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BIO-Europe Spring 2017 kicks off this week in Barcelona

BIO-Europe Spring® international partnering conference kicked off yesterday in Barcelona with an estimated 2,500 attendees representing executives from the life sciences, including nearly 200 delegates from the Catalonia region, according to Biocat CEO Albert Barbera. Anna Chrisman of EBD Group welcomed delegates to the event, followed by David Thomas of BIO, who reported on dealmaking and investment in 2016 in his BIO Industry Analysis. In general, 2016 saw an across-the-board slowdown for biotech for R&D stage financing and dealmaking in both the US and Europe, but despite the slowdown total investment values are still above average. And there were 26 IPOs last year including three CRISPR biotech companies whose genome editing technology may go to clinical trials in 2017.

The opening plenary, “Innovation in an uncertain world,” moderated by Alex Lash the National Biotechnology Editor of Xconomy featured panelists Annie De Groot, CEO and CSO, EpiVax;

Ji Li, Executive VP and Global Head of Business Development, BeiGene; and Kevin Sin, VP, Oncology Business Development, Genentech Partnering. The panel agreed that this is truly a time of tremendous technological change, with leaps of knowledge in genome sequencing, bioinformatics and regenerative medicine to name a few. The panel speculated about proposed NIH cuts and the unwelcoming political climate in the US and what it could mean for the next generation. The cuts could have far reaching effect on the level of risk investors are willing to take, which could affect the greater issues of innovation and human health. For an analysis of the plenary, see the BioWorld™ article “Biopharma consults silver linings playbook.

A popular panel on immuno-oncology entitled “The immuno-oncology universe” took place in the afternoon and was moderated by Jeffrey Bockman of Defined Health. See the LaBiotech article “Immuno-oncology is Overcrowded – Here is Where Startups Can Succeed” for highlights from that panel.

BIO-Europe Spring ended the first full conference day with a champagne reception hosted by  Mosaic Biomedicals and Northern Biologics followed by an evening networking reception hosted by Biocat and Catalonia Trade & Investment with the Government of Catalonia at the National Museum of Art Catalonia (MNAC). Tonight’s event will be at Cúpula de las Arenas de Barcelona.

For more news about BIO-Europe Spring, check back here on Insight or follow the conference hashtag #BIOEuropeSpring on Twitter or Instagram.

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Report gives substance to fast-paced scientific discoveries in microbiome

Guest post by Eric de La Fortelle, Venture Partner at Seventure Partners

Microbes are everywhere, and apart from the occasional pathogen, they are a positive force for health maintenance. Indeed the ‘war on microbes’ of the last fifty years (antiseptics on skin, antibiotics in our bloodstream, food preservatives in our digestive system) largely contributed to the spread of chronic diseases in our societies.

Help is on its way. Recent discoveries of the biological mechanisms behind the elegant symbiosis of microbes and higher species (including man) jumped from the laboratory to the popular press in a matter of months, contributing to a rapid surge of interest in the topic. These academic discoveries are being rapidly translated from academic research to biotech companies developing products for functional nutrition, clinical nutrition, over-the-counter therapeutics and prescription drugs. These products take many forms: live bacteria administered orally or even intravenously; bacteriophages acting as highly specific antibiotics, but also the more classical pharmaceutical tools of small molecules, peptides and antibodies peptides. Understanding microbiome biology can also lead to diagnostic insights and products.

The rapidly-increasing number of startups developing products in this field operate at the interface between nutrition and drug discovery, and navigate novel regulatory paths. Many of the economic actors, while they recognize the potential of those novel product category, hesitate to commit resources early, preferring to wait for the first clear successes.

Seventure Partners is an acknowledged leader for venture investment in microbiome-based products, largely via its EUR 160 million Health for Life Capital investment fund. Using its strategic insights in this field, it authored a new report entitled “The human microbiome : A new protagonist in managing human health.“ This short read (22 pages, many figures) is aimed at the generalist economic decision maker. It gives an overview of the field, including quantitative analyses, and through interviews with a broad range of thought leaders in the field, aims to understand the key questions for future value creation : how to turn these fast-paced scientific discoveries into useful products, and what is the substance behind the current hype.

The report will be released at BIO-Europe Spring® 2017 in Barcelona this week during the program panel “Key considerations in microbiome partnering” moderated by Mike Ward of Informa Pharma Insights and featuring panelists Michel De Baar, Executive Director, BD&L, Infectious Diseases & Vaccines, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases at MSD; Eric De La Fortelle; Xavier Aldeguer Mauté, Co-Founder and Medical Advisor at Goodgut; and Mariona Serra-Pagés, CEO at Goodgut.

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2016 – A Year in Review for Advanced Therapies

Guest post by Patricia Reilly, M.S., Head of Intelligence Alliances and Unification, Pharma Intelligence | Informa and Nancy Dvorin, Executive Editor, In Vivo

The past year saw intensifying dialogue on how to assess the value of and properly price therapeutics poised to cure diseases with a single dose, thus making drug pricing the major healthcare story of 2016. Stakeholders in the regenerative medicine space are preemptively laying the groundwork for the day when more of these products are approved and discussion of their cost-benefit analysis surfaces. With over 800 clinical trials involving regenerative medicine ongoing, and more than 60 trials in Phase III, this time will be approaching quickly. (more…)

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Stirring the Pot for Entrepreneurship in European Tech Transfer

Guest post by Luke Timmerman, founder and editor of the Timmerman Report, and a regular contributor to Forbes and STAT News.

The science in many parts of Europe is first-rate. No one disputes that. But yet the biggest emerging biotech business stories in the world pop up regularly in the U.S. That’s been true for a long time, and it’s been true lately with messenger RNA therapies, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, and deep DNA sequencing for early cancer detection, to name a few big ideas. (more…)

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World RARE Disease Day shines a light on rare disease community

Tomorrow is the 10th annual World RARE Disease Day. Various activities are taking place all over the United States as well as countless locations around the world.

World RARE Disease Day is an annual observance held on the last day of February to raise awareness for rare diseases, in hopes of improving access to treatments and medical representation for individuals with rare diseases and their families.  Global Genes is one of the leading rare disease patient advocacy organizations worldwide and a consistent supporter of this important day of awareness.  Since 2009, Global Genes and hundreds of patient advocacy organizations around the world have engaged in awareness raising activities developed by Global Genes in support of World Rare Disease Day! (more…)

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Barcelona biotech companies shine light on regional entrepreneurship

Investors are always on the lookout for innovative biotech startups, and the Catalonia, Spain biopharma cluster has plenty to offer in the way of innovation from among its member companies. Biocat, the incubator for the growth of Catalonia’s BioRegion, comprises 824 companies which have brought over EUR 151 million in investment to Spain between 2013 and 2016. (more…)

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What’s the deal with Immuno-oncology partnering?

Insight wanted to get the lay of the I/O landscape, so who better to speak with than Jeff Bockman, Vice President of Defined Health. Not only was Jeff kind enough to share his insights with us, but he also had an extensive slide deck on “Immuno-Oncology Partnering: Tipping Point or Tip of the Iceberg?” Below we feature some of his slides along with some of his top line comments.


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Why the connected patient is the killer app in the digital age of medicine

Guest article by Deb Kilpatrick, PhD, CEO at Evidation Health and Rich Milani, MD, FACC, FAHA, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Ochsner Health System

If you search on the phrase “killer app,” you will find a definition along the lines of a feature, function, or application of a new technology or product that is presented as virtually indispensable. The two essential components of the killer app being: (more…)

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Barcelona’s GP Pharm considers partnering key to international expansion

Barcelona is an attractive location for business and trade, and has experienced a revival in the biopharma sector in recent years with the outsourcing of innovation from pharma companies to biotech partners. Insight recently interviewed GP Pharm CEO Dr. Berta Ponsati for insight into their partnering and growth strategy, and why Barcelona companies are ripe for international collaboration.

Insight: GP Pharm is a private Spanish biopharmaceutical firm located in the Barcelona area. The company, founded in 2000, works with companies as a strategic partner to achieve bring science to society by developing products from the laboratory to the market. How would you describe GP Pharm to a potential partner? (more…)

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Breaking down the “four walls” of patient care: What is the state of the digital medicine industry?

Amid tirelessly pursuing possible partnerships and investment opportunities to bring revolutionary medical products to market at Biotech Showcase™ 2017 in San Francisco, global executives were invited to explore the future of patient care known as digital medicine at a congruent event called Digital Medicine Showcase.

Co-produced by EBD Group and Demy-Colton at the Parc 55 in San Francisco Jan. 10–11, the event was bustling with industry dignitaries ready to explore the future of this emerging new approach to patient care.

The opening panel session, “The State of the Digital Medicine Industry,” facilitated a broad discussion and overview about what digital medicine is, why it is important to patient care, why many in the medical industry dismiss it, and where the future of this segment is going. (more…)

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