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The Bio Report

English, Finance, 1 season, 511 episodes, 1 day, 6 hours, 24 minutes
The Bio Report podcast, hosted by award-winning journalist Daniel Levine, focuses on the intersection of biotechnology with business, science, and policy.
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Boosting the Power of Dendritic Cancer Vaccines

The idea of developing cancer vaccines that harness dendritic cells is not new, but Diakonos Oncology thinks it’s been able to solve the lack of efficacy that has plagued this approach. The company combines its vaccines with RNA and proteins from a patient’s tumor to trigger a robust response by tricking the immune system to recognize cancer cells as being virally infected. We spoke to Jay Hartenbach, chief operating officer of Diakonos, about its dendritic cell cancer vaccine technology, how it works, and why its lead indication is an aggressive form of brain cancer.
5/15/202419 minutes, 8 seconds
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Overcoming Resistance in Cancer with Chemistry

Kinase inhibitors have given rise to an era of precision medicine for the treatment of cancer, but the ability of cancer cells to mutate enables tumors to develop resistance to existing therapies. Nuvalent is developing therapies that both target the original tumor as well tumors with emergent resistance. We spoke to James Porter, CEO of Nuvalent, about how it designs drugs that address the challenges of both kinase resistance and selectivity, its pipeline in development, and why it’s critical that its experimental therapy for non-small cell lung cancer can penetrate the brain.
5/8/202430 minutes, 1 second
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Teaching an Old Drug a New Trick to Prevent Lyme Disease

Each year, an estimated 400,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with Lyme disease, a billion-dollar healthcare problem caused by a bacterial infection that is transmitted through the bite of a tick. The condition can cause joint pain and fatigue, but is treatable with antibiotics. Left untreated, though, it can progress and cause more serious symptoms including facial palsy, an irregular heartbeat, and nerve pain. Tarsus Pharmaceuticals is developing a human formulation of the antiparasitic lotilaner, to prevent Lyme disease. We spoke to Bobby Azamian, CEO of Tarsus, about Lyme disease, the case for the company’s experimental prophylactic drug TP-05, and why you may already have been using a form of the drug to protect a four-legged member of your household.
5/1/202420 minutes, 3 seconds
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A New Class of Cell Therapies to Target Solid Tumors

In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte, or TIL therapy, for solid tumors. The approval was hailed as a milestone that points the path forward for a new class of cell therapies for solid tumors. We spoke to Jason Bock, CEO of CMTC, the joint venture between Resilience and MD Anderson Cancer Center, about the emerging area of TIL therapies, the significance of the first approved therapy in the class, and how they may address existing limitations of CAR-T therapies.  
4/24/202432 minutes, 38 seconds
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Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment with Lipid-Based Immunotherapies

Lipids have long been used as drug delivery vehicles, but HighField Biopharmaceutics is repurposing lipids as drugs to fight cancer. The company’s technology platform is seeking to change the immunotherapy landscape with new treatments that are better targeted, more potent, and less toxic. We spoke to Don Wyatt, chief business officer for Highfield Biopharmaceuticals, about the tumor microenvironment, HighField’s platform technology, and how it is developing lipid-based medicines to overcome challenges of existing immunotherapies.
4/17/202435 minutes, 4 seconds
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A Company Born from a Father Who Wore His Heart on His Sleeve

Jeremiah Robison’s daughter Sofia was born with cerebral palsy, a congenital movement disorder. Watching her physicians use body monitors to measure her gait, and later apply functional electrical stimulation as physical therapy, gave him an idea to combine the two to create a sleeve that could be worn on her leg to improve her ability to walk. Now Cionic, the company he co-founded, is producing its Neural Sleeves to help people with a variety of mobility impairments better navigate the world. We spoke to Robison, CEO of Cionic, about the Neural Sleeve, how functional electronical stimulation helps people with movement disorders walk, and how the use of adaptive algorithms continuously optimizes the stimulation it delivers.
4/10/202432 minutes, 4 seconds
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Using AI to Improve Burn Care

Physicians treating people with burns typically incorrectly assess the depth of burn wounds in about 25 to 30 percent of cases. That, in part, is due to a lack of diagnostic tools to assess the severity of a burn and to determine the best approach to treatment. Spectral AI has developed the DeepView System, a predictive device that offers clinicians an objective and immediate assessment of a wound’s healing potential prior to treatment or other medical interventions. We spoke to Pete Carlson, CEO of Spectral AI, about the company’s AI-driven DeepView System, how it works, and how it changes outcomes for patients.
4/3/202424 minutes, 15 seconds
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A Home for Biotech in the City that Never Sleeps

New York City is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking of biotech clusters, but the Big Apple has been a growing center of biomedical innovation with its mix of academic research hospitals, finance, and growing number of biopharmaceutical companies. One place that’s seeking to serve as both a home to innovative companies and facilitate collaborations is Cure, which describes itself as a healthcare innovation campus. We spoke to Seema Kumar, CEO of Cure, about how it operates, its various initiatives, and what can be done to accelerate the movement of innovative technologies from the lab to the marketplace.
3/27/202432 minutes, 30 seconds
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Biopharma R&D Growing Stronger

Funding levels, drug launches, and R&D success rates all grew in 2023, according to a new report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. Global funding of biopharmaceutical research and development increased to $72 billion, up from $61 billion in 2022. M&A activity jumped to $140 billion from $78 billion during the same period. We spoke to Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, about its Global Trends in R&D 2024 report, what he’s watching, and why the new patent cliff for the industry will be less threatening than the last one.
3/20/202430 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Benefits of Having a Multitude of Cins

In January 2023, AstraZeneca agreed to acquire CinCor Pharma, the CinRx cardio-renal disease therapy subsidiary, for $1.3 billion. The deal included a potential additional $500 million milestone payment. The price represented a 121 percent premium to CinCor’s market value at the time and could grow to more than a 200 percent premium if the milestone is met. The sale represented validation of CinRX’s portfolio approach to build multiple biotech companies supported with a dedicated funding mechanism. We spoke to Jon Isaacsohn, founder and CEO of CinRx, about the company’s portfolio approach, how its business model allows it to accelerate the development of needed medicines, and its efforts to develop new obesity therapies.
3/13/202432 minutes, 38 seconds
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Making ADCs Smarter and Safer with a Simple Twist of Fate

Antibody-drug conjugates can deliver chemotherapy directly to tumors but more than 95 percent of the dose often ends up in healthy tissues, decreasing efficacy and increasing toxicity. Mythic Therapeutics FateControl technology improves the uptake of ADCs in cancerous cells while avoiding the release of their toxic payloads in healthy ones. This promises to increase efficacy of these therapies in a wide range of cancers without causing unacceptable side-effects. We spoke to Brian Fiske, co-founder, chief scientific officer of Mythic, about the challenges that have held back the benefits of ADCs, how the company’s FateControl technology addresses those, and how it is thinking of building a pipeline of ADCs across indications.
3/6/202424 minutes, 3 seconds
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Targeting a Natural Repair System to Restore Brain Health

The HGF/MET neurotrophic system plays a critical role in the maintenance and repair of connections in the brain. Enhanced signaling along this pathway has the potential to reduce inflammation, slow neurodegeneration, and provide neuroprotection. Athira Pharma is pursuing small molecule drugs that target this pathway to address a range of neurodegenerative conditions. The company is currently conducting a phase 2/3 study of its lead therapeutic candidate, fosgonimeton, in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. But the study comes after the experimental therapy failed to meet its primary endpoint in a phase 2 study in Alzheimer’s disease and a phase 2 study in Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. We spoke to Rachel Lenington, chief operating officer of Athira Pharma, about the case for targeting the HGF/MET neurotrophic system in neurodegenerative diseases, how its experimental therapy fosgonimeton works, and why its continuing to pursue the therapy despite earlier failures.
2/28/202419 minutes, 17 seconds
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Programing Cells in a Predictable and Scalable Way

The advent of induced pluripotent stem cells, cells that can be coaxed into becoming virtually any type of cell within the body, promised to usher in a new era of regenerative medicine and improved drug discovery. In practice, though, the ability to use these cells to develop desired cell types has proved challenging to do in a predictable way and at scale., has developed a synthetic biology platform that it says allows it to industrialize this process and produce desired cells in a consistent manner. We spoke to Mark Kotter, founder and CEO of Bit.Bio, about the company’s platform technology, its effort to develop cell therapies, and its growing offering of precision reprogramed human cells for drug development.  
2/21/202432 minutes, 6 seconds
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Why DNA May Be the Data Storage Medium of the Future

Some 100 trillion gigabytes of data are created and consumed each year, an amount that is expected to double by 2025. The demand for data storage carries the need for significant physical space and power requirements in the form of digital data centers. DNA, though, may represent a solution to what some see as unsustainable growth with environmental consequences. DNA, it turns out, is a dense and durable way to store information. At the end of last year, Paris-based Biomemory launched its DNA Cards, the first DNA data storage ever offered to the general public. The DNA memory cards, about the size of a credit card-sized today may seem more like a curiosity than a viable solution. At $1,000 each, they can store a kilobyte of data, enough to store a single, brief email. We spoke to Erfane Awani, founder and CEO of Biomemory, about the use of DNA for data storage, how it works, and how quickly the technology can scale to where it competes with today’s data storage infrastructure.
2/14/202431 minutes, 48 seconds
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Scouring Genetic Variation within Our Cells for Drug Targets

People tend to think of each person having their own unique genome. Quotient Therapeutics is taking an approach to drug discovery based on the reality that from cell to cell within a given individual, there can be trillions of divergent genomes. Changes in cells throughout the body can alter how a cell responds to disease and point to new ways to cure, treat, or prevent conditions. We spoke to Jacob Rubens, president of Quotient, about the company’s platform technology, how it uncovers genetic mutations at a cellular level, and its efforts to build a pipeline of therapies around the insights it gains.
2/7/202425 minutes, 31 seconds
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Correcting Gene Dysregulation to Treat Diseases

Regardless of the cause of a disease, most diseases involve gene dysregulation. Omega Therapeutics is developing a new class of programmable, epigenomic, mRNA medicines designed to make specific epigenetic changes and correct abnormal gene expression to treat or cure diseases. We spoke to Mahesh Karande, president and CEO of Omega Therapeutics, about its pipeline of mRNA therapies, how they work, and its recently announced collaboration with Novo Nordisk to develop an epigenomic controller to treat obesity.
1/31/202445 minutes, 28 seconds
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Using Technology to Regain Abilities after Spinal Cord Injury

The effects of spinal cord injury extend beyond the loss of mobility. They can include a toll on mental health, a feeling of exclusion, and a general decline in the quality of life as a result of being able to stand and interact eye-to-eye with others. ReWalk Robotics’ Personal Exoskeleton is configured to an individual’s body and enables someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury to stand, walk, and even climb up and down stairs. We spoke to Larry Jasinski, CEO of ReWalk Robotics, about the company’s Personal Exoskeleton, how it works, and the impact it can have on the quality of life for someone with a spinal cord injury.
1/24/202425 minutes, 27 seconds
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Why Drug Developers Have a Growing Interest in Targeting Mitochondria

Mitochondria are often referred to as the “powerhouses” of the cell, but as scientists gain a greater understanding of these essential organelles, they are coming to discover they play a more expansive role in health and disease. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health named Navdeep Chandel a co-recipient of the 2023 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for his research that revealed how mitochondria function as signaling organelles that control the body’s normal functions and impact diseases, including cancer and inflammation. We spoke to Chandel, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care and of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, about the state of our understanding of mitochondria, why drug developers are pursuing therapies to target mitochondria across a broad range of diseases, and the need for a concerted effort to conduct fundamental research to better understand the biology of this organelle.
1/17/202439 minutes, 20 seconds
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Beefing Up Computational Muscle to Understand Molecular Activity of Drug Candidates

Sandbox AQ, the Alphabet spin-out backed with $500 million in investment, in June 2023 unveiled it AQBioSim division. The division is working to bring SandoxAQ’s AI and quantum-inspired computing to develop new treatments for intractable medical conditions including neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The company is working with leading drug developers and university medical centers to accelerate drug development, reduce costs, and improve the rate of clinical success. We spoke to Nadia Harhen, general manager of simulation and optimization for SandboxAQ, about the challenges of drug development it is seeking to address, how Sandbox AQ is leveraging quantum technologies, and why it is seeking to tackle a challenging set of diseases. One note: As we were preparing to publish this episode, Sandbox AQ announced it acquired Good Chemistry, a computational chemistry company that leverages AI, quantum, and other advanced technologies to accelerate drug discovery. The deal is expected to enhance SandboxAQ’s existing computational chemistry and simulation capabilities, adding talent, technologies, and industry insights.
1/10/202431 minutes, 45 seconds
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Targeting a Multitude of CIN in Cancer Cells

It’s long been understood that chromosomal instability (CIN) is a characteristic of cancer cells, but it also represents a key difference between cancer cells and healthy cells that can be exploited. Volastra is developing medicines for a wide range of difficult-to-treat cancers that target the vulnerabilities of these cells. We spoke to Charles Hugh-Jones, CEO of Volastra, about chromosomal instability in cancer cells, how the company is developing a pipeline of therapies to exploit this, and its expanding relationships with Big Pharma companies.
1/3/202420 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Year in Biotech and What’s Ahead in 2024

Though the year began with a banking crisis and has been marked with layoffs and restructurings, we have managed to avoid a feared recession. It’s been a big year for new drug approvals, M&A activity has been brisk, and biotech stocks have rallied in recent weeks pushing the widely watched S&P biotech index into positive territory. We continue our annual tradition to look back across the year in biotech and ahead to JPMorgan and beyond with Adam Feuerstein, Polk award-winning journalist and senior biotech writer for STAT. We spoke to Feuerstein about the biotech news that shaped 2023, the year’s best and worst CEOs, and what’s ahead in 2024.
12/27/202332 minutes, 44 seconds
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Transforming Healthcare with Data

Vik Bajaj has long lived at the intersection of physical sciences, engineering, data science, and the life sciences—first as an academic working to improve diagnostic imaging at Stanford University and later as a chief scientific officer at GRAIL and Verily. Now, as a founder and CEO of Foresite Labs, the technologist turned venture capitalist is using his experience to create new companies that are leveraging AI and other technologies to transform healthcare. We spoke to Bajaj about the changing data landscape around healthcare, the potential for technology to improve health outcomes, and what it takes for an entrepreneur to get his attention today.   
12/20/202350 minutes, 47 seconds
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Realizing the Promise of IL-2 Therapies with AI

Interleukin-2 therapies have been seen as promising ways to treat solid tumors, but they have proven challenging because of the ability of IL-2 to both activate and suppress the immune system. Their effectiveness has been limited because of potentially toxic side effects, which have included vascular leak syndrome and pulmonary edema. Aulos Biosciences believes the AI-based approach to computational drug design used for its lead experimental therapy allows it to unlock the power of IL-2 without triggering the concerning side effects of existing therapies. We spoke to Aron Knickerbocker, president and CEO of Aulos Bioscience, about the potential for IL-2 therapies to treat solid tumors, the limits of today's IL-2 therapies, and the AI-based design behind its experimental IL-2 therapy in development.
12/13/202322 minutes, 42 seconds
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Unlocking Real-World Data to Improve Outcomes

Real-world data promises to provide insights that lead to better therapies, change how we treat diseases, and improve outcomes for patients. One of the limits of realizing benefits from all of the health information we are swimming in is the lack of access to high-quality data in a usable format. Verana Health has built partnerships with medical societies to provide access to exclusive, real-world data from a network of more than 20,000 clinicians. We spoke to Sujay Jadhav, CEO of Verana Health, about the potential for real-world data to improve our understanding of health, how Verana is addressing challenges these data can present, and the areas of medicine on which it is focused.
12/6/202340 minutes, 2 seconds
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A Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Investing at the Intersection of Tech and Biotech

Artificial intelligence promises to reshape the healthcare landscape and deliver new insights into the molecular drivers of health and wellness, provide rapid diagnoses of patients, and discover and design therapies that extend beyond human imagination. Swaroop ‘Kittu’ Kolluri, founder and managing director of Neotribe Ventures, is using his experience as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur to invest in the emerging TechBio space. We spoke to Kolluri about the state of AI, the potential of technology to transform healthcare, and Neotribe’s approach to investing.
11/29/202325 minutes, 2 seconds
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A Company Betting Its Physics-Based AI Will Fuel a Quantum Leap in Drug Discovery

Though many drug developers are harnessing AI to create novel chemical compounds, Iambic Therapeutic’s generative AI is leveraging quantum mechanics to get to better drugs. It says its physics-informed machine learning approach has yielded promising lead candidates with superior profiles in record time. In October, Iambic completed a $100 million series B financing round to support development of its platform and to advance multiple candidates into clinical development. We spoke to Tom Miller, co-founder and CEO of Iambic, about its AI platform,, the insights Iambic gains from using a quantum mechanics-based approach to drug discovery, and its growing pipeline of cancer therapies.
11/22/202324 minutes, 12 seconds
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Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Early through a Blood Test

One of the challenges with treating Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosing patients early enough in the course of its progression to have a meaningful impact with treatments. Sunbird Bio said it can accurately detect and differentiate specific proteins that aggregate and signal the presence of Alzheimer's disease, with a simple blood draw. It said its test in development could address the growing need for more sensitive, reliable, non-invasive diagnostic tests to accelerate drug development and enhance patient care. We spoke to John McDonough, executive chair and CEO of Sunbird Bio, about its diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease, how it has the potential to impact treatments and outcomes for millions of patients with the condition, and how its merger with Glympse Bio is expected to push it into new markets.
11/15/202325 minutes, 20 seconds
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Addressing Supply-Chain Challenges Underlying Drug Shortages with Synthetic Biology

About 40 percent of all drugs in the Western world are derived from plants. But challenges with producing a reliable supply inherent with materials derived from agricultural processes can lead to drug shortages as climate events, pests, and plant diseases can affect yields. Antheia is harnessing synthetic biology to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients as an alternative to reliance on crop production. We spoke to Christina Smolke, co-founder and CEO of Antheia, about the supply-chain challenges underlying drug shortages, how the company is using synthetic biology to create a reliable supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, and its growing pipeline of products in development.
11/8/202327 minutes, 40 seconds
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Building Better and More Affordable Vaccines

The COVID 19 pandemic provided a painful reminder of the global need to protect people against the threat of existing and emerging infectious diseases. Emergex Vaccines is developing fully synthetic vaccines that provide advantages over live attenuated and RNA-based vaccines. The company says its vaccines can provide long-lasting T cell immunity, are cost effective, and stable at room temperature. We spoke to Thomas Rademacher, co-founder and CEO of Emergex Vaccines, about the company’s platform technologies, the manufacturing advantages they offer, and the company’s pursuit of universal coronavirus and influenza vaccines that work across variants.
11/1/202342 minutes, 9 seconds
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Overcoming Resistance to Targeted Therapies

The advent of targeted therapies has contributed to notable progress in the fight against cancer, but the ability of cancers to develop resistance to these precision medicines continues to leave patients in need of new approaches. Concarlo Therapeutics is developing therapies that target a critical driver of cell proliferation that is reactivated once a cancer grows resistant to certain targeted therapies. We spoke to Stacy Blain, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Concarlo, about the development of drug resistance in cancer, the company’s initial focus on breast cancer, and her own journey from academia to biopharma.
10/25/202329 minutes, 57 seconds
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Using Tumor Gene Therapy to Overcome Barriers to Immunotherapies

There have been significant advances to immunotherapies since their first introduction, but challenges remain to realizing their full potential in solid tumors. That’s because of the ability of tumors to use multiple mechanisms to evade the immune system. Akamis Bio is developing tumor gene therapies that are capable of targeting tumors and driving expression of multiple immunologically active biomolecules and therapeutic proteins to create a robust, antitumor immune responses. We spoke to Howard Davis, CEO of Akamis Bio, about the challenges immunotherapies have faced in addressing solid tumors, the company’s tumor gene therapy platform, and how it turns tumors against themselves to stimulate an immune response.
10/18/202330 minutes, 1 second
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Using AI to Generate Mini-Protein Therapeutics

Mini-proteins have the power and performance of an antibody with the ability to bind tightly to a target. But because of their small size, it can penetrate into places where small molecules can go. Ordaōs Bio is leveraging its generative AI platform to develop a pipeline of mini-protein therapeutics. We spoke to David Longo, co-founder and CEO of Ordaōs, about the company’s focus on mini-proteins, its generative AI platform, and why its building its own pipeline around rare disease indications and partnering with other drug developers on other indications.
10/11/202327 minutes, 43 seconds
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Inhibiting Cell Death to Preserve Vision in Retinal Diseases

The Fas signaling pathway plays a central role in activating cell death. As such, it is implicated in a range of conditions and has been associated with ophthalmic diseases. ONL Therapeutics is developing therapies that target Fas signaling to address a range of retinal conditions. We spoke to Connie Chang, chief operating officer for ONL Therapeutics, about the role Fas-signaling plays in cell death, how this underlies a number of retinal diseases, and the company’s experimental therapy to inhibit Fas signaling.
10/4/202327 minutes, 23 seconds
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Leveraging Generative AI to Design Therapeutic Antibodies

Antibody discovery is a long, costly, and complex process. LabGenius is reinventing that process by using its platform technology that combines AI with robotic systems capable of designing, conducting, and learning from its own experiments. Its platform not only has the potential to accelerate the drug discovery process but can generate high-performing molecules that likely would not have been found through conventional discovery methods. We spoke to James Field, founder and CEO of LabGenius, about the company’s use of generative AI to discover new therapeutic antibodies, its initial focus on immunotherapies, why he thinks the data the company is generating to train its AI system is a significant point of differentiation.
9/27/202334 minutes, 22 seconds
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Managing Pain without Addiction

Opioid overdose, abuse, and addiction affect an estimated 3 million Americans and accounts for $35 billion in U.S. healthcare costs every year. Tris Pharma is developing the opioid Cebranopadol, as an effective pain management therapy without the addictive potential of FDA-approved opioids. We spoke to Ketan Mehta, founder and CEO of Tris Pharma, about Cebranopadol, how it modulates the addictive potential by targeting two receptors at once, and its potential to address the opioid crisis. An editor’s note: since recording this podcast, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded Tris a five-year, $16.6 million grant to advance Cebranopadol.
9/20/202319 minutes, 49 seconds
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Using AI to Match Cancer Patients to their Best Treatment Options

With the rapid advances in cancer research, it can be difficult for physicians to stay on top of all of the emerging treatments in clinical development. Leal Health has developed an AI-powered platform that provides a personalized list of treatment options to match a patient’s precise diagnosis to advanced therapies in clinical testing. We spoke to Tzvia Bader, co-founder and CEO of Leal Health, about her own experience with cancer, how that led to the creation of Leal Health, and how it is harnessing AI to connect patients to clinical trials based on their exact diagnoses.  
9/13/202334 minutes, 1 second
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A Venture Capitalist’s View of the Current Biotech Landscape

Earlier this year, the venture capital firm SR One closed a $600 million fund, its second since spinning out from the pharmaceutical giant GSK. Despite the difficult investment landscape today for biotechs, it’s a reminder that significant capital is available to be deployed. We spoke to Simeon George, CEO and managing partner for SR One, about the firm’s investment approach, how the current landscape is causing venture capitalists and therapeutics developers to think differently, and what advice he’d offer entrepreneurs seeking to raise money today.  
9/6/202343 minutes, 52 seconds
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Realizing the Therapeutic Potential of Cytokines by Making them Context Dependent

Cytokines, which play an essential role in immune cell signaling, have long been recognized as having great therapeutic potential, but efforts to harness them have been hampered by their toxicity. Bonum Therapeutics is overcoming this limitation by engineering cytokines with a sensor domain that makes their activity dependent on their environment. While the company is focusing its efforts to develop regulated cytokine to treat cancer, it also has potential as an approach to autoimmune, metabolic, and other conditions. We spoke to Bonum Therapeutics Chief Scientific Officer Diane Hollenbaugh and Bonum Chief Business Officer Neela Patel about the therapeutic potential of cytokines, the challenges of using them as therapeutics, and why Bonum’s context-dependent cytokines may enable wider use of these proteins to treat a range of diseases
8/30/202330 minutes, 54 seconds
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Targeting Cancer and Autoimmune Conditions with Donor-Derived EBV T Cells

The Epstein-Barr virus is among the most common viruses associated diseases including multiple sclerosis and certain cancers. Atara Biotherapeutics is developing off-the-shelf, T-cell immunotherapies designed to target cancers and autoimmune conditions driven by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is also using its EBV T-cell platform to develop next-generation allogenic CAR T therapies to target a range of non-EBV associated diseases. We spoke to Pascal Touchon, president and CEO of Atara, about the role of the Epstein-Barr virus in certain cancers and autoimmune conditions, the company’s platform technology for allogenic CAR T therapies, and why it has implications beyond EBV-driven diseases.
8/23/202331 minutes, 11 seconds
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Reprogramming the Tumor Microenviroment to Activate an Immune Response

Myeloid cells can stimulate anti-tumor effects in the body and recruit additional immune system cells to turn a cold tumor hot. Bolt Biotherapeutics is developing a new category of immunotherapies that combines the precision of antibody targeting with the strength of the innate and adaptive immune systems. By activating and recruiting myeloid cells, the company’s experimental therapies are designed to re-program the tumor microenvironment and invoke an anti-tumor immune response. We spoke to Randy Schatzman, CEO of Bolt Biotherapeutics, about the company’s immune-stimulating antibody conjugates, the case for activating both the innate and adaptive immune systems to fight cancer, and the company’s lead experimental therapy for HER2 positive cancers.
8/16/202319 minutes, 29 seconds
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Making Safer and More Effective Vaccines with Targeted mRNA

The development of mRNA-based vaccines has represented a major advance in the field of vaccine development. Rather than using weakened or inactivated viruses to stimulate an immune response to generate protective antibodies, mRNA-based vaccines provide a potentially safer and more effective approach. mRNA vaccines work by introducing a small piece of mRNA into the body, which encodes instructions to produce a specific viral protein for the cell to manufacture. This protein then triggers an immune response, leading to the production of antibodies that can protect against specific diseases. Combined Therapeutics has designed a modified mRNA-based vaccine platform that allows for the inhibition of protein expression in specific tissues, enabling targeted vaccine treatment and preventing off-target side effects. It’s designed to be adaptable and efficient, which makes possible rapid production of vaccines for a wide range of diseases and disease variants. We spoke to Thomas VanCott, chief scientific officer of Combined Therapeutics, about the company’s mRNA platform for vaccines, the advantages it provides, and its potential to use the same approach to train the immune system on specific mutations in a tumor.
8/9/202333 minutes, 18 seconds
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Addressing a Global Need with RNA Vaccines and Immunotherapies

Infectious diseases and microbial resistance represent major concerns in developing nations. The combination of globalization with the expanded use of antibiotics in resource-constrained environments is worsening the problem. In fact, hospital acquired infection rates in some regions are three times greater than in the United States and as much as 30 percent of all such infections are antimicrobial resistant. HDT Bio is developing immune activators and RNA-based vaccines to address this challenge with cost-effective and accessible medicines. We spoke to Chris Pirie, co-founder and chief operating officer of HDT Bio, about the problem the company is seeking to address, its platform technology for producing safe and stable RNA vaccines, and the potential to use the same platform to produce immunotherapies for cancer.
8/2/202323 minutes, 20 seconds
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Targeting Bacteria in Chronic Diseases

Bacteriophage are viruses that target bacteria. Though they emerged in the 1920s as treatments for infectious diseases, because of their high level of specificity, they fell out of favor with the advent of broad-spectrum antibiotics. BiomX is developing both natural and engineered phage cocktails designed to target and destroy harmful bacteria in chronic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and atopic dermatitis. We spoke to Jonathan Solomon, CEO of BiomX, about the case for phage therapies, the company’s approach to creating a phage cocktail that could effectively target a population of patients, and why it's focusing on chronic diseases.
7/26/202329 minutes, 35 seconds
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Targeting Solid Tumors with Off-The-Shelf CAR T Therapies

CytoMed, a spin out of A*STAR—Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research—is developing novel cell-based immunotherapies that can go beyond the limitations of existing CAR T therapies. The company is focused on the development of off-the-shelf therapies derived from the delta gamma T cells from healthy donors. We spoke to Wee Kiat Tan, chief operating officer of CytoMed, about the company’s platform technology for off-the-shelf CAR T therapies, the advantages they provide over existing autologous CAR T therapies, and why he believes they will be successful at treating solid tumors.
7/19/202322 minutes, 1 second
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Reimagining the Development of Immunotherapies with a Venture Studio

For academic scientists who make groundbreaking discoveries that can lead to new medicines, bridging the so-called valley of death—the gulf between the lab and having a validated candidate that is ready to begin human clinical trials—continues to be daunting. Foundery Innovations, which bills itself as a venture studio, sees a big opportunity in partnering with academic researchers to carry promising new immunotherapies through to the clinic. Its team has deep experience in immunotherapy development and brings a wide range of skills and cutting-edge platform technologies to de-risk development and accelerate the time to the clinic. We spoke to Max Krummel, founder and managing member of Foundery Innovations, about the venture studio’s business model, the resources it brings to bear, and how it works with academic researchers and universities.
7/12/202345 minutes, 34 seconds
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Repairing the Body with Advanced Cell Therapies

Vericel, which acquired Sanofi’s cell therapy and regenerative medicine unit, markets advanced cell therapy products for sports medicine and severe burn care. The company’s MACI is an autologous cellularized scaffold used in the repair of cartilage defects of the knee. Epicel, its cultured epidermal autografts, are a permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns greater than or equal to 30 percent of total body surface area. We spoke to Nick Colangelo, president and CEO of Vericel, about the markets the company is targeting, how its regenerative medicine products are changing outcomes for patients, and the company’s plans for growth.
7/5/202332 minutes, 3 seconds
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Achieving Precision with AI Pathology

Understanding the physical relationship of cells and how they interact can provide new understanding of diseases and help improve drug development and clinical treatment decisions. Nucleai uses its AI-powered spatial biology platform to transform pathology data into insights. The digital assays it develops enhances drug development, supports treatment decisions, and helps stratify patients to improve care. We spoke to Ken Bloom, head of pathology for Nucleai, about the company’s AI spatial biology platform, how it works, and the potential it has to advance precision medicine.
6/28/202348 minutes, 21 seconds
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Inducing Potent and Durable T Cell Responses to Fight Disease

Vaccitech first gained attention as co-inventor of the Covid-19 vaccine licensed to AstraZeneca. The University of Oxford spin-out is developing a pipeline of T cell immunotherapies to treat and cure chronic infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancers. The company’s lead experimental therapy is a potentially curative monotherapy for chronic hepatitis B viral infection. We spoke to Bill Enright, CEO of Vaccitech, about the company’s platform technologies, how they work, and how they enable the development of more effective immunotherapies.
6/21/202316 minutes, 57 seconds
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Developing Immunotherapies that Target the Drivers of Cancer

One reason that CAR T therapies haven’t been more effective at treating solid tumors is their reliance on targeting antigens on the surface of cells, which can often be present on healthy cells as well. Affini-T Therapeutics is addressing this weakness in current cell therapies by using its platform technology to develop T cell receptor engineered T cells. Its so-called TCR-T cells are able to recognize intracellular targets and attack the drivers of mutations that are inaccessible to CAR-T therapies. We spoke to Jak Knowles, CEO of Affini-T Therapeutics, about the company’s TCR-T cell therapies, how they are engineered, and why they have the potential to be effective at treating solid tumors that have evaded the power of CAR T therapies.
6/14/202329 minutes
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Using Phase 0 Trials to Bring Precision Medicine to Treating Brain Tumors

More than 138,000 people in the United States and 1.4 million people worldwide are struggling with malignant brain tumors. The average five-year survival rate of people with the most common malignant brain tumor—glioblastoma multiforme—is less than 5 percent and there have been no notable improvements in the last three decades. The Ivy Brain Tumor Center is using phase 0 clinical trials to provide individualized treatment to patients with brain tumors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced phase 0 trials in 2004 to address concerns about the slow pace and high cost of drug development. The phase 0 trial is used to quickly identify how a drug works in a patient and whether it should be fast-tracked for further development. We spoke to Nader Sanai, director of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center and chief of neurosurgical oncology at the Barrow Neurological Institute, about phase 0 clinical trials, how they work, and how they are allowing the center to take a precision medicine approach to treating patients with brain tumors.
6/7/202327 minutes, 6 seconds
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Restoring Feeling and Function to Damaged Nerves

Traumatic injuries and surgical procedures can damage peripheral nerves and cause the loss of muscle or organ function, pain, and the loss of sensation. Axogen has a portfolio of regenerative medicine products to enable surgeons to repair peripheral nerves without the need to harvest nerves from a patient’s own body. We spoke to Karen Zaderej, CEO of Axogen, about peripheral nerve injuries, the company’s portfolio of products, and how it is changing the way surgeons can repair and regenerate damaged nerves.
5/31/202327 minutes, 57 seconds
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Enlisting Vaccines in the Fight Against Chronic Diseases

About 20 years ago, the number of people dying from chronic diseases surpassed the number of people dying from infectious ones. Though vaccines have contributed to this shift, they’ve generally not been harnessed to address chronic conditions. Vaxxinity is seeking to change that by using vaccine technology to address the growing burden of chronic diseases. It’s advancing a new class of synthetic, peptide-based vaccines designed to activate the body’s immune system to produce antibodies to neurodegenerative, cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. The company’s pipeline includes experimental therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and hypercholesterolemia. We spoke to Mei Mei Hu, CEO of Vaxxinity, about the case for using vaccines to address chronic diseases, the benefits this approach provides, and how its platform technology activates the immune system to battle non-communicable diseases.      
5/24/202322 minutes, 48 seconds
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Extending the Reach of Protein Degradation Therapies

Developing therapies that work by degrading disease-causing proteins has shown promise, but first-generation approaches have been limited to targeting intracellular proteins and can’t reach membrane and extracellular proteins that represent about 40 percent of the proteome. EpiBiologics is working to expand protein degradation therapies to include membrane and extracellular targets with the goal of eliminating disease-causing proteins that were previously not addressable by traditional therapeutic approaches. We spoke to Rami Hannoush co-founder and interim CEO and president of EpiBiologics, about the company’s platform technology, how its protein degradation approach expands the potential targets for its therapies; and how its built an atlas of tissue-specific degrader antibodies to target proteins involved in cancer, immunologic-, and neurologic-related conditions.
5/17/202321 minutes, 38 seconds
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Growing the Bioeconomy

While many people think of biotechnology in terms of its impact on medicine, it’s expected to transform the economy as its power reaches across industries. As biology increasingly becomes an engineering discipline, it is not only reshaping the way we produce food, but a wide range of industrial products as well. Bio-based processes are replacing petroleum-based ones and giving life to new biomaterials, bioplastics, and biofuels. As the SynBioBeta Global Synthetic Biology Conference returns to Oakland, California May 23 to May 25, we spoke to SynBioBeta Founder and CEO John Cumbers, about the state of the emerging bioeconomy, how biotechnology is being embraced across industries, and the unexpected places biotechnology is already showing up.
5/10/202332 minutes, 58 seconds
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Developing Targeted Therapies to Address Resistance in Cancer

One reason that cancers can be difficult to treat is that the tumor microenvironment can hamper the ability of drugs to penetrate the tumor and facilitate the development of resistance to medicines. AUM Biosciences is developing targeted therapies that address genetic drivers of a cancer and can disable defenses that hide tumors from the immune system. The company’s lead experimental therapy is being tested in combination with immunotherapies to treat colorectal cancer and other solid tumors. We spoke to Vishal Doshi, chairman and CEO of AUM, about the development of resistance in cancers, the case of combining precision therapies with immunotherapies, and why he believes we can transform cancer from a deadly condition to a chronic disease.
5/3/202329 minutes, 35 seconds
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It Takes a Village

While there has been great interest in harvesting and targeting the microbiome to treat disease, Federation Bio believes for durable benefits its necessary to provide a rich ecosystem of microbes in a single therapy. The company has developed a platform for producing synthetic microbial cell therapies to treat a range of diseases from metabolic disorders to metastatic cancers. Unlike earlier approaches, the company said it is generating potent, reproducible, and complete microbial consortia that stably engraft to provide predictable and durable responses. We spoke to Emily Drabant Conley, CEO of Federation Bio, about its platform technology, how it determines what to include or exclude in a given therapy, and what makes a disease a good candidate for its living therapeutics approach.
4/26/202324 minutes, 13 seconds
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Bringing Stick-to-itiveness to Regenerative Medicine

One of the challenges of treating traumatic injuries and degenerative conditions is that while there are therapeutic proteins that can promote repair, they can be difficult to deliver to the site of damage and get them to stay there long enough to provide benefit. Therapdaptive has developed platform technology that enables it to produce variants of recombinant proteins that can bind to the surface of implants, devices, and injectable carrier to allow for precision delivery anywhere in the body. We spoke to Luis Alvarez, CEO of Theradaptive, about the company’s platform technology to produce recombinant proteins that bind to materials, the broad applications for the technology, and how the roots of the company go back to a need he saw during his service in the Iraq war.
4/19/202317 minutes, 21 seconds
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A Biopharma Downturn or Return to Trend

In 2022, investment in biopharmaceutical companies, pipeline activity, and the launch of novel medicines all dropped from the previous year. A new report from IQVIA’s Institute for Human Data Sciences argues the downturn, after two record-setting years, is a post pandemic return to longer-term trends. We spoke to Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, about what happened to the biopharmaceutical sector in 2022, how to make sense of the data, and the shifting landscape in therapeutic and geographic investments.
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Treating Aging-Related Disease by Targeting Molecular Drivers of Aging

The aging process is associated with the development of diseases. BioAge Labs is seeking to expand healthy lifespans by developing therapies for aging-related diseases that target key pathways involved in the aging process. The company has built a platform that combines systems biology and AI to leverage extensive data sets to uncover molecular drivers of aging-related diseases. We spoke to Kristen Fortney, CEO of BioAge, about the company's approach to identifying targets for aging-related diseases, its therapeutic pipeline, and whether it's pursuing any novel targets yet.
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Engineering Better Cell Therapies for Cancers

Cell therapies are revolutionizing the way cancers are treated, but existing cell therapies have their limits. They have been more successful at treating hematologic tumors than solid tumors, and they can sometimes cause serious side effects, such as the destruction of antibodies or what’s known a cytokine storms in which the immune system gets over-revved and attacks healthy cells. Triumvira Immunologics is developing autologous and allogenic T cell therapies that it believes can address the limitations of existing cell therapies and be used to treat both liquid and solid tumors. We spoke to Paul Lammers, CEO of Triumvira, about the company’s platform technology, why it’s robust and versatile, and why its lead indication is for a cancer where effective treatments already exist.
3/29/202331 minutes, 8 seconds
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Targeting a Regulator of Inflammation to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

A complex of proteins that play an essential role in regulating the innate immune system known as the NLRP3 inflammasome is becoming a growing target of interest among drug developers to disrupt immune cell signaling. Halia Therapeutics is developing a pipeline of therapies that target the NLRP3 inflammasome to address not only inflammatory disorders like psoriasis and colitis, but neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. We spoke to David Bearss, president and CEO of Halia, about the NLRP3 inflammasome, the role it plays in Alzheimer’s and other neurologic conditions, and the case for this therapeutic approach.
3/22/202330 minutes, 57 seconds
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Enabling Regenerative Therapies without Immunosuppression

Though the transplantation of insulin-producing islet cells has been used to treat people with type 1 diabetes, such procedures require the use of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the immune system from rejecting the cells. iTolerance is developing platform technology that can be used with tissue, organoid, and cell therapies without the need for life-long immunosuppression. We spoke to Anthony Japour, president and CEO of iTolerance, about the company’s platform technology that eliminates the need for immunosuppressive drugs with tissue and cell transplantation, the company’s lead experimental cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, and the broad range of regenerative therapies that could benefit from the technology.
3/15/202319 minutes, 22 seconds
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Making Vaccine and Biotherapeutic Production Fast and Affordable

Dyadic is working to bridge the gap between high-yield, low-cost, and large-scale industrial biotechnology, and low-yield, high-cost, small-scale biopharmaceuticals. It’s C1 technology, which is a fungal expression system, can efficiently produce enzymes and other proteins. Earlier this year, the company achieved a milestone when it began dosing patients in a phase 1 clinical trial in South Africa of its COVID-19 booster vaccine. The company expects the first-in-human trial to accelerate the adoption of the C-1 production platform for vaccine and therapeutic candidates. We spoke to Mark Emalfarb, president and CEO of Dyadic, about the company’s fungal-based manufacturing platform, how it can product large volumes of enzymes and other proteins in a fast and cost-effective manner, and the potential this has to change the way biologics are manufactured.    
3/8/202338 minutes, 18 seconds
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Forcing Cancers to Reveal Themselves

Sam Gambhir understood the ravages of cancer. His wife developed breast cancer and survived. His son later developed brain cancer at the age 15 and died. And in 2020, Gambhir himself succumbed to cancer. Before he died, though, Gambhir, who served as division chief of the Canary Center for Early Cancer Detection and Molecular Imaging at Stanford University, hit upon an idea. Rather than hunt for cancers in the hopes of making an early diagnosis, he devised a way for them to produce synthetic biomarkers to cause them to reveal themselves. He co-founded Earli, which seeks to enable the diagnosis cancers when they are most treatable. We spoke to David Suhy, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Earli, about the company’s synthetic biomarker technology that makes cancers visible with a PET scan, how it works, and how this has the potential to alter outcomes for patients by enabling treatments of patients before their disease progresses.
3/1/202335 minutes, 30 seconds
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Making Clinical Trials Diverse and Accessible

Finding diverse groups of qualified participants for clinical studies can slow the development of needed medicines. The difficulty in attracting racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the elderly also creates concerns that trial results will fail to reflect what would happen in the real world. Some 80 percent of clinical trials fail to meet enrollment deadlines and an average of 30 percent of participants drop out in part because of the location and duration of these studies. CVS Health in 2021 launched CVS Clinical Trial Services, which capitalizes on CVS’ rich database of patients and its large footprint that puts a CVS location within 10 miles of 85 percent of the U.S. population. We spoke to Owen Garrick, chief medical officer of Clinical Trial Services at CVS Health, about the company’s push into clinical trials, the need to expand the diversity of participants in these studies, and how CVS is leveraging its resources to increase access to and participation in clinical trials.
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Mining Bugs for Drugs

The microbial world has been a rich source of medicines, but our ability to explore the full potential of the microbes both in us and around us has been limited by technology and the difficulty of culturing most microbes in a lab. Biosortia Microbiomics has developed a platform for finding, amplifying, and screening microbes as a potential source of novel, small molecule drugs. We spoke to Ross Youngs, CEO and founder of Biosortia, about the case for exploring various microbiomes to discover new small molecule drugs, how the company’s platform technology enables it to investigate a much broader range of microbes, and its business model for capitalizing on the discoveries it makes.
2/16/202329 minutes, 58 seconds
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A Company That Bets Its Therapies Will Click with Patients

One of the underlying limitations of most cancer therapies is the fact that only about 1 to 2 percent of the drug that’s administered ever reaches tumors. That limits the dose because of the potential for unwanted side effects, and limits the efficacy by delivering less than ideal amounts of drug to tumors. Shasqi is developing cancer therapies that use click chemistry to activate agents at the site of tumors to reduce systemic toxicity and increase the anti-tumor activity of its medicines. We spoke to José Mejía Oneto, founder and CEO of Shasqi, about the company platform technology, how it works, and why this can lead to safer and more powerful cancer therapies.
2/9/202317 minutes, 5 seconds
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A Company Where It takes Guts and Brains to Develop Drugs

The gut is the body’s largest sensory organ with a surface area 100 times that of the skin. It contains more nerve cells than the spinal cord, most of the immune system, and 95 percent of the body’s serotonin. Kallyope has assembled a discovery and translation platform to developed therapies to treat metabolic, gastrointestinal, and neurologic conditions by targeting the gut-brain connection. We spoke to Nancy Thornberry, chair of R&D for Kallyope, about the gut-brain connection, the company’s platform technology, and the case for targeting these interactions to treat a wide range of conditions.
2/2/202322 minutes, 34 seconds
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Changing Outcomes with Data

Providers hold vast amounts of health data that can be harnessed to gain better insights into diseases, improve outcomes for patients, and help bring about an era of precision medicine. Despite advances in artificial intelligence to capitalize on these stores of data, much of it has remained siloed and out of the reach of researchers and drug developers who could put it to use. Last year, a group of 14 health providers caring for tens of millions of patients through thousands of care facilities across the country formed Truveta, a company that has built an AI platform to make structured and de-identified patient data available for research. We spoke to Terry Myerson, CEO of Truveta, about its platform technology, the work it is enabling today, and how AI and the availability of real-world data is changing how biomedical research is conducted.
1/25/202320 minutes, 43 seconds
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Treating Psychiatric Conditions with Tripless Psychedelics

There’s been growing interest in exploring the potential of psychedelics to treat neuropsychiatric conditions. Onsero Therapeutics is part of a growing list of companies that are developing therapies that target the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor, the receptor to which several of psychedelics bind, and one that has been clinically validated in a number of psychiatric conditions. The company believes the therapies it’s developing have the potential to provide the treatment benefits of these substances without their better-known effects. We spoke to Tim Piser, chief scientific officer of Onsero, about the case for these drugs to treat conditions like mood disorder, how it’s developing its experimental therapies so they don’t induce effects, and why he believes benefits of these drugs can exist independently of them packing a psychedelic punch.
1/19/202326 minutes, 50 seconds
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How AI Is Finding Its Way into Unexpected Places in Biopharma Companies

When people think of the potential for artificial intelligence to impact the biopharmaceutical industry, the focus is usually on drug discovery or in the clinic to help guide decision making with regards to pairing the right drug to the right patient. Yseop is focused on a more mundane use for the technology—the writing of clinical data reports. The company had been working in the financial services industry when it was approached by Sanofi to see if it could apply its natural language generation to make the creation of these reports faster and less expensive. We spoke to Emmanuel Walckenaer, CEO of Yseop, about artificial intelligence, its potential to change the way biopharmaceutical companies work in non-obvious ways, and why a large number of biopharmaceutical companies are turning AI to do more with less.
1/12/202334 minutes, 32 seconds
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Searching the Dark Matter of the Proteome to Develop New Therapies

ProFound Therapeutics has developed platform technology to catalogue and understand previously undetected human proteins and the role they play in health and disease. By focusing on proteins in the process of translation, the company said it has identified tens of thousands of undiscovered proteins that can provide untapped therapeutic targets. We spoke to Avak Kahvejian, co-founder and CEO of ProFound Therapeutics, about the company’s platform technology, the vastness of the unexplored proteome it seeks to discover, and how this can lead to the development of breakthrough medicines.
1/5/202328 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Year in Biotech and What’s Ahead in 2023

It was a difficult year for biotechs with drops in the major biotech indices, fewer new drug approvals, and more than 125 companies announcing layoffs. But there were also triumphs to celebrate. We continue our annual tradition of ending the old year and ushering in the new one with Adam Feuerstein, Polk Award Winning journalist and senior biotech writer for STAT. We discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of biotech in 2022; Feuerstein’s annual best and worst CEO list; and what’s ahead at JPMorgan and beyond in 2023.
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Targeting a Novel Checkpoint to Treat Cancer and Autoimmune Conditions

Checkpoint inhibitors are not new, but Immutep is developing therapies that target LAG-3, a checkpoint discovered by its chief scientific officer. The LAG-3 gene codes for a protein that plays a role in the regulation of the immune system and is expressed on T cells. Immutep is seeking to target LAG-3 to both stimulate the immune system to treat cancers and suppress the immune system to treat autoimmune disease. We spoke to Marc Voigt, CEO of Immutep, about the LAG-3 checkpoint, the company’s lead experimental candidate, and its partnerships with GSK and Novartis to develop therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases.
12/22/202231 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Growing Need for Biosecurity Vigilance

The ability to engineer biology is not only revolutionizing how we treat illness, but the way grow food, and produce goods as well. With this ability, though, comes an awareness of how the same technology can be used for nefarious purposes. We spoke to Matt McKnight, general manager of Biosecurity of Ginkgo Bioworks, about our increasing ability to engineer biology, the potential risks that come with that, and the steps we are taking to safeguard ourselves against those risks.
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Enlisting Next-Generation Cytokine Immunotherapies in the Fight Against Cancer

Cytokines control nearly all aspects of the immune system. As drugs, though, they have limited potential because of inherent drawbacks. Simcha Therapeutics is engineering versions of cytokines to activate various immune cells in the fight against cancer. Simcha’s most advanced program, ST-067, is the first in a new class of interleukin-18 based immunotherapies designed to overcome a key defense mechanism that the tumor microenvironment produces to prevent Interleukin-18 from doing its work. We spoke to Sanuj Ravindran, CEO of Simcha Therapeutics, about the company’s engineered cytokines, how they work, and why they may represent a powerful addition to the immunotherapy arsenal.
12/8/202221 minutes, 8 seconds
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Engineering Safer and More Effective Cell Therapies

Arcellx is developing controllable cell therapies for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. It’s platform technology allows it to mark diseased cells within the body for destruction. Its cell therapies then destroy the flagged cells. We spoke to Rami Elghandour, chairman and CEO of Arcellx, about the company’s platform technology, how it works, and how it may lead to safer and more effective cell therapies.
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Changing Drug Discovery for Neuropsychiatric Disorders with Phenotypic Screens

Despite the large human and societal costs of neuropsychiatric disorders, many of these conditions have poor or no treatment options. And there has been a dearth of new mechanisms to treat major neuropsychiatric disorders for decades. PsychoGenics is seeking to change that with its unique approach to drug discovery for these conditions. Rather than rely on a target-based approach, the company has created high-throughput phenotypic screens using validated mouse models and artificial intelligence to detect behavioral changes. We spoke to Mark Varney, chief scientific officer of PsychoGenics, about the company’s use of phenotypic screens to discover new drugs for neuropsychiatric disorders, how it works, and the case for this approach.
11/23/202221 minutes, 43 seconds
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Using Virtual Reality-Guided Mindfulness to Treat Chronic Pain in Cancer Patients

Chronic, cancer-related pain affects between 30 and 50 percent of patients undergoing cancer treatment and more than 70 percent of patients with advanced disease. Linda Carlson, Enbridge research chair in psychosocial oncology at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, is working with digital therapeutics developer Rocket VR Health to study the potential of a virtual reality-guided mindfulness intervention program in adult cancer patients with chronic, cancer-related pain. The thinking is that mindfulness could mitigate chronic cancer-related pain by regulating both physical and emotional resistance to it and that virtual reality could create an immersive environment that could focus patients’ attention on present moment experiences making it easier for them to achieve mindfulness achieve more effective results. We spoke to Carlson about the problem of chronic pain in cancer, the case for mindfulness, and why the use of virtual reality might provide better outcomes for patients.
11/17/202220 minutes, 31 seconds
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Activating the Adaptive and Innate Immune Systems to Fight Cancer

One reason immunotherapies can fail in cancer is that the tumor microenvironment can suppress activation of the immune system. Surface Oncology is using multiple platform technologies to discover new antibody therapies that activate both the innate and adaptive immune systems to improve how people with cancer respond to these medicines. We spoke to Rob Ross, CEO of Surface Oncology, about the tumor microenvironment, the approach Surface is taking to activate both the adaptive and innate immune system, and its lead therapeutic candidates in development.
11/10/202236 minutes, 41 seconds
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A Longevity Fund Focused on Young Companies

The deepening understanding of the biology of aging is giving rise to a growing list of companies that seek not only to address diseases of aging, but find ways to extend the healthy years of life. LongeVC is a venture capital firm focused on seed and early-stage investment in longevity statups. It’s also built a community of like-minded companies to support startups, as well as an acceleration program for them. We spoke to Sergey Jakimov, founding partner of LongeVC, about the firm’s approach to investing, what constitutes a longevity play for it, and the network of companies it has assembled to help advance the startups it backs.
11/3/202235 minutes, 4 seconds
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Learning from “Elite” Responders to Develop Better Immunotherapies

A subset of patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors respond particularly well to these immunotherapies. These so-called “elite responders” produce antibodies that modulate immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. OncoResponse is working to discover the antibodies these elite responders produce to develop a pipeline of cancer therapies. We spoke to Bob Lechleider, chief medical officer of OncoRepsonse, about the tumor microenvironment, how his company is studying elite responders to immunotherapies to discover new antibodies to modulate the immune system, and his company’s lead program in clinical development.
10/27/202228 minutes, 10 seconds
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Bringing Precision Medicine to the Treatment of Obesity

Obesity rates in the United States have doubled in the past 20 years and without changes, nearly half of the adult population will be obese by 2030. Though there are many approaches to weight loss—diet and exercise, drugs, surgery—their safety and efficacy varies widely from patient to patient. Phenomix Sciences is using phenotyping to understand the type of obesity each individual has to tailor treatments that address it specifically. Based on work at the Mayo Clinic, Phenomix breaks obesity into four different subtypes. We spoke to Mark Bagnall, CEO of Phenomix, about the company’s efforts to bring precision medicine to the treatment of obesity, the testing it performs, and the science underlying its approach.
10/20/202234 minutes, 18 seconds
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Expanding the Promise of RNA Therapies

RNA therapies and vaccines have already shown their power. Nutcracker Therapeutics is taking a nod from the high-tech sector to harness semiconductor-like biochips and microfluidic engineering to create a fully automated platform to increase the speed and scale at which RNA therapies can be discovered, developed, and manufactured. It is developing multimodal RNA therapies which serves as an RNA cocktail to attack multiple disease mechanisms at once. We spoke to Geoff Nosrati, chief business officer of Nutcracker, about the company’s platform technology, its lead program targeting HPV-driven tumors, and its focus on multimodal RNA therapies.
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Triggering a Systemic Immune Response Against Cancer

Immune checkpoint inhibitors are transforming cancer care, but still have low response rates in most solid tumors. When cancer spreads to the liver, it can render immunotherapies ineffective because of the large number of immune-suppressive macrophages that are present there. Teclison has developed platform technology that chokes off tumors and activates the immune system against the cancer. The company said its technology can significantly enhances the therapeutic benefit of immunotherapies and can be leveraged to treat nearly all solid tumors. We spoke to Ray Lee, founder and chief medical officer of Teclison, about the company’s platform technology, it’s lead therapeutic candidate, and how it can trigger a systemic immune response.
10/6/202229 minutes, 13 seconds
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Targeting RNA Dysregulation in Cancer

Inspirna is putting RNA biology to work to address difficult to treat cancers that affect large numbers of people, such as colorectal cancer, small cell lung cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. Its platform technology is being used to discover the underlying drivers of cancer that can be drugged by both small molecules and biologics to address RNA dysregulation. We spoke to Masoud Tavazoie, co-founder and CEO of Inspirna, about the role RNA dysregulation plays in certain cancers, Inspirna’s platform technology, and its clinical pipeline in development.
9/29/202225 minutes, 57 seconds
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Building a Pipeline of Next-Generation Kinase Inhibitors

Kinase inhibitors have become staples in the arsenal to battle cancer. These medicines can disrupt the cell signaling that drives the growth and spread of tumors. There are more than 30 approved kinase inhibitors today, but they often have dose limiting toxicities, in part because they often lack specificity and can have activity against multiple kinases at once. Blueprint Medicines is seeking to develop next-generation kinase inhibitors that are highly selective to treat genomically-defined cancers and rare diseases. We spoke to Fouad Namouni, president of research and development for Blueprint, about the company’s discovery platform, the large unexplored territory of kinases, and what makes Blueprint’s kinase medicines next-generation.
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Rethinking How Cell and Gene Therapies Are Made to Improve Accessibility

Cell and gene therapies offer great promise for treating, preventing, or curing serious health issues like cancer, genetic disorders, immunodeficiencies, and rare diseases. Nevertheless, the complexity and costs of producing and delivering these personalized medicines creates barriers to patients benefiting from their potential. Orgenesis is seeking to change the business model around cell and gene therapies through its Point-of-Care Platform, which it says can lower the cost, accelerate development, and expand access for patients. We spoke to Vered Caplan, CEO of Orgenesis, about the challenges of cell and gene therapy, how the company’s Point-of-Care Platform technology addresses those, and its network approach to building a pipeline of therapies across a wide range of indications.
9/15/202242 minutes, 6 seconds
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Developing Next-Generation Radiopharmaceuticals

Radiopharmaceuticals have long been shown to be effective at killing cancers, but often damage healthy cells because they are so toxic. Convergent Therapeutics has developed platform technology that takes advantage of the power of radiopharmaceuticals, but links them to targeting mechanisms, such as monoclonal antibodies and ligands, to deliver them in a precise and highly targeted ways. Its lead experimental therapy is an actinium-linked monoclonal antibody that targets prostate-specific membrane antigen to treat prostate cancer. The ability to use dual targeting mechanisms offers the potential for powerful combinations of radiopharmaceuticals while limiting their toxicities. We spoke to Philip Kantoff, co-founder and CEO of Convergent, about the company’s platform technology for developing next-generation radiopharmaceuticals, how the company targets tumor surface molecules, and how its approach minimizes the toxicity of these therapies.
9/8/202226 minutes, 47 seconds
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Why Great Science and Data Aren’t Enough

Whether it’s capturing the imagination of a venture capitalist, enticing a potential partner, or attracting talent, CEOs need to be able to tell their company’s story effectively. In his new book “Winners Have a Story,” Giuseppe Marzio discusses how CEOs can turn complex science and technology into compelling tales. Marzio, who worked as a scientist in biopharma before launching a communications agency, comes to his interest in storytelling honestly. Growing up with a love for the cinema, he had dreams of becoming a filmmaker and has studied the structure of stories. We spoke to Marzio, founder of the communications agency Chiaro, about his new book “Winners Have a Story,” why a good pitch shares a common structure with novels and movies, and why a company’s strategy and story are inextricably linked.
9/1/202228 minutes, 24 seconds
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Targeting Sugars that Let Cancers Evade the Immune System

It’s been understood for more than 60 years that cancer cells overproduce sugars on their surface. More recently it’s been discovered that these sugars can help cancer cells evade the immune system. Palleon Pharmaceuticals is developing immunotherapies that work by targeting these cell surface sugars and make them vulnerable to attack. We spoke to David Feltquate, chief medical officer of Palleon, about the potential to harness glycobiology to treat cancer, how the company is working to modulate cell-surface sugars, and its emerging pipeline of glyco-immuno therapies.
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Engineering Stem Cells to Withstand Targeted Therapies

Current treatment of acute myeloid leukemia generally consists of chemotherapy followed by a hematopoietic stem cell transplant to eliminate any remaining cancer cells from the bone marrow. Even though outcomes remain poor with around 40 percent of transplanted patients experiencing cancer relapse, and patients who do relapse having two-year survival rates of less than 20 percent, the approach has changed little in 40 years. One reason is that newly transplanted patients are unable to receive targeted cancer therapies since those therapies would be toxic to the fragile transplanted stem cells. Vor Bio’s solution is to edit the stem cells prior to transplanting them so they lack the receptors targeted therapies attack. We spoke to Robert Ang, president and CEO of Vor Bio, about the company’s platform technology, how it works, and why it has the potential to change outcomes for patients with AML and other hematologic malignancies.
8/18/202218 minutes, 52 seconds
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Targeting a Convergence of Signaling Pathways that Drive the Growth and Spread of Cancer

In cancer, the rigorous translational machinery of the human body goes haywire, causing an overproduction of proteins that fuel the growth and spread of tumors, as well as enabling them to evade the immune system. Effector Therapeutics is developing a new class of cancer therapies called selective translation regulator inhibitors, or STRIs, that can inhibit the production of proteins that drive a cancer. We spoke to Steve Worland, president and CEO of Effector, about the company’s new class of therapies, how they target a central node where two major cancer signaling pathways converge, and how they pack the punch of a combination therapy in a single drug.
8/11/202224 minutes, 15 seconds
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Moving from Preservation to Restoration with Off-the-Shelf Cell Therapies

While cell therapies hold great promise for not only halting the progression of degenerative disease but potentially restoring the body, cost has remained a barrier. Lineage Cell Therapeutics is developing allogenic cell therapies that don’t rely on modifying a patient’s own cells, making them scalable and less costly than autologous ones. At the end of last year, the company entered into a partnership with Genentech to develop and commercialize OpRegen, its experimental cell therapy for dry age-related macular degeneration. We spoke to Brian Culley, CEO of Lineage Cell Therapeutics, about the company’s platform technology for off-the-shelf cell therapies, how its platform works, and what the collaboration with Genentech will do to advance the technology.
8/4/202221 minutes, 19 seconds
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Using Gene Therapies to Treat Chronic, Inflammatory Conditions

A broad range of serious diseases involve chronic inflammation, which causes both pain and progressive damage. Xalud Therapeutics is developing a locally-delivered, non-viral gene therapy that is designed to harness the ability of interleukin-10 to regulate the immune system and restore homeostasis. The company’s lead indication is in osteoarthritis We spoke to Diem Nguyen, CEO of Xalud, about the role inteleukin-10 plays in regulating multiple pathways in the immune system, Xalud’s gene therapy, and the indications the company is pursuing.
7/28/202221 minutes, 27 seconds
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Unlocking the Full Potential of Antibody Therapies

Traditional antibody discovery depends, in part, on a bit of good fortune that banks on the hope that either screening antibody libraries or exposing an organism to an antigen will result in the discovery of a compelling therapy. Yanay Ofran, CEO of Biolojic Design, says the problem with this approach is that it ignores many of the performance-related aspects of an antibody beyond its ability to bind to a target. His company’s AI platform for antibody discovery seeks to capitalize on the full capabilities of antibodies to develop smarter therapies that can serve as molecular switches and act conditionally. We spoke to Ofran about Biolojic’s platform technology, how it mimics the way the immune system makes antibodies, and why its approach will lead to smarter therapies.
7/21/202238 minutes, 27 seconds
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Combatting Superbugs and Emerging Viruses

The rise of antibiotic resistance and the threat of emerging viral pathogens have created global public health threats. Recce Pharmaceuticals is developing a new class of synthetic anti-infectives that it says can overcome the hyper-cellular mutation of bacteria and viruses. What’s more, the company says their potency doesn’t diminish even with repeated use. We spoke to James Graham, CEO of Recce, about its synthetic anti-infectives, how they work, and why they can be used repeatedly against a broad range of bacteria and viruses.
7/14/202222 minutes, 4 seconds
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How a Plant-Derived Gel Halts Bleeding in Seconds

Whether in an operating room or in a trauma situation, the ability to quickly stop bleeding represents a critical need in healthcare. At the end of December, Cresilon filed for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market its hemostatic gel to rapidly stop bleeding. The filing follows the launch of Vitigel, Cresilon’s hemostatic gel for the animal health market. We spoke to Joe Landolina, co-founder and CEO of Cresilon, about how he developed the plant-derived gel, the significant need he is seeking to address, and how the gel is able to halt bleeding in a matter of seconds.
7/7/202221 minutes, 22 seconds
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Exploiting a Vulnerability in Cancers

In cancer, synthetic lethality refers to a state in which two genetic mutations that alone may allow a cancer cell to survive will kill it when they exist simultaneously. Cyteir Therapeutics is seeking to exploit that strategy with what it calls next-generation synthetically lethal therapies to treat a wide range of cancers. We spoke to Markus Renschler, president and CEO of Cyteir therapeutics, about synthetic lethality, Cyteir’s pipeline, and life as a small public biotech in 2022.
6/30/202227 minutes, 54 seconds
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Democratizing AI

AI Dynamics is seeking to make AI accessible. Though its NeoPulse platform can be used across industries, the life sciences is one of the key markets the company is targeting with its technology being used to do everything from target identification for drug development to diagnosing and triaging TB patients by the sounds of their cough. We spoke to Rajeev Dutt, CEO and president of AI Dynamics, about the company’s core AI technology, how it seeks to make AI accessible, and why he believes it can transform drug development and healthcare by moving the needle on costs.
6/23/202234 minutes, 49 seconds
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A Rapid Onset Nasal Spray to Treat Mental Health Conditions

Social anxiety disorder can cause debilitating physical and emotional manifestations when a person is doing such things as meeting new people, speaking in public, or interviewing for a job. It can cause sweating, a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and dizziness. The fear of embarrassment and humiliation can lead to depression and even addiction. VistaGen Therapeutics is developing intranasally delivered therapies for CNS disorders that can provide rapid relief at the onset of an episode much like someone with asthma might use a rescue inhaler. We spoke to Shawn Singh, CEO of VistaGen, about social anxiety disorder, the need for innovative approaches to treat that and other CNS conditions, and the potential for rapid onset therapies to treat a range of mental health conditions.
6/16/202230 minutes, 54 seconds
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A Regenerative Medicine Company Puts Its Off-the-Shelf Vessel Replacements to the Test in Ukraine

Humacyte’s human acellular vessels are experimental, engineered, off-the-shelf replacement vessels that are being developed for vascular repair, reconstruction, and replacement. The vessels are designed to overcome long-standing limitations in vessel tissue repair and replacement. Though not yet approved, the manufactured vessels are getting a real-world test as the company has been providing them to hospitals in Ukraine to treat wounded civilians and soldiers with vascular injuries. We spoke to Laura Niklason, CEO of Humacyte, about the company’s human acellular vessels, how they are produced, and the potential needs they can address.
6/9/202225 minutes, 7 seconds
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Battling Resistance in Tumors with “Pan-Variant” Kinase Inhibitors

The emergence of tyrosine kinase inhibitors represented a major advance in the fight against cancer, but the ability of tumors to mutate and develop resistance to these therapies remains a challenge. Theseus Pharmaceuticals is developing what it calls “pan-variant” kinase inhibitors in the hopes of outsmarting tumors by anticipating the range of kinases that may drive their spread and growth as they change. We spoke to Tim Clackson, president and CEO of Theseus Pharmaceuticals, about its structural-based approach to drug development, how it determines the appropriate targets for its pan-variant kinase inhibitors, and why it believes its next-generation TKIs can overcome the challenge of drug resistance.
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Treating Disease by Editing Genes in the Microbiome

The emerging understanding of the role the microbiome plays in wellness and disease is opening up a large number of potential therapeutic targets in the millions of genes that drive the microorganisms that live within the body. Eligo Bioscience is developing a new class of precision medicines that uses gene editing to address the expression of pathogenic genes in the microbiome to treat not only infectious disease, but other conditions such as inflammatory diseases and cancer as well. We spoke to Xavier Duportet, CEO of Eligo Bioscience, about the company’s use of synthetic DNA to target bacterial genes, its platform technology, and the wide range of conditions that can be addressed through this approach.
5/26/202242 minutes, 33 seconds
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Embracing the Promise of Natural Killer Cells in the Fight Against Cancer

While cancer immunotherapies have been promising, CAR T cell therapies have been costly, effective on less than half of patients, and focused on hematologic cancers. Cytovia Therapeutics is enlisting natural killer cells, part of the innate immune system, to develop off-the-shelf immunotherapies to treat liquid and solid tumors. The company is leveraging a cluster of technologies to produce CAR NK cell therapies, edited NK cells to enhance their targeting, and NK engagers to redirect NK cells toward tumor targets. We spoke to Daniel Teper, co-founder and CEO of Cytovia, about the case for NK immunotherapies, Cytovia’s platform technologies, and the company’s pipeline of therapies in preclinical development.
5/19/202227 minutes, 2 seconds
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Addressing Neurodegenerative Disease by Suppressing a Hyper Immune Response

Neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia have been difficult conditions for drug developers to target. Coya Therapeutics is approaching these conditions as diseases of immune system dysfunction to address the neuroinflammation that underlies them We spoke to Adrian Hepner, president and chief medical officer of Coya, about the role a hyper immune response plays in the progress of neurodegenerative diseases, how the company’s experimental regulatory T cell therapy works to halt that, and its pipeline in development.
5/12/202222 minutes, 43 seconds
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Bringing Precision Medicine to Psychiatry

The introduction of precision medicine has revolutionized the treatment of cancer and other diseases, but mental health conditions have not benefitted from the same type of treatment innovation. Alto Neuroscience is working to move psychiatry away from a trial-and-error approach to develop targeted medicines with the use of biomarkers to match the right drug to the right patient. We spoke to Amit Etkin, founder and CEO of Alto Neuroscience, about its efforts to develop precision medicines for mental health disorders, its AI platform for biomarker discovery, and its therapeutic pipeline in development.
5/5/202233 minutes, 41 seconds
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Attacking Neurodegenerative Diseases with Protein Degraders

The use of protein degraders is a promising area of emerging small molecule therapies. Rather than inhibit disease-causing proteins, degraders use a natural cellular process to break them down. Origami Therapeutics is using its proprietary drug discovery platform to develop novel protein degraders to target neurodegenerative diseases. The approach allows the company to target proteins that are considered undruggable because they lack an identified binding site. We spoke to Beth Hoffman, founder and CEO of Origami, about its platform for developing degraders, its focus on neurodegenerative diseases, and how its looking to potential partners to exploit the full potential of its platform technology.
4/28/202226 minutes, 8 seconds
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Restoring Immune Activity While Suppressing Cancer Proliferation

Cancer immunotherapies have shown great promise, but many tumors can develop resistance as the changing tumor microenvironment can help cancers evade detection and allow cancer cells to proliferate. Teon Therapeutics is developing immno-oncology therapies for difficult to treat cancers that are designed to have the dual effect of restoring immune activity while suppressing cancer cell proliferation. We spoke to Serge Messerlian, CEO of Teon Therapeutics, about what happens when immunotherapies fail, the unique approach Teon is taking, and how the dual activity of its cancer therapies can restore immune activity while suppressing cancer cell proliferation.
4/21/202220 minutes, 33 seconds
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A New Model for Preventing Life-Threatening Blood Clots

Existing anticoagulants can prevent life-threatening blood clots for people with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The problem is that because of their mechanism of action, they also work to suppress the body’s ability to stop bleeding as it should. As a result, these therapies can be under utilized by patients who need them. Anthos Therapeutics is developing an experimental monoclonal antibody that can suppress coagulation without disrupting hemostasis, the biological process of stopping bleeding. We spoke to John Glasspool, CEO of Anthos, about the problems of existing anticoagulants, the novel target its monoclonal antibody acts on, and how it is able to uncouple the pathways for thrombosis and hemostasis.
4/14/202219 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Race to Live Forever

Though the search for eternal youth has long been the fodder for myths and legends, science has been pushing us closer toward extending healthy years of life and has set some people off on efforts to defy death altogether. Peter Ward, in his new book The Price of Immortality: The Race to Live Forever, explores a subculture of immortality seekers who have turned to cryonics, as well as efforts to merge man with technology as a way to escape death. The growing understanding of the biology of aging and advances in regenerative medicine, though, are creating the potential to alter notions of human lifespans. We spoke to Ward about his book, distinguishing science fact from science fiction, and the growing understanding of the biology of aging that offers the potential for extending healthy years of life.
4/7/202232 minutes, 45 seconds
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A Model for Moving from Breakthrough to Blockbuster

About 15 years ago, Harvard Business School professor Gary Pisano took at look at how small entrepreneurial biotechs fared against large and mature pharmaceutical companies and found the two sectors were about the same when it came to R&D productivity. Now, a new book From Breakthrough to Blockbuster: The Business of Biotechnology finds that the biotechnology industry is far more effective at bringing innovative therapies to market than Big Pharma and offers a prescription for large drug companies to decentralize decision-making to improve their ability to innovate. We spoke to venture investor and former biotech executive Don Drakeman, co-author of the book, about its findings, how decentralized decision-making can produce greater innovation, and lessons from COVID-19.
3/31/202225 minutes, 29 seconds
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Building the Next-Generation of Cell and Gene Therapies

Poseida Therapeutics is leveraging its set of platform technologies to develop a range of next-generation cell and gene therapies. By using these technologies, alone or in combination, the company said it’s able to overcome limitations of the current generation of cell and gene therapies. The company’s most advanced candidates in its pipeline include a set of allogenic CAR T therapies. We spoke to Mark Gergen, CEO of Poseida, about the company’s efforts to develop off-the-shelf CAR T therapies, its platform technologies, and why it believes its CAR T cells will provide advantages over competitors’ therapies.
3/24/202221 minutes, 36 seconds
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Building Small Molecule Drugs that Are Superior to Biologics

Though structure-based drug discovery has been long been used, technologic advances have given this approach greater power. ShouTi believes its next-generation, computational, structure-based drug discovery platform will allow it to develop small molecule drugs that are superior in safety and efficacy to biologic and peptide therapies its seeking to replace. We spoke to Raymond Stevens, CEO of ShouTi, about the company’s structure-based drug discovery platform, how it works, and why he believes it will be able to produce small molecule drugs that will be superior to biologics.
3/17/202228 minutes, 21 seconds
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A New Class of Cancer Therapies Targets Solid Tumors with a Dual Action

Virus-like drug conjugates, or VDCs, are a new class of cancer therapies Aura Biosciences is developing to target a broad range of solid tumors. These therapies have a dual mechanism of action. They deliver a toxic payload to cancer cells, but also activate a secondary immune mediated response to kill cancer cells. We spoke to Elisabet de los Pinos, CEO of Aura Biosciences, about the company’s VDCs, how they work, and its pipeline in development.
3/10/202221 minutes, 33 seconds
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A Pursuit of Off-The-Shelf CAR-T Therapies

While the emergence of CAR-T therapies have been promising, these autologous cellular therapies are costly to produce since they require taking T cells from a patient being treated, altering them, and then infusing them back into the patient. Cellectis is among a growing list of companies pursuing off-the-shelf CAR-T therapies. The company’s U-CARTs, or universal chimeric antigen receptor T cells, are allogenic products that can be standardized and carry both time and cost advantages. We spoke to André Choulika, CEO of Cellectis, about the company’s off-the-shelf CAR-T therapies, the platform technology behind them, and its programs in development.
3/3/202230 minutes, 51 seconds
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Mapping the Human Proteome

Though it’s been nearly 20 years since the Human Genome Project provided a blueprint for human biology, it still left much work to be done to understand health and disease at a molecular level. The Sweden-based Human Protein Atlas, which is seeking to map human proteins in cells, tissues, and organs, recently published significant updates to the open-access resource. We spoke to Mathias Uhlén, director of the Human Protein Atlas, about how the atlas is changing the diagnosis and treatment of disease, what’s known about the human proteome to date, and how this understanding will be essential to brining about an era of precision medicine.
2/24/202225 minutes, 33 seconds
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Gene Therapy Provides Hope to Hemophilia B Patients

In 2020, CSL Behring entered into a global license and commercialization agreement with UniQure for the company’s experimental hemophilia B gene therapy. The expected, one-and-done treatment carries the potential to free people with the genetic bleeding disease from reliance on regular infusions of clotting factor IX for which they are deficient. We spoke to Steve Pascoe, senior vice president and head of therapeutic areas and development strategy for R&D at CSL about hemophilia B, how the gene therapy fits into CSL’s broader therapeutic offerings, and the encouraging results from the recent pivotal study.
2/17/202223 minutes, 41 seconds
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Making Data-Driven Medicine a Reality

The promise of data-driven medicine is that it can accelerate the diagnosis of disease, provide patients with the most effective treatments for their particular conditions, and improve drug development. Sophia Genetics is drawing on extensive information from its global, data-sharing network to make data-driven medicine a reality. We spoke to Emily Paul, product director of platform for Sophia Genetics, about Sophia’s vision for data-driven medicine, the challenges of managing vast amounts of data and turning it into actionable information, and how its changing patient care today.
2/10/202220 minutes, 26 seconds
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A Neuroscientist Turned Venture Investor Discusses TechBio Investing

The growing convergence of information technology and biotechnology are creating a compelling new group of companies that live in both these worlds at once. Lux Capital, which has long invested in both sectors, has a growing portfolio of these emerging TechBio companies. We spoke to Adam Goulburn, partner at Lux Capital, about his investment process, how he tempers the promise of technology with management realities and market timelines, and the changing landscape for venture investing.
2/3/202228 minutes
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A Nonprofit Seeks to Make Cell and Gene Therapies Affordable Worldwide

Cell and gene therapies are among the most promising approaches to treating diseases because they carry the potential to cure chronic and progressive conditions. The problem is that the high cost of producing these therapies, which often need to be tailored to individual patients, limits access to them, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Caring Cross is seeking to change that through its nonprofit model that focuses on enabling hospitals and health systems to manufacture advanced therapies locally and deliver them in a cost-effective manner. We spoke to Boro Dropulić, co-founder of Caring Cross, about how the nonprofit is seeking to lower the cost of these therapies, how it operates, and why its initially focused on HIV and sickle cell disease.
1/27/202221 minutes, 22 seconds
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Disposing Toxic Proteins to Treat Neurodegenerative Diseases

KeifeRx is developing a pipeline of orally delivered tyrosine kinase inhibitors to treat neurodegenerative diseases. It has a portfolio of these drugs that it has optimized to penetrate the brain, clear damaged cells, and treat these conditions through the bulk disposal of disease-causing toxic proteins. It believes its approach offers the potential to significantly improve on current treatments, which it calls primarily palliative because they fail to adequately eliminate the toxic proteins at the root of these deadly diseases. We spoke to KeifeRx CEO Chris Hoyt and co-founder and head of the company’s scientific advisory board Charbel Moussa, about how it has repurposed and optimized a cancer therapy to treat neurodegenerative diseases, and why it may have broad applications across these conditions.
1/20/202221 minutes, 19 seconds
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Repurposing a Drug for Parasitic Infections as a Targeted GI Therapy

When AzurRX BioPharma merged with First Wave Bio last year it renamed itself First Wave BioPharma. The company is developing targeted, non-systemic therapies for gastrointestinal diseases with its lead candidate niclosamide, an approved therapy to treat tapeworms that it believes has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. The company is developing niclosamide in six GI-indications including COVID-19 related GI disease, Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor-associated colitis and diarrhea in advanced oncology patients, ulcerative proctitis/ proctosigmoiditis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. We spoke to James Sapirstein, CEO of First Wave BioPharma, about the merger, niclosamide, and its potential to treat a range of gastrointestinal disorders.
1/13/202220 minutes, 44 seconds
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Targeting Chronic, Low-Grade Inflammation to Address Diseases of Aging

HCW Biologics is developing immunotherapies to target chronic inflammation associated with aging. The company’s therapeutics are designed to disrupt the link between chronic, low-grade inflammation and age-related disorders. The company believes this type of inflammation is a significant contributing factor to cancer and several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and autoimmune disease. We spoke to Hing Wong, CEO of HCW Biologics, about the link between chronic inflammation and diseases of aging, the company’s immunotherapies, and its platform for developing therapies that target this unwanted inflammation to treat cancer and other diseases.
1/6/202229 minutes, 46 seconds
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The Year in Biotech and What’s Ahead in 2022

As 2021 fades into the history books, it will be remembered as one with exuberant IPOs, punishing aftermarkets, and a lingering pandemic that once again is turning the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference into a virtual event. We continue our annual tradition of sitting down with STAT Senior Writer Adam Feuerstein to discuss the year that was in biotech, the best and worst CEOs of 2021, and what’s ahead in the new year.
12/30/202124 minutes, 47 seconds
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Restoring the Guardian of the Genome to Fight Tumors

The p53 protein is known as the “guardian of the genome.” It plays an essential role in suppressing tumors. Rain Therapeutics is targeting a regulator of p53 that is overexpressed in certain cancer and can inactivate it, allowing certain cancers to grow and progress. We spoke to Avanish Vellanki, chairman and CEO of Rain Therapeutics, about the company’s experimental precision therapy milademetan, how it works, and its potential to treat a range of cancers.
12/23/202120 minutes, 26 seconds
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Advancing a Cell Therapy with the Potential to Cure HIV

Though HIV has fallen out of the headlines, the virus continues to represent a significant public health threat. American Gene Technologies is developing an experimental cell therapy that it says is potentially curative for HIV. We spoke to Jeff Galvin, CEO and founder of American Gene Technologies, about the state of HIV, the company’s experimental cell therapy for HIV, and why the one-time treatment has the potential to free patients from chronic use of antiviral therapies.
12/16/202149 minutes, 28 seconds
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Harnessing More Efficient Organisms to Reshore BioManufacutring

The COVID pandemic has called attention to the United States’ reliance on a supply chain that makes access to critical medicines dependent on the ability to make them overseas and ship them in a timely manner. At the same time, harnessing new ways of making biologics, is making it possible to gain significant savings over traditional manufacturing approaches. rBIO is betting it will be able to cost-effectively produce biologics in the United States and its starting with insulin to prove its point. We spoke to Cameron Owen, co-founder of rBIO, about the how the company is engineering different organism to increase the efficiency of biomanufacturing, why it is starting with insulin, and why reshoring biomanufacturing should be viewed as a critical issue for the United States.
12/9/202128 minutes, 9 seconds
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Using Digital Health Technology to Bring the Trial to the Patient

The use of smartphones, low-cost sensors, and ubiquitous connectivity is changing the way researchers think about recruiting, monitoring, and interacting with participants in biomedical research. The use of evolving technology is not just eliminating geographic barriers to participation, but also enabling the collection of new types of data. The Scripps Research Digital Trials Center is pioneering the use of digital health technologies to re-engineer the way studies are conducted. We spoke to Edward Ramos, director of digital clinical trials for Scripps Research Digital Trials Center, about how digital health technology is transforming biomedical research, how it is changing what is possible, and some of the ongoing research projects the center is conducting.
12/2/202139 minutes, 42 seconds
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Using the Body’s Housecleaning Mechanism to Target Undruggable Proteins

The body has a natural cellular recycling machinery known as the ubiquitin proteasome system that breaks down unwanted proteins. Kymera Therapeutics has developed a drug discovery platform that exploits this natural biologic process to target disease-causing proteins that had been previously considered undruggable using small molecule therapies. We spoke to Nello Mainolfi, co-founder, president, and CEO of Kymera, about the company’s discovery platform, how it exploits a natural housecleaning mechanism within the body, and why this approach could enable the targeting of proteins that previously had been considered beyond the reach of small molecule therapies.
11/24/202129 minutes, 8 seconds
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Advocating for the Extension of Healthy Life

About 70 percent of daily deaths are caused by aging or age-related diseases. The newly formed Alliance for Longevity Initiatives, or A4LI, is an independent nonprofit advocating for greater investment in scientific research, new measures to recognize the value of extending healthy life expectancy, and steps to expedite the development gerotherapies and regenerative medicines. We spoke to Sonia Arrison, chair of the Alliance for Longevity Initiatives, about the need the new organization is seeking to address, its agenda, and how therapeutic advances may be able to alter our notions of longevity.
11/18/202127 minutes, 2 seconds
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Using Donated Living Skin as an Alternative to Animal Testing

As concerns about the use of animals to test drugs, scientist have sought new ways to analyze the efficacy and toxicity of their products. Genoskin is seeking to enable better, faster, and safer drug development through the use of its proprietary ex vivo human skin platforms for preclinical drug testing. The company provides natural human skin obtained from patients that it maintains in a living and functional state. We spoke to Pascal Descargues, founder and CEO of Genoskin, about the company’s ex vivo human skin models, how they provide an alternative to animal experiments, and how they can accelerate the generation of reliable human data in drug development.
11/11/202127 minutes, 58 seconds
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A Platform to Scale the Production of Personalized Cell Therapies

While cell therapies have been advancing rapidly, therapies that rely on taking a patient’s own cells, altering them, and reinfusing them back into a patient are costly. Part of the reason why is that the process for doing this is labor intensive. Cellino has developed a platform for producing personalized autologous cell therapies in an automated and scalable fashion. We spoke to Marinna Madrid, co-founder and vice president of product, for Cellino, about the company’s platform technology for cell-based therapies, how it works, and why it may help enable a new era of personalized regenerative therapies.
11/4/202125 minutes, 58 seconds
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Developing Small Molecule Therapies to Target Proteins Only Biologics Have Been Able to Hit

Integrins are a diverse family of proteins that play an essential role in many cellular biological processes. They also have been implicated a number of autoimmune, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases, as well as fibrosis and cancer. While a number of biologics have come to market that target integrins, drug developers have been stymied in efforts to develop oral therapies that can target these proteins. Morphic Therapeutic is developing a new generation of oral integrin drugs it believes can transform the treatment model for a range of serious medical conditions. We spoke to Praveen Tipirneni, president and CEO of Morphic Therapeutic, about intgerins, the challenges of using small molecule therapies to target them, and why this can have a dramatic effect on how patients with a range of conditions get treated.
10/28/202130 minutes, 54 seconds
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Targeting Solid Tumors with Oncolytic Viruses

As the treatment of cancers has moved toward an increasing emphasis on the role the immune system can play in fighting tumors, a range of new ways to enlist and train the immune system have emerged. Candel Therapeutics is developing oncolytic viral immunotherapies, which it says combines anti-tumor activity while also stimulating the immune system. We spoke to Paul Peter Tak, president and CEO of Candel Therapeutics, oncolytic viral immunotherapies, how they work, and why they may be able to bring benefits to the treatment of a range of solid tumors.
10/20/202138 minutes, 12 seconds
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Reinventing the Discovery and Cell Line Development of Biotherapeutics

The discovery and cell line development of biotherapeutics has been traditionally a distinct process. Absci is taking what it describes as a more wholistic approach by collapsing the process down and addressing the functionality and manufacturability of therapeutic candidates simultaneously. We spoke to Sean McClain, founder and CEO of AbSci, about how it is using AI and synthetic biology to reinvent the discovery process, how this is expanding the therapeutic potential of proteins, and how it translates into time and cost benefits.
10/14/202125 minutes, 49 seconds
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Engineering Off-the-Shelf Cell Therapies to Target Solid Tumors

While CAR-T cell therapies have been a promising new area of cancer treatments, they are costly to produce, have had limited success in treating solid tumors, and can carry sometimes serious side effects. Shoreline Biosciences is developing off-the-shelf natural killer and macrophage cellular immunotherapies derived from induced pluripotent stem cells for cancer, inflammatory, and genetic diseases. The company programs these cells to target and kill tumors, as well as repair tissue homeostasis. The company said its approach allows for the creation of a streamlined, affordable, and scalable manufacturing process that can deliver cell therapy treatments to patients in a faster and more cost-effective manner. We spoke to Kleanthis Xanthopoulos, co-founder and CEO of Shoreline Biosciences, about the company’s off-the-shelf cell therapies, its focus on the innate immune system, and how it’s leveraging its technology through recent partnerships with BeiGene and Kite Pharma.
10/7/202125 minutes, 16 seconds
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Democratizing Drug Discovery

The ability to discover new drugs can be limited by the tools and technologies small companies can access. Alloy Therapeutics says it democratizing access to a set of technologies and capabilities that are foundational for discovering and developing biologics. We spoke to Errik Anderson, CEO of Alloy Therapeutics, discusses the challenges of drug discovery the company is seeking to address, its business model, and the dealmaking it has done to build beyond platform technologies to become involved in the discovery and development of therapeutic candidates.
9/30/202130 minutes, 27 seconds
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Scaling Genetic Counseling Services with AI

One of the consequences of the proliferation of genetic sequencing has been a shortage of genetic counselors. It’s left existing counselors to manage a heavy load as its increased the demands on onboarding patients, consenting them, educating them and interpreting results. The digital health company Igentify is helping providers and genetic counselors scale their services with its AI-based platform that extends through the entire genetic testing process. We spoke to Doron Behar, co-founder and CEO of Igentify, about its platform technology, how it works, and why it will allow genetic counselors to handle a much larger volume of patients.
9/23/202136 minutes, 2 seconds
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Programming Cell Therapies to Overcome Solid Tumor Defense Systems

While CAR-T cell therapies have emerged as promising anti-cancer agents, their success have been focused on hematologic cancers. ArsenalBio is working to develop more robust cell therapies capable to treating a broader range of cancers by using synthetic biology to make them programable. We spoke to Ken Drazen, CEO of ArsenalBio, about the company’s next-generation T cell therapies, how it is able to program functions into these cells to overcome solid tumor defenses, and the company’s collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb announced at the start of the year.
9/16/202128 minutes, 28 seconds
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Using Liquid Biopsies to Diagnose Infectious Diseases

Liquid biopsies have become associated with the area of oncology as they hold the promise of using fragments of DNA circulating in the blood that have been shed by tumors to provide early indications of recurrence and customize treatment strategies. The same approach, though, can be used for infectious diseases. Karius has developed a liquid biopsy test to provide rapid and non-invasive detections of more than 1000 pathogens from a single blood draw. The Karius test helps clinicians avoid invasive, low-yield, and sequential diagnostic tests that can delay treatment for the most vulnerable hospitalized patients. We spoke to Alec Ford, CEO of Karius, about the company’s liquid biopsy test, how it works, and how it can change the treatment of immunocompromised patients.
9/9/202132 minutes, 40 seconds
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Striking Hepatitis B at Its Core

The World Health Organization estimates that 270 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hepatitis B virus infections, making it a global epidemic that affects more than twice the number of people with hepatitis C and HIV combined. HBV is a leading cause of chronic liver disease and the need for liver transplantation, with up to 1 million people worldwide dying from HBV-related causes each year. While current treatments reduce the viral load, they don’t eliminate it. Assembly Bio is developing a pipeline of therapies aimed at curing HBV. We spoke to John McHutchison, president and CEO of Assembly Bio, about HBV, the company’s efforts to develop a new class of drugs to treat the condition, and what he’s learned from his work at Gilead successfully developing and commercializing therapies for HCV. A note to listeners: As we were publishing this episode Assembly Bio announced plans to discontinue development of its phase 2 candidate ABI-H2158 because safety concerns. The company said it will focus on advancing ongoing triple combination studies and earlier pipeline candidates.
9/2/202129 minutes, 50 seconds
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Modulating Serotonin with Psychedelics to Treat Neuropsychiatric Conditions

Psychedelics have become an area of increasing investment and drug development activities as an emerging group of companies is working to develop these compounds as treatments for neurologic and psychiatric conditions. That’s because of the ability of these drugs to target serotonin, which plays a critical role in the regulation of cognitive function, emotions, memory, and the sleep-wake cycle. Bright Minds Biosciences is developing a pipeline of psychedelics as the next generation of serotonin modulators to treat neuropsychiatric, seizure, and pain disorders by restoring serotonin activity to normal levels. We spoke to Gideon Shapiro, vice president of discovery at Bright Minds Biosciences, about the role serotonin plays in the health of the brain, why psychedelics have emerged as compelling therapeutics for a range of conditions, and the company’s pipeline of drugs in development.
8/26/202132 minutes, 53 seconds
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A Procedural Therapy Seeks to Address Type 2 Diabetes at Its Root Cause

Type 2 diabetes affects nearly 500 million people worldwide and more than 34 million people in the United States. The disease carries an elevated risks of heart attack, stroke, and other serious complications. Fractyl Health believes the approach to treating diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels and other symptoms has been faulty. Research has implicated a critical role the first section of intestine, known as the duodenum, plays in the condition and the company has developed a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure that it believes can correct the problem. We spoke to Harith Rajagopalan, CEO of Fractyl Health, about the company’s experimental procedural therapy to target the root cause of diabetes, how it works, and the path forward to commercialization.
8/19/202130 minutes, 45 seconds
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Building a Better Path to Neurotherapeutics

The efforts to develop drugs for neurologic and psychiatric conditions has been plagued with failure. Herophilus is combining organoids derived from patient stem cells along with machine learning to gain new insight into the biology underlying these diseases and discover and develop more effective drugs. We spoke to Saul Kato, co-founder and CEO of Herophilus, about the drug development challenges for these diseases, how his company is using organoids and machine learning to better understand how to target them, and its growing pipeline therapeutic candidates.
8/12/202126 minutes, 50 seconds
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Taking a Portfolio Approach to Immuno-Oncology

While the class of immunotherapies known as checkpoint inhibitors has brought a promising new approach to treating cancer, the development of resistance to these therapies limits the number of patients they benefit. Portage Biotech is building a set of platform technologies and a pipeline of immuno-oncology therapeutic candidates to address this problem. We spoke to Ian Walters, CEO of Portage about the problem of resistance, the company’s pipeline of candidates, and its portfolio-based business model.
8/5/202133 minutes, 13 seconds
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Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds

Earth will not live forever. Whether its destruction comes as the result of cosmic inevitability or human-caused cataclysm, the planet will eventually meet its demise. Though that may be billions of years from now, Chris Mason in his book “The Next 500 Years,” argues humans have a more obligation to do what they can ensure life from Earth can extend beyond the planet. Mason, principal investigator on NASA’s twins study and a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, discussed the effects of space on the human body, how it may be possible to genetically engineer human and other life forms to thrive in environments less hospitable than Earth through the use of new genetic tools, and the ethical considerations around these issues.
7/29/202130 minutes, 11 seconds
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Targeting Cancer Drug Side Effects at Their Source

While great strides have been made the fight against cancer with new therapies, dose-limiting toxicities of these agents can have a big impact on the quality of life for patients and lead doctors to alter dosing at the price of optimal outcomes. Rather than treating the symptoms of the side effects of cancer drugs, OnQuality Pharmaceuticals is developing a pipeline of therapies that target the biologic pathways that at their source. It is developing targeted supportive therapies to treat such things as dermatologic conditions and diarrhea caused by cancer medicines. We spoke to Michael McCullar, CEO of OnQuality, about the need his company is addressing, its pipeline, and how he expects others to think about the value of the therapies the company is developing.
7/22/202119 minutes, 50 seconds
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Mapping the Universe of Human Proteins

While great progress has been made in understanding the human genome, its functional counterpart, the human proteome, remains relatively unexplored. In part, that’s because advances in the tools to identify the far bigger universe of protein variants has been lacking. Seer Bio has developed a platform for large-scale proteomics studies that it says is both unbiased and scalable. We spoke to Omid Farokhzad, chair and CEO of Seer Bio, about the state of proteomics, How Seer’s technology works, and why it can help advance our understanding of health and disease.
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Fighting Disease by Modulating the Translation of Proteins

The development of mRNA therapies is allowing drug developer to pursue targets once considered undruggable. Anima Biotech has developed a platform that allows it to use small molecule that selectively control mRNA and can decrease or increase the translation of proteins. The approach has broad applicability as evidenced by the company’s pipeline, which includes experimental therapies for oncology, neurology, infectious disease, and fibrosis. We spoke to Yochi Slonim, CEO of Anima, about the company platform technology, how it can modulate the expression of proteins, and how it is leveraging its technology through partnerships with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
7/8/202147 minutes, 19 seconds
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Fixing Biopharma’s R&D Productivity by Taking a Cue from the Tech Industry

The biopharmaceutical industry has long struggled with R&D productivity. Long time industry strategic consultant Mike Rea, founder and CEO IDEA Pharma, thinks he’s hit on a possible solution. Taking a cue from the tech industry, Rea in May announced the launch of Protodigm, which he describes as a contract skunkworks company. The approach is intended to allow a multi-disciplinary team work autonomously to take its clients early-stage assets and explore multiple development options at once with the intent of de-risking innovation while saving time and money. We spoke to Rea about the industry’s challenges with R&D productivity, the benefits Protodigm’s skunkworks approach could provide, and how it will work with industry.
7/1/202133 minutes, 27 seconds
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An Affordable and Widely Available Drug Offers Global Hope against COVID

While cities across the country have lifted COVID-19 restrictions and public gatherings have returned, the lack of effective treatments for people who develop severe reactions to the virus continues to pose a public health problem. The situation is acute in less developed nations where vaccination levels are low, and hospitals continue to be overrun with patients. Researchers at Mount Sinai earlier this year reported in the journal Cell that a widely available and inexpensive drug targeting inflammatory genes has reduced morbidity and mortality in mice infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. The drug, topotecan, is now in clinical trials in India as a potential treatment for patients who suffer from a hyper-inflammatory response to the virus. We spoke to Ivan Marazzi, senior author of the study and an associate professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, about topotecan, what makes it compelling as a potential treatment for COVID-19, and why it may be well suited for treating people with the condition across the globe.
6/24/202131 minutes, 31 seconds
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A Gene Therapy to Program the Body to Produce a Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a painful, progressive disease of the joints for which there is no cure. The condition affects more than 32.5 million adults in the United State and the incidence is growing as a result of aging, obesity, and sports injuries. Flexion Therapeutics is developing an experimental gene therapy to treat the condition. Rather than correcting an underlying genetic mutation, the experimental therapy delivered into the joint codes for the production of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. It is expected to deliver as-needed anti-inflammatory activity to joint tissues over the long-term. We spoke to Mike Clayman, co-founder and CEO of Flexion Therapeutics, about osteoarthritis, the problem with existing therapeutic approaches, and the company’s efforts to develop a gene therapy to get the body to produce an anti-inflammatory protein as needed.
6/17/202123 minutes, 15 seconds
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A Test for Data-Driven Drug Development

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma’s $3 billion strategic transaction with Roivant Sciences that gave rise to Sumitovant, represents an effort by the Japanese drug company to make the drug development process faster and more efficient. A critical piece of this effort is steps the company has taken to harness information technology to capitalize on existing knowledge to inform decision making. We spoke to Bill McMahon, chief algorithmic analytics officer of Sumitovant, about the approach Sumitovant is taking, the way uses information technology to improve the drug development process, and how the subsidiary may be influencing the way its parent company operates.
6/10/202141 minutes, 54 seconds
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Bridging the Gulf Between the Promise and Reality of Precision Health

The ability to identify diseases at their earliest stages through the detection of minute levels of biomarkers offers the potential to make interventions before the outward physical manifestations of illnesses can bloom and long-term damage can occur. Quanterix is developing a platform of ultra-sensitive biomarker tests to give researchers greater insight into the transition from health to disease and the ability to detect diseases at an earlier point in their development. We spoke to Kevin Hrusovsky, chairman, president, and CEO of Quanterix, about the company’s ability to detect minute amounts of biomarkers, the implications this has for drug development and diagnostics, and how this can help drive a future of precision health.
6/3/202130 minutes, 14 seconds
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Using Synthetic Biology to Craft One-Time, Programmable mRNA Therapeutics

The marriage of synthetic biology to mRNA is creating the potential for a range of programmable therapeutics that can provide new ways of treating deadly and chronic diseases. Strand Therapeutics is creating a platform for developing these long-acting mRNA drugs that it says can be precise, multi-functional, and deliver potentially curative treatments with a single dose. We spoke to Jake Becraft, co-founder and CEO of Strand, about the company’s programmable mRNA therapeutic platform, how it works, and the indications it is pursuing.
5/27/202126 minutes, 30 seconds
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Using a Digital Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Treat Diabetes and Heart Disease

Cardiometabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, have long been treated with pharmacologic interventions. Better Therapeutics believes cognitive behavioral therapy delivered through its prescription digital therapeutics platform, will provide better outcomes at a lower cost. We spoke to David Perry, co-founder and executive chairman of Better Therapeutics, about the company’s prescription digital therapeutics platform, the case for personalized cognitive behavior therapy delivered this way, and what it will take to get doctor to prescribe it and payers to reimburse for it.
5/20/202123 minutes, 56 seconds
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Disrupting Pain Signals with Precision

The side effects of opioids and the potential for addiction underlies the need for new approaches to the treatment of pain. SiteOne therapeutics is developing a pipeline of therapies that target sodium ion channels to block the electric signals sent from the site of pain. Unlike other similar drugs, SiteOne is able to target these sodium channels with great specificity to avoid the types of side effect that have limited the value of drugs that target these proteins. We spoke to John Mulcahy, president and CEO of SiteOne, about the company’s approach to pain, its pipeline, and how its therapies are able to hit their targets with precision. Special offer to listeners of The Bio Report: With the Digital Library from DeepDyve, you can search 100 million scientific papers with full access to 20 million articles, annotate them, and share with colleagues. It’s one-stop, affordable research. Try one month of DeepDyve’s enterprise service for free. Go to and use the code BIOREPORT.
5/12/202119 minutes, 49 seconds
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A Diagnostics Company Moves to Developing Precision Cancer Therapies

Earlier this year NovelluxDx rebranded itself as Fore Biotherapeutics signaling a shift from being a diagnostics company to its new life as a precision cancer therapeutics drug developer. Building on its functional genomics platform, the company is in-licensing small molecule drug candidates it sees having potential to treat hyper-targeted patient populations. We spoke to Usama Malik, CEO of Fore Biotherapeutics, about the move from diagnostics to drug development, the approach Fore is taking, and why it thinks it can see value in molecules that others may miss.
5/6/202129 minutes, 1 second
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Characterizing the Immunome at Scale

When variants of the COVID-19 virus emerged in late 2020, it raised concerns about whether people already infected with the original virus, or vaccinated against it, would be able to generate a protective immune response that would confer protection against these new strains. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Johns Hopkins University recently reported encouraging findings from a study that took a detailed look at the antibodies in the blood from COVID-19 patients. To do this, they used a deep immunomics technology platform developed by ImmunoScape. We spoke to Brian Abel, senior director of business development at ImmunoScape and lead of the company’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, about the COVID-19 study, the company’s technology, and how it is being used to develop the next generation of immunotherapies.
4/29/202123 minutes, 51 seconds
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Delivering Oxygen to Tissue in Need

Hypoxia, a potentially fatal shortage of oxygen in tissues, is a complicating factor in a variety of serious illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory conditions. Diffusion Pharmaceuticals lead experimental candidate, TSC, enhances the ability of the body to deliver oxygen to where it is needed most. We spoke to Bob Cobuzzi, CEO of Diffusion Pharmaceuticals, about hypoxia, the company’s lead therapeutic candidate to address it in a broad range of conditions, and its clinical development strategy for the drug.
4/22/202126 minutes, 43 seconds
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Using Gene Therapy to Create a Drug Biofactory within a Patient

Wet age-related macular degeneration is a progressive disease and a leading cause of vision loss in patients over the age of 60. Vision loss is caused by the leakage of blood and other fluid from abnormal blood vessel growth underneath and into the retina. Though the condition is treated by a class of therapies known as VEGF inhibitors, these biologics need to be repeatedly injected into patients’ eyes and for a variety of reasons patients’ real-world experience with the drugs don’t match clinical trial outcomes. Adverum Biotechnologies is developing a gene therapy to treat the condition. Rather than addressing an underlying genetic cause though, the gene therapy carries a sequence that causes the eye to produce aflibercept, the VEGF inhibitor marketed as Eyelea and Zaltrap. We spoke to Laurent Fischer, CEO of Adverum, about the company’s gene therapy, how it works, and why the one-and-done approach could translate into better results for patients.
4/15/202120 minutes, 20 seconds
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Finding New Uses for TNF Inhibitors

TNF inhibitors, such as Humira and Remicade, have been a great biotech success story. These multi-billion franchises treat a range of autoimmune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease. Jim Woody, who led Centocor’s development team for Remicade, the first of the TNF-inhibitors, is today in pursuit of new uses for these therapies. Now CEO of 180 Life Sciences, Woody and his team are pushing TNF inhibitors into new indications for inflammatory and fibrotic conditions. We spoke to Woody about the role of TNF in the inflammatory process, the indications his company is pursuing, and why these well-established drugs have gone untapped for these purposes. The Bio Report welcomes DeepDyve as a sponsor. Search 100 million scientific papers with full access to 20 million articles. It’s one-stop, affordable research. Try the enterprise version of the service free for one month. Go to and use the code BIOREPORT
4/8/202122 minutes, 26 seconds
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Using AI to Map the Undiscovered World of Bioactive Compounds in Plants

The plant world has been a ready source of bioactive compounds that can improve human health. There are more than 10 million natural compounds in the plant world, but less than 0.1 percent of these compounds have been explored. Brightseed’s Forager is an artificial intelligence discovery platform that is being used to map millions of bioactive natural compounds to identify ones with potential to address human health needs. We spoke to Jim Flatt, co-founder and CEO of Brightseed, about the company’s discovery platform, its business model, and why it’s pushing beyond nutrition and supplement companies to forge partnerships with drug developers.
4/1/202142 minutes, 40 seconds
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Improving the Delivery of Drugs through Thin Film Freezing

TFF Pharmaceuticals thin film freezing technology allows it to take vaccines, small molecule drugs, and biologics and turn them into a fine powder. The process not only can be used to eliminate the need for low temperature storage of certain medicines, but also improve the of water solubility of drugs and allow them to be delivered as inhaled therapies. We spoke to Glenn Mattes, president and CEO of TFF Pharmaceuticals, about its platform technology, the company’s efforts to build a pipeline by reformulating existing therapeutics, and its plans to use partnerships to realize the full potential of the technology.
3/25/202122 minutes, 7 seconds
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Using CRISPR to Target RNA Instead of DNA

The gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 is being harnessed to alter DNA, but Locanabio is using it to create a new class of genetic medicines that can precisely target and modify dysfunctional RNA. The company says that its approach will allow it to produce in vivo medicines that combine the specificity of RNA-binding proteins with the effect of a one-time gene therapy. We spoke to Jim Burns, CEO of Locanabio, about its platform technology, the benefits of using CRISPR to target disease-causing RNA, and why this approach could be applied to a broad range of genetic diseases.
3/18/202120 minutes, 28 seconds
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An Antisense Pioneer Brings Custom Treatments to Patients with Ultra-Rare Conditions

In January 2020, antisense pioneer and Ionis Pharmaceuticals founder Stanley Crooke launched a nonprofit to design and deliver custom RNA-targeted therapies free of charge for individual patients with ultra-rare diseases. The organization, n-Lorem Foundation, leverages Ionis’ technology platform to speed the discovery and development of custom antisense oligonucleotides. More than a year later, the work of the foundation is well underway with a number of therapies in development to treat individual patients. We spoke to Crooke, CEO of the n-Lorem Foundation, about the need the foundation is addressing, why antisense oligonucleotides are well suited to the task, and what challenges it faces in scaling the operations to address the needs of a greater number of patients.
3/11/202143 minutes, 18 seconds
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Managing Neurodegenerative Diseases with Better Data to Improve Outcomes

Octave Bioscience is seeking to transform the way neurodegenerative diseases are managed by providing new insights into the severity of a patient’s condition, its progression, and using evidence-based insights to improve outcomes. The company, which recently raised $32 million, is completing development of its care management platform for neurodegenerative disease. We spoke to Bill Hagstrom, CEO of Octave, about the company’s efforts to harness novel measurements of disease to individualize care, the case it’s making with payers, and why the company is starting with MS.
3/4/202134 minutes, 22 seconds
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A Small Molecule Cancer Drug That Promotes an Adaptive Immune Response

Phosplatin Therapeutics is developing a class of small molecule cancer therapies designed to avoid the problems of drug resistance and toxicity associated with chemotherapies. The company’s lead experimental therapy is a first-in-class small molecule that promotes immunogenic cell death, a type of cell death that elicits an immune response. We spoke to Matthew Price, co-founder, executive vice president, and chief operating officer of Phosplatin, about the company’s lead therapy, its multiple mechanisms of action, and why it may have benefit in a broad range of cancers.
2/25/202129 minutes, 54 seconds
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Sloan-Kettering Spin-Out Harnesses AI to Diagnose Cancer

Earlier this year Paige, a company developing artificial-intelligence driven pathology platforms for the diagnosis of cancer, raised $100 million in a series C venture round. The funding came a month after the company, a spin-out of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, scored its first two European approvals for its breast cancer and prostate cancer offerings. We spoke to Leo Grady, CEO of Paige, about how the company’s artificial intelligence platform works, why it may lead to the identification of new biomarkers, and the potential for AI to change the way cancer patients are diagnosed.
2/18/202126 minutes, 54 seconds
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Bringing Innovation to Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing

While cell and gene therapies represent an area of great therapeutic promise, current manufacturing process are expensive and difficult to scale. As a result, this creates bottlenecks that limit patient access to these therapies and hamper the growth of the sector. Ori Biotech has developed an automated and scalable manufacturing platform for cell and gene therapies that seeks to increase capacity and quality while reducing costs. We spoke to Farlan Veraitch, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Ori, about the challenges of manufacturing cell and gene therapies, how the company’s platform addresses those issues, and why it is initially focusing on CAR-T cell therapies.
2/11/202122 minutes, 56 seconds
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Tapping Psychedelics for their Anti-Inflammatory Powers

There’s been a growing industry effort to explore the use of psychedelics for their medicinal benefits. While much of these efforts have looked to these drugs to treat a range of psychiatric conditions, Eleusis sees a broader potential for them. While the company is pursuing psychedelics as potential treatments for major depressive disorder, it also is developing psychedelic candidate in other indications because of their anti-inflammatory properties. We spoke to Shlomi Raz, CEO of Eleusis, about of the case for psychedelics as treatments for inflammatory conditions, how they work, and what challenges the development of these drugs pose.
2/4/202131 minutes, 44 seconds
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Advancing Cell Therapies Beyond Cancer

Regulatory T cell therapies have been pursued as treatment for cancers, but Sonoma Biotherapeutics believes these cells can be harnessed to delivery lasting and potential curative treatments for autoimmune and degenerative diseases. We spoke to Jeff Bluestone, CEO of Sonoma, about regulatory T cell therapies, why they may have broad application in a range of conditions, and what challenges will need to be overcome to usher in an area of cell therapies beyond cancer.
1/28/202119 minutes, 40 seconds
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How the Pandemic Transformed a Small Diagnostics Company

For more than 15 years, Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics has been designing and developing products for potential pandemics in developing economies. The recent COVID-19 pandemic, though, put the scalability of the company’s technology to the test as it landed big contracts in the United States for COVID-19 testing. We spoke to Jeff Fischer, president of Longhorn, about the benefits of the company’s technology for gathering and transporting diagnostic samples, how it’s used partnerships to scales it business with speed, and why the pandemic has forever changed the company.
1/21/202121 minutes, 48 seconds
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Eliminating Security, Privacy, and Regulatory Burdens with Synthetic Data

There are many reasons why the sharing of medical data that could be used to gain new insight into diseases can be hampered. Privacy concern, regulatory burdens, and the need to manage security risks are among the significant impediments. Syntegra believes it can solve these problems through its artificial intelligence technology that creates synthetic datasets designed to mirror the statistical properties of real datasets while removing all links to the original patients behind the data. We spoke to Michael Lesh, co-founder and CEO of Syntegra, about the obstacles to data-sharing, how synthetic datasets are developed, and why they might accelerate the pace and lower the cost of research.
1/14/202126 minutes, 42 seconds
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Using Computational Discovery to Build Better Immunotherapies

While checkpoint inhibitors represent a class of promising new therapies to treat cancer, the efficacy of these immunotherapies have been limited because of the ability of cancers to develop resistance. In part, that’s because of the multiple mechanisms cancers have to evade the immune system. Compugen is using a computational discovery platform to identify proteins and pathways that drive immune resistance mechanisms to checkpoint inhibitors. We spoke to Anat Cohen-Dayag, CEO of Compugen, about the company’s discovery platform, its efforts to develop new treatments that address patients who don’t respond to current checkpoint inhibitors, and its clinical pipeline in development.
1/7/202135 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Year in Biotech and What’s Ahead in 2021

The raging pandemic defined 2020, but it was a big year for biotech as the industry saw soaring stocks, record investment, and an impressive number of new drug approvals despite disruptions from COVID-19. We continue our annual tradition of sitting down with Adam Feuerstein, senior writer for Stat and the publication’s national biotech columnist, to discuss the year that was in biotech, the trends that drove the numbers, and what’s ahead in 2021.
12/31/202031 minutes, 24 seconds
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Bringing Precision Cancer Care to Dogs

The case for precision medicine to treat cancer has been clear. Understanding the molecular underpinnings of a patient’s cancer can allow doctors to use targeted therapies that can best address their particular tumor type. The people behind One Health believe it should be no different for dogs. The company, which bills itself as the world’s first canine cancer care organization, is seeking to bring precision cancer care to our four-legged friends. We spoke to Christina Lopes, founder and CEO of One Health, about the state of canine cancer care, the company’s FidoCure service and the market for state-of-the art medicine for dogs.
12/24/202033 minutes, 25 seconds
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As COVID-19 Vaccines Ship, One Company Brings Innovation to the Vials

As potential vaccines for COVID-19 approached approval, the focus has been on the safety and efficacy of candidates. Now that vaccines have been approved, attention has been shifting to the complex logistical challenges of manufacturing, distributing, and delivering vaccines to patients. The process has opened up visibility into many aspects of the supply chain that are usual taken for granted. One of those aspects are the vials used to store that vaccines and the threat that a shortage of glass bottles could cripple distribution efforts. SiO2 Material Science, which won a $143 million U.S. government contract for vials and syringes, is applying semiconductor technology to create plastic containers with a nano coating of glass inside. We spoke to Christopher Weikart, head of scientific affairs and chief scientist for SiO2 Material Science, the considerations that go into a vaccine vial, the technology SiO2 is using, and why it offers advantages over traditional glass and plastic.
12/17/202024 minutes, 56 seconds
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Advancing an Antibody to Prevent and Treat Cytokine Storms in COVID-19

There are many approved or experimental therapies in development for a range of indications that, because of their mechanisms of action, have been pursued as potential therapies to treat patients with COVID-19. One of the most advanced candidates in this category is lenzilumab, an experimental monoclonal antibody that’s in development for certain cancers and other conditions. The antibody has the potential to neutralize a cytokine known as GM-CSF, which can trigger a severe immune reaction and cause hyperinflammation as a result of a cytokine storm. It is this immune response that underlies the most serious cases of COVID-19 virus. We spoke to Cameron Durrant, chairman and CEO of Humanigen, about lenzilumab, how it was recognized as a potential treatment for COVID-19, and the path forward for the therapy.
12/10/202018 minutes, 50 seconds
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Using AI Created Digital Twins to Accelerate Clinical Trials

One of the challenges of conducting clinical trials is finding enough patient to include in a control arm of a study. This can slow the pace of drug development and increase its costs. Unlearn.AI is seeking to change that by using its artificial intelligence platform to create digital twins of trial participants that can serve as control arms in studies. We spoke to Charles Fisher, founder and CEO of Unlearn, about the concept of digital twins, the potential to accelerate clinical trials with their use, and why the company is focusing on the area of complex neurologic diseases.
12/3/202025 minutes, 47 seconds
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Modulating RNA to Quell Disease

Traditional efforts to treat autoimmune conditions have focused on inhibiting proteins involved in the immune response. Abivax is developing therapies that modulate RNA to enhance the body’s natural machinery to disrupt the production of cytokines, the proteins that signal the immune system to mount an attack in the first place. The company’s approach to modulating RNA may not only have utility in autoimmune conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, but in other indications including infectious disease and cancer. We spoke to Hartmut Ehrlich, CEO of Abivax, about the company’s lead therapeutic, how it works, and why the approach can have implications in a broad range of diseases.
11/26/202026 minutes, 59 seconds
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A Quest to Extend Life through Early Disease Detection

Jo Bhakdi wants to build a future where people are protected against most diseases through early detection. His company Quantgene, which marries artificial intelligence with the ability to detect cell-free DNA in the blood with great sensitivity, believes it can help extend the lives of its customers by ten years within ten years. Quantgene is offering both its Serenity subscription service to consumers, as well as other offerings to therapeutic developers to support R&D using its technology. We spoke to Bhakdi, founder and CEO of Quantgene, about his unusual path to becoming a precision medicine CEO, how he expects technology to transform healthcare, and why he believes the company will be able to extend the lives of its customers through early detection of disease.
11/19/202030 minutes, 22 seconds
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Modulating a Gatekeeper of Cellular Metabolism to Treat a Range of Diseases

A gatekeeper of cellular metabolism known as mTORC1 underlies a wide range of age-related diseases. Navitor Pharmaceuticals is developing therapies that can modulate the mTORC1 complex and allow for a new approach to treating a wide range of diseases including autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease and major depressive disorders. We spoke to Tom Hughes, president and CEO of Navitor, about mTORC1, the company’s platform technology, and why it has implications for a wide range of seemingly unrelated conditions.
11/12/202036 minutes, 28 seconds
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Finding the Best Cell for the Job

Whether it is cells engineered to provide therapeutic benefits or biomanufacturing processes to replace energy-intensive and toxic chemical byproducts of industrial manufacturing, getting the right cell for the job is essential. Berkeley Lights has developed platform technologies that allow researchers to rapidly screen large numbers of cells and analyze them to identify the best cells for their purposes. We spoke to Eric Hobbs, CEO of Berkeley Lights, about the company’s platform technology, how it works, and how it can help accelerate the emergence of the new bioeconomy.
11/5/202024 minutes, 8 seconds
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Transforming Clinical Trials with Digital Technology

Glen de Vries in his new book "The Patient Equation" says that despite the digital revolution in the way we can capture and analyze data, not much has changed for decades in the how clinical trials are conducted. We spoke to de Vries, co-founder and co-CEO of the clinical trials data platform Medidata, about how clinical trials need to evolve, how technology can be used to improve patient access, and how it can capture new types of data to better answer questions about the safety and efficacy of therapies.
10/29/202034 minutes, 54 seconds
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Designing Immunotherapies that Can Overcome Recurrence and Resistance

While immunotherapies carry great promise for improving outcomes for people with cancer, the ability of cancers to evade the immune system and develop resistance limits their benefits as monotherapies. BioEclipse Therapeutics is developing therapies that marry activated immune cells with oncolytic viruses. Together, they provide a synergistic effect that attacks cancers while providing protection against relapse and recurrence. We spoke to Pamela Contag, co-founder and CEO of BioEclipse, about the ability of cancers to return after treatment with immunotherapies, BioEclipse’s efforts to develop a multi-mechanistic immunotherapy to overcome that challenge, and why its approach may have broad application across a range of cancers.
10/22/202032 minutes, 21 seconds
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Extending Precision Medicine Beyond Cancer

While the potential for precision medicine has excited drug developers and clinicians with the promise of delivering more meaningful therapies to patients, the advent of these medicines has largely come in the area of cancer. As the understanding of the biology of other diseases is better understood, efforts to develop precision medicines are advancing into new areas. We spoke to Rachel Laing, managing director of the life sciences consulting firm Bionest, about the state of precision medicine, what can be learned from the experience in cancer, and what it will take to make precision medicine approaches the way we treat diseases broadly.
10/15/202033 minutes, 23 seconds
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Growing Biologics

Zea Biosciences is not a typical contract manufacturing organization. The company uses plants to grow recombinant proteins for biologic therapies. To produce a consistent and predictable product, Zea uses a data-intensive approach and grows plants in clean rooms. The end result is a high-scalable platform that is cost-efficient. We spoke to Jim Wilson, CEO of Zea Biosciences, about the company’s approach to producing biologics in plants, why it is a data-intensive process, and the advantages it provides over traditional biomanufacturing.
10/8/202026 minutes, 2 seconds
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An Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Begins Human Clinical Trials

United Biomedical has long been in the business of producing animal vaccines, but in recent years it has turned its attention to developing vaccines for chronic human diseases including neurological diseases, diabetes, and other targets. More recently it has used its vaccine platform to develop a multitope peptide COVID-19 vaccine and spun it out into a division dubbed COVAXX. We spoke to COVAXX co-founder and CEO Mei Mei Hu and COVAXX co-founder and Chairman Peter Diamandis, about the company’s efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, how its peptide-based vaccine works, and the case for this approach. Since recording this interview, COVAXX began dosing participants in its phase 1 trial September 28, 2020.
10/1/202027 minutes, 1 second
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Speeding the Delivery of CAR-T Therapies While Cutting the Cost

CAR-T therapies are an area of great promise for improving outcomes for cancer patients, but the process of preparing cells taken from a patient and genetically modifying them is time consuming and costly. Exuma Biotech believes it can address the cost and time involved in the preparation of these products with its rapid, point-of-care platform technology. We spoke to Greg Frost, chairman and CEO Exuma Biotech, about CAR-T therapies, how its technology works, and how it is working to cut the cost, and speed the delivery of these immunotherapies to patients.
9/24/202022 minutes, 33 seconds
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Transforming Infused Biologics into Injectables

The administration of biologics can be challenging because of the sheer volume of product needed to deliver a dose to a patient. It is for this reason that many of these therapies must be infused into a patient, a process that is disruptive, costly, and can take several hours. Halozyme’s Enhanze drug delivery technology has been used by a number of biologics producers to take a therapy that would otherwise need to be infused to allow it to be administered with a subcutaneous injection. We spoke to Renee Tannenbaum, vice president of global partnering for Halozyme , about the company’s Enhanze drug delivery technology, how it works, and the company’s reorganization to focus on partnerships around it.
9/17/202019 minutes, 35 seconds
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A Novel Approach to NASH That May Have Benefits for COVID 19 As Well

NASH, a form of fatty liver disease, causes progressive damage and can lead to inflammation, fibrosis, and the development of cancer. It has become an increasing health concern as the Western diet has spread throughout the globe. Today it is estimated that as much as 5 percent of the world’s population has NASH with a greater percent of people with the condition in the United States. There is no simple blood test to diagnose NASH, which means it often progresses to a fibrotic stage before it is detected. There is also no approved therapy to treat it. We spoke to Robert Foster, CEO of Hepion, about the company’s experimental therapy for NASH, how it works, and why it may also have utility as a treatment for COVID-19.
9/10/202021 minutes, 51 seconds
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Will a Focus on Protein Dysregulation Help Prothena Break from the Fold

The complexity of neurodegenerative diseases has made it a challenging area for drug developers. Gene Kinney, CEO of Prothena, has long been involved in the pursuit of therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and believes there has been great progress in understanding and targeting these conditions. In fact, he says we are entering a golden age of neuroscience. We spoke to Kinney about the state of drug development for neurodegenerative conditions, Prothena’s pipeline, and its effort to target protein dysregulation in these diseases.
9/3/202035 minutes, 54 seconds
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After FDA Set Back, AI Driven Drug Company Advances with New CEO

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration delivered a blow to Pharnext in 2019 when it told the company it should conduct an additional late-stage study of its experimental therapy for the rare neurological condition Charcot-Marie Tooth disease. A manufacturing problem that affected the dose delivered to some patients invalidated one the arms of its study. The company uses artificial intelligence and network pharmacology to identify molecules that may be involved in modulating a disease and searches for synergistic combinations of both existing and novel therapies to treat conditions. Since it’s clinical setback, the company named David Horn Solomon as its new CEO, sharpened its focus, and moved forward with an additional study. We spoke to Solomon about the company’s approach to therapeutic development, its focus on neurological conditions, and the case for using combination therapies as the best way to tackle the diseases it targets.
8/27/202022 minutes, 14 seconds
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A Gamified Therapy System Helps People with Brain Injury Recover

MindMotion GO is a first-of-its-kind mobile neurorehabilitation therapy system that helps people regain motor and task functions through a gamified approach. While the game playing aspects of the technology may help engage patients in activities designed to help them recover from brain injury, the technology is validated by clinical studies and has won regulatory clearance. It should not be confused with conventional video games. We spoke to John Krakauer, chief medical advisor for MindMaze, about neurorehabilitation, how MindMotion Go works, and the benefits of being able to move neurorehabilitation out of the medical centers to treat patients in their homes, particularly during a pandemic.
8/20/202023 minutes
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Genentech Drug Offers Oral, at-Home Option for SMA Patients

People with the rare and fatal genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy in recent years have seen the approval of an antisense therapy as well as a gene therapy. Genentech has now won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Evrysdi, the first oral, at-home treatment for the condition. We spoke to Levi Garraway, chief medical officer and head of global product development at Genentech, about Evrysdi, how it works, and how it fits into the choices physicians and patients have when it comes to treating spinal muscular atrophy.
8/13/202025 minutes, 49 seconds
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Enabling Precision Medicine through Proteomics

While the revolution in genomics has led to rapid improvements in the cost and speed of sequencing and created new insights into the genetic drivers of health and wellness, proteomics has lagged behind. Being able to capture a comprehensive view of the changing level of proteins in an individual could play a significant role in bringing about an era of precision medicine. SomaLogic is providing a push in that direction with its SomaScan Discovery platform, which can read 5,000 protein measurements in the blood through a single assay. We spoke to Roy Smythe, CEO of SomaLogic, about the role proteins play in health and wellness, the way the company’s technology works, and the opportunity for it to help advance the area of precision medicine.
8/6/202037 minutes, 28 seconds
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Battling Drug-Resistant Fungal Infections

The problem of drug resistance isn’t limited to bacteria. It is also a growing concern with fungal species that is causing an increasing need for new agents to combat these microbes. Scynexis is developing the experimental therapy ibrexafungerp, the first of a new class of therapies for serious fungal infections. We spoke to Marco Taglietti, president and CEO of Scynexis, about the problem of drug resistant fungal infections, the company’s experimental therapy ibrexafungerp, and why it may provide a new way of treating a range of serious fungal infections.
7/30/202022 minutes, 59 seconds
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Making Colorectal Cancer Screening Less of a Pain in the Ass

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of the cancer. While screening is an effective means of preventing it, many people fail to get a colonoscopy because of the invasive nature of the procedure and the preparation and sedation that goes with it. Check-Cap is a clinical-stage company developing C-Scan, the first capsule-based system for preparation-free, colorectal cancer screening. The capsule uses ultra-low dose X-ray and wireless communication technologies to generate information on the contours of the inside of the colon as it passes through it. This creates a 3D map that allows physicians to look for polyps and other abnormalities. We spoke to Alex Ovadia, CEO of Check-Cap, about colorectal cancer, why people avoid being screened as they should, and how the company’s C-scan capsule-based system works.
7/23/202021 minutes, 52 seconds
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Targeting Diseases of Aging at a Cellular Level

To see the affects of aging all you have to do is look in a mirror and watch the changes over time. Fountain Therapeutics is training its artificial intelligence platform to look at individual cells to detect changes that occur as cells get older and discover therapeutics that target underlying mechanisms of aging. The company believes this will provide new ways to target therapies to treat a range of diseases associated with aging. We spoke to John Dimos, CEO of Fountain, about the company’s AI platform, it’s approach to understanding aging at a cellular level, and how it provides new ways of discovering and developing therapeutics for diseases of aging.
7/16/202017 minutes, 29 seconds
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Cracking the Immune System with AI

The emergence of immunotherapies has represented a powerful addition to the cancer arsenal, but frequently they fail to deliver benefits to patients. Understanding what therapies will benefit which patients remains a challenge because of the complexity of the immune system. Immunai is applying artificial intelligence to map the immune system and understand its complexities at a granular level to better understand its role in health and disease. It is applying what it learns to avoid clinical trial failures, improve combinations of immunotherapies, and guiding future therapeutic development in cancer and a broad range of other conditions. We spoke to Danny Wells, scientific founder of Immunai, about the company’s efforts to map the immune system, the challenges in doing so, and how this has the potential to improve drug development.
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Using AI to Improve Drug Companies’ Regulatory Performance

Artificial intelligence is working its way into all aspects of pharmaceutical companies’ operations. While much attention has been given to the role these systems can play in drug discovery, IQVIA sees a significant opportunity to use them to transform the area of regulatory compliance. We spoke to Ronan Brown, senior vice president and head of IQVIA Integrated Global Compliance, about the role AI system can play in improving flagging returns on investment in R&D by allowing regulatory departments to operate more efficiently, breakdown data silos within pharmaceutical companies that hamper performance, and allow companies to focus less on rote work and more on regulatory strategies.
7/2/202024 minutes, 18 seconds
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Delivering Biologics Orally

Delivering biologics orally rather than through injection has been an intriguing goal but has proven difficult. Most efforts have focused on finding ways to turn these large protein molecules into formulations where they would not breakdown in the along the digestive tract before they can be absorbed and provide a therapeutic benefit. Rani Therapeutics has taken an unusual tact. Rather than reconceiving the biologic, Rani has reconceived the pill itself. The company has developed what it calls a “robotic” pill that carries the therapeutic to the gut where it injects the drug into the wall of the intestines. We spoke to Mir Imran, chairman and CEO Rani Therapeutics, about how the Rani Pill delivers biologics orally, the technology underlying it, and how the company thinks about the opportunities it will pursue.
6/25/202026 minutes, 18 seconds
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Turning Proteins into Device Coatings that Provide Therapeutic Benefits

Luis Alvarez, a West Point graduate who earned a Ph.D. in bioengineering from MIT, served 20 years in the military including time as an intelligence officer in Iraq. He saw injured soldiers who doctors were able to save, only to later have their limbs amputated because of the inability for injuries to heal properly. The experience led him to develop a means of turning recombinant proteins into a form that allows them to be used as coatings that act like paint and can be applied to implants to promote growth and other benefits. We spoke to Alvarez, founder of Theradaptive, about his journey from the battlefield to the lab, how his company’s platform technology works, and the range of applications to which it may be applied.
6/18/202017 minutes, 42 seconds
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Testing if an Approved Antiviral May Prevent COVID-19 Outbreaks

Last month, Canadian regulators provided clearance for Appili Therapeutics to begin a phase 2 study of an approved antiviral therapy as a potential preventative treatment against COVID-19 outbreaks. The study will enroll 760 participants who are in long-term care facilities in Ontario. Though others are looking at the drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19, this is the first study to consider its potential to prevent outbreaks. We spoke to Armand Balboni, CEO of Appili, about drug, how it works, and its potential to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in high-risk populations.
6/11/202022 minutes, 15 seconds
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Using AI to Crack COVID-19

The urgency to find treatments for the COVID-19 virus has allowed researchers to set aside institutional bureaucracy and companies to apply their technologies in new ways. One example of this is Scipher Medicine’s collaboration with Northeastern University’s Barabasi Labs, Harvard Medical School, and Network Science Institute. The company is using its artificial intelligence platform to help identify existing therapies that might be repurposed as treatments for COVID-19. We spoke to Alif Saleh, CEO of Scipher, about the collaboration, the approach Scipher is using to identify drug candidates, and how this might expand on the company’s business strategy.
6/4/202018 minutes, 11 seconds
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Why An Experimental Therapy for Inflammatory Disorders Could Help the Fight Against COVID-19

As a researcher, Joe Garcia applied functional genomics to understanding genes that contribute to inflammatory disorders such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. As founder and CEO of the biotech company Aqualung Therapeutics, he’s working to advance therapies to hit these novel targets to treat uncheck inflammation with the company’s lead experimental therapeutic candidate targeting ARDS. We spoke to Garcia about the company’s ARDS therapy, how it works, and why it’s a timely focus given the COVID-19 pandemic.
5/28/202020 minutes, 34 seconds
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Modernizing Phage Therapy to Kill Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria

Bacteriophages have long been used to treat infections. These naturally occurring virus are capable of killing bacteria, but each strain of phage is highly specific. Because of their unique mechanism of action, they provide a potential to address the growing threat posed by multidrug-resistant bacteria, but to treat someone, the right phage must be matched to each patient’s infection. Adaptive Phage Therapeutics believes it’s found a way to create phage therapies suited to treat patients with drug-resistant infections by building a bank of targeted and genomically-screened bacteriophage and testing individual patient’s bacterial colony against that to determine the appropriate phage to treat them. We spoke to Greg Merril, co-founder and CEO of Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, about the origins of the company, how its technology works, and the regulatory hurdles for producing customized therapies to treat individual patients.
5/21/202020 minutes, 8 seconds
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A Rare Disease Drug Hunter Turns His Attention to COVID-19

As a medical student, David Fajgenbaum nearly died from Castleman disease, a rare autoimmune condition. He would suffer recurring bouts that carried him to the brink of death but was able to push the disease into remission by discovering a drug that could be repurposed to treat the disease. Fajgenbaum co-founded the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network and developed a unique approach to research that is now being adopted by other rare disease organizations. He tells his story in his book “Chasing My Cure.” When the COVID-19 outbreak began, Fajgenbaum recognized that the deadliest aspect of the disease—a hyperactive immune response known as a cytokine storm—shared a common link with Castleman disease. He hoped that a researcher would apply his approach to finding a potential drug to repurpose to treat the virus and soon enlisted his own team to do so. We spoke to Fajgenbaum, assistant professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founder and executive director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, about his own experience, how it led him to work on COVID-19, and his effort to help researchers and clinicians track all of the drugs being tried to treat the pandemic virus.
5/14/202025 minutes, 55 seconds
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What It Will Take to Move Beyond the Pandemic

As some jurisdictions move to lift shelter in place orders and seek to restore economic life to normal, there’s growing concerns about the health consequences of moving too fast and the failure to make decisions without adequate testing to guide the process. Fred Brown, president and chief operating officer of the big data health consulting firm Fred Brown Management Consulting, discussed beating the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of a piece he’s writing for the fall issue of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology. Brown offers a few scenarios but believes it will take time for life to return to what it was like. We spoke to Brown about the path to vaccines and therapies, what it will take to move beyond the pandemic, and what we’re learning from this pandemic that will help prepare us for the next one.
5/6/202042 minutes, 55 seconds
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Reading, Writing, and Erasing the Way to Epigenetic Cancer Therapies

Targeting the epigenome—the regulators that turn on and off the activity of genes—has long been viewed as a promising way to treat cancer. But despite the promise of this approach, early efforts brought few successes in part because of the broad effects of hitting these targets. Constellation Pharmaceuticals is taking a next-generation approach to epigenetics, targeting what it calls the writer, reader, and eraser classes of epigenetic regulators to modulate gene expression in a highly selective manner. It believes its approach can be used to both induce cancer cell killing, as well as enhance anti-tumor immunity. We spoke to Jigar Raythatha, president and CEO of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, about epigenetics, the company’s approach to developing highly selective therapies that target gene regulators, and its programs in myelofibrosis and prostate cancer.
4/30/202024 minutes, 25 seconds
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Better Immunotherapies Through Chemistry

Acepodia has developed platform technology that allows it to chemically modify or conjugate living cell surfaces. The technology can be applied to any immune cell and any antibody or binding protein, without the use of genetic engineering. The company is working to apply the technology to create a family of cost-effective, off-the-shelf immunotherapies. We spoke to Sonny Hsiao, CEO of Acepodia, about the company’s platform technology, how it works, and it why it has the potential to change the cost and efficacy of immunotherapies.
4/23/202025 minutes, 30 seconds
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Bringing the Trial to the Patient

One of the challenges to securing the participation of patients in clinical trials can be simple geography. Sanguine Biosciences is seeking to tear down that barrier to participation by using mobile technology to bring clinical trials to patients. The company recently partnered with Vir Biotechnology to complete a COVID-19 clinical study aimed at better understanding the biology of the disease by sending healthcare personnel to collect blood samples from patients at their homes. We spoke to Brain Neman, co-founder and CEO of Sanguine, about it use of digital health technologies, how the company works, and its recent collaboration with Vir Biotechnology for a COVID-19 study.
4/16/202021 minutes, 12 seconds
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Controlling the Activity of Cell and Gene Therapies with Precision

One of the challenges cell and gene therapies pose is how to control how much and when a desired protein is delivered. Obsidian Therapeutics has developed a platform that allows a small molecule drug to control with precision the timing and level of protein expression from these therapies. We spoke to Paul Wotton, CEO of Obsidian Therapeutics, about the company’s platform technology, how it works, and how it may improve the safety and efficacy of cell and gene therapies.
4/9/202019 minutes, 18 seconds
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Why Soon-Shiong Thinks His Triangle Offense for Cancer Can Be Applied to COVID-19

Patrick Soon-Shiong likes to talk about the “triangle offense,” the activation of a combination of macrophages, natural killer cells, and memory T-cells to battle cancer. He believes the same approach he has been working to train on cancer can be enlisted in the fight against COVID-19, the virus behind today’s global pandemic. We spoke to Soon-Shiong, chairman and CEO of NantKwest, about his approach to immunotherapy, what results he’s seen to date, and why he believes what he’s learned about harnessing the immune system in the fight against cancer can be applied to treating COVID-19.
4/2/202031 minutes, 27 seconds
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COVID-19, Vaccine Development, and Global Health Lessons from Ebola

The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to stress healthcare systems throughout the world and it is making the development of a vaccine an important part of a strategy to arrest the virus. Though clinical trials for a vaccine are under way, creating a vaccine alone will not be enough. If those efforts are successful, there will be challenges ahead with manufacturing, distributing, and providing equitable access throughout the world. We spoke to Aurélia Nguyen, managing director for vaccines and sustainability for the The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations about the COVID-19 outbreak, how it may be playing out in different parts of the world, and what was learned from GAVI involvement in previous efforts to develop an ebola vaccine.
3/25/202023 minutes, 26 seconds
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Improving Cancer Outcomes with Early Diagnosis

Early detection is a critical means of improving outcomes for cancer patients. When cancer is detected at stage I, patients have a 90 percent chance of survival. By contrast, if cancer is diagnosed at stage IV, patients have just a 5 percent or survival. The use of costly and invasive diagnostic approaches have been a barrier to early detection, but new technology has the potential to change that. Laboratory for Advanced Medicine is developing a simple blood-based test to detect cancer at its earliest stage. We spoke to Ken Chahine, CEO of Laboratory for Advanced Medicine, about the company’s blood-based test, how it works, and how it is prioritizing indications.
3/19/202030 minutes, 41 seconds
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Making A Social Contract That’s Enforceable

As the debate over drug pricing intensifies, biotech investor Peter Kolchinsky is weighing in with a proposed approach to balance access to medicines with the incentive for companies to invest in the development of innovative new therapies. In his new book The Great American Drug Deal, Kolchinsky makes the case for an approach to drug pricing that would ensure that the timely movement of innovative drugs to generic versions while also suggesting mechanisms for cutting the price of therapeutics after patents and exclusivity periods expire when competition fails to arise. We spoke to Kolchinsky about The Great American Drug Deal, his notion of a biotech social contract, and why it’s critical that the industry think differently than it has in the past about approaches to reform drug pricing.
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Treating Alzheimer’s Disease as an Autoimmune Condition

There is growing scientific evidence suggesting that Alzheimer’s disease may be an autoimmune condition. Whether it is or not may be an unsettled issue, but targeting neuroinflammation associated with the disease is viewed by some as a potential therapeutic strategy. INmune Bio is developing an experimental, second-generation, selective TNF inhibitor that targets neuroinflammation. It believes this approach can slow or stop the progression of cognitive and psychiatric symptoms associated with the disease. We spoke to R.J. Tesi, CEO of INmune Bio, about whether Alzheimer’s disease is an autoimmune condition, the role of neuroinflammation in the progress of the disease, and how his company’s experimental therapy differs from existing TNF inhibitors today.
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Fishing for New Drugs

The Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute is seeking to harness biotechnology to discover new therapeutics by studying the DNA of marine life. At the same time, the institute hopes to breathe new life into a 400-year old fishing village that houses it and create new opportunities there. We spoke to Andrea Bodnar, science director at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, about marine biotechnology, the ocean as a source for novel therapeutics, and the institute’s efforts to transform the economy along Cape Ann.
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Thoughts on the State of the Antimicrobial Arsenal

The latest reports on the coronavirus outbreak put the number of infections at nearly 75,000 and deaths at more than 2,100. Against the backdrop of the outbreak, we spoke to Evan Loh, chairman of the Antimicrobials Working Group and CEO of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, about the global changes that are fueling the threat of infectious disease outbreaks, the state of the antimicrobial arsenal, and what needs to be done to spur the development of new agents to combat the rise deadly bugs.
2/20/202028 minutes, 41 seconds
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A MedTech Company That Thinks Like a Biopharma

Orchestra BioMed may play at the intersection of drugs and devices, but’s its business strategy is clearly drawn from the biopharmaceutical industry. The company develops its pipeline and then leverages strategic alliances with global partners who can best commercialize its products and maximize their potential. We spoke to David Hochman, CEO of Orchestra BioMed, about the company’s therapeutic devices, the large market opportunities it is targeting, and how it seeks to rewrite the way medtech companies think about partnering.
2/13/202033 minutes, 37 seconds
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Tapping the Potential of Psychedelics to Treat Psychiatric Conditions

Psychedelics have long been viewed as having potential to treat a range of mental health disorders including depression, addiction, PTSD, and ADHD. Government policies, though, have long impeded studies of their benefits. Mind Medicine is developing a pipeline of therapies based on psychedelics in the hopes of developing needed medicines for psychiatric conditions. Its lead experimental therapy is an ibogaine-derived molecule for the treatment of opioid addiction. We spoke to Steve Hurst, founder and CEO of MindMed, about the potential for psychedelic-based medicines, what’s known about them to date, and the challenges of working with these substances.
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Quantifying Neurodegeneration with Precision

The difficulty in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and identifying it at its earliest stages when interventions offer the best opportunity for success, is one of the critical challenges in addressing the neurodegenerative condition. CorTechs Labs has developed quantitative analysis software that allows physicians to analyze brain images to diagnose and monitor patients with the diseases. We spoke to Chris Airriess, CEO of CorTechs, about the difficulty in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease today, how its technology works, and its efforts to marry its software to genetic data as a way to identify and monitor people who may be at risk of developing the disease.
1/30/202022 minutes, 12 seconds
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Orasis Developing Eye Drops as Alternative to Reading Glasses

As people age, the ability of their eyes to focus on objects near to them weakens. The condition, known as presbyopia, affects more than 1.8 billion people worldwide. Though reading glasses provide a solution to the problem, Orasis Pharmaceuticals is developing a corrective eyedrop it says will provide an alternative. We spoke to Elad Kedar, CEO of Orasis, about aging eyes, its experimental eye drop intended to allow people to free themselves from a dependency on reading glasses, and how it works.
1/23/202022 minutes, 19 seconds
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Reversing Disease Signals

Ben Zeskind likens Immuneering’s platform technology to noise-cancelling headphones. Infact, the company’s use of the term “Disease Cancelling Technology” speaks directly to that. The approach, he says, allows the company to build a pipeline of drug candidate that address aspects of disease that have eluded tradition drug development approaches. We spoke Zeskind, CEO of Immuneering, about the company’s evolution from its roots in bioinformatics, its movement into drug development, and how its proprietary platform technology works.
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Turning Cold Tumors Hot

One reason immunotherapies fail is because of the ability to tumors to alter the microenvironment in which they exist and hide themselves from detection by the immune system. In some indications, as few as 20 percent of patients benefit from checkpoint inhibitors. Oncolytics Biotech is developing pelareorep, an immune-oncolytic virus that activates the innate and adaptive immune systems, triggering inflammation in the tumor, and overexpressing checkpoints to increase the number of patients that can benefit from the use of checkpoint inhibitors. We spoke to Matt Coffey, president and CEO of Oncolytics Biotech, about Pelareorep, how it works to treat cancer, and why it can make checkpoint inhibitors more effective.
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Stabilizing Neuronal Connections to Treat Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer’s

The brain converts short-term memories into long-term memories through the formation and stabilization of new connections between neurons. Tetra Therapeutics is working to treat cognitive impairment and memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease by developing an experimental therapy intended to stabilize these connections. We spoke to Mark Gurney, CEO of Tetra Therapeutics, about memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease, the company’s experimental therapy to treat the condition, and a recent study he was involved in that suggest TNF inhibitors may provide protection against the condition in patients with autoimmune conditions.
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Our Annual Biotech Review/Preview with STAT’s Adam Feuerstein

A holiday tradition at The Bio Report is to take a moment to reflect on the year past and look ahead to the new year with Adam Feuerstein, senior writer and national biotech columnist for STAT. We talked to Feuerstein about some of the highs and lows of the year in biotech, a few of the big stories he followed, and the big fourth quarter for biotech stocks. Feuerstein offers us a look at the best and worst CEO of 2019, the upcoming JPMorgan conference, and what to watch in 2020. Last week we released an additional episode of the podcast that featured the Himalayan Cataract Project (, which is working to eradicate preventable blindness throughout the world. There are 18 million people in the developing world who are unable to perform the tasks of daily living because of easily treatable cataracts that can be addressed with a fast and inexpensive procedure. We’re helping raise $100,000 through a GoFundMe Campaign ( to bring the organization back to Ethiopia and Eritrea, where on a recent trip to the region they performed 4,300 sight-saving surgeries. If you’d like to learn more, have a listen to the special episode in our feed. We’ll include a link at the bottom of this week’s episode to the campaign. Thanks to all who gave and if you haven’t, we encourage you to consider making a contribution to this cause.
12/26/201926 minutes, 14 seconds
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An Effort to Eradicate Preventable Blindness

We spend a lot of time on The Bio Report talking about innovation. We are living at a time of great scientific advances that are translating into remarkable therapies that are changing people’s lives. Sometimes, though, the type of innovation needed to address a global health problem has more to do with access and delivery than technology. This was brought home to me when my friend Menghis Bairu, an Eritrean-born physician, life sciences executive, and philanthropist, returned from a recent trip. Menghis had gone to Ethiopia and Eritrea, where he worked with the Himalayan Cataract Project. HCP is working to eradicate curable blindness. There are some 18 million people in the developing world who are unable to perform the tasks of daily living because of easily treatable cataracts that can be addressed with a fast and inexpensive procedure. During a one-week period in these countries, the organization performed nearly 4,500 sight-saving surgeries and provided training to doctors in there. We spoke to Matt Oliva, associate clinical professor in the division of international ophthalmology at the Casey Eye Institute and Oregon Health Sciences University, and a member of the Himalayan Cataract Project board who is involved in the clinical and programmatic direction of HCPs outreach in Ethiopia, about the burden of blindness in the developing world, the global health need HCP is addressing, and its model for delivering care and training to cure preventable blindness. We’re doing this special edition of The Bio Report podcast to help Menghis’ fundraising efforts to bring HCP back to Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2020. The campaign is seeking to raise $100,000. We’ve provided a link to the GoFundMe campaign ( We encourage all of our listeners to consider making a contribution to support the effort.
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Seeking Success Where Others Have Failed

Inhaled insulin has been one of those biotech ideas that have seemed better on paper than in practice. Huge investments have been made to carry these products through challenging development only to end in market flops. Aerami Therapeutics, a company founded by one of the pioneers in the field, is advancing its version of inhaled insulin and building a pipeline of other inhaled biologics behind it We spoke to Anne Whitaker, CEO of Aerami, about its pursuit of inhaled insulin, why she believes the company will be able to avoid the pitfalls others have faced, and the case for delivering insulin and other biologics through the lung with its technology.
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A New Antibiotic with a Unique Mechanism of Action Hits the Market

In August, Nabriva Therapeutics won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Xenleta for the treatment of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia in adults. It was the first new antibiotic with a novel mechanism of action approved by the FDA in nearly two decades for the condition. We spoke to Ted Schroeder, CEO of Nabriva about Xenleta’s unique mechanism of action, why it may be less prone to the development of resistance, and why policymakers still need to take additional steps to spur development of novel antibiotics.
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Improving Health with Better Data

Healthcare decisions are often flawed because of the limited information on which they are based. But with the growing ability to capture massive amounts of data digitally and apply artificial intelligence to its analysis, there is a growing potential to gain better insights into healthcare and improve patient outcomes. Komodo Health has an ambitious plan to do that with its AI-drive platform that captures 15 million patient encounters with the healthcare system daily to provide a real-time picture of patients and their various encounters. We spoke to Aswin Chandrakantan, chief medical officer and senior vice president of corporate development at Komodo Health, about the changing data landscape, how Big Data has the potential to reshape healthcare decision-making, and what it is enabling everyone from patient groups to payers to do differently.
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An Effort to Bioprint a Transplantable Human Heart

In the United States, more than 100,000 people are on a transplant waiting list and many other simply do not qualify. In 2009, 25 people per day died while on the waiting list. Transplant procedures are costly and require lifelong use of immunotherapies. BioLife4D is seeking to disrupt organ transplantation with the development of bioprinted hearts produced using a patient’s own cells. The technology also has the potential to have an impact in other areas, such as drug discovery and development. We spoke to Steve Morris, founder and CEO of BioLife4D, about its effort to bioprint a transplantable human heart, a recent milestone it achieved to produce a mini-heart, and the range of challenges it must overcome to make its vision a commercial success.
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How Doctors Are Cracking Difficult Cases with a Social Network

Sermo describes itself as a “virtual doctors’ lounge” where physicians can express their opinions and interact with other doctors. One of the newer features on the physician-only social network is the ability to crowdsource solutions for difficult cases. We spoke to Erin Fitzgerald, senior vice president of marketing at Sermo, about the social networking platform, how it’s used to solve hard-to-crack cases, and the business model underlying the free service for physicians.
11/21/201917 minutes, 15 seconds
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Cala Health Hopes to Win Over Payers and Providers with Its Bioelectric Medicine

Essential tremors, uncontrollable shaking of the hands, arms, and other parts of the body, have been traditionally treated through drugs or surgery. Cala Health is providing a new option to patients with its wristwatch-like neuromodulation device that uses electrical pulses to stimulate peripheral nerves to treat the condition. We spoke to Renee Ryan, CEO of Cala Health, about the company’s Cala Trio device, the potential for bioelectric medicine to treat a broader range of neurologic, psychiatric, and cardiologic indications; and what it will take to get payers and providers to embrace the technology.
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Shaping the Emerging Bioeconomy

The ability to engineer biological systems to replace chemical processes is making the promise of the emerging bioeconomy a reality. Some of the leading industry players, though, see a growing need to have a voice in the policy arena and have formed the Bioeconomy Alliance to ensure the sector can flourish and realize its potential. We spoke to Jason Gammack, chief commercial officer of Inscripta and a founding member of the Bioeconomy Alliance, about how synthetic biology is reshaping the economy, why there is a need for this new organization, and the issues it will address.
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A Belief that Early Interventions Will Be the Key to Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

Efforts to develop effective therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease have been stymied by a long history of clinical failures. Those disappointments have included two, late-stage failures of AC Immune’ Crenezumab, which the company is developing with it partner Roche. The two companies are continuing to pursue the drug under the belief that treating patients earlier in the progress of the disease will be critical. We spoke to Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune, about the company’s efforts to identify and treat Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages, its efforts to develop a vaccine against the condition, and why she believes the future of Alzheimer care will involve combination therapies similar to what has emerged in the area of cancer.
10/31/201936 minutes, 12 seconds
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Transforming the Study of Microbes with High-Throughput Technology

The study of microbes and their interactions is changing our understanding of biology, but only a small fraction of microbial species have been cultured. One of the challenges researchers have faced is the limits of existing tools used to study microbes. We spoke to Peter Christey, co-founder and CEO of GALT, about our emerging understanding of the microbiome, the need for a technological transformation of microbiome-based science, and how his company is hoping to fuel the emergence of new insights with its high-throughput technology to isolate and cultivate microbes.
10/24/201932 minutes, 19 seconds
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Using RNA Diagnostics to Predict Patient Response to Immunotherapies

Cofactor Genomics believes RNA provides a better means than DNA and other biomarkers to diagnose disease, monitor health, and enhance treatment decisions. The company’s Predictive Immune Modeling provides insight into a cancer patient’s immune response at the tumor to determine whether an individual is likely to response to an immunotherapy. We spoke to Jarret Glasscock, founder and CEO of Cofactor Genomics, about its RNA diagnostics, the case for the use of multidimensional biomarkers, and the challenges it faces with physician adoption and reimbursement.
10/17/201920 minutes, 46 seconds
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How a Clever Business Model May Accelerate the Use of Companion Diagnostics

Scientists can understand individual tumors at a molecular basis, but clinician don’t yet routinely profile and treat cancers based on this knowledge. Strata Oncology, with drug developers as its customer, is providing tumor profiling to cancer patients in the hopes of directing them into appropriate clinical trials. We spoke to Dan Rhodes, co-founder and CEO of Strata, about the state of precision medicine, Strata’s business model which works around the often-difficult issue of reimbursement for in vitro diagnostics, and the company’s long-term plan for building a commercial diagnostics business.
10/10/201922 minutes, 21 seconds
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Building Cell Therapies with Switches to Modulate Their Activity

Bellicum Pharmaceuticals is developing cellular immunotherapies that modulate T cell function through controllable molecular switches. The company is developing these immunotherapies to treat a range of cancers, as well as rare inherited blood disorders. The company believes the ability to modulate these cells once they are in the body will provide safer and more effective immunotherapies. We spoke to Rick Fair, CEO of Bellicum, about the company’s approach, how its molecular switches work, and its current therapeutic pipeline.
10/3/201920 minutes, 28 seconds
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Using Synthetic Biology to Build Intelligence into Cell and Gene Therapies

Senti Bio is using synthetic biology to build intelligence into cell and gene therapies, altering the way they act depending on the changing biological circumstances they may encounter in the body. Doing so may lead to safer and more effective therapies and address such things as the tumor microenvironment and mechanisms cancer have to grow, spread, and become resistant to treatments. Ahead of his appearance at the SynBioBeta conference that runs October 1-3 in San Francisco, we spoke to Tim Lu, co-founder and CEO of Senti Bio, about the company’s efforts to engineer a new class of intelligent medicines, its ability to design therapies that hit multiple targets, and its strategy to leverage its technology to reach beyond oncology through partnerships.
9/26/201926 minutes, 53 seconds
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A Therapeutic Approach Built on Protein Degradation

Nurix Therapeutics is harnessing the body’s natural process for controlling protein levels to target and degrade proteins that drive cancer and other diseases. Its small molecule therapies control key enzymes responsible for protein breakdown and can be used to modulate the levels of proteins within cells. The company believes it can leverage the approach to treat a range of diseases. We spoke to Arthur Sands, CEO of Nurix, about the company’s discovery platform, its pipeline of cancer therapies, and its recent collaboration with Gilead Sciences to discover and develop drug candidates against up to five targets.
9/19/201919 minutes, 23 seconds
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Harnessing AI to Improve Sales and Marketing Decision-Making

The biopharmaceutical industry has been embracing artificial intelligence as a way to address complex issues of drug design and development, but Aktana is betting that such big data analysis can improve decision-making around sales and marketing too. Aktana’s AI technology integrates with a company’s customer relationship management system to synthesize data from a wide variety of sources and guide marketing teams and sales reps about such things as which physicians to contact, when to do so, and how to best approach them. We spoke to David Ehrlich, president and CEO of Aktana, about the company’s decision support products, how they work, and the case for using AI to improve sales and marketing decision-making.
9/12/201927 minutes, 57 seconds
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A Doctor’s Quest to Cure His Own Rare Disease

When David Fajgenbaum was in medical school, he became stricken with a rare autoimmune disease that nearly killed him. Though he recovered, he would suffer recurring, life-threatening flares only to discover the poor state of research into condition. Fajgenbaum chronicles his rare disease journey and his efforts to drive research and find treatments in his new book “Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope into Action.” Fajgenbaum, who is executive director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, will be featured at this year’s Global Genes Rare Patient Advocacy Summit, which begins in San Diego September 18. Ahead of the summit, we spoke to him about his experience as a rare disease patient, his efforts to find treatments for his conditions, and how his innovative approach to developing a patient-driven research agenda has provided a roadmap for other rare disease organization to follow suit.
9/11/201927 minutes, 29 seconds
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Athersys Advances Off-the-Shelf Stem Cell Therapy for Stroke

Among the many challenges to developing stem cell therapies is the need to match donors to recipients and the risk of graft vs. host disease that requires the use of immunosuppressants. Athersys has developed a stem cell therapy platform known as MultiStem that makes use of a type of stem cell that doesn’t carry the risk of causing an immune response. What’s more, cells from a single donor can be expanded to provide potentially millions of doses to treat a wide range of conditions making it a scalable, off-the-shelf therapy. The company’s is in late-stage clinical testing of its cell therapy for the treatment of ischemic stroke, a leading cause of serious disability. We spoke to Gil Van Bokkelen, CEO of Athersys, about the company’s MultiStem platform, how it works, and the range of indications it is pursuing.
9/5/201935 minutes, 43 seconds
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Enlisting the Innate Immune System to Fight Cancer and other Diseases

Immunotherapies have mostly sought to harness the adaptive immune system, but Silverback Therapeutics believes its technology platform will allow it to enlist the innate immune system in the fight against cancer, fibrosis, and infectious diseases. The company is developing antibody conjugates that activate myeloid cells to target tumors. It’s lead indication is in HER-2 positive tumors. We spoke to Peter Thompson, co-founder and CEO of Silverback, about the company’s platform technology, its potential applications, and the challenges of activating the innate immune system in a targeted fashion.
8/29/201918 minutes, 48 seconds
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Using AI to Improve Clinical Development

Artificial intelligence is all the rage in drug discovery today, but there are efforts to apply to technology to other aspects of the drug development continuum to improve decision making and increase efficiency. One such example is Phesi, which has developed an artificial intelligence platform to improve clinical site selection, evaluate protocol designs and patient inclusion criteria, and manage the implementation of trials. We spoke to Gen Li, founder and president of Phesi, about his company’s AI platform, how it works, and the case for the use of artificial intelligence as a tool to improve drug development.
8/22/201931 minutes, 48 seconds
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Addressing the Challenge of Making Antibody-Drug Conjugates

Antibody-drug conjugates marry the precise targeting of an antibody to a cytotoxic payload. That has the potential to provide a powerful treatment approach to a variety of cancers with less toxicity than systemically delivered chemotherapy. The problem has been producing large quantities of antibody-drug conjugates in a consistent manner where all the pieces are where they belong. Sutro Biopharma has developed a technology platform that allows it to precisely design and consistently manufacture these molecules. We spoke to Bill Newell, CEO of Sutro, about the promise of antibody-drug conjugates, the company’s platform technology, and its lead therapeutic candidates.
8/15/201925 minutes, 50 seconds
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Targeting Regulators of Genes to Treat Cancer

While much of the focus of drug developers looking to act on the genetic mechanisms underlying diseases has focused on the genes that code for proteins, Syros Pharmaceuticals is looking to the regulatory regions of the genome. This is the noncoding part of the genome that controls the expression of genes, turning them on or off, or modulating their level of activity. We spoke to Eric Olson, chief scientific officer of Syros Pharmaceuticals, about the company’s discovery platform, its pursuit of cancer and monogenic diseases, and the lead programs in its pipeline.
8/8/201921 minutes, 49 seconds
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Harnessing the Immune System to Diagnose and Treat Cancer

Anixa Biosciences is harnessing the immune system to both diagnose and treat cancer. It recently announced a licensing agreement with the Cleveland clinic for a novel breast cancer vaccine that is being developed for both therapeutic and prophylactic use. It’s lead candidate is a CAR-T cell therapy in development for ovarian and other solid tumors. We spoke to Amit Kumar, president and CEO of Anixa, about the company’s strategy to pursue both therapeutic and diagnostic products, its partnerships with leading research institutes, and its development strategy going forward.
8/1/201920 minutes, 8 seconds
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Using Synthetic Biology to Produce Cannabinoids

There’s growing interest in cannabinoids for their therapeutic potential in a range of conditions, but one challenge therapeutic developers face is a reliable and consistent supply. Teewinot Life Sciences is using synthetic biology to produce a range of cannabinoids. We spoke to Michael Luther, president and CEO of Teewinot Life Sciences, about the companies process for producing cannabinoids, its business model, and the therapeutic and consumer areas it plans to pursue.
7/25/201919 minutes, 8 seconds
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EpicentRx Hopes Rocket-Fuel-Derived Drug Will Propel It

Much has been made about a cancer moonshot, but in the world of oncology, rocket fuel is rarely a topic of conversation except maybe as a metaphor. EpicentRx, though, is looking to rocket fuel as a source for its lead experimental therapy RRx-001. It believes this high-energy molecule, derived from rocket fuel, has the potential to improve immunotherapies and radiotherapies, as well as having anticancer activity on its own. We spoke to Corey Carter, president and CEO of EpicentRx about how RRx-001 came about, how it works, and the company’s oncolytic viral pipeline also in development.
7/18/201923 minutes, 56 seconds
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Using Fruit Flies to Personalize Cancer Therapies

The complexity of individual tumors creates a challenge for physicians to determine the optimal treatment for any given patient. This complexity may also require a combination of therapies to target the multiple pathways a given cancer may exploit to grow and spread. My Personalized Therapeutics is taking a model systems approach to pair patients to customized drug regimens by using fruit fly models of a patient’s cancer to screen hundreds of FDA approved therapies and combinations. We spoke to Laura Towart, co-founder and CEO of My Personalized Therapeutics, about the company’s Personalized Discovery Process, how it works, and why it may lead to better outcomes for cancer patients.
7/11/201918 minutes, 19 seconds
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Bridging the Gap Between Data and Knowledge with AI

As biomedical data proliferates and the life sciences becomes more closely integrated with data science, the ability for researchers to access, use, and learn from the growing universe of information requires new tools. InveniAI is seeking to address this need with its artificial intelligence platform for biopharmaceutical companies to both monitor innovation and to enhance their own drug development capabilities. We spoke to Krishnan Nandabalan, president and CEO of InveniAI, about the company, how its artificial intelligence platform is being used, and what he expects the ultimate payoff from this technology will be.
7/4/201926 minutes, 38 seconds
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How Virtual Reality May Change the Way Researchers Discover and Develop Drugs

The convergence of information technology with the life sciences is opening up new ways of approaching the challenges of drug discovery and development. While much has been made about approaches that seek to leverage artificial intelligence, Nanome is bringing virtural reality into the process. With the company’s technology, scientists can take a fantastic journey to view and manipulate proteins, compounds, and other molecules at a nanoscale. We spoke to Steve McCloskey, founder and CEO of Nanome, about the company’s virtual reality platform, how scientists can use it to collaborate in real time, and its potential to change the way researchers discover and develop drugs.
6/27/201924 minutes, 53 seconds
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Addressing the Challenges of Drug Development with a New Market

The high cost of developing therapies impedes the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to bring innovative products to market, but also leaves potentially valuable discoveries languishing on university shelves. The Swiss non-profit foundation Molecule is trying to alter the landscape by establishing an online marketplace to create shared ownership of intellectual property and provide a new funding mechanism for early-stage experimental therapies that could also lead to distributed research and development of promising drugs. We spoke to Paul Kohlhaas, founder of Molecule, about the market it is developing, how it would work, and the challenges it will need to overcome to make it a reality.
6/20/201933 minutes, 19 seconds
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Addressing the Challenge of Producing Stem Cell Therapies with Consistency at Scale

Mesenchymal stem cells may be a powerful way to treat a range of medical conditions but realizing the therapeutic potential of these cells has been hampered in part by the challenges of manufacturing a consistent product at scale. Cynata Therapeutics believes its platform technology addresses these challenges. The company lead cell therapy candidate is being developed to treat graft vs. host disease, a potentially deadly response to the transplantation of cells from a donor. We spoke to Ross MacDonald, CEO of Cynata, about the company’s platform technology, the potential for these therapies, and the indications the company is pursuing.
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Ensuring a Placebo Response Doesn’t Derail a Clinical Trial

The placebo response in clinical trials can derail a promising experimental therapy that might benefit patients. In cases where trials rely on subjective endpoints or patient-reported outcomes, the placebo response can be more pronounced. Tools4patient has developed a means of identifying patients who are likely to be placebo responders and allow trial sponsors to take steps to account for that in clinical studies. We spoke to Erica Smith, vice president of business development at Tools4Patient, about the placebo response, the consequence this phenomenon has on drug development, and how the company is seeking to address this problem.
6/6/201922 minutes, 51 seconds
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Using AI to Find New Uses for Validated Drugs

Artificial intelligence is being embraced the pharmaceutical industry as a way to reduce the time and cost of drug development. BioXcel Therapeutics is using AI to leverage as a means to identify new targets for approved drugs and clinically-validated drug candidates with a focus on oncology and neurology. We spoke to Vimal Mehta, CEO and founder of BioXcel Therapeutics, about the company’s AI platform, what makes it unique, and its pipeline of repurposed therapies.
5/30/201920 minutes, 50 seconds
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Using Digital Health to Change Our Understanding of What Drives Disease

The ability to capture and parse data in real-time and at a vast scale is transforming our approach to biomedical research and has the potential to change the way we think about the causes of disease, public health, and medical interventions. Paul Glimcher, president and CEO of Datacubed Health and professor of Neural Science, Economics and Psychology, at New York University, where he directs the Institute for the Study of Decision Making, is conducting an ambitious study known as The Human Project. The study will gather data on the everyday habits and health of 10,000 New Yorkers over 20 years to find critical connections between biology, behavior, and the environment to drive evidence-based public policies to improve lives. Through his company Datacubed Health, he’s using the same technologies to drive patient-centered research. We spoke to Glimcher about his work, how technology is changing the nature of health research, and how he sees digital technology transforming the healthcare continuum from discovery to care.
5/23/201932 minutes, 11 seconds
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Cidara Advances Antiviral Conjugate to Treat and Prevent Flu

Cidara Therapeutics is developing new anti-infectives using its Cloudbreak platform to develop antiviral conjugates that both directly kill pathogens and also enlist a patient’s immune cells to attack and eliminate them. The company is advancing its first therapy developed through the platform to the clinic, CB-012, an experimental therapy that is being developed to both treat and prevent flu infections. We spoke to Jeff Stein, CEO of Cidara, about the therapy, how it works, and the need the company is trying to address.
5/16/201918 minutes, 15 seconds
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Building a Drug Empire on Undervalued Assets

Roivant Sciences doesn’t fit easily into conceptions of drug companies, venture capital firms, or accelerators. It is building highly-focused drug development companies around promising undervalued assets it licenses. In five years’ time, it’s raised more than $3 billion, amassed a broad pipeline of more than 35 therapies, and has more than 800 employees. We spoke to Eric Venker, chief operating officer of Roivant, about the company’s business model, how it leverages its resources, and how it may be changing the industry’s approach to drug development.
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Bringing Precision Medicine to Autoimmune Disease

Advances in precision medicine have helped to reshape the cancer landscape with the development of diagnostics to determine whether a patient may benefit from a specific drug. Little progress, though, has been made outside of the area of oncology to avoid the waste of time and money on therapies that won’t work for an individual patient. Scipher Medicine is working to change that for the treatment of autoimmune diseases by identifying which patients would benefit from which drugs. We spoke to Alif Saleh, CEO of Scipher, about the company’s approach, the opportunity it is addressing, and how he sees the area of precision medicine evolving.
5/2/201919 minutes, 40 seconds
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Fighting Drug-Resistant Fungal Infections

Concerns about the threat posed by the growth of drug-resistant pathogens has often focused on the need to reinvigorate our arsenal of antibiotics, but health authorities are paying new attention to the rise of invasive fungal infections. Globally, about 1.5 million people each year die from these infections. There’s been a lack of investment and innovation in new types of antifungals and the worry is growing about the emergence of fungal strains that are resistant to existing treatments. We spoke to Ciara Kennedy, president and CEO of Amplyx, about the need for new antifungals, why this problem is emerging, and her company’s first-in-class experimental therapy to fight fungal infections.
4/25/201925 minutes, 14 seconds
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Accelerating Early-Stage Biotechs

The effort to cost-effectively accelerate the development of new therapies has led to the rise of new business models that seek to provide expertise, capital, and access to professional networks that can help early-stage companies navigate pitfalls and overcome challenges. Xontogeny is a bit of a hybrid in its approach, preferring the term aggregator to accelerator or incubator. We spoke to Chris Garabedian, chairman and CEO of Xontogeny, about the company’s approach, what it looks for in the biotechs it backs, and what he’s learned from his own experience as a biotech executive that he thinks will benefit others.
4/18/201929 minutes, 3 seconds
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Agenus Advances Broad Immuno-Oncology Pipeline

Agenus is an immuno-oncology company with a long history and a broad portfolio. To help fund its pipeline, it entered into a significant alliance with Gilead Sciences in December 2018 and has used an unusual funding mechanism by raising money through what it described as the first asset-backed digital-security offering. We spoke to John Castle, head of translational medicine and bioinformatics at Agenus, about the company’s approach to managing and prioritizing its pipeline, its use of artificial intelligence, and the recent deals it’’s done to fund development.
4/11/201927 minutes, 31 seconds
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Targeting the Right Proteins to Treat Neurological Diseases

The recent late-stage failure of another high-profile Alzheimer’s disease drug candidate is a reminder of the challenges of developing drugs for neurological diseases. These challenges are driven by the fact that there are hundreds of different brain cell types and complex circuits and pathways in the brain that make it difficult to identify the right protein to target to treat a given disease. Cerevance says its proprietary platform overcomes the limitations of must approaches used today to study human brain cells. We spoke to Brad Margus, CEO of Cerevance, about the company’s platform technology, how it addresses the challenges drug developer face, and the programs it has advanced to date.
4/4/201924 minutes, 19 seconds
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A Treat Locally, Act Globally Strategy for Treating Cancer

Intensity Therapeutics argues that cancer is both a micro and macro disease. Therapies need to act at the site of tumors, but they also need to treat the systemic effects of the disease that results from micro-metastases. Intensity is developing cancer therapies that are delivered directly into tumors, but also stimulate the innate immune system to address the more systemic effects of cancer. We spoke to Lewis Bender, CEO of Intensity, about the company’s platform technology, how it enlists the innate immune system in the battle against cancer, and the thinking behind the company’s approach.
3/28/201925 minutes, 29 seconds
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Squeezing New Possibilities into Cell Therapies

SQZ Biotech believes its platform technology can enable the engineering of virtually any function into any cell type allow for a new world of cell therapies to revolutionize the treatment of diseases. As its name implies, it does this by squeezing a cell to momentarily disrupt its membrane to allow it to insert a range of substances. We spoke to Armon Sharei, CEO of SQZ Biotech, about the company’s platform technology, its initial focus on oncology and auto-immune diseases, and the broad potential for this approach.
3/21/201926 minutes, 37 seconds
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Industry Calls for New Incentives to Spur Development of New Antibiotics

As concerns grow about the rise of antibiotic resistant bugs, the ability to combat them is being undermined by the economics of antibiotic drug development. Many large pharmaceutical companies stepped away from the space and despite the passage of the GAIN Act in 2012 and government investment in antibiotic research and development, drug companies argue more action is needed. We spoke to Michael Dunne, chief scientific officer at Iterum Therapeutics, about the state of the antibiotic arsenal today, the challenges drug developers face, and whether Congress will be willing to provide the industry incentives to address societal needs at a time when there is growing animosity towards the industry over issues such as pricing.
3/14/201921 minutes, 55 seconds
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Company Seeks to Prove Marine-Derived Alzheimer’s Drug Is No Fish Story

Neurotrope is developing its experimental therapy bryostatin as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. The company believes the drug has multiple mechanisms of action and can stimulate synaptic growth factors to repair damaged synapses, form new ones, and prevent neuronal death. The company, though, found itself in a controversy over the way it characterized results from a phase 2 study of the drug in 2017. It is now conducting a second phase 2 study of the drug in the hopes of demonstrating meaningful benefits for patients. We spoke to Daniel Alkon, chief scientific officer of Neurotrope, about bryostatin, the controversy over the way it reported its previous results, and the path forward for the drug.
3/7/201943 minutes, 28 seconds
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Targeting the Plasma Proteome to Address Diseases of Aging

As people age, their bodies lose the ability to regenerate as well as they were able to when they were younger. Alkahest believes this is tied to changes in the mix of proteins that are present in the blood as we age. It is developing therapies for diseases of aging that seek to target specific proteins that are upregulated in diseases of aging, as well as providing a wide set of proteins drawn from purified human plasma as a therapeutic approach to counter the depletion of regenerative proteins. We spoke to Elizabeth Jeffords, chief commercial and strategy officer for Alkahest, about the science underlying the company’s approach, the controversy around others who have offered so-called “young-blood” transfusions, and the pipeline the company is pursuing.
2/28/201920 minutes, 20 seconds
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Teaching Scientists to Be Effective Communicators

There was a time when scientists could spend their careers talking only to other scientists about their work, but that’s changed. Whether it’s the current funding climate, the need to understand complex scientific issues underlying public policy debates, or opportunities to fund translational work and commercialize important discoveries, scientists are increasingly being tasked with addressing lay audiences. In “Championing Science: Communicating your Ideas to Decision Makers” the husband and wife team of Roger and Amy Aines offer a detailed guide for scientists on how to communicate effectively with non-scientists. Roger Aines is chief scientist of the energy program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Amy Aines is CEO of Damianakes Communications. Each bring their professional experience to the book. We spoke to the duo about their book, why it's needed, and why they believe scientists not only need to learn how to communicate their ideas, but to compel action and change the world for the better.
2/21/201918 minutes, 23 seconds
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Designing Small-Molecule, Immuno-Oncology Drugs That Act Like Biologics

Kleo Pharmaceuticals is a developing next-generation immuno-oncology drugs that are small-molecule compounds designed to act like biologics. Kleo’s compounds activate patients’ immune systems to target and destroy cancer cells but are faster and less costly to design and produce than biologics. We spoke to Doug Manion, CEO of Kleo, about the company’s platform technology, why he thinks it will produce safer and more effective immunotherapies, and the potential to use these compounds in conjunction with existing biologics to enhance their activity.
2/14/201923 minutes, 27 seconds
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Biohacking for the Masses

Josiah Zayner calls himself a biohacker. He’s got a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from the University of Chicago and worked as a fellow in NASAs synthetic biology program. But it is Zayner’s evangelism for democratizing the tools of biotechnology, his flair for attention-grabbing self-experimentation, and efforts to share the knowledge and equipment necessary to perform procedures like gene editing that have given him some notoriety. As founder and CEO of The ODIN, Zayner is helping move biotechnology from the labs of universities and biopharmaceutical companies to high schools and garages. We spoke to Zayner about his efforts, how biotechnology is becoming accessible to laypeople, and how he sees this fueling innovation.
2/7/201931 minutes, 39 seconds
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A Hearts and Minds Strategy for Cardiovascular Disease

One-third of adults suffer from high blood pressure and 9.4 million people a year will die from complications relating to the condition. In fact, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. Quantum Genomics is developing a new class of drugs that target an enzyme in the brain for the treatment of high blood pressure and the prevention of related cardio-vascular risks. We spoke to J.P. Milon, CEO of Quantum Genomics, about its platform technology, how it works, and why it may have promise as an approach to treating both hypertension and heart failure.
1/31/201918 minutes, 22 seconds
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A Drug Hunter Finds Greater Freedom at a Nonprofit Institute

Atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized by an irregular and rapid heartbeat, affects up to 6.1 million Americans and can cause strokes. It is not well addressed by current medical approaches. Chris Larson, an adjunct associate professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute is part of a team working to find new drugs to treat the condition by identifying every gene in the human genome that can affect the rhythm of the heart. We spoke to Larson about the condition, SBP’s drug discovery efforts, and why he left industry to work on drug discovery at a non-profit institute.
1/24/201936 minutes, 34 seconds
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Attacking IBD Through a Novel Pathway

Current therapies for autoimmune diseases represent a $100 billion market, but available drugs often provide limited benefits to patients or cause problematic side effects. Landos Biopharma is targeting the area of autoimmune diseases with an initial focus on inflammatory bowel disease by pursuing therapies that target a novel pathway. We spoke to Landos founder and CEO Josep Bassaganya-Riera, about IBD, why new therapies are needed, and the approach Landos is taking.
1/17/201919 minutes, 36 seconds
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Writing the Future of Drug Research with Bioink

The ability to print human tissue is changing the way drug research is conducted today and opens the possibility of one-day printing replacement organs with the technology. CellInk saw an opportunity in making bioinks and started to produce a line of lower-priced printers as well in the hopes of expanding the marketing by lowering the cost of the technology. We spoke to Erik Gatenholm, CEO and co-founder of CellInk, about the technology, how its being used today, and how he expects applications for it to evolve.
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An Effort to Develop Safer and More Effective Immunotherapies

Bing Wang trained as an electrical engineer, but his experience as a cancer survivor led him into the world of healthcare investment banking and then to his current role as CEO of the cancer therapeutics company Refuge Biotechnologies. Refuge is leveraging CRISPR technology, but rather than editing genes, the company is using it as a way to activate or inhibit specific genes by harnessing it for its targeting mechanism. We spoke to Wang about his own journey from patient to CEO, the company’s technology, and why he believes this will lead to safer and more effective cancer therapies.
1/3/201921 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Year in Biotech and What to Watch in 2019

As the year draws to a close, we continue what’s become an annual tradition and look back on the year in biotech and ahead to the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference and beyond with Adam Feuerstein, senior biotech writer for STAT News. Adam tries to make sense of a puzzling year for biotech that seemed full of contradictions, offers some thoughts on the highs and lows of the past 12 months, and discusses what he’ll be watching for during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
12/27/201825 minutes, 47 seconds
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Why One Investor Is Betting on Platform Technologies to Change the World

The ability to manipulate and understand biology at the molecular level coupled with powerful computing capabilities is opening up new possibilities to harness technology to improve human health. The OS Fund is focused on investing in entrepreneurs developing platform technologies that have the ability to address global problems. We spoke to Bryan Johnson, co-founder of the OS Fund, about his investment vision, what it takes to attract his eye, and how he sees these platform technologies reshaping the world healthcare and beyond.
12/20/201824 minutes, 2 seconds
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Price Transparency and a Healthcare Policy Analyst’s Brush with the Healthcare System

Paul Keckley is a long-time healthcare policy analyst whose both worked within hospital systems and advised major healthcare organizations, but when he recently collapsed on a golf course due to severe dehydration, he was given an up-close and personal view of the murky world of hospital billing. We spoke to Keckley about his experience, the challenges of deciphering hospital bills, and why he thinks it will be market forces, rather than price transparency, that rein in healthcare costs.
12/13/201825 minutes, 42 seconds
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How a Leading Health Sciences University is Working to Address Homelessness

Matt State is known for his work trying to understand the biology underlying psychiatric illnesses, but as the chairman of the University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Psychiatry, part of his job has been to help address the city’s homelessness crisis. Homelessness is a complex issue, but the role mental health plays in the problem is often overlooked. With about 10,000 people who are homeless in San Francisco, more than a third of these people have a psychiatric or substance abuse problem. We spoke to State about the connection between homelessness and mental health issues, UCSF’s efforts in this area, and how it fits with the mission of a leading public institution.
12/6/201827 minutes, 51 seconds
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Gecko Looks to Broad Applications in Tissue Reconstruction

Gecko Biomedical’s first product Setalum is a sealant that prevents bleeding after the use of sutures to repair blood vessels, but the polymers underlying the product represent a platform technology that can be used to develop a broad array of tissue reconstruction offerings addressing bone, nerve, ophthalmic, and urological applications. We spoke to Christophe Bancel, CEO of Gecko, about the company’s platform technology, its versatility, and how the company is looking to partnering to expand its reach.
11/29/201814 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Search for Mediators of Aging

In 1988, researchers showed that they could extend the lifespan of worms by manipulating the genetics of these model organisms. The implications that the normal aging process could be altered ignited scientific research into the emerging area of geroscience. As the Buck Institute for Research on Aging readies to mark the anniversary of this landmark research with a day-long celebration, we spoke to Gordon Lithgow, chief academic officer of the Buck. Lithgow discussed how the field has advanced from that key discovery, our understanding of aging today, and what progress has been made to identify compounds that could extend healthy years of life.
11/22/201819 minutes, 58 seconds
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Using Drug Delivery Technology to Improve ADHD Therapies

People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder who use stimulants to treat the condition often face afternoon crashes and require the use of booster doses. Cingulate Therapeutics is using its proprietary drug delivery technology to target this $14 billion market with timed released formulations of commonly used ADHD drugs it is developing. We spoke to Shane Schaffer, CEO of Cingulate, about ADHD, the company drug delivery technology, and its clinical path forward.
11/15/201823 minutes
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How One Company Is Targeting a Growing Opportunity in Women’s Reproductive Health

Problems of women’s reproductive health represent a growing worldwide concern, but it remains an area of unmet medical needs. ObsEva is advancing a late-stage clinical pipeline with development programs focused on treating endometriosis, uterine fibroids, preterm labor and improving IVF outcomes. We spoke to Ernest Loumaye, CEO of ObsEva, about the issue of women’s reproductive health, the company’s lead therapies in development, and the plan for commercializing its products.
11/8/201818 minutes, 1 second
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Why an HIV Drug in Development Could Change How Cancer Is Treated

CytoDyn’s lead candidate for HIV is part of a new class of therapies that work by protecting healthy cells by blocking viral infection. But the receptor that the drug targets also plays a role in cancer metastasis and may provide a new approach to treating a wide range of cancers. We spoke to Richard Pestell, chief medical officer of CytoDyn, about the drug, how it works, and why it may have value in a range of serious medical conditions.
11/1/201826 minutes, 48 seconds
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How the Rise of the Patient-Consumer Is Changing Clinical Trials

The rise of the Internet, social media, and communications technology has transformed consumer behavior. Consumers today are better informed, expect a high-level of engagement, and a modern service experience. Shay Brill, vice president of corporate development for Atlantic Research Group, in a white paper released at the recent Global Genes Rare Patient Advocacy Summit, argues that similar changes are underway in the behavior of patient-consumers. We spoke to Brill about these trends, how they’re is changing drug developers’ relationships with patients, and what these changes mean for sponsors of clinical trials.
10/25/201819 minutes, 53 seconds
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Bringing Real-World Monitoring to Autoimmune Disease

DxTerity is a genomics company that’s providing real-world monitoring of patients with autoimmune disease with from-home RNA testing to improving the management of these conditions. The company’s technology not only has the potential to change the way diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis are managed, but change the way clinical trials in these conditions are conducted. We spoke to Bob Terbrueggen, CEO of DxTerity, about the company’s from-home RNA tests, how they work, and the potential application of the technology.
10/18/201819 minutes, 37 seconds
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Using Real-World Evidence to Improve Drug Development

The availability of a growing body of real-world evidence has regulators considering how clinical trials using disparate sources of data might work. Many see harnessing such information as a way to provide better insight into the safety and efficacy of drugs while reducing the cost of clinical trials. A number of issues, though, will need to be addresses as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration takes a first pass at a framework for using real-world evidence. We spoke Nancy Dreyer, chief scientific officer & senior vice president of real-world & analytic solutions for IQVIA, about real-world data, its potential to change the way clinical trials are conducted, and the challenges to applying it.
10/11/201826 minutes, 32 seconds
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Enlisting Immunotherapies in the Fight Against Infectious Diseases

Immunotherapies are changing the way physicians treat various cancers, enabling and enlisting a patient’s immune system in the fight against a deadly disease. But this approach has largely been limited to the field of oncology. Cidara Therapeutics, which is developing new anti-infectives, is using its Cloudbreak platform to develop antibody-drug conjugates that directly kill pathogens and also direct a patient’s immune cells to attack and eliminate bacterial, fungal, or viral pathogens. We spoke to Jeff Stein, CEO of Cidara Therapeutics, about the company’s platform technology, the pipeline its advancing, and why innovative approaches are needed to address infectious disease.
10/4/201821 minutes, 55 seconds
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Tackling the Problem of Resistance in Chemotherapy

Nucleoside analogs are a widely used class of chemotherapeutic agents, but the ability of cancer cells to evade them and develop resistance limits their benefits and increases their side effects. NuCana, which is developing a new class of cancer agents dubbed ProTides believes it can address this problem with nucleoside analogs by delivering them efficiently into cancer cell and preventing their degradation before they can act. We spoke to Hugh Griffith, founder and CEO of Nucana, about the pr oblems of resistance, how the company’s ProTide technology works, and the pipeline the company is advancing in the clinic.
9/27/201822 minutes, 32 seconds
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Engineering Bacteria for Therapeutic Benefit

Synlogic is using synthetic biology to engineer probiotic bacteria to deliver therapeutic benefit. By targeting the microbiome of the gut, the company believes it can produce systemic effects to treat metabolic and other diseases with its new class of therapies it dubs Synthetic Biotics. We spoke to Aoife Brennan, interim CEO and chief medical officer of Synlogic, about the company’s platform technology, how its seeking to exploit the microbiome, and how its engineered bacteria may offer a safer and more effective way to treat certain conditions.
9/20/201820 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Promise of Organ-on-a-Chip Technology to Improve Drug Development

One way to improve drug discovery and development is to work with more accurate models of human biology and human disease. Organ-on-a-chip technology that provides three-dimensional cell models in conventional microfluidic plates is helping to do that. Mimetas is one company that’s delivering this technology to the hands of researchers today. We spoke to Jos Joore, co-founder and CEO of Mimetas about the technology, how its changing drug development, and whether organ-on-a-chip technology may one day find its way into the clinic.
9/13/201825 minutes, 54 seconds
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Harnessing AI to Fight Diseases of Aging

Insilico Medicine is working to harness artificial intelligence to address diseases of aging and in the process reinvent the way new drugs are discovered and developed. Its AI platform is integrated into the continuum of the discovery and development process and seeks to improve target identification, the selection of drug candidates, and predict clinical trial outcomes. In addition to working in collaboration with the large pharmaceutical companies, Insilico is pursuing internal drug discovery programs in range of diseases of aging. We spoke to Alex Zhavoronkov, CEO of Inisilco Medicine, about the company’s platform technology, the potential for AI to transform the discovery and development of drugs, and why Insilico focuses its efforts on diseases of aging.
9/6/201841 minutes, 48 seconds
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Transforming Clinical Trials with Digital Health Technologies

Digital health technologies are providing new ways of monitoring patients and delivering care. In the realm of clinical trials, they provide a way to remove geographic barriers to patient participation, improve compliance, and reduce costs while also creating a way to capture real-world data. We spoke Bryan Silverman, CEO of ObvioHealth, about the company’s ClamiIt platform, the workings of siteless clinical trials, and the potential for digital technologies to address a variety of challenges trial sponsors face.
8/30/201829 minutes, 39 seconds
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Why Foresite Capital is Betting Big on the Convergence of AI and Biotech

The convergence of artificial intelligence and the life sciences is promising to revolutionize the entire healthcare continuum including the way drugs are discovered, how clinical trials are conducted, the methods physicians use to diagnose patients, and how patients are monitored and treated. The life sciences investment firm Foresite Capital, armed with a new $668 million fund, is helping to bring about this change by backing innovative companies working at this nexus information technology and biotechnology. We spoke to Brett Zbar and Vik Bajaj, managing directors of Foresite, about their new fund, what constitutes a Foresite investment, and why they believe this is not just the latest fad, but a meaningful change in the way life sciences companies seek to address the challenges in all aspects of healthcare.
8/23/201828 minutes, 6 seconds
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Why Public Health Systems Need to Be Better Prepared for Extreme Weather Events

In this encore edition of The Bio Report, we revisit an interview that original ran in December 2017. Climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events carry a toll on human health. Not only do floods, hurricanes, and other similar phenomenon cause death and injury, they also create long-term health effects. Jesse Bell, a research scientist at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies at North Carolina State University recently examined the issues in an article in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. We spoke to Bell about the health consequences of these weather events, the challenges they create for public health systems to plan and prepare, and why new research is needed to better understand the relationship between these events and human health.
8/16/201827 minutes, 2 seconds
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Predicting the Unpredictable Off-Target Activities of Drugs

One of the reasons for the high cost of drug development is that most drugs fail in clinical development. Even though preclinical testing can provide a good insight into whether a drug hits an intended target, once in the body, drugs can interact with a large number of proteins and have unintended consequences. A-Alpha Bio, a spinout from the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design and Center for Synthetic Biology, is developing a platform that can measure thousands of protein interactions simultaneously and how drugs affect them. We spoke to David Younger, co-founder and CEO of A-Alpha, about the company’s platform, the bottleneck in drug development it is addressing, and the business model it is pursuing.
8/9/201824 minutes, 13 seconds
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Why Clinics Providing Stem Cell Therapies not Approved by the FDA Are Creating Growing Concern

Stem cell therapies represent an area of great promise for treating intractable eye diseases, but there’s growing concern about clinics that promote costly stem cell treatments that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have not been proven to be safe or effective. This is already a multi-billion business and researchers have found some disturbing practices that have resulted into harm to patients. We spoke to Ajay Kuriyan, assistant professor at the Flaum Eye Institute and University of Rochester Medical Center, about his research into these clinics, how they sometimes disguise their work as legitimate clinical trials, and why this represents a threat not only patients, but this emerging therapeutic area.
8/2/201814 minutes, 51 seconds
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Making Biomedical Discoveries Sooner

Say “Oklahoma” and someone might think of wheat fields, natural gas, or the wind sweepin' down the plain. Cutting edge biomedical research, though, is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Nevertheless, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has for more than 70 years been conducting innovative scientific work that has forged new understandings of disease and made discoveries that have led to new drugs and diagnostics. We spoke to Manu Nair, vice president of Technology Ventures for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, about the work it does, its efforts to commercialize its discoveries, and the challenges of getting on industry’s radar when you are outsides of a major biotech center.
7/26/201834 minutes, 16 seconds
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Reinventing Drug Discovery with AI

Recursion Pharmaceuticals is reinventing the drug discovery process by turning biology into a data science problem. The company has set an audacious goal for itself of developing 100 drugs in 10 years. Though Recursion initially focused on repurposing existing drugs to treat rare diseases, it has expanded its work into new disease areas and is looking at new chemical entities as well. We spoke to Chris Gibson, founder and CEO of Recursion, about the approach the company is taking, the challenges of mixing biologists and data scientists together, and why he’s holding fast to his goal of attaining an unparalleled level of drug development efficiency through the use of artificial intelligence.
7/19/201827 minutes, 47 seconds
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Carrying Therapeutic Payloads Across the Blood-Brain Barrier

The blood-brain barrier provides essential protection against pathogens while allowing needed oxygen and nutrients to pass. However, one challenge it presents is getting therapeutics delivered to the brain and central nervous system. Bioasis Technologies has developed a way to attach fusion proteins to drugs to allow them to pass the blood-brain barrier. We spoke to Mark Day, CEO of Bioasis, about its platform technology, what is known about it from testing to date, and the potential therapeutic implications of being able to deliver drugs systemically that can reach the central nervous system and brain.
7/12/201824 minutes, 54 seconds
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Harnessing Bacteria to Improve Skin Health

There’s been much made of the potential of the microbiome to address disease and promote wellness. While much of the therapeutic efforts in this area have focused on the microbiome of the gut, Azitra has developed a platform for selecting bacteria native to the skin and engineering it to produce therapeutic proteins. We spoke to Travis Whitfill, chief science officer of Azitra, about the company’s platform, why it may be preferable to apply bacteria to the skin that can produce therapeutic proteins where they are needed, and why some of the biggest opportunities for the technology may be in the health and beauty markets.
7/5/201824 minutes
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How One Accelerator Tries to Give Early-Stage Drug Developers an Edge

Incubators and accelerators come in many flavors. Mass Innovation Labs is seeking to distinguish itself with its approach to providing research scientists with infrastructure comparable to what a discovery and development team might have at a mature pharmaceutical company. We spoke to Amrit Chaudhuri, CEO of Mass Innovation Labs, about what it does to accelerate the movement of its client companies down the path to commercialization, what its track record has been, and how it differs from the competition.
6/28/201823 minutes, 29 seconds
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Making Synthetic Biology a Commercial Reality

Intrexon has been at the forefront of efforts to harness biotechnology to address significant issues in health, energy, food, and environmental sustainability. The company is applying synthetic biology to a wide range of applications from halting the spread of mosquito-borne disease to preventing apples from browning. We spoke to Tom Schrader, vice president of communications and strategy for Intrexon, about the company’s use of acquisitions and collaborations, the challenge the industry has faced in scaling production to commercial scale, and why synthetic biology will have implications for industries not traditionally thought of using biotechnology.
6/21/201821 minutes, 47 seconds
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Why Behavioral Economics May Turn Irrational Patients Rational

The field of behavioral economics is premised on the fact that people are irrational. By harnessing tools, such as incentives, healthcare providers and drugmakers are trying to change patient behavior as a way to improve outcomes and keep people heathy. Susan Garfield, principal in the life sciences practice of EY, discussed the opportunities for the application of behavioral economics in the healthcare realm, the role digital technologies can play in enabling this approach, and what companies are doing today to move this from academic to industry practice.
6/14/201821 minutes, 22 seconds
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Pushing the Frontiers of Longevity

Dmitry Kaminskiy does not have a lot of kind words for aging. In fact, the general partner at Deep Knowledge Ventures and managing trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation has called it the “ultimate evil.” As part of his ongoing war against aging the venture capitalist is offering a $1 million prize to the first person to reach the age of 123. We spoke to Kaminskiy about the longevity industry today, how a shift in medicine from treatment to prevention will alter lifespans, and what he’s trying to accomplish with his longevity prize.
6/7/201827 minutes, 54 seconds
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Is Hearing Loss a Necessary Price for Children to Pay for Life-Saving Chemotherapies

Children undergoing chemotherapy often face permanent hearing loss as a result of the toxicity of these treatments. The Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy is organizing a Patient Focused Drug Development meeting with the FDA in September in the hopes of getting the agency to put greater consideration into the harmful effects these drugs can have and what it means for patients to lose their hearing. We spoke to Nawal Ouzren, CEO of Sensorion, which will participate in the FDA meeting and is developing a treatment for sudden hearing loss that may be able to help these patients. We spoke to Ouzren about the problem of hearing loss for children receiving chemotherapy, why regulators and others may dismiss it as an unfortunate price to pay for a life-saving treatment, and how Sensorion’s experimental drug may help prevent these children from going deaf.
5/31/201821 minutes, 34 seconds
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Why Diagnostics May Be Critical to Reshaping Alzheimer’s Drug Development

Alzheimer’s disease has been a costly and elusive area for drug developers. Despite many promising results in early-stage trials, drug companies have seen millions of dollars of R&D investment end in spectacular late-stage failures. While treatments for the disease are desperately needed, one of the barriers to success has been the availability of diagnostics that can detect the disease at early stages when therapeutic interventions may have their best chance for success. We spoke to Rachel Laing, managing partner of Bionest Partners about the problem, whether there are fundamental misunderstandings about the disease that have sent drug companies in pursuit of the wrong targets, and why diagnostics can play a critical role in reshaping the pursuit of an effective treatment for the neurodegenerative condition.
5/24/201817 minutes, 57 seconds
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Why the Diversity of Genomic Data Matters

The lack of diversity in genomic data has been an issue of growing concern. It threatens to limit the benefits from the massive investment that has been made to date to transform biomedical research, drug development, and the clinical care of patients. We spoke to Jonas Korlach, chief scientific officer of Pacific Biosciences, about the problem, how it’s being addressed, and the role advancing technology can play in gleaning greater insights from the genomes that are analyzed.
5/17/201832 minutes, 18 seconds
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Why Biomarkers May Be the Key to Immuno-Oncology Success

Developers of cancer immunotherapies are in a race to find combinations that can distinguish their products for specific indications. Biomarkers, which have played an essential role in the development of targeted therapies, have proven a much more complex challenge in the realm of immuno-oncology. Nevertheless, biomarkers may be the key to winning the competitive battles in immuno-oncology. We spoke to Rachel Laing, managing partner of Bionest Partners, about the role for biomarkers in immuno-oncology, why immuno-oncology companies have much at stake in the hunt for biomarkers that can better select patients for their therapies, and the role biomarkers will play in the move toward real-time oncology.
5/10/201826 minutes, 24 seconds
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Seeing Virtue in Patients

As the value of the patient perspective gains greater recognition throughout the healthcare continuum, Wego Health is seeking to both tap and provide that perspective to guide a range of clients within the world of healthcare. The company has amassed a network of more than 100,000 people that includes patients, caregivers, thought leaders, and influencers. We spoke to Jack Barrette, founder and CEO of Wego, about the company, the changing role of patients, and how the patient voice is being harnessed to transform healthcare today.
5/3/201820 minutes, 30 seconds
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When Science Becomes a Cause

It seems to be strange times when people feel the need to take to the streets to voice their support for science, but that’s what happened earlier this month as the second annual March for Science was held in Washington, D.C. and 250 other cities around the world. To mark the occasion, we spoke to Mary Woolley, CEO of Research!Amercia, about the public perception of science, the state of funding for science in the United States, and why scientist increasingly feel the need to step off the sidelines to advocate for what they do.
4/26/201824 minutes, 46 seconds
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The Pursuit of Healthier, Safer, and More Humane Meat

The global demand for meat is rising as is concerns about the health dangers, environmental toll, and animal welfare issues related to the way we produce meat today. The Good Food Institute is a nonprofit working with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs to advance efforts to make clean meat and plant-based alternatives a commercial reality. We spoke to Liz Specht, senior scientist for The Good Food Institute, about the problems with meat production today, efforts to develop alternatives, and the role biotechnology can play in creating healthier, safer, and more humane sources of meat.
4/19/201826 minutes, 9 seconds
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A Hidden Killer and Why Patients Face Barriers to Accessing Promising New Drugs for It

Familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH, is an inherited disorder that leads to premature cardiovascular disease. It can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and the narrowing of heart valves. In people with the condition, genetic mutations impair the ability of the liver to metabolize excess fats. While an estimated 1.3 million people in the United States have FH, only about 10 percent are diagnosed. We spoke to Katherine Wilemon, founder and CEO of the FH Foundation, about the condition, why so many people are undiagnosed, and why patients face significant barriers getting access to a new class of promising drugs to treat the condition.
4/12/201818 minutes, 5 seconds
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Targeting the Regulators of Genes to Treat Disease

While most drug developers have sought to target aberrant genes or the proteins driving diseases, Syros Pharmaceuticals has developed a proprietary platform that targets the regulatory region of DNA to not only turn genes on or off but modulate their activity as well. The company is initially focusing on cancer and monogenic diseases. We spoke to Nancy Simonian, CEO of Syros, about the company’s platform technology, the opportunities in targeting regulators of genes, and why this could represent a broad new approach to treating diseases.
4/6/201820 minutes, 44 seconds
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Price-Fixing Case Against Generic Drugmakers Widens

A sharp spike in generic drug prices that triggered an investigation in Connecticut continues to deepen. The antitrust case that alleges price-fixing and widespread collusion between generic drug companies to divvy up markets and avoid competition has now grown to include attorneys general in 49 states seeking action against 18 companies and two executives for activity involving an expanding list of widely-used drugs. We spoke to Joseph Nielsen, assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Department of the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General, about the case, how it has evolved, and its implications for generic drugmakers, consumers, and the healthcare system.
3/29/201820 minutes, 48 seconds
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Outcomes Erode for Newborns and Mothers in Rural America as Hospitals Lose Obstectric Services

Rural counties in the United States have seen a steady loss of hospital-based obstetric services. A new study published in JAMA that looked at nearly 5 million births in almost 1,100 rural U.S. counties found a connection between the loss of these services and eroding outcomes for newborns and their mothers. We spoke to Carrie Henning-Smith, deputy director of the University of Minnesota’s Rural Health Research Center and co-author of the JAMA study, about the findings, their implications, and what can be done to address eroding healthcare for women giving birth in rural America.
3/22/201820 minutes, 55 seconds
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Why Drug Companies May Soon Become Health Technology Companies

The convergence of technology and life sciences, changing consumer behavior, and increasing pricing pressures on drug and device makers are forcing these companies to rethink business models and how they derive value from their products, according to a new EY Progressions 2018 report. The report argues that life sciences companies will no longer be able to rely exclusively on product-centric innovations, which face diminishing returns as health systems wrestle with cost constraints. We spoke to Pamela Spence, EY global life sciences industry leader, about the report, what a growing trend in collaborations between technology and healthcare companies may say about where the industry is heading, and why the future of life sciences companies may be as health technology companies.
3/15/201824 minutes, 26 seconds
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After Facing Death, Former HR Director Helps Others Get a New Perspective on Life

Matthew Levy worked in the biopharmaceutical industry in human resources when he was confronted with a life-changing event. A doctor told him he had advanced cancer and just 90 days to live. An aggressive treatment regimen saved him, but it also led Levy to rethink his life. Now a motivational speaker and executive coach, Levy is trying to help others who may have settled into safe and comfortable jobs but find them unfulfilling. We spoke to Levy about his experiences, how it changed him, and what others could do to make turning points in their lives without having to face death.
3/8/201816 minutes, 46 seconds
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Putting Physics to Work in the Fight Against Cancer

Despite the often remarkable advances in cancer therapies, radiation is still widely used to treat a variety of cancers. Nanobiotix believes it can make radiation therapy more effective by injecting its nanomedicines into tumors to amplify the effects of radiation without damaging healthy tissue. We spoke to Laurent Levy, CEO of Nanobiotix, about the company’s technology, how it works, and why it may be broadly applicable to a wide range of cancers.
3/1/201816 minutes, 9 seconds
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Why Aging Might Best Be Thought of as a Disease

As medical advances have helped extend lifespans, older people still experience a decline in quality of life in their later years as a result of diseases associated with aging. This can cause a loss of independence, isolation, and suffering. The Biogerontology Research Foundation, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit, is funding work to understand the molecular and cellular processes of aging and develop biotechnological interventions to halt or reverse damage from it. We spoke to Franco Cortese, deputy director of The Biogerontology Research Foundation, about a new report it’s issued that characterizes the longevity and geroscience landscape today, areas of research that hold promise, and why aging might best be thought of as a disease.
2/22/201818 minutes, 36 seconds
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Looking for a Better Alternative to Chemotherapy for AL Amyloidosis

Caelum Biosciences, a Fortress Biotech company, is a clinical-stage biotech developing treatments for rare and life-threatening diseases. It’s lead therapeutic in development is a novel antibody to treat patients with amyloid light chain amyloidosis, a rare disorder of the bone marrow that causes misfolded proteins to accumulate in tissue and organs throughout the body and cause damage. We spoke to Michael Spector, president and CEO of Caelum, about the company’s business model, its lead therapeutic, and how the competitive landscape for a rare disease therapy may shape development strategies.
2/15/201821 minutes, 26 seconds
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A University Spin-Out that Incubates University Spin Outs

Incubators create success stories, but usually aren’t thought of as success stories themselves. The newly renamed MBC Biolabs, which started with humble beginnings in a utility closet as the first technology incubator in the University of California system, has been a big success by meeting the needs of entrepreneurial scientists. We spoke to Doug Crawford, managing director of Mission Bay Capital and General Manager MBC Biolabs, about its recent rebranding, how it operates, and its plans for expansion.
2/8/201821 minutes, 47 seconds
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Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities of Patient-Centric Outcomes

Across the continuum of drug discovery, development, and delivery there’s a growing effort to incorporate the patient perspective into the process. Last year FasterCures, the nonprofit focused on accelerating and improving medical research, held a multi-stakeholder workshop to discuss the challenges and opportunities of patient reported outcomes and how to make them a more powerful tool for incorporating patients’ perspectives into R&D and care decision-making. A new report from the organization captures the results of that workshop. We spoke to Cynthia Grossman, director of science of patient input at FasterCures, about the report, why patient reported outcome measures and patient-centric outcomes are not one and the same, and what can be done to better reflect what matters to patients.
2/2/201827 minutes, 25 seconds
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How CellMax Hopes to Change the Diagnosis Cancer with Inexpensive Liquid Biopsy

CellMax Life believes it can transform cancer diagnostics with its affordable non-invasive tests for early cancer detection. The company says with its platform it has been able to overcome the challenge of detecting rare circulating tumor cells in pre-cancer and early-stage cancer patients when the disease can be successfully treated. We spoke to Atul Sharan, co-founder and CEO of CellMax, about the challenges of liquid biopsies, how the company’s technology works, and why he thinks it has the potential to change the way cancer is diagnosed today.
1/25/201827 minutes, 37 seconds
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How Surveillance and Data Are Bringing Precision to the Treatment of Prostate Cancer

The development of a biomarker to identify people with prostate cancer increased the diagnosis of the disease, but did little to suggest the appropriate course of treatment for individual patients. Kenneth Pienta, professor of urology and co-director of the Johns Hopkins University InHealth Signature Initiative, is trying to change that by using surveillance and extensive data gathering to continuously stratify patients and refine treatment approaches. Pienta, who will be speaking at the Precision Medicine World Conference in Mountain View, California January 22 to 24, discussed InHealth, how its transforming the treatment of prostate cancer patients, and why it may be a model for applying precision medicine approaches to a broad range of diseases.
1/18/201827 minutes, 53 seconds
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Why Life Sciences M&A Should Heat up This Year

A surge in merger and acquisition activity in the life sciences is expected this year, according to a new report from EY. The company annual M&A Firepower Report says increased competition, new sources of capital, and the change in U.S. corporate tax laws will drive greater dealmaking in the sector. We spoke to Jeff Greene, EY global life sciences transaction advisory services leader, about the report, the drivers of the activity, and why nontraditional players in the sector may be in a better position to make a splash in 2018.
1/11/201819 minutes, 1 second
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The Outlook for Biotech in 2018

We conclude our biotech review-preview series with our final installment this week as we take a look at the year ahead as the industry readies for the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference. We spoke to Jon Gardner, U.S. News Editor for EP Vantage, about the EP Vantage 2018 Preview(, the outlook for big-value drug launches, and whether dealmaking or clinical success will drive stock prices in 2018. As a note, this podcast was recorded prior to Spark Therapeutics announcement of its pricing for its gene therapy Luxturna.
1/4/201819 minutes, 47 seconds
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The Year in Biotech and What to Watch in 2018

In the second installment of our three-part review-preview series of podcasts, we continue an annual tradition by sitting down with Adam Feuerstein, senior biotech writer for STAT, to discuss the year that was in biotech and what to look for in 2018. We talked to Feuerstein about the themes that emerged in 2017, his annual best and worst biotech CEOs, and what he’ll be watching at JPMorgan and beyond.
12/28/201719 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Year in Immuno-Oncology and What to Watch in 2018

It’s that time of year when we begin to look back and think ahead. Starting with this week’s interview, we begin a three-part review-preview series to discuss the year in biotech and what to look for in 2018. In 2017, there were exciting developments in the area of immune-oncology with the approval of the first Car-T therapies and Gilead’s acquisition of Kite Pharma. As the year approached the finish line, investors got to view data from a range of studies at the American Society of Hematology meeting in Atlanta, setting the stage for 2018 when data from studies looking at combinations of immunotherapies will be closely watched. We spoke to Brad Loncar, CEO of Loncar investments, about the state of immunotherapies, what caught his attention at the ASH meeting, and what he’ll be watching in 2018.
12/21/201738 minutes, 23 seconds
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What the Approval of the First Digital Pill Means for the Future of Healthcare

Last month Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Proteus Digital Health won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for what’s being hailed as the first digital pill. Abilify Mycite, a drug-device combination that marries Otsuka’s Abilify, used to treat schizophrenia, with Proteus’ ingestible sensor, wearable sensor, and smartphone app intended to monitor and improve compliance. We spoke to George Savage, chief medical officer of Proteus, about the technology, other potential uses, and how it may help address the quality and cost of healthcare.
12/14/201720 minutes, 37 seconds
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Why Public Health Systems Need to Be Better Prepared for Extreme Weather Events

Climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events carry a toll on human health. Not only do floods, hurricanes, and other similar phenomenon cause death and injury, they also create long-term health effects. Jesse Bell, a research scientist at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies at North Carolina State University recently examined the issues in an article in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. We spoke to Bell about the health consequences of these weather events, the challenges they create for public health systems to plan and prepare, and why new research is needed to better understand the relationship between these events and human health.
12/7/201726 minutes, 29 seconds
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Former CDC Director Takes on World’s Leading Cause of Death

Tom Frieden, after eights years of running the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is turning his sights to global health. Frieden has set a goal of saving 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries by applying proven strategies used in developed countries. His program Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, will also work to prevent infectious disease epidemics and pandemics by strengthening public health systems in these nations. We spoke to Frieden about the initiative, whether strategies that worked in the developed world can be translated to low- and middle-income countries, and what it will take to be successful.
11/30/201717 minutes, 55 seconds
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How a Public-Private Consortium Is Revolutionizing Cancer Drug Discovery

A public-private consortium is seeking to cut the time it takes to discover and advance new cancer therapies to the clinic to one year from the six years it takes on average today. Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine, or ATOM, brings together scientists from government, academia, and industry with the ambitious goal of harnessing supercomputers to transform cancer drug discovery into a rapid process that can determine molecules that will be safe and effective before advancing them to human clinical trials. We spoke to Michelle Arkin, a member of ATOM and associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco’s school of Pharmacy, about the consortium, the approach its taking, and why it may alter the way therapies for a much broader range of diseases than cancer are developed.
11/23/201719 minutes, 26 seconds
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How Faulty Thinking Can Derail Life Sciences M&A Deals

Merger and acquisitions may be a path to creating value for life science companies, but talks can breakdown because of flaws in management thinking that skew their sense of the value of their company. Oded Ben-Joseph, managing director of Outcome Capital, applied behavioral economics to the M&A front to discuss how cognitive biases can derail M&A transactions in an article in the September issue of In Vivo. We spoke to Ben-Joseph about cognitive biases, why the life sciences sector is particularly prone to the problem, and what executives can do to minimize their effects.
11/16/201722 minutes, 41 seconds
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Targeting Drug-Resistant Bacteria with an Ancient Enemy

The growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics represents a significant public health threat. That’s been made worse by the dearth of new therapies that have come to market. AmpliPhi Biosciences is developing bacteriophages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria, to provide a way to target drug-resistant bugs. We spoke to Paul Grint, CEO of AmpliPhi about the health need, AmpliPhi’s approach, and why harnessing these natural killers of bacteria may provide a promising source of new therapeutics.
11/9/201720 minutes, 28 seconds
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A Bioelectronic Approach to Treating Autoimmune Diseases

Bioelectronic therapies are being developed to treat a number of conditions that currently can only be addressed using pharmaceutical interventions. Thync, a bioelectronics company, believes its technology that targets the cervical and thoracic spinal nerves to modulate the autonomic nervous system, can be used to treat variety of ailments including mental health, inflammatory disorders, and skin conditions. It points to a growing body of scientific literature that demonstrates the important role the nervous system plays in regulating the body’s immune response. We spoke to Thync CEO Isy Goldwasser about the technology, how it works, and why the company’s first clinical trial of it will be as a potential treatment for psoriasis.
11/2/201718 minutes, 51 seconds
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Harnessing Patient Data to Improve Drug Development Efficiency

Despite the growing volume of electronic health records, they have so far left the recruitment of clinical trial patients, clinical trial designs, and site selection largely unchanged. The result is that drug companies are often designing clinical trials with gaps in information about the patient population they are serving, the medical issues these patients face, and where they can find them. This adds to the high cost and long timelines required to move an experimental therapy through clinical development. TriNetX is trying to address this problem through its health research platform that allows drug developers to analyze large amounts of patient data from healthcare organizations within its network. We spoke to Gadi Lachman, CEO of TriNetX, about its platform, how it works, and why he believes this could lead to more efficient drug development.
10/26/201727 minutes, 53 seconds
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How Colorifix Is Trying to Turn the Textile Industry Green

Synthetic biology is promising to harness living organisms to replace industrial processes that rely on toxic chemicals, consume large amounts of energy and water, and leave environmental degradation in their wake. One such example of a company seeking to transform an industry in this way is Colorifix, which is developing a revolutionary dyeing process to help the textile industry dramatically reduce its environmental impact in a cost-effective way using a synthetic biology based approach. We spoke to Orr Yarkoni, founder and CEO of Colorifix, about the company, how it is using synthetic biology to change the process of dyeing materials, and why he expects it to change the environmental toll of the textile industry.
10/19/201721 minutes, 22 seconds
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Targeting Patients as Sick as Dogs

Kindred Biosciences is looking to leverage the billions of dollars that others have invested in approved drugs by modifying, improving, and repurposing them for the animal market. The company believes it can formulate, develop, and win approval for these medicines for between $3 million and $5 million each in a matter of three to five years, and capture markets that range between $10 million and $100 million annually. We spoke to Richard Chin, founder and CEO of Kindred, about the business strategy, the company’s pipeline, and the opportunity created by our willingness to spend big money on our pets.
10/12/201720 minutes, 15 seconds
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A Strategic Investor’s View of the Biotech Investment Landscape

When the BIO Investor Forum convenes in San Francisco October 17 and 18, a key point of discussion will be the availability of funding for emerging life sciences companies. One of the panelist addressing that issue this year will be Asish Xavier, vice president of venture investments for Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s venture arm JJDC. We spoke to Xavier about JJDC’s approach to investing as a strategic investor, the changing landscape for venture capital, and how competitive the environment is for access to compelling technologies today.
10/5/201723 minutes, 35 seconds
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Bringing Gender Diversity into Biotech Boardrooms

In April 2016, the consulting firm LifeSci Advisors adopted a comprehensive action plan to advance gender diversity in the life sciences industry. It has partnered with Women in Bio and Girls Inc. of New York City to provide mentorship and advancement programs for women and girls in the STEM fields, started its own board diversity initiative, and created the LifeSci Advisory Board on Gender Diversity. We spoke to Michael Rice, LifeSci Advisors founding partner, about the state of gender diversity in biotech boardrooms, what the firm has been doing, and why it decided to focus its efforts there.
9/28/201718 minutes, 52 seconds
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Why the FDA May Need to Rethink Its Approach to Gene and Cell Therapy

Regenerative medicine is rapidly moving from the lab to the clinic, but as life-saving therapies advance to the marketplace, there are questions about whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to modernize its regulatory approach to gene and cell therapies. We spoke to Michael Werner, executive director of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, about the state of the industry, the regulatory environment today, and whether it will ultimately be payers who are more demanding of data to convince them of the worth of a therapy.
9/21/201727 minutes, 9 seconds
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VBL Targets Brain and other Cancers with Novel Immunotherapy

Glioblastoma is a devastating and fatal brain cancer that progresses rapidly. Median time from diagnosis to death is 12 to 15 months. In recurrent cases, treatment consists of both symptomatic and palliative therapies, but the disease remains fatal. VBL Therapeutics is developing a targeted anti-cancer gene-based therapy that is in late-stage testing for recurrent glioblastoma. We spoke to Dror Harats, CEO of VBL, about the therapy, how it works, and why it might be useful in treating a variety of cancers.
9/14/201720 minutes, 46 seconds
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What Will It Take to Transform Healthcare to a System Focused on Prediction and Prevention

The promise of precision health is to transform a healthcare system that is today based on treating sickness to harnessing a range of technologies to predict and prevent illness. Health 2.0’s Technology for Precision Health Summit in San Francisco October 24 will explore the state of precision health and what’s needed to make it a reality. We spoke to Linda Molnar, chair of the summit, about precision health, what gaps in the healthcare continuum need to be addressed to create a healthcare system geared toward prediction and prevention, and how companies will make a business out of this.
9/7/201721 minutes, 5 seconds
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Can a Direct Pitch to Patients Drive a Home Run for Obesity Drug

Winning regulatory approval for a drug to treat obesity would seem like a great accomplishment, but for Orexigen Therapeutics, that’s when the hard work began. After its marketing partner Takeda ended their agreement because of disappointing sales, the company found itself in the position of having to market a drug to doctors who often don’t consider obesity an illness and believe willpower and discipline, not a pill, is what’s needed. Orexigen’s solution centered on a novel approach. The company decided to make a pitch directly to patients and connect them to telehealth-based doctors, who could ensure use of the drug is appropriate and help them avoid the embarrassment they may feel when speaking to their own doctors. We spoke to Thomas Cannell, Chief Operating Officer and President of Global Commercial Products for Orexigen, about its obesity drug Contrave, its marketing strategy, and whether it represents a marketing model that others may follow.
8/31/201723 minutes, 43 seconds
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Why Companies Across Industries Need to Develop a Bio Strategy

Though breakthroughs in the ability to read, write, and edit DNA have broad implications for healthcare, they are also fueling a far-reaching transformation of industries and laying the foundation for a new bioeconomy. The SynBioBeta conference, which has developed into a critical annual event for innovators and investors within the synthetic biology sector, will be held in San Francisco October 3 through October 5. We spoke to John Cumbers, founder of SynBioBeta, about trends within synthetic biology, key drivers and challenges for the sector, and why companies in all industries today need to begin crafting their own bio strategies.
8/24/201720 minutes, 59 seconds
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Economist Argues Maximizing Shareholder Value Hurts Drug Innovation

The pharmaceutical industry has long argued that high drug prices are necessary to incentivize investment in and fund high-risk research and development of innovative new therapies. In a working paper published by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, William Lazonick, professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and his colleagues challenge the industry’s premise. They argue that top pharmaceutical companies, spend more of their profits on buying back their shares to boost their stock prices than they do on R&D, a move that enriches senior executives. We spoke to Lazonick about the paper, why he believes this so-called financialized business model is counterproductive to innovation, and what steps he thinks are necessary to change the landscape.
8/17/201735 minutes, 34 seconds
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Partnership Drives Development of Antibiotic to Combat Resistant Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a common sexually-transmitted infection, but the growth of an antibiotic-resistant strain of the disease is creating what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called an urgent public health threat that requires aggressive action. Entasis Therapeutics is launching a pivotal study of Zoliflodacin, a new class of oral antibiotic that has demonstrated potent activity against resistant gonorrhea. The company last month entered into a novel partnership with the non-profit Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership to fund the pivotal trial and assure access to the drug in low- and middle-income countries if successful. We spoke to Manos Perros, CEO of Entasis, about Zoliflodacin, the partnership with GARDP, and whether it serves as a model for the development of a broader arsenal of new antibiotics.
8/10/201722 minutes, 38 seconds
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CIRM-Funded Pipeline of Regenerative Therapies Advances

A number of clinical successes and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s granting of designations that provide accelerated pathways to experimental therapies speaks to the progress of research funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. We spoke to Kevin McCormack, ‎senior director of public communications and patient advocate outreach for CIRM, about the growing pipeline of therapies, the changing regulatory environment, and whether the institute will have a future beyond its existing funding.
8/3/201720 minutes, 48 seconds
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Technology Allows Drugmakers to Tag and Authenticate Individual Pills

The problem of counterfeit and falsified medicines is not just an economic problem for the pharmaceutical industry, but also a threat to public health. TruTag Technologies is seeking to address the problem with its nano-scale technology that allows drugmakers to encode information on individual doses of medication to authenticate a drug and provide details on its origin and intended market. We spoke to Barry McDonough, senior vice president of business development for TruTag, about the technology, how it works, and how it can address a global health concern.
7/27/201720 minutes, 37 seconds
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Harnessing Mosquitoes to Fight the Spread of Infectious Disease

Mosquitoes are more than just pesky. Certain types of insect serve as efficient vectors for infectious diseases that pose great harm to humans. Oxitec, a subsidiary of Intrexon, has developed a genetically altered male of the Aedes aegypti mosquito designed to mate with wild females to produce offspring that die before becoming adults. The effort is meant to provide a highly targeted alternative to insecticides that are broad acting, can cause harm to humans and other animals, and may be unable to effectively reach their intended targets in urban environments. We spoke to Hadyn Parry, CEO of Oxitec, about how the company breeds billions of mosquitos that can’t reproduce, how it delivers them to where they are needed, and how the company is addressing the regulatory barriers to demonstrate its technology is safe and effective.
7/20/201727 minutes, 53 seconds
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Biotech Industry Moves Towards a Patent Cliff

Scrutiny of drug prices around the globe is expected to exert growing pressure on the biopharmaceutical sector. EvaluatePharma, in its recently issued World Preview 2017, Outlook to 2022 says that despite consensus forecasts for worldwide drug sales hitting more than $1 trillion in 2022, it does reflect a drop from the same period last year. We spoke to Antonio Iervolino, head of forecasting for evaluate pharma, about the new report, the outlook for the sector and the potential for a new patent cliff with the advent of biosimilars.
7/13/201714 minutes, 54 seconds
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PvP Takes a Unique Approach to Treating an Autoimmune Disease

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that has helped to drive the gluten-free food craze, can carry serious complications. There’s no treatment for the disease, which afflicts an estimated 2.4 million people in the United States. PvP Biologics is taking a unique approach to treating celiac disease with its Kumamax, a synthetic enzyme that degrades the parts of gluten that trigger an immune response. We spoke to Adam Simpson, president and CEO of PvP Therapeutics, about the interesting history behind Kumamax, how it works, and why it will be the only drug PvP ever develops.
7/6/201717 minutes, 6 seconds
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Uncertainty Hangs over the Biotech Sector

The lack of clarity over healthcare reform, changes to tax policy, and concerns about new pricing pressures are creating uncertainty over the future health of the biotech industry. EY, in its just released annual report on the industry, looks at the effect the growing uncertainty has had on the performance of the biotech companies and strategies for contending with what’s ahead. We spoke to Glen Giovannetti, Global Biotechnology Leader for EY, about the new Beyond Borders report, what the numbers tell us, and ongoing efforts for the industry to adapt to a healthcare world moving from volume to value.
6/29/201722 minutes, 52 seconds
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What Others Can Learn from COI’s Approach to Cost-Efficient Drug Development

The high cost of drug development, the challenge of translational research, and continuing concerns with R&D efficiency has had entrepreneurs, investors, and drugmakers open to experimenting with new models of innovation. COI Pharmaceuticals, born out of a collaboration between the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and Avalon Ventures, is one such model that is showing traction. With management expertise, R&D infrastructure, and a collaborative environment, COI is providing promising startups with a way to accelerate their development in a capital efficient way. We spoke to Jay Lichter, president and CEO of COI Pharmaceuticals, about the COI model, the challenges of cost-effective innovation, and what can be learned from COI’s experience.
6/22/201723 minutes, 9 seconds
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Dyadic Seek to Bring Disruptive Technology to Biomanufacturing

The production of biologics is costly and takes time. Dyadic International has developed a proprietary manufacturing process that replaces the use of Chinese hamster ovary cells, long used to produce protein therapeutics, with a fungus that has a long history in industrial biotechnology applications. The company believes its process can produce drugs faster, in greater volumes, and at significantly lower costs than biotech processes in use today. We spoke to Mark Emalfarb, CEO of Dyadic, about its manufacturing process, the benefits it could bring, and why it may have big implicat