1. Mr Monnard and Mr Fumeaux, you are co-directors of Acthera Therapeutics Ltd in Basel. Could you explain to us briefly what Acthera Therapeutics does?
We are a biotech company founded by scientists, whose aim is to develop an innovative and original solution that will improve the effectiveness of medications. Using a newly patented lipid, we’re developing hard-shelled liposomes (HSL) – small structures like soap bubbles that are 10 times smaller than a strand of hair, and that are able to encapsulate active ingredients. Using these structures, we want to produce an innovative and alternative method for targeted drug delivery that will benefit patients.

Acthera: Dr. Thierry Fumeaux and Dr. Pierre-Alain Monnard.

Co-Managing Director of Acthera: Dr. Thierry Fumeaux and Dr. Pierre-Alain Monnard.

2. What does your concept involve, and what are your aims?
Doctors and patients encounter the problem of systemic side effects of drugs every day. These side effects significantly limit the clinical use of active ingredients, as they force doctors to either only administer the medication to selected patients or to reduce the dosage, resulting in reduced clinical benefits.

Acthera’s vision is to increase the local concentration of medication at the site of the illness, where it is meant to show the maximum therapeutic effect, while the systemic load on the patient’s body is reduced. Acthera will therefore significantly expand the treatment window for most current and future medications. Patent-protected HSL from Acthera were developed to release a drug precisely where it’s needed. Just like frozen bubbles, HSL are firm and therefore mechanosensitive, meaning they will break under a certain minimal amount of pressure and release their therapeutic cargo. This kind of pressure can be created through pathological conditions such as acute thrombosis. It can also be caused by shock waves, ultrasound and light applied externally.

HSL created by Acthera are able to expand the treatment window for a broad spectrum of active ingredients by releasing them exactly where and when they’re needed – for a variety of medical conditions, from cardiovascular diseases to cancers. They can also facilitate the clinical development of new modalities, for example nucleotide treatments.

3. Why did you choose Rosental Mitte as your company location?
Basel is currently the clear centre of Swiss innovation in biomedical research. Because Acthera was growing, we were looking for a new base for our office and our research lab, and with its location, facilities and history, Rosental Mitte was clearly the ideal place. When the opportunity arose to lease spaces in Rosental, we seized it straight away. We’re very happy with this very promising decision. In addition, our headquarters are also in Basel.

4. What’s the interaction like with other companies?
At the moment, because there aren’t very many companies in our building, interaction is rather limited. It’s still interesting though to speak to teams whose profile is so different to ours. But with the development of Rosental Mitte and the upcoming arrival of other biotech companies, we’re looking forward to the possible synergies that will inevitably come about in this propitious environment.