Alzheimer’s disease could be a frightening disease to witness and/or experience. When a tragic life event hit the Founder—where his mother-in-law not only failed to recognize him and his wife but also stopped eating and passed away at the age of 70—he and his team knew that it was time to develop innovative solutions to such a devastating condition. Inspired by nature, this event catalyzed them to start Aphios Corporation.
Aphios Corporation is a green biotechnology company that is taking a different approach to addressing Alzheimer’s disease and other medical conditions. Driven by a commitment to sustainability and innovation, the company has developed several enabling technology platforms that improve drug discovery and manufacturing, pathogenic drug safety, and nanotechnology drug delivery. One of its flagship proprietary nanotechnology platforms based on SuperFluids™ allows for the efficient delivery of natural products to the brain. This technology platform has shown promise in preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease, and the company is now exploring its potential in other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
Aphios’ focus is on developing environmentally-sustainable therapeutic products for a range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancers. It thus develops several novel therapies from medicinal plants and marine organisms, leveraging their ability to manage cellular replication without mutation and live for hundreds of years.
The company’s dedication to sustainability extends beyond its drug development efforts. It is committed to minimizing its environmental impact, using sustainable and ethical practices in all aspects of its business operations. Aphios has received several awards for its efforts, including the Frost & Sullivan North American Nanodrug Excellence in Healthcare Technology Innovation Award, Santa Fe, NM, and Cleantech Venture and Partnering Award, Pharma & Biotech, Santa Clara, CA as well as recognition as a top Alzheimer’s disease solution developer.
Overall, Aphios Corporation is a biotechnology company that is making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating conditions. Its commitment to sustainability, innovation, and scientific excellence is evident in all aspects of its work, from drug discovery and delivery to business operations.
Let’s dive in to learn about the company’s innovative and sustainable operations to address Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Dementia.
Source of Inspiration
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating and frightening disease for everyone but especially when you encounter it first-hand. The Founder’s mother-in-law Dr. Alma Lowry-Palmer was a Professor of Nursing at the University of Tennessee Medical School. She was going to the wrong classrooms and making errors in scheduling and teaching and eventually wandered off to her home turf in California. She was 58 years old. He brought her back to live with his family in Massachusetts where she was diagnosed at the MGH- Memory Disorder Clinic with Alzheimer’s disease.
“After further debilitation and memory lapse errors, we decided it would be safer for her to be placed in a memory care facility. At some point, she failed to recognize my wife and me but was aware of her two grandsons’ presence. Around the age of 70, she stopped eating, passing away within 60 days. An autopsy indicated she had died of Alzheimer’s disease. It was a slow, arduous, and sad process to watch a vibrant woman with an inquisitive and thoughtful intellect wither away and die, unlike the quick fading of a beautiful flower,” says the Founder.
He continues, “Her physician estimated that her symptoms began around the age of 50, with each decade demonstrating a significant decline in cognitive functioning. The death of an Alzheimer’s disease patient begins long before the physical signs of life cease to function. Patients are lost in their own, isolated neurological space.”
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are debilitating diseases affecting over 6.7 million people in the United States and over 55 million people worldwide. Black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans, and Hispanics are about 1.5x times the rate of white Americans to be impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. “What are the causes and what are the reasons? These questions and my experience with Alma combined with the drive to protect my wife whom I love, have inspired my quest to address this horrible disease,” says the Founder.
From the Depths of the Ocean
From its very inception, Aphios Corporation under the Founder’s leadership has focused on improving healthcare outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.
They have developed several enabling technology platforms for improving drug discovery and manufacturing, pathogenic drug safety and nanotechnology drug delivery. These technologies are based on exploring the properties of naturally occurring, nontoxic SuperFluids™. When compressed, these fluids exhibit enhanced thermodynamic properties of penetration, selection, solvation and expansion. They simultaneously behave like a gas and a liquid, having properties of both. Aphios has explored the unique properties of SuperFluids™ on a cellular level to minimize product degradation and to eliminate or significantly reduce toxic organic solvent usage.
“Based on these platforms, we are developing enhanced therapeutic products for cancers and supportive care, infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, influenza, and COVID-19, and CNS disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, pain and opioid addiction in an environmentally-sustainable manner,” says the Founder. Aphios has also developed SuperFluids™ to pretreat cellulosic biomass for ethanol manufacturing and the production of biofuels from cellulosic waste as well as algae.
He continues, “In our journey, we utilized SuperFluids™ to first discover and then manufacture our lead Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic from a marine organism. We used scuba divers to harvest this abundant and invasive species off the southern coast of California. We have found that this compound not only prevents the formation of amyloid plaques but stimulates the formation of synapses.”
“We believe that while the prevention of amyloid plaques is necessary for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, it is not sufficient for a cure. While most of the FDA-approved Alzheimer’s disease drugs only partially treat the symptoms of the disease, a drug by Biogen and Eisai was recently approved by the FDA because it reduced the formation of amyloid plaques.”
“While this is a great achievement, we do not believe it is sufficient enough to reverse or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, it was only approved for early-stage dementia or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and there is a potential for brain swelling side effects. Our approach is to both prevent the formation of amyloid plaques and regenerate synapses through synaptogenesis to recover both long- and short-term memory,” explains the Founder.
Aphios’ Approach to Addressing Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with multiple factors, including but not limited to amyloid plaque formation, tau protein entanglement, enzyme activity, and inflammation.
As humans age, certain neuronal enzymes in their bodies degrade. Enzymes are protein catalysts that will typically promote the reaction between other proteins. Eventually, after repeated reactions, they do degrade. In some respects, they are very similar to catalytic converters in cars that eventually degrade with use. Aphios is focused on targeting enzymes that are responsible for the formation of amyloid plaques and the regeneration of synapses.
Inflammation is implicated in many aging diseases; in the central nervous system (CNS), it is associated with the CCR5 gene that increases with age. CCR5 has been correlated with impairments in memory consolidation in aged mice, which was reversed by inhibiting this receptor. The company is also focused on reducing brain inflammation and swelling caused by anti-amyloid drugs, and envisions combination drugs to address Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive dementia.
Mission and Vision
Aphios Corporation is a “green” biotechnology company. It follows the ESG principles.
Aphios Corporation was founded with a mission to prevent disease, and maintain health and improve quality of life, and, if it could not, to treat certain chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancers, HIV, and supportive care in an environmentally sustainable manner while minimizing climate change.
The company’s vision is not only to treat but develop cures for certain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and HIV. “We have been inspired by nature and enabled by science to develop enhanced therapeutic products from medicinal plants that have learned how to manage cellular replication without mutation, marine organisms such as some sharks that can live for hundreds of years, and our amazing biology,” adds the Founder.
Leveraging Technological Support
To advance Aphios’ products through the clinic, the company needs both financial and technological support to accelerate development plans. The former would come from thoughtful and passionate investors, institutions and individuals. “Our progress will be facilitated by experienced contract research organizations, healthcare providers and nonprofit companies. Of course, approvals by the regulatory authorities are a must. The FDA and other regulatory agencies have proven in the past few years to be very encouraging in the advancement of new therapeutic modalities for Alzheimer’s disease. We look forward to their support in our journey to address this debilitating disease,” says the Founder.
Endeavors at Present and in the Far Frontiers of Space
“To improve our therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease patients, we are pursuing the discovery of new molecules that will improve our extant product being developed, as well as combination therapies to combat the complex biology of the brain and the management of genes that are associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We are particularly focused on a specific gene that could be knocked down by small molecules and siRNA to improve patient’s memories,” explains the Founder.
He continues, “As our knowledge of biology, the brain, and aging increase with the significant amount of fundamental research being conducted, new targets will be discovered generating new opportunities for scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to manage memory and aging. These targets, new and old, remain challenged by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) that protects our brain from adventitious and therapeutic molecules. Thus, drug delivery to the brain will remain, as it is today, the Trojan horse that will transport therapeutic molecules across the BBB so that they can manage enzymes, synaptogenesis and genes in our brain. For example, we have explored the impact of microgravity on the International Space Station for making nanoparticles into smaller particles that approach molecular dimensions to improve penetration into the brain across the BBB.”
Scaling 2023 and Beyond
Looking at the future ahead, in 2023 and beyond, the company plans to scale its services and operations by establishing financial and strategic corporate partnerships to progress its lead Alzheimer’s disease drugs that target amyloid reduction, synaptogenesis and brain inflammation through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). “We also plan to work with our university partners and contract research organization to accelerate our drug development activities to bring these drugs to Alzheimer’s disease patients in need of treatment,” adds the Founder.
“I remain inspired to develop solutions for Alzheimer’s disease from my experience with Dr. Alma Lowery-Palmer who always said, ‘I know you can do it,’” concludes the Founder.