130522 sachs_associates

The Sachs Cancer Bio Partnering Forum, presented by Sachs Associates, brings together business and scientific leaders from cancer research institutes, advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies and biotech corporations, to assist in investment and funding opportunities. With over 300 representatives in these areas, this year’s presentations covered a wide range of topics, over the span of the two-day event.

This year I had the pleasure of being a featured panel member amongst Ingmar Hoerr, CEO of CureVac
, Doug Plessinger, VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs, of Argos Therapeutics
, Paul Higham,  Managing Director and CEO, of immatics biotechnologies. The forum was a discussion on immunotherapies & cancer vaccines co-chaired by Florian Schodel, CEO of Philimmune LLC
 and Mara Goldstein, Senior Analyst of Cantor Fitzgerald.

The panel discussed the integration of both active immunization therapies and immune modulation therapies into practice. Active immunization induces immunity, once a patient is exposed to the proper antigens, while immune modulation introduces an immune agent, in order to produce or enhance and immune response.

OncoSec’s ImmunoPulse – a method that uses DNA IL-12 with electroporation as the delivery mechanism that is currently in clinical trials utilizes the immune modulation response. Each company represented by the panel had hands-on experience with the development of one of these two types of immunotherapy.

During this session, the panel spoke to the fact that the human immune system is a very complicated environment: even more so, when examining the topic of tumors and cancerous lesions. The area around one of these tumors becomes a microenvironment in which the immune system plays a pivotal role in the development, control or regression of the cancer. With recent developments in systems biology greatly improving insights into the immune microenvironment and tumors (Chew, Tow and Abastado 2012), it has become apparent just how influential immunotherapy is, in regards to suppressing anti-tumor immunity. This realization has spurned the development of a number of potentially effective immunotherapy methods.

Members at the panel pointed out the importance of how complex and dynamic the relationship between cancer and the human immune system is.  It was discussed that additional biomarkers should be considered It is because of this that the biotech and pharmaceutical industry still have much to learn, in the research, data extraction and clinical application surrounding this topic. While great headway has been made, over the past few years, it is still a very new field, especially when considering how few treatments are currently in market. However, given the available data and need for more effective and patient well being oriented treatment options, immunotherapy shows great promise, for the treatment of human cancers.

We were honoured to sit among so many industry leaders, at this year’s Sachs Cancer Bio Partnering Forum and look forward to returning, in the future. OncoSec itself is highly committed to the development of late-stage cancer treatments, utilizing immune modulation therapies. For more information on our ongoing clinical trials for the development of these therapies, please see our clinical trials page. At OncoSec, we keep our community up to date on cancer research advancements, survivor stories, advocacy campaigns, and other pertinent information. To become part of our community, please join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Distinguished Co-Chairs:

Florian Schodel, CEO, Philimmune LLC: Philimmune is a consulting firm founded by Mr. Schodel to assist and aid in the development of vaccines and other biological measures. With an expertise that lies in a regulatory and analytical scientific approach to medicine and clinical studies, Philimmune and Mr. Schodel support the development and registration of vaccines and biologics.

Mara Goldstein, Senior Analyst, Cantor Fitzgerald: As one of the leading global financial groups involved in technological innovation, Cantor works from 30 different financial centers around the globe. Mara Goldstein is a senior analyst of healthcare equity research, with prior positions as Director of Research for Reuters Insight at Thomson Reuters, as well as Executive Director and Senior Pharmaceutical Analyst at CIBC World Markets.

Industry Panel Discussion Members:

Dr. Frank Jones, President, CEO, CSO, Etubics Corporation: As CEO and Chief Scientific Officer for Etubics, Dr. Jones acts as Principle Investigator for the company’s National Institute of Health grants, as well as designing and directing clinical programs. With a wealth of high level business and research experience dating back to 1980, including CEO of Scius, Director of the Immune Response Program at the Pacific Northweat Research Foundation, and CEO of IMRÉ (now Cypress Biosciences).

Ingmar Hoerr, CEO, CureVac: Targeting novel vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer, CureVac is lead by Ingmar Hoerr. With a background in both business management and biology, CureVac was created, in order to advance his initial RNA-based technology platform: RNActive®.

Doug Plessinger, VP of Clinical and Medical Affairs, Argos Therapeutics: Having more than 20 years of clinical pharmacy and pharmaceutical experience – along with launching multiple oncology products – Mr. Plessinger acts as the Vice President of Clinical and Medical Affairs for Argos. As a company, Argos focuses on the development and commercialization of personalized immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases.

Paul Higham, Managing Director and CEO, immatics biotechnologies GmbH: Moving from Director of Commercial Development at Ark Therapeutics to being appointed as CEO of immatics, Mr. Higham brings a strong background in commercial strategy and business development. The company has developed a peptide-based active immunotherapy for cancer treatment, along with several ongoing clinical trials.