What is the critical gap in cancer treatment that you are addressing?
Human blood is our most important “biologic” or defense for fighting disease. We cannot survive without healthy blood. Nor can we offer our blood to others in need if our own blood is infected with harmful pathagens. Our most vulnerable patients, such as cancer patients who are at risk of infection and anemia, DEPEND on clean blood and “blood plasma” – i.e. the portion of blood that protects the body from infections and other blood disorders.
So too, as Covid-19 infections persist, the need for clean blood plasma is in high demand. Those who successfully overcame Covid-19 infection have valuable disease-fighting antibodies circulating in their blood that could be offered to others who are struggling to survive this infection.
Yet blood transfusions come with the serious risk of passing on unintended live virus. The current techniques to remove viruses include chemicals, radiation, heat and detergents. These approaches are not entirely effective for removing all types of viruses. Some even require a multi-steps process to remove unwanted carcinogenic residue derived from the virus-removal procedure itself. A better approach for inactivating pathogens in the blood plasma is critical and urgent.
Aphios International specializes in the development of products that inactivate pathogens through physical disruption. Our approach is called Critical Fluid Inactivation (CFI) and it uses SuperFluids to permeate and inflate the virus particles under pressure. We quickly decompress these particles causing the viruses to rupture at their weakest points.
Our technology is simple, safe and effective in delivering blood plasma that is virus-free, while at the same time desired immune proteins remain intact and active. Importantly, our approach could be impactful in developing countries where access to traditional blood-cleaning agents are in limited supply.
What is the key product development milestone you seek to fund?
Aphios International will create a state-of-the-art prototype device for inactivating Covid-19 and other viruses and pathogens while retaining valuable biological and immunological properties needed to help infected patients recover.
The pathogen clearance device will take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete. After that, we will require an additional 12 months for clinical trials to test safety and efficacy in Covid-19 infected patients.
How will funds be used?
The development of the prototype will cost approximately $500,000 in total. The first $100,000 will be used for the design and engineering of the device. The rest of the funds will be used for parts and assembly, testing and evaluation. See the budget breakdown below:
$100,000: Design and Engineering
$50,000: Parts and Assembly
$100,000: Testing and Evaluation
$250,000: Conducting iterative testing and evaluation processes
What key resources have/will you acquire to facilitate the accomplishment of the above product development milestones?
Aphios International has already raised $7.9M in non-dilutive funding: $4M from our parent company, Aphios Corporation, and $3.9M from a Phase I/II SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) grant from the National Heart and Lung Institute. Funds have been dedicated to help develop the Aphios COVID-19 pathogen clearance device and to conduct research on virus clearance in the blood plasma from ICU patients infected with the Covid-19.
If successful, how would you leverage funds raised through our portal to access key funding from other sources?
Aphios International will leverage funds raised on the Music Beats Cancer platform to attract $5M in equity investments, which will help support regulatory approval. Also, Aphios International intends to leverage the funds raised toward a possible follow-on of up to $3M matching grant (SBIR Phase IIB) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
If your Technology were to disappear in the “Valley of Death” funding bottleneck how might this impact society?
Pandemics and plagues are inevitable. What is not certain is knowing what pathogen will cause it, when it will happen and how well the world will cope. Vaccinations and antibiotics have eliminated some of mankind’s greatest foes and lulled society into believing that great plagues are things of the past. However, as Covid-19 continues to infect our global community, we are reminded that pathogen infections are real and preparedness is KEY to surviving them.
Unfortunately, vaccines and treatments against novel pathogens can take months, if not years, to get to patients. A viable and immediate alternative is blood plasma: The antibody-rich portion of blood from recovered patients that can be offered to those who are struggling to fight the disease. Instituting a program capable of effectively clearing convalescent plasma of infectious diseases and other pathogens is paramount to pandemic preparedness. It could save countless lives. Aphios is positioned to support this effort. Failure to capitalize on the Aphios technology would be devastating for our world when the next pandemic hits.
Dr. Trevor Castor
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Castor has over 30 years of diversified business experience ranging from management, marketing, and finance to technology and business development in the energy, environmental and biopharmaceutical industries. He has had bottom-line experience with several high-tech startups. Dr. Castor graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. He studied Business Administration at St. Mary’s College, Brooklyn, NY, and Management, Marketing, and Finance at the Harvard University Extension Program, Cambridge, MA. He is the primary author of 36 issued US and international patents and 15 pending patents. Dr. Castor has collaborated with and consulted to several multinational companies including Baxter Healthcare, Bayer AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, General Electric, Novartis AG and the Gillette Company, and financial institutions such as the Bank of New England and the New England Life Insurance Company.
Dr. Judith L. Palmer-Castor
Director of Regulatory and Clinical Affairs
Dr. Palmer-Castor is a behavioral health scientist with over 20 years of research, clinical and regulatory experiences in industry and academia. Dr. Palmer-Castor was a Project Director on a NIH-funded Adolescent HIV/AIDS Clinical Trial Network Project at Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, a consulting scientist for Mass General Hospital- Division of Global Health and Human Rights, Boston, MA, as well as holding similar behavioral health and research and clinical positions at Northeastern University, Boston, MA, SAMSHA, CDC and other non-profit health and human service agencies. Dr. Palmer-Castor graduated with a Ph.D. in Policy with an emphasis on Behavioral Health and Adolescent Development from Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Psychology from Santa Clara University, CA.
Dr. V. ‘Jay’ Jayarama
Director of Virology
Dr. Jayarama has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry. He has expertise in virology, bacteriology, molecular biology, oncology, advanced cell culture processes, nanoencapsulation and coagulation assays. He has worked for Sekisui Diagnostics, IDEXX Laboratories, V.I. Technologies, Baxter Hyland Immuno, and Wyeth Lederle Vaccines and Pediatrics. Here at Aphios, he has worked on a number of projects including viral inactivation using CFI technology and photodynamic agents, nanosomal formulations of anti-HIV and anti-cancer drugs and an Alzheimer’s disease project on the International Space Station. He has solid capabilities in regulatory compliance, quality system processes, stage gated product development and improvement, and technology assessment. He brings project leadership skills, design expertise and high scientific rigor as well as overall management experiences in the scientific community. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Veterinary Sciences with distinction from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India, and a Doctorate in Biochemistry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, and has conducted Post-Doctoral research in Virology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. He is the author of several peer-reviewed publications and several pending US patents.
David C. Scoles
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Mr. Scoles has 20 years of marketing in a variety of industry sectors including Advertising, Publishing, Market Research, Healthcare and Biotech. He has worked at the Harvard Clinical Research Institute, Boston, MA as a project coordinator and researcher on a cardiovascular project; Schlesinger Associates Los Angeles, CA on medical and consumer recruiting and research; and Lebhar Friedman – Los Angeles, CA where he developed/Implemented marketing strategies and managed clients in entertainment, retail operations and medical product manufacturers. At Aphios, he is involved in a variety of projects including Marketing and Communications, Video Production, Social Media Management, Business Development and Website Management. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies in Communication Studies from Northeastern University College of Arts and Sciences – Boston, MA, and is the author of two published books ‘The Minstrel and the Mercenary,’ and ‘Red Pill, Blue Pill.’
Joseph F. Faris, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Faris has served as a transitional hands-on CFO/Controller to several different industries on a time-sharing/consulting basis over the last 30 years. Some of his clients include Hemagen Diagnostics, Inc., Medical Research, Inc., T Cell Sciences, Inc., Innovative Polymers, Inc. and Neurogen, Inc. He has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, cum laude, from Northeastern University, Boston, MA.