Two virtual programs held in June featured cell & gene therapy and health care experts from the region as they spotlighted R&D for two important topics: cancer and the novel coronavirus. On June 1, Endpoints News presented the “Cancer R&D Summit” as a roundup following the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Scientific Program held in late May. Dr. Usman “Oz” Azam, President and CEO of Tmunity and Jo Brewer, Vice President, Allogenic Research at Adaptimmune, were among the featured panelists. On June 12, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia presented “PHL R&D: The Search for a COVID-19 Vaccine, Treatments, and Diagnostic Tools.” Speakers included Kevin Mahoney, CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Penn Medicine; Bruce Meyer, Senior Executive Vice President, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health; and David Weiner, Executive Vice President and Director of the Vaccine Center, The Wistar Institute.
Both programs are available to view electronically. Read more about each below.
Region’s Cell and Gene Therapy Experts Join Cancer R&D Summit Presented by Endpoints News following ASCO20 Virtual
Experts in cell and gene therapy in the Greater Philadelphia region were among the panelists for a June 1 discussion hosted by Endpoints News following the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Scientific Program, held virtually from May 29-31. The “Cancer R&D Summit” was presented in two parts via Zoom, and focused on the cutting-edge work in the clinic with an emphasis on how gene therapy technology is influencing the R&D field. Both ASCO20 Virtual round-up discussions were led by John Carroll, Editor and Founder, Endpoints News.
Usman “Oz” Azam, President and CEO of Tmunity, was a featured speaker for part one of the panel, “What’s next for cancer drug development?” Tmunity is a private clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focusing on saving and improving lives by delivering the next-generation T-cell immunotherapy to patients with devasting diseases. On the panel, Mr. Azam was joined for the one-hour discussion by Dr. Charu Aggarwal, the Leslye M. Heisler Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, along with Daniel Chen, Chief Medical Officer, IGM Biosciences, and Jack West, Associate Clinical Professor, Medical Oncology, City of Hope Cancer Center.
Jo Brewer, Vice President, Allogeneic Research at Adaptimmune was a key speaker for the second one-hour panel, “The outlook for cancer gene therapies.” Adaptimmune is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel cancer immunotherapy products. In Ms. Brewer’s presentation, she shared clinical trial data announced at ASCO and the ASGCT Annual Meeting, both held virtually in May. She covered the cell therapy development cycle and outlined pipeline development. More information about the results can be found on Adaptimmune’s website.
Both recordings are available from Endpoints News via this link.
Health Care Leaders Shared Updates on PHL R&D for a COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatments
“PHL R&D: The Search for a COVID-19 Vaccine, Treatments, and Diagnostic Tools” was the timely topic of a virtual event held on June 12, hosted by Claire Marrazzo Greenwood, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s regional CEO Council for Growth, and sponsored by the Wistar Institute. Featured guests included Kevin Mahoney, CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Penn Medicine; Bruce Meyer, Senior Executive Vice President, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health; and David Weiner, Executive Vice President and Director of the Vaccine Center, The Wistar Institute. Following presentations by each of the speakers in which they shared details about the COVID-19 response in their institution, Maiken Scott, host of WHYY Inc.’s The Pulse, led a conversation with questions from the online audience.
The program enabled participants to hear directly from the researchers and academic health care leaders working together to identify a potential vaccine and other tools to effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent the novel coronavirus. The one-hour, recorded program and presentation slides are accessible here.
Bruce Meyer of Jefferson began the program by providing data on the volume of COVID-19 patients in the region, outlining the testing timeline, and describing treatments. He discussed the worry over a second wave in the fall and winter, and its impacts, such as the mental health effects on providers and the community, and worsening health outcomes due to delays in patients seeking care at offices or hospitals due to fear of contracting COVID-19. Finally, Meyer described how telemedicine has become a new standard of care with an increase of virtual visits from 200 per week to 3,500 per week. Work managing COVID-19 patients on oxygen at home with virtual visits and home care visits is informing their Hospital-at-Home program.
David Weiner at Wistar provided a background of his lab’s work on countermeasures for emerging infectious disease, including developing novel synthetic DNA approaches for Ebola, MERS, and Zika outbreaks. He described the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development work they began in January with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, detailing the design process, testing, and moving to clinic. All of this was accomplished in 10 weeks and is reported in a clinical paper they published several weeks ago, which you can read here.
The third speaker, Kevin Mahoney from Penn, said “I think that the work that Philadelphia and the institutions on the call today have done over the last three months, built on a strong foundation, is really allowing us to lead not only the nation but the world in advancing the science around coronavirus and COVID, and I’m really pleased that Penn has been a big part of that.” He described the Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens at the Perelman School of Medicine, launched the day the World Health Organization announced the global pandemic. The Center, led by Dr. Susan Weiss and Dr. Frederic D. Bushman, is a collaborative effort with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and The Wistar Institute.