National Brain Tumor Society hosted the inaugural Advancing Research to Therapies (ART) for Brain Tumors Conference in Washington, D.C. during Brain Tumor Awareness Month in May, 2013. The ART Conference brought together more than 100 leading experts from academic research labs, government agencies, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and venture capital firms to increase communication and collaboration, as well as discuss licensing and investment criteria for new drug candidates to speed the discovery of new treatments for brain tumor patients.
Sponsored by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and BioHealth Innovation, the Conference engaged attendees in a discussion surrounding the issues and criteria for advancing discoveries from academic labs, through the commercialization process, and into the hands of clinicians and patients. Specifically, audience and panelists sought to better understand why more treatments for brain tumors aren’t available despite recent gains in research.
To address the issues effecting brain tumor therapeutic development, three panels of experts shared their distinct perspectives on the R&D process:
- VC Panel: Venture capitalists from SR One, Third Rock Ventures, and MedImmune Ventures shared their conditions for determining whether to invest in a company, academic asset, or drug candidate
- BioPharma Panel: Executives from Genentech/Roche, Pfizer, and Health Advances shared their criteria for determining whether to license and develop an academic asset or drug candidate
- Federal Government Resources Panel: Employees from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke outlined resources available for brain tumor researchers
The panels discussed issues ranging from creating data packages big enough to show translatability and reproducibility (close to 70% of research fails to reproduce outside the original academic lab), to de-risking and simplifying the market for brain tumor drug development. Panelists also offered candid advice for researchers.
“If you’re an academic looking to potentially take a program or an asset from your lab and trying to spin it out into a company, it’s important as you begin to look at possible investors that you understand what their investment strategy is,” said Michael Gutch, PhD, MD, and Managing Director of MedImmune Ventures.
Following the advice and subsequent discussions from Industry and government’s perspective, National Brain Tumor Society-funded academic researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center, Duke University, and University of Alabama Birmingham showcased their latest drug candidates in hopes of obtaining funding to move their asset toward clinical trials. Out of the four drug candidates presented, two of the corresponding researchers have already been in deeper discussions with Industry representatives that were on hand to seek licensing and development partnerships.
To learn more about the event and view/download presentations, please visit: www.braintumor.org/ART