Our mission is to bring novel treatment options to rare kidney diseases and to partner closely with the medical and patient communities we serve. The first step in our journey is to improve quality of life and to extend life expectancy of patients with primary hyperoxaluria.
Back in the 1970’s a microbiologist named Milt Allison was studying interactions between feedstuffs and microbes at the National Animal Disease Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Milt noticed that some sheep, after eating a high oxalate plant (Halogeton glomeratus), were mysteriously dying from kidney failure. He decided to research further and realized that surviving sheep actually developed a tolerance as their microbiomes gradually adapted to a diet of this plant. Milt’s studies showed that the increased tolerance was due to selection of increased numbers of oxalate-degrading bacteria in the sheep gut. In further studies, Milt and his team of graduate students, isolated the new oxalate-degrading bacterium. They found that the bacterium lives on oxalate, so they named it Oxalobacter formigenes. They also found that it occurs in the gastrointestinal tracts of many animals, including humans.
OxThera AB was founded in 2005 to explore the therapeutic potential that originated from this observation. Turning a naturally occurring bacteria into a healthcare product may sound easy, but in reality, it is not. To commercialize Oxabact®, we needed to develop a suitable delivery mechanism to transport uniform quantities of live bacteria to the site of action. The bacterium viability depends on strictly anaerobe conditions making biomanufacturing complex. We have developed a lyophilized formulation encapsulated in a special enteric coating that protects the bacteria from the stomach acid. The capsule remains intact while passing through the stomach, then releases cells at the target site, the upper intestine.
Over the course of clinical development, continuous optimization of the product version has improved key characteristics of our therapeutic candidate and thereby increased the overall likelihood of success.