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    Date submitted
  • 18-Oct-2017

Aqualung Therapeutics, Corp.


Aqualung Therapeutics (ALT), located in Tucson, Arizona, is an early stage biotechnology start-up company that is developing a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody to treat ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI).

ALT has developed a human therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) to treat VILI. The use of mechanical ventilation is a life-saving breathing device for respiratory failure. However, the ensuing exposure to mechanical stress, created by the ventilator, produces further lung damage and contributes to the high mortality observed in critically ill patients. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs to limit or prevent VILI. ALT's therapeutic mAb will disrupt this untapped market and address an unmet medical need in the critically ill.

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Mechanical Ventilation (MV) is routinely used in hospitals and intensive care units (ICU) for both simple and highly complex surgeries (over 20M cases in US/year, 0.01-6% mortality) and in the ICU (1.1M cases in US/year, 5-30% mortality). VXB is an innovative mAb therapy that will create a new market and overtake existing, ineffective symptom-oriented therapies.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

Mechanical ventilation (MV) is routinely used in hospitals for both simple and highly complex surgeries and is a life-saving supportive therapy for patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) with respiratory failure who are unable to maintain adequate breathing on their own. Although a necessary form of life support, MV can directly cause VILI and/or worsen lung injury contributing to the unacceptably high mortality rates in critically ill ICU patients. MV also contributes to extended ICU days and extraordinary healthcare costs (12% of all hospital costs, $29.6 billion/year).

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

ALT has identified a novel therapeutic target, NAMPT, that is critical to the development of VILI. NAMPT is a protein that is secreted into the bloodstream in response to exposure to mechanical ventilation and potently induces lung inflammation. ALT has developed a human monoclonal antibody (Ventixumab, VXB) that neutralizes circulating NAMPT, thus reducing the incidence of VILI and potentially improving survival in the critically ill and in patients undergoing complicated surgeries. VXB is an innovative, prophylactically-administered mAb therapy given at the time the patient is intubated and placed on MV. VXB is a novel therapy to address a serious unmet medical need, reduce ICU mortality, and reduce healthcare costs.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

ALT’s CEO, Dr. Garcia is a pulmonary and critical care physician-scientist and a leading authority on the genetics, prevention and treatment of inflammatory lung injury. His laboratory first identified NAMPT as a viable target in VILI and in critical care illnesses. He is the inventor of an issued U.S. Patent on "Methods and Compositions involving NAMPT/PBEF inhibitors for lung inflammation" and Aqualung has an exclusive license from University of Arizona for this method of use technology. Furthermore, Aqualung and it's partner Gennova Biopharmaceuticals will jointly file for an upcoming composition patent on the lead therapeutic antibodies.