CombiGene is very active at various types of conferences to keep abreast of the rapid scientific developments in the ATMP area, and also as part of the company’s business development and communication with large investors. CombiGene is actively seeking new projects for in-licensing and the company has also initiated the long-term work to find a future partner within the pain program COZY. The company also participates in various events aimed at the stock market. As stated in CEO Jan Nilsson’s editorial in this issue of Ingeneious, he, together with Zyneyro’s CEO Peter Horn Møller, recently visited BIO2023 in Boston to present the pain program COZY to possible future Big Pharma partners. Other representatives of CombiGene have also been active at various conferences recently. Here’s an overview:
Interesting presentations and projects at ASGCT 2023 in Los Angeles
CombiGene’s Chief Scientific Officer Karin Agerman and Senior Director In-licensing Birgitta Ståhl recently visited the ASGCT 2023 conference in Los Angeles, USA. ASGCT stands for American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy and is an organization of scientists, physicians, and patient advocates engaged in gene and cell therapy.
“The ASGCT conference is an important conference for CombiGene as its purpose is to present the latest findings in gene and cell therapy as well as new research and new indications that could be interesting in our efforts to further broaden CombiGene’s project portfolio. This year’s conference was a hybrid conference with a total of 8000 registered participants, of which 6600 were on site in LA,” says Karin Agerman, Chief Scientific Officer at CombiGene. “A conference of this magnitude is difficult to summarize given the large amount of information and data presented, but among the highlights from CombiGene’s perspective were the focus on AAV-based gene therapy and the possibilities of making gene therapy more organ specific through improved vector design. Since CombiGene works with AAV vectors, this element was particularly interesting. Another hot topic at the conference was CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) which can be used to edit genes. This research area is developing rapidly, but still has major challenges that need to be solved before it can be widely used clinically.”
Another major topic at the conference was the healthcare reimbursement system in the US. The current system is based on chronic care models where compensation for a wide range of illnesses is paid for a large number of payment occasions over a large number of years. Gene therapy turns this model on its head through its ability to offer a lifelong cure or recovery for a growing number of diseases through one or a few treatments. The cost of gene therapy is thus not spread out over time like today’s treatments, something that current reimbursement systems are not yet equipped for.
“One interesting session I attended was about the combination of AAV-based gene therapy and immunotherapy to create a completely new treatment modality to fight cancer,” says Birgitta Ståhl, CombiGene’s Senior Director In-licensing. “In addition to an intensive search for new knowledge, Karin and I also spent considerable time looking for new potential projects for in-licensing and we identified a number of interesting opportunities that we are now following up. CombiGene’s stated ambition is to in-license additional projects to build an increasingly stronger gene therapy company,” Birgitta concludes.
Many interesting talks at 4th Gene Therapy for Neurological Disorders Europe
CombiGene’s Senior Program Director Alvar Grönberg has also been active in CombiGene’s search for new knowledge and new projects. Alvar visited the 4th Gene Therapy for Neurological Disorders Europe in Amsterdam at the beginning of June. He sums up the conference as follows: “The conference included many interesting talks covering a range of topics, from how to achieve cell-specific gene transcription to payers’ expectations of gene therapy products. The conference provided a good update on the field and an opportunity to interact with people from academia and from other companies.”
Meeting with potential investors
Biotech Hanse is a Swedish-German biotechnology association that aims to connect the biotechnology and life science sectors in Sweden and Germany. The main focus areas of the organization are bilateral events, collaborations, exchange of knowledge and networking opportunities. Biotech Hanse addresses companies in the life science and medtech field, venture capital, tech transfer offices and other providers of services in this field. The organization was founded in 2014 and is based in Stockholm.
In mid-June, CombiGene’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Ekolind participated in a meeting arranged by Biotech Hanse. The meeting was sponsored by, among others, the German pharmaceutical companies Boeringer Ingelheim and Bayer and the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova. In addition to the usual networking with colleagues in the industry, Peter also had the opportunity to present CombiGene to the four investor organizations that were present.