Our main focus during the first quarter 2020 has been to expand Aqilion’s portfolio with projects in line with our strategic direction and which could potentially strengthen our business concept in the short and long term. Aqilion’s business concept is to identify, develop and clinically prove new medical innovations in order to attract partners or buyers of the projects for continued clinical trials and to take the product to market. We allocated company resources during the period to focus on evaluating new project ideas.
Before starting a new project, we must be able to show that it can attract future partners and that the risk profile of the project complements our existing pipeline. During the evaluation phase, we also invest resources in pre-projects to generate a basis indicating a good fit with our criteria. These criteria include knowledge that can be verified with data, patient benefit, patent protection, market positioning and a clear niche for Aqilion regarding both implementation and competitiveness.
We are currently evaluating a handful of new projects both in discovery (early research phase) and development (early clinical development phase). We are also conducting two pre-projects, one of which aims to start an Aqilion development project that can be implemented through the early clinical phase, which is currently our top priority. Our goal is to start the project and introduce it as a development project during 2020 if the pre-project produces favorable results.
The Aqilion business model stipulates that we will only develop projects through the early clinical phase. We aim to foster a pipeline of projects that will stimulate interest at an early stage from our customers, who represent the next step in the value chain: the pharmaceutical industry and the biotechnology sector. Since we expect three of four Aqilion discovery projects to be terminated before reaching our goal, we will always have a current list of new, carefully reviewed and verified projects that we can start on relatively short notice. Our efforts are based on our focus area within the field of inflammation at the interface of immunology and oncology.
By conducting both research and development projects, we can balance the technical and financial risk profile in our pipeline over time. This strategy also facilitates dynamic business growth once the model is fully operational.
During the period, we invested in operations and development of Alnitak, our relatively newly started discovery project with potential in the fields of inflammation and intestinal cancer, and Alhena, which aims to develop a new medication in the field of immuno-oncology. They are based on inflammatory processes that in turn cause medical conditions for which there are currently no effective medications. Since the projects are in the research stage, it will take time until we obtain reliable data and validate our candidates through various analyses. Consequently, we will wait until we have verified the results and applied for patent protection in each project before releasing more details from these projects.
To meet Aqilion’s needs for cutting-edge expertise and experience in drug discovery, last fall we initiated close collaboration with Red Glead Discovery AB and SARomics Biostructures AB in Lund, Sweden. In addition to a highly experienced team, our new partners offer a unique technical infrastructure.
Over the past few months the world has been forced to adapt to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Aqilion, the well-being of our personnel is paramount. We are therefore carefully monitoring developments and following the advice of the authorities. My assessment is that during the period we have essentially proceeded with our activities as planned, albeit with some minor delays due to late deliveries and staff shortages experienced by our subcontractors.
At the time of writing, we live in an uncertain time to which we must continue to adapt. I look forward to forging ahead on this journey together with my colleagues toward our goal of presenting and optimizing a niche-focused, competitive project portfolio. Our aspiration is for the results of our work to improve patient quality of life, while also managing a project portfolio that appeals to both Aqilion owners and customers.
Helsingborg, Sweden, April 2020
CEO, AQILION AB