John Sterling, editor in chief of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
Last week Russo Partners attended BIOCOM’s breakfast meeting, one of a series of events featuring a panel of experts discussing key issues in the life sciences industry. This discussion focused on the promise of personalized medicine as well as challenges facing the space and was moderated by John Sterling, editor in chief of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
Insights into the personalized medicine space were provided by a panel consisting of Mark Erlander, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of bioTheranostics, David Nelson, Ph.D., president & CEO of Epic Sciences, Darlene Solomon, chief technology officer of Agilent Technologies, and Ashley A. Van Zeeland, Ph.D., co-founder, Cypher Genomics, and director of strategic partnerships at the Scripps Translational Science Institute. Russo Partners was especially interested in this topic as many of our clients are involved in the personalized medicine space, such as Endocyte, a company co-developing targeted cancer therapeutics with companion diagnostics.
Key points from the discussion included:
- Beyond validity and accuracy, companion diagnostics must demonstrate clinical utility – the ability of the test to show that it is improving patient outcomes
- Companion diagnostics lower the technical risk involved in developing therapeutics, however business risks exist for diagnostics companies
- Currently, there is an unprecedented level of interest from big pharma in developing companion diagnostics
- While it may seem expensive to invest in developing a companion diagnostic, especially for small and medium size biopharma companies, it is also costly to treat a patient with an ineffective drug
BIOCOM events such as these provide the life sciences industry in Southern California with a valuable opportunity to discuss key issues affecting the space as well as network with peers. Russo Partners has worked with BIOCOM in the past to raise awareness of other initiatives that support the community, including BIOCOM’s Second Annual Global Life Science Partnering Conference, and we are currently working with BIOCOM to develop the front-page article of LifeLines, the organization’s quarterly newsletter. We look forward to working with BIOCOM as they continue to work to support the Southern California life sciences community.
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Tagged Agilent Technologies, BIOCOM, bioTheranostics, companion diagnostic, Cypher Genomics, Endocyte, Epic Sciences, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, John Sterling, life sciences, personalized medicine
Recently Roche announced positive data from a Phase 3 study demonstrating the ability of the company’s antibody drug conjugate (ADC), T-DM1, or trastuzumab emtansine, to increase progression-free survival of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients who had previously received treatment with Herceptin® and a taxane (chemotherapy).
Based on these positive data, Roche plans to file for approval of the drug in the European Union and United States this year. The results from the study will likely be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual meeting in June.
ADCs are a new class of therapeutics comprised of an antibody linked to a chemotherapy drug. Often described as “smart bombs,” ADCs hold much promise due to their targeted and potent nature, which allows the therapeutic to deliver an active chemotherapy drug to a specific cell while minimizing damage to healthy cells. Because of this ability, ADCs are currently being developed for cancer indications; they can, however, be directed to other types of targets beyond tumor cells that are implicated in autoimmune or cardiovascular disorders.
Due to the promise and potential of these drugs, there has recently been a surge of interest in ADCs, with both big pharma as well as small biotechnology companies pursuing programs. Companies developing ADCs include Ambrx and Sutro Biopharma, which are both developing next-generation ADCs. Ambrx is utilizing its protein medicinal chemistry technology to precisely link the antibody to the drug, creating an ADC with a potentially improved safety and efficacy profile. Sutro is using its protein synthesis technology to create best-in-class ADCs and bispecific antibodies, as well as proteins that have previously been inaccessible when using other technologies.
Russo Partners looks forward to bringing awareness to Ambrx’s and Sutro’s ADC programs in the coming months as interest in the space continues to grow.
Find out more information about Roche’s announcement in the following article from The Wall Street Journal:
The Wall Street Journal