These days, the word “opioid” is a trigger for a lot of emotional reactions. We know the drug has been the cause of addiction and overdoses, driven by miseducation, irresponsibility and greed. We also know that it provides extremely effective relief for severe pain, so much so that the World Health Organization classifies it as an “essential medicine.”
We want to be upfront that our product roadmap starts with using yeast to synthesize opioid molecules traditionally derived from poppy plants. It’s our belief that these medicines are useful when used responsibly. And by starting with opioid molecules, it opens the door to developing nal-opioids (to counteract overdoses) as well as non-addictive forms of the drug.
As a company, we are committed to healing people, not hurting them. And we will always be transparent in our actions, align with partners who are committed to being part of the solution to the opioid crisis, and use our technology to get better medicines to more people.
Our process allows for controlled manufacturing in an enclosed, contained facility, not in open fields of drug crops. We build genetic controls into our proprietary strains to prevent unauthorized use and propagation of our technology. Our rapid, on-demand manufacturing technology stands in contrast to current processes in which volumes must be planned and committed to years in advance. At Antheia, we are creating systems that can respond rapidly to changing demand for these medicines to avoid situations in which excess stock must be pushed into the market.
Our products are made from yeast whose DNA has been modified so that they can synthesize valuable medicinal compounds. Following production of the compound by our yeast in enclosed bioreactors, the target active ingredient is isolated from the fermentation broth to meet purity requirements of US FDA and ultimately that purified compound is formulated in a finished dosage product. In this way, the genetically modified yeast are not part of the final product.
Yeast fermentation is a more sustainable, environmentally friendly process than traditional approaches that rely on extraction of medicinal compounds from plants. Many medicinal plants are rare and grow in particular climates, which leads to overharvesting and loss of irreplaceable biodiversity. In addition, farming of medicinal plants uses substantially more resources, such as arable land, water, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, than yeast-based fermentation.
Our yeast-based fermentation process can reduce the cost of making the active ingredients in our medicines by more than 70-99% over traditional approaches. By leveraging our decentralized, affordable process and aligning with partners that are committed to healing people, we will create solutions that work for different markets and pass these savings on to patients.