Xbrane Biopharma was founded at Stockholm University 2008 by researchers Jan-Willem De Gier and Samuel Wagner together with Serendipity Ixora, driven by the entrepreneurs Saeid Esmaeilzadeh and Ashkan Pouya.
The foundation of the company was a unique technology that resulted in a more cost-effective production of proteins in host cells of the form E.coli.
Xbrane’s first years were about establishing the technology platform, patent protect it and establishing the required capabilities and know-how within the organization. This was done through close collaboration with leading companies engaged in production of proteins and enzymes, where Xbrane’s technology could be applied. Many of these customers were in the pharmaceutical industry, which led the company to relatively quickly realize where the focus should be. Xbrane worked during this period with leading pharmaceutical companies such as MedImmune (part of AstraZeneca), Eli Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo. Helping leading pharmaceutical companies to develop cost-effective production platforms for new drug candidates was rewarding and built significant competence, but with a business model that would give royalties on future sales of the products, the inherent risk of developing completely new drugs became too high. Xbrane then got the eyes on the biosimilar market. Patents on the first really large biological drugs, filgrastim, EPO and human growth hormone, which had proteins as active ingredients, had expired and a number of so-called biosimilars, i.e. follow-on equivalent products, had come to the market. Considering the number of new biological drugs that came to the market, Xbrane realized that this would be a very sizable market over time. Xbrane also realized that this was a market where its strength – cost-effective production of proteins – would come to its full right. In 2014, Xbrane made a strategic shift to focus on the development of its own biosimilars.
Following an evaluation of potential products to develop, taking into consideration the date of patent expiration, attractiveness of the market and competitive situation, Xbrane decided to develop a ranibizumab (Lucentis®) biosimilar, named Xlucane, as the leading product. Xbrane also sought to broaden its technology platform and product portfolio with more biosimilars or complex generic products with the same characteristics as biosimilars, i.e. difficult-to-manufature products with limited competition. In this process, Xbrane acquired Primm Pharma with the leading product candidate Spherotide, the world’s first generation of prostate cancer drug Decapeptyl®.
At the beginning of 2016, Xbrane raised approx. SEK 100 million in capital and listed the company’s share on Nasdaq First North. The capital was invested into further pre-clinical development of both Xlucane and Spherotide. In 2017, Spherotide was launched with a partner in the Middle East and has since been used by thousands of patients, primarily in the treatment of prostate cancer. In 2018, Xbrane closed a number of partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies for sales and marketing of both Xlucane and Spherotide, including German generics and biosimilar company STADA, as well as the Chinese company China Resource Pharmaceuticals.