Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology & Hematology

Posts tagged ‘Bio’

The fourteenth annual BIO CEO & Investor Conference takes place next week (February 13-14, 2012) in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. I will be commuting from New Jersey so will not be experiencing at first hand the charm of staying at this iconic hotel.

BIO-Investor-CEO-Conference-New-York-2012-Waldof-AstoriaThe focus of the meeting is on publicly-traded biotechnology companies, and provides an opportunity for investors, analysts and industry executives to hear company presentations, undertaken one-on-one partnering discussions and listen to pharmaceutical industry leaders present their vision of the future.

Wifi permitting I will be live tweeting from the sessions I attend (@3NT).  I expect others at the conference such as @adamfeurestein to be sharing news and insights.  You can follow the twitter conversation using the (rather long) hashtag #BIOCEO2012.

My focus at the meeting will be on some of the workshops, rather than the company presentations which typically are shared on investor relations websites of publicly traded companies,.  A few that caught my attention include:

Secrets of Oncology Success – Lessons and Trends in Phase II Clinical Trial Outomes

In my opinion, too many companies rush phase II drug development, particularly in oncology.  I recently saw a company go to phase III on the basis of a 14 patient trial.   I will be interested to see what insights the panel offer on what trial designs they liked and which they didn’t and what lessons others can learn from this for new product development.

Speakers in this session include Mohammad Azab, CMO of Astex Pharmaceuticals and Michael Morrissey, CEO of Exelixis.

Neurology: “Alz” Well that Ends Well – Settling the Beta-Amyloid Debate

I doubt very much that this program will settle the debate over the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease, and whether this presents a “real” drug development target.  The challenge in this area is that by the time amyloid deposits can be imaged in the brain, the damage has already been done.

The amyloid load seen in the brain is also only loosely related to cognitive decline, suggesting that even if a therapeutic were able to remove plaque from the brain, it might not alleviate the symptoms of cognitive decline.

Drugs may need to target earlier stages of the disease such as synaptic decline, before beta-amyloid buildup is suggested.  Synaptic proteins have been suggested as a target.

I look forward to hearing the panels views on the current state of Alzheimer’s drug development and what the emerging targets may be.

The 2012 BIO CEO & Investor conference looks to be an interesting meeting in New York next week. If you are attending do let me know as it would be good to meet up if the opportunity presents.

Everyone at BIO 2011, the annual international convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is into networking.  Sit next to someone on one of the shuttle buses, in a coffee line or in a meeting hall and a conversation will soon be struck up and business cards exchanged.  Business development, partnering and making connections is what this meeting is really about.

BIO 2011 Networking Delaware BoatWith this in mind, there’s a series of receptions, parties and events that take place around BIO. Yesterday late afternoon, I attended a reception on the Kalmar Nyckel, AKA the Delaware Boat. It is a replica of the tall ship that sailed from Sweden to the New World in 1638, and landed 24 settlers in the Delaware Valley, in what is today Wilmington, DE. Today’s replica serves as Delaware’s goodwill ambassador.  Hosting a reception on a boat made a change from the standard hotel ballroom.

BIO 2011 Reception NewseumIn the evening the official BIO reception took place at the Newseum.  Plenty of food, drinks and music, plus the opportunity to mix, mingle and explore the Newseum. I enjoyed it! You could even try your hand at being a newscaster at one of the interactive exhibits.

This evening I will be at the New Zealand and Italian Embassies for receptions. BIO 2011 – network till you drop!

One of the “Super Sessions” at the forthcoming 2011 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) international convention is a presentation of the highlights of Ernst & Young’s 25th Annual Biotechnology Industry Report.

The 97 page report, available online, offers a useful summary of metrics around financing, deals and sector performance.

As the report notes, one of the key issues that biotech companies continue to face is access to funding in order to sustain innovation.  Many biotechnology executives I spoke to at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago confirmed how difficult access to capital remained.

The E&Y report confirms this anecdotal evidence. In their report they note that the 80/20 rule that we are all familiar with applied to biotechnology funding in 2010, with 20% of US companies obtaining 82.6% of the capital!

Given this ratio, it’s not hard to see why so many small biotech companies have struggled for funds.  However, what would have been more interesting to learn about is what were the characteristics of the 20% that led them to successfully obtain more than 80% of the funding? In other words what are the learnings for emerging biotech companies seeking capital?

The report also notes that biotech’s share of available VC funding fell from 18% in 2009 to 12.2% in 2010, as VC’s invested in other market segments such as media and technology.  One only has to look at the recent market interest in LinkedIn to see that investing in web 2.0 companies is back in fashion again, although with the subsequent share price drop it might be considered to be a little akin to Tulip mania.

Another key funding point that the E&Y report picks up on, is that many VC’s now invest in tranches with milestone or contingency based payments.  The result of this “risk sharing” is a lowering of available working capital.  The consequence for biotech companies is that less upfront R&D investments can be made. Instead they may be forced to go after fewer indications and not pursue all available opportunities.

Ernst & Young also interviewed several biotech CEOs about how they planned to sustain innovation, and two strategies emerged:

  • Prove that what you are doing benefits patient outcome
  • Do more with less i.e. improve efficiency

They are not mutually exclusive, and as the report points out, these are the challenges faced by all life science companies.

It will be interesting to see at BIO 2011 how industry executives view the current state of the biotechnology industry and how innovation can be sustained.

World Intellectual Property Organization LogoIntellectual property (IP) rights are important in the biotechnology industry; one only has to look at a licensing, consulting or service agreement to appreciate this.

If you are a non-lawyer new to the area, and wish to gain a basic understanding of the different types of intellectual property protection such as copyright, trademarks, industrial design, patents and unfair competition, then the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Academy offers a free general course (DL-101).

The course is delivered online, twice a year, over 6 weeks.  If you are a native English speaker, it takes far less time to complete than the 50 hours suggested.  What makes the course work well is you can download the study material as PDF files. These can then be read anywhere – I used my kindle.

An additional benefit, if you have an ego wall in your den or office, is that WIPO send you a certificate after you pass a final exam.  When I lived in the UK, I put all my certificates on the wall in the downstairs toilet,  an idea I “borrowed” from Mrs Thatcher’s eye surgeon when I had dinner at his home. British understatement at its best.

Although the WIPO general course is not focused on biotechnology or the life sciences industry, it does provide a useful overview of international treaties and IP regulation to build upon.  It is worth considering if you are new to the area.

With best wishes for the New Year, may it bring you good health, happiness and prosperity.

error: Content is protected !!