The small molecule with a big future

Dr Oki O’Connor on Cyclarity’s elegant solution to one of the world’s biggest problems – atherosclerosis.

Cyclarity Therapeutics is on a mission to deliver affordable therapy for the world’s number one killer – cardiovascular disease. Its novel cyclodextrin targets atherosclerosis, removing arterial plaque by clearing the non-degradable oxidised cholesterol that accumulates within cells in the arterial walls.

Longevity.Technology: With in-human clinical trials likely to start this year, Cyclarity is rapidly progressing its cyclodextrin drug for atherosclerosis towards market. We caught up with its CEO of Scientific Affairs, Dr Matthew ‘Oki’ O’Connor to find out more about the company’s platform, its cyclodextrin drug and his views on the current market.

Oki O’Connor on…

A unique platform

Cyclarity has designed a specialised computation screening platform that is optimised for the kind of molecule that we’re studying. We developed something completely unique that allows us to model in silico, and at various levels from fast models down to very detailed dynamic simulations, and that can predict affinity and affinity constants – that is, how strong drug candidates can grab on a target molecule that we want to target a drug against. That all goes on in silico before we synthesise a new drug candidate.

Halfway between a small molecule and an antibody

We are working on cyclodextrins – and they are so incredibly safe. We figured out why they are so safe and then mimicked those properties when designing new therapeutic versions. Traditional cyclodextrins have low affinity for their targets, so we re-engineered them to become quite powerful so they can grab a target with very high affinity, approaching the affinity an antibody has for its target.

We’re building molecules synthetically, just as you’d build a small molecule drug, but we’re mimicking some of the properties of an antibody – the strength and affinity like a Pac-Man wrapping around its target. The class of our drug sits halfway between a small molecule and an antibody.

The cyclodextrin market and the opportunities presented therein

The market for cyclodextrins as drugs is almost untouched, with only one approved so far. I think there is enormous opportunity to create a new class of drugs and that’s what are platform allows us to build. We’re focused on age-related targets, but there are all sorts of opportunities for our technology to build all kinds of fantastic new drugs.

The size of the problem… and the size of the market

The atherosclerosis problem is enormous – a third to half of everyone on Earth dies of atherosclerosis, because it is the primary cause of three of the biggest killers in humans. so, the market is almost unimaginably large. Just in the US alone, it’s a $600 billion market today, and by 2035, it is projected to be over a trillion dollar market, so it’s hard to lay out the size of the opportunity, but it’s staggering!

So, we’ll pick it apart into smaller, initial indications and see how far we can grow and expand the drug to other indications.

Read our in-depth report on atherosclerosis and Cyclarity’s ground-breaking platform – CLICK HERE!

READ MORE: Constructively disruptive – tackling atherosclerosis through disease reversal