Posts Tagged inflammation

Biotech Showcase 2018 Preview: What it will mean to be living in the era of cures & more VC money

Lunch plenary sessions are always a huge draw at Biotech Showcase and are very exciting. On day one, a panel moderated by Sara Radcliff from CLSA will take a 60,000 feet view and will discuss what the future holds for biotechnology and life science sector. Biotechnology is increasingly going beyond treatment to focusing on cures. Day 2 panel moderated by Alice Valder Curran from Hogan Lovells with Eric Aguiar from Aisling, Philippe Lopes-Fernandes from Merck and Camille Samuels from Venrock will discuss “what it means to be in the era of cures”. The panel will discuss how public and private markets are still catching up with new policies on coverage, pricing, and liability issues, making it even more challenging to decide what product candidates to pursue.  Lunch panel on day 3 moderated by Ellen Corenswet from Covington & Burling LLP and populated by prominent VCs and industry experts will reflect on 2017 surge of venture capital.
Image result for future of healthcareImage result for healthcare venture capital

Besides all day information packed sessions focused on key diseases that are getting attention , there are interesting panels and sessions on treatment modalities that are the garnering attention of investors and entrepreneurs .  And then there will be panels discussing investment in healthcare, what to expect in 2018 from investment perspective and what are likely to be new drivers of innovation in drug development, and new targets, new trends and new combinations in treatment.

Besides three action packed days, the evenings will be packed with countless receptions and networking will continue late into the night. Concurrent 36th annual J P Morgan Healthcare Conference is expecting 400+ public and private companies to deliver presentations to over 8000 attendees. San Francisco will be taken over by everything health for three days, from January 8th through 10th, 2018.  

While JPM conference is by invitation only event, registration is open for Biotech Showcase at or at



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Biotech Showcase 2018 Preview: Treatment focus on microbiome, regenerative medicine, gene & immuno therapies

Image result for biotech showcase 2018Biotech Showcase taking place concurrently with the J P Morgan event in San Francisco, will host more than 3,500 attendees and 900+ investors. This event considered to be a critical strategic benchmark for business development activities in biotech, medtech, pharma and digital health, is regarded as among the year’s most important investor meeting place and sets the tone for financial health in these sectors, for the coming year.  Speakers and attendees at Biotech Showcase, will participate, network and listen to over 400 company presentations. Over 2,100 companies from 50+ countries will participate.  Besides 7000+ one on one meetings, general sessions will focus on a number of topics that are significantly expected to impact the healthcare arena. Here are some of the treatment modalities that are getting interest from both investors and entrepreneurs.

A panel moderated by Joseph Gulfo, Executive Director at Lewis Center for healthcare innovation and technology with Thomas Hallam, CEO of Leading Biosciences, Arpita Maiti, Senior Director, ES&I at Pfizer, Glenn Nedwin, CEO of Second Genome, will start day one. Microbiome refers to internal ecosystem of bacteria, widely believed to be residing in the gut. By some researchers estimates, over 90% of all diseases can be traced to the gut and health of the microbiome. However, new research on lung, skin, inflammation, immunology, and neuro microbiome is bringing together experts in neuroscience, gastroenterology, microbiology and more to unlock even larger role that microbiota plays in interacting with itself and its human host, in understanding disease and health and better understand possible treatment modalities.Image result for microbiome, neuro

Image result for regenerative medicineA panel moderated by Janet Lambert, CEO at Alliance for Regenerative Medicine will discuss next gen cell based immunotherapies with panelists Robert Preti from Hitachi, Bob Azelby from Juno Therapeutics, Manuel Litchman from Mustang Bio, James Noble from Adaptimmunie, Pascal Touchon from Novartis and Scott Walchko from Fate Therapeutics.  Immunotherapies use body’s immune system’s natural capacity to detect and destroy abnormal cells. Immmunotherapies have generated great deal of interest, specifically for treatment of cancers because these regimens present fewer side effects and have less potential for creating resistance when treating microbial diseases.

Image result for gene therapyGene therapies using genes to treat or prevent diseases, indicate promising though yet risky treatment options. What does the future hold for gene therapies, specially beyond rare diseases?  Bill Lundberg from CRISPR and Geoff Nichol from Biomarin will discuss outlook for gene therapies.  

PS: Here is link to my earlier blog on disease areas that will generate interest and renewed attention in some of the panels . Registration is open for Biotech Showcase at or at



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Biotech Showcase 2018 Preview: Disease focus: infectious diseases, metabolic syndrome, skin & more

Biotech Showcase taking place concurrently with the J P Morgan event in San Francisco in January 2018, is an investor and networking conference.  Many partnerships and collaborations will be forged with over over 7000 one on one meetings, with opportunities for eager innovators to seek out enthusiastic investors.  Besides one on one meetings, general sessions will focus on a number of disease areas that are significantly expected to impact the healthcare arena.  More blogs to follow and will highlight focus on new treatment modalities.

Image result for skin diseases highlight internal problemsA panel led by Jennifer Goldstein from Silicon Valley Bank will focus on body’s largest organ that is often misunderstood and frequently underrated, the skin. Panelists Alan Dunton from Purdue Pharma, David Giljohann from Exicure, Jennifer Good from Trevi Therapeutics, Shelley Harman from Aegle and Mark Wilson from MatriSys will discuss early signs and symptoms on the skin that often signal infectious and internal diseases.

Image result for antibiotic resistance, infectious diseaseAntimicrobial resistance or (AMR) is increasingly a prominent public health concern and has been highlighted by both WHO and CDC. Since the discovery of first antibiotic penicillin in 1928, more than 100 compounds have been created but no new class has been found. In panel moderated by Bibhash Mukhopadhyay at New Enterprise Associates, leading anti-microbial drug development experts, Alan Carr of Needham, Julia Gregory from Contrafect, Kenneth Hillan from Achaogen, Gregory Mario from Taxis Pharma, John Rex from F2G, and Chris Stevens from Arsanis will discuss the tailwinds and headwinds in this space that is getting a fresh second look from both experts and investors.

Image result for metabolic syndromeCurrent epidemic of metabolic syndrome will be the focus in a panel moderated by Philip Kenner from ClearView with panelists Deborah Dunsire from DTuit, Tomas Landh from Novo Nordisk, Harith Rajagopalan from Fractyl Labs, and Wendye Robbins from Blade Therapeutics. Having any one of the risk factors like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, high cholesterol, or high triglycerides can greatly increase health risk.  However having a cluster of these conditions together indicate metabolic syndrome and vastly increase health risk. Metabolic syndrome is on the rise, reaching epidemic proportions according to some health experts.

While JPM conference is by invitation only event, registration is open for Biotech Showcase at or at

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Treating ALS – The Story of Neuraltus

Rich Casey, President and CEO of Neuraltus (formerly Chairman and CEO of Scios), talked about treatment option for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of unknown etiology, at event.

Typically, the age of onset of ALS is anywhere between 40 and 70 years.  Life expectancy after the diagnosis is between 2 and 5 years, although in very rare cases (e.g. in case of Stephen Hawking), it could be an extremely slow progression.  No effective treatments for the disease exist.  Motor neurons degenerate and early symptoms include muscle weakness, specifically involving arms and legs, lack of hand grip, deep tiredness and it progresses to difficulty in swallowing, breathing, and garbled speech.


Macrophage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neuraltus’s lead product,  NP001 is in clinical development, targeted for the treatment of ALS.  While the exact cause of the disease is unknown, there is fair amount of evidence that points to increasing levels of inflammation in the macrophages.  This increased inflammatory activity results in the release of factors in the central nervous system that leads to damage of motor neurons.  Macrophages are cells produced by differentiation of monocytes in the tissues.  Macrophages are highly specialized in removal of dead cells or debris.  Additionally, macrophages also “present” antigen that plays a crucial role in initiating an immune response.  There is an increasing evidence implicating neuroinflammation with the progression of ALS.

English: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis MRI (ax...

English: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis MRI (axial FLAIR) demonstrates increased T2 signal within the posterior part of the internal capsule, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of ALS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neuraltus’s novel, proprietary drug, NP001 regulates macrophage activation and converts the activated inflammatory macrophages from activated, neurotoxic inflammatory state to a neuroprotective state.  It thus normalizes the critical cellular environment.   Phase I, single dose study indicated that that there are no safety concerns and the drug is well tolerated.  Further, in a Phase II safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy study, after administration of NP001, there occurred a close dependent reduction of inflammatory macrophages.

The dosing regimen is somewhat cumbersome, said Casey.  First time, the patients come in the hospital and need to stay for 5 days and subsequently for 3 days.  At low dose, phase II study results indicated positive trends in the ability of NP001 to slow the rate of disease progression but did not reach statistical significance.  But at high dose, the drug freezes the disease in a 3rd of the patients.  Additionally, the drug is found to be safe and well tolerated.  This clearly looks like a very exciting potential treatment for a devastating disorder, ALS.  The company is currently looking for funding.  The talk was followed by Q&A.


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Rapid Non-Invasive Treatment for Stroke

Dr. Mark Borsody, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Nervive Inc, spoke about stroke healthcare, at event.

Stroke has been a #1 cause of severe disability, #2 cause of death in the world (responsible for more than 5 million deaths, each year), and it is 4th leading cause of death in the US.  About 800,000 people in the US have stroke, each year.  One American dies from stroke, about every 4 minutes.  In fact, stroke is responsible for putting the biggest healthcare burden, worldwide and the burden is likely to increase in the foreseeable future, said Dr. Borsody.  Stroke results from “plumbing problem”, in the brain.  Ischemic stroke is caused by blockage of a blood vessel due to reasons like thrombosis or arterial embolism.  Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding of blood vessels of the brain, either directly into the brain or into the surrounding brain tissue.

While treatment options for hemorrhagic stroke are limited, current treatment options for ischemic stroke include intravenous “clot busting” through tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or through endovascular catheter devices for blood clot retrieval.  Worldwide, an estimated 180,000 tPA treatments are done every year and 22,000 clot retrieval treatments are done.

Microphotograph of HE stained section of human...

Microphotograph of HE stained section of human brain tissue upon acute ischemic stroke. Orgininal magnification 400x (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Honing in on the major problem, Dr. Borsody discussed why do so few patients with stroke receive timely treatment.  Timely intervention is the key for treatment of stroke.  Like all cells in the body, neurons and other brain cells require oxygen and glucose delivered through the blood in order to function and survive.  A few minutes of oxygen deprivation can kill millions of neurons.  Additionally, stroke can provoke inflammation, swelling (edema), and other processes that can continue the damage for hours or days after the initial attack.  However, often treatment of stroke within 60 minutes is very rare due to the time required for patient transportation and in-hospital evaluation.  Effective treatment for stroke can be simple, but it needs to be immediate.  So how come there aren’t many innovations to bring the treatment to the patient, even to buy them some time?

Nervive’s Vital Flow Stimulator is a simple device that is aimed at targeting the facial nerve behind the middle ear.  The objective is to control the cerebral arteries through the facial nerve, which regulates the function of the arteries.  It is comprised of 3-4 cm coil placed over the ear.  Magnetic fields readily penetrate any tissue and creates electrical currents in neural tissues, leading to axonal and soma depolarization.  Early indications are that it is effective in treating ischemic stroke and it is safe in ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.  This device is moreover, simple enough to use without any special training.  Vital Flow complements other therapies and bring exponential benefits of rapid treatments.  The device will be inexpensive, portable, and extremely easy to transport in the ambulance.  The treatment can be administered within a few minutes.  Animal studies show increased blood flow after facial nerve stimulation and improvement in several measures after stroke.

Ending his talk, Dr. Borsody said, Nervive has a strong IP position, the technology is targeting a market with huge potential, and it is substantiated by preclinical and clinical science.  They are starting fund raising for series A round.  To emerge from the dark ages of stroke healthcare, we need some disruptive, out of box (out of hospital) thinking, said Dr Borsody.
Mark your calendars for following events……..

May, 6 – EPPIC will host Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, Founder, Pearl Therapeutics that was acquired by Astra Zeneca for $1.15B, last year.  Register at, @EPPIC_GLOBAL
May 16, 17 – #TiEcon 2014 will feature Healthcare Track to showcase and discuss new innovative technologies in Life Science and healthcare industries, @TiEcon
May, 2014 – Healthcare Code-a-thon will be hosted by @HealthTechForum
May 20, 2014 – “Pathways to Sustainable Health” conference hosted by
You can follow me on Twitter at @DarshanaN
Every Tuesday exciting speaker –


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