BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 Conference, Day Three Highlights
BIO Asia–Taiwan 2021 Conference concluded Friday with five online sessions, 17 presentations and three lively panel discussions.
Session Ten, Advances of Cytokine-based Therapeutics, brought together some of the world’s leading experts—including three 2020 Tang Prize Laureates—to share their findings and knowlege on this growing field. Considered immunomodulating agents, cytokines are associated with a variety of diseases, including inflammatory and autoimmune syndromes, and cancers. Pertinently, Cytokines are also a potential treatment for COVID-19. Speaker highlights included Tang Prize winners Marc Feldmann of University of Oxford; Charles Dinarello of University of Colorado, and Tadamitsu Kishioto of Osaka University.
In discussing the development of breakthrough anti-TNF therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, Marc Feldmann reminded Session participants of its lasting significance. “It has initiated a therapeutic revolution; by degree of effect, and by changing pharma companies view of MAB from niche products to best sellers’” said Feldmann, adding “Anti-TNF has been the world’s biggest drug class since 2012.
Session Eleven, Advances in Cell & Gene Therapies, took participants on a journey of exploration through two of the hottest product classes today. With only a handful approved, the cell and gene therapy product pipeline is bursting with more than a 1,200 therapies, more than half in Phase 2 trials. And Asian labs and biotechs are well placed to participate. Featured international speakers included Dominic Wall of Cell Therapies, Didier Dargent of Novartis, and Jennifer Mao of IQVIA.
A fundamental difference—and complication—between cell therapy products such as CAR-T compared to conventional products is that the patient and HCP are essential to the manufacturing process. “Nothing can start until a doctor decides to administer CAR-T to a patient. Then cells are drawn and the clock is running for the patient,” said Didier Dargent. Each batch is manufactured for an individual using their own cells. “And this is totally different to what we are used to seeing in the pharmaceutical industry.
Keeping with cancer therapy advances, Recent Development of Game-Changing Tumor Agnostic Therapeutics was the topic of Session Twelve. Such therapies treat cancer based on genetic or molecular features without regard to cancer type or where it originated from Featured speakers included James Chih-Hsin Yang of the National Taiwan University Cancer Center, Smita Kotari of MSD, and Dorthe Mikkelsen also of MSD.
"The speed at which innovation in oncology treatment is advancing is unprecedented,” said Smita Kotari, evident by the fact that 40% of drugs in development are oncology therapies. “But this innovation has no value if the patients for whom they are intended have no access to them,” she added, while highlighting the three milestones that must be reached to bring innovative therapies to patients; regulatory authorization, market access, and patient access.
Session Thirteen, Asian Biodesign – Accelerating to Meet Medical Needs, detailed how Asian medical device design programs across industry and academia are partnering with world-leading biodesign institutes to both raise standards and resolve unmet medical needs. Today’s featured speakers included Lyn Thayer Denend of Stanford Biodesign and Stanford School of Medicine, Anurag Mairal of Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, and Fumiaki Ikeno of MedVenture Partners.
The US-developed Stanford Biodesign process has proven successful in generating medical device solutions, but regional differences are important when applying the process in other countries. “One size does not fit all,” said Lyn Thayer Denend. “It must be customized to fit the local environment.” Standard Biodesign has over 100 global fellows and faculty who can put such a modified process into play in their particular own location in the world. In Asia, Taiwan, India, Singapore and Japan have their own Stanford Biodesign programs.
Organized in association with the Asian Federation of Biotechnology, Session Fourteen was entitled Regional Collaboration of Bioeconomics. Representatives from Korea, Malaysia, Japan, India, and Taiwan discussed bio-industry related topics including drug development and discovery, biopharma manufacturing, industrial biotech and agribiotech. Featured speakers included Youn Hee Choi of the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade, Dato’ Dr. Mohd Ali Hassan of Universiti Putra Malaysia, Takeshi Omasa of the Japan Bioindustry Association, and Parthasarathi Bhattacharya of Tierra Seed Science in India.
Korea in particular has impressive industry superlatives. “Korea is the world’s second largest biopharmaceutical producer, and produces more than 60% of the world’s biosimilars,” said Youn Hee Choi, adding that the country also leads the world in the development and production of COVID-19 diagnostics kits. “And the competitiveness of vaccine and drug development against COVID-19 is strengthening,” said Choi.