Takeda taps Elektrofi's microparticle delivery platform for potential subq plasma offerings

Takeda HQ
Takeda has made plasma-derived products one of its core therapeutic areas. (Takeda)

Takeda has joined forces with drug delivery specialist Elektrofi to see whether the biotech’s microparticle formulation technology could enable simpler dosing with plasma-derived therapies.

Takeda will assess Elektrofi’s drug delivery platform using an undisclosed plasma protein, with the long-term aim of creating and testing high-concentration, low-viscosity samples, Elektrofi said in a release.

Elektrofi's microparticle formulations might eventually allow plasma therapies to be injected into the skin rather than infused via IV. And that, in turn, could help bolster the Japanese drugmaker's plasma portfolio by improving patients' experience with the products, a Takeda spokeswoman said via email.

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The companies are keeping the terms of the deal under wraps, the spokeswoman said. Takeda has made plasma therapies one of its core therapeutic areas, and it's advancing potential COVID-19 therapies in an alliance with several other drugmakers in the field.

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Meanwhile, providing simpler, under-the-skin dosing options for monoclonal antibodies, plasma therapies and other biologic drugs fits lockstep with Elektrofi's greater mission to ease the treatment burden on patients as well as hospitals, co-founder and CEO Chase Coffman, Ph.D., told Fierce Pharma.

“With Elektrofi’s technology, these medicines can be reformulated for subcutaneous administration, which provides substantial convenience and cost-benefit to patients,” Coffman said. The subcutaneous route is often safer than IV administration and may curb the risk of side effects, too, he added.

Elektrofi’s patented technology is used to engineer ultra-high concentration, low-viscosity protein formulations that can be administered as low-volume, subcutaneous injections. The formulations can even be administered using commercially available devices like autoinjectors, which could transform IV drugs into products easy to use at home.

Takeda will kick off the Elektrofi arrangement by testing the storage stability of Elektrofi's microparticle formulations—another potential strength of the delivery specialist's platform, Coffman thinks. The proteins in Elektrofi’s micoparticle formulations are dehydrated, which improves shelf life and thermal durability compared with conventional aqueous formulations, Coffman said. 

RELATED: MIT researchers develop double-barreled syringe for subcutaneous biologics injections

For Takeda's part, the drugmaker has made plasma a focus of late, including multiple plasma-based efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The company early this year forged a partnership with a range of plasma specialists—including CSL Behring, Biotest, LFB and Octapharma—hoping to quickly roll out an effective coronavirus treatment. That effort, dubbed the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, has since won the support of ADMA Biologics, BioPharma Plasma and Liminal BioScience, among others.

And, in early March, Takeda kicked off development of its own plasma-derived therapy against the novel coronavirus, dubbed TAK-888. That candidate is now set to enter a late-stage trial this month, Reuters reported, after a planned start in July hit a snag.

Meanwhile, the Takeda deal follows another major drug delivery win for Elektrofi this summer. The biotech in August forged a pact with Danish drugmaker LEO Pharma to pair its drug delivery platform with LEO antibodies for a specific, undisclosed dermatology indication.

The companies are developing a subcutaneous skin drug using Elektrofi’s delivery platform, with Elektrofi teed up to receive an undisclosed cash sum plus milestone payments and potential sales royalties from the deal.

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