagship” Checkpoint inhibitor Response Test (CiRT) for immune-oncology, which is the diagnostic focus for 2022. This test is expected to launch in February and management are optimistic about its success. To watch a short video explaining the benefits of CiRT please click here.
The CiRT determines a patient’s likely response to immune-oncology (IO) checkpoint inhibitor treatment, which costs around $15k/month ($180k per annum). This treatment can be very successful but only works in c30% of patients and a large proportion actually have adverse reactions (toxicities)to the treatment. There is still a very big potential market for the test with c500k patients considered for this treatment each year. In the key US market, a reimbursement code has been indicated by healthcare insurance providers that can bill at $2600 to $3500 per test, under the miscellaneous test classification. It should be pointed out that initial reimbursement is likely to be approx.. 50% of that. Optimism for success is based on the award of the PACT consortium grant to establish EpiSwitch® as an industry standard, interest from oncology specialists in the presales process currently being undertaken, as well as interest in the test from pharmaceutical companies who want to use it as part of their clinical development programs. Their interest and their ability to run multiple tests will build up data which will be used to establish a separate unique billing code at potentially higher rates of reimbursement.
The pharma services provision to enable clinical development at pharmaceutical companies is the second pillar of the company strategy. A number of pharma companies are talking to OBD about using the CiRT clinical test in the development of their immune oncology drug portfolio. Management talked about a proposal being submitted to one pharma company covering 100’s of samples. The information gained from use in pharma company trials will help build up data that is valuable for building the case for utility in the prescribing world and for aiding the regulatory passage of new drugs to the market. There is likely to be a halo effect whereby successful use by one pharma company will lead to others incorporating it into their own drug development process. Whilst some of the progress made by Oxford Biodynamics over the past year may be difficult to see, management believe their ongoing work with pharmaceutical companies has generated many benefits and they are confident it will translate into revenues in the near future.
The third pillar of the strategy is the provision of EpiSwitch® technology to enable LifeScience Research. The EpiSwitch® Explorer Kit was launched in 2021 and was accompanied by access to the EpiSwitch® Portal. Researchers are already using these kits in a variety of fields of development and several researchers from Oxford University have been trained on their use. With the easing of travel restrictions, it is hoped researchers from other academic institutions will be able to visit the Oxford headquarters and receive training on the use of the explorer kits. The team at OBD are also working with researchers to help them incorporate the use of the EpiSwitch® explorer kits and portal into grant applications.
Supporting all of this is the new custom designed lab and HQ in Oxford which came online in September 2021. The new facility will support the pharma development projects, will support the development of existing diagnostic tests and the product development portfolio. This includes test for Prostate Cancer and Colorectal/bowel cancer, which are both huge markets, as well as several other disease areas.
In summary, management stressed the focus on the 3 pillars that are known to the drive success of molecular diagnostic companies; Commercial Clinical Tests, Pharma Clinical Development and LifeSciences Research Kits that will be the key foundations for a successful future. They were also keen to stress that a key change that happened during 2021 was that pharmaceutical companies were now proactively approaching Oxford Biodynamics and asking for tests to be run rather than OBD approaching pharmaceutical companies and asking for samples that they could test. While it may be difficult to see all the work that has gone on at OBD, management certainly believe that the rewards will be seen in 2022 and beyond.
A recording of the webinar is available here.
For anyone interested in more information on EpiSwitch® technology there is a helpful video here.