Allergy Therapeutics is a pioneering immunology company, specialised in the research and development of allergy and immune disorder treatments that target the cause, rather than just manage the symptoms. Alan Bullimore, Head of Business Innovation spoke to Lu Rahman about the company’s work and the challenges and opportunities of this market.
LR: Describe Allergy Therapeutics and some of the work it is currently involved with.
AB: Currently we have a range of vaccines and diagnostics available on the market. We are passionate about progressing the science around allergy immunotherapies and have a strong and diverse pipeline investigating potential short course therapies with Monophosphoryl lipid-A (MPL) included as an adjuvant, which aims to increase the immunogenic effect of the therapy and induce an enhanced immune response. We are also developing a peanut allergy vaccine which would be significant, offering huge and life-changing benefits to sufferers affected by this condition.
LR: How important a therapeutic area is the allergy market and where are the opportunities?
AB: The allergy market is an incredibly important and large therapeutic area, with an enormous range of allergy triggers and symptoms from wheezing and itchy eyes, to life threatening swelling and anaphylaxis. The worldwide food allergy market is currently valued at an estimated $8 billion, and is likely to grow as the prevalence of allergies continues to increase as it has throughout the past years. Peanut allergy is definitely an expanding area of opportunity, and one we are particularly excited about, as are seasonal allergies, and the introduction of adjuvants and virus-like-protein technology to therapies to develop enhanced immune responses in patients.
LR: Are there any areas of unmet need that you feel would provide opportunity for researchers looking at this market?
AB: An unmet need that we are particularly focussed on is the development of a vaccine for peanut allergy. Its an incredibly debilitating allergy with an estimated 1.4-3% of children suffering from it. Current treatment options are limited, and require daily dosing over a number of years to desensitise the patient. We are currently investigating a peanut vaccine based on VLP (virus like particle) technology which is going through Phase 1 trials. Unlike current therapies, this will aim to induce sustained protection following just three injections.
LR: What particular challenges does this sector face?
AB: The science behind allergy vaccination is incredibly difficult given the complexity of our immune systems. Another area of difficulty that this sector faces is in clinical trials of allergy immunotherapies. It is very challenging when it comes to the interpretation of results as they rely upon subjective non-validated endpoints. We are currently conducting a broad research project in collaboration with Imperial College London, focussing on the selection, measurement and analysis of pre-clinical and clinical biomarkers for allergen immunotherapy products, allowing us to explore alternative, more objective measures of success and develop a greater understanding of the underlying science in this important area. Another difficulty is running clinical trials for seasonal allergies, which patients suffer from for only a portion of the year, limiting the time in which studies can take place and lengthening the process.
With regards to the effects of Covid-19 on the allergy sector, we are aware of studies examining whether the lockdowns have had an impact on the development of allergies, and we are following the research with interest.
Volume 22, Issue 2 – Spring 2021
Alan Bullimore is Head of Business Innovation at Allergy Therapeutics. He joined the R&D team in 2006, before moving to lead R&D projects and then heading up business innovation in 2020. Within this role, Bullimore works closely with the R&D and investor relations teams to drive the group’s innovations and development.