The Bio Report podcast, hosted by award-winning journalist Daniel Levine, focuses on the intersection of biotechnology with business, science, and policy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.