Highlights From the 2023 Conference
Gary Glick, PhD
Founder & CEO - Odyssey Therapeutics
CEO, OncoBay Clinical
Keynote speaker, Dr. Gary Glick discussed the main highlights of his career beginning at the University of Michigan and his transition from academia to industry. The discussion centered around the companies he had founded and exited while providing insights into formation of management teams, funding challenges, and future of cancer care. While at Michigan, Gary founded Lycera Corp, serving first as President and CSO. After leaving Lycera in 2015, he founded First Wave Bio, a clinical stage company focused on treatments for inflammatory bowel disease, and then IFM Therapeutics, to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases. In 2017, IFM sold 2 of the company’s cancer assets to BMS for over $2.3b, while retaining a portfolio of drug candidates for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. In 2019, he led the sale of IFM's NLRP3 subsidiary, IFM Tre, to Novartis in a deal valued at $1.6b.
President & CFO - AlloVir
CFO - ElevateBio
Sr. Managing Director, head of Healthcare Listing & Capital Markets - Nasdaq
The Keynote Session 2 was a fireside chat with Vikas Sinha, CFO, Allovir and Dr. Seung Hyun Moon, VP Medical Affairs, Allovir, interviewed by Jordan Saxe, Sr. Managing Director, Lead Global Healthcare Practice, NASDAQ. The session focused on Allovir’s successful non-traditional journey to become public. Allovir is developing allogeneic off-the-shelf multi-virus specific T-cell therapy to treat and prevent life threatening viral infections in immunocompromised patients. Vikas explained that Allovir’s success can be attributed to their science as well as funding strategies which included crossover rounds. Dr. Moon shed light on building an efficient scientific pipeline and aligning interests with advancing technologies.
Finding Funding Success in the ‘New Normal'
This session focused on ways in which the biotech and pharmaceutical industry can survive the new funding landscape post COVID-19. The companies shared experiences from their most recent funding round. Some of the key topics of interest were spinouts, company valuation and funding source. Achieving value-inflection milestones, gathering a good team, and accumulating surplus capital are some of the ways in which companies can navigate the current market. The consensus across the board is that it is difficult to convince investors for a product that is a duplicate of something already in the market or provides a small incremental. The key to success is an innovative, first-in-class, breakthrough product along with a solid management team.
CAR-T Therapy in Solid Tumors: Persisting Challenges & New Opportunities
CAR T-cell therapy has revolutionized the treatment for hematologic malignancies, but hurdles persist that hamper success rates and wide applicability in solid tumors. Next generation concepts can be used to solve some of the challenges including identification of suitable antigens, reducing toxicity, creating durable response, and overcoming the immunosuppressive nature of the tumor micro-environment among others. Manufacturing CAR-T cells is still a bottleneck that needs immediate attention. Despite these challenges, CAR-T cell therapy is expected to have a positive impact in solid tumors. Patient advocacy, reasonable regulatory guidelines and supportive policies are key to wider patient accessibility.