Comment – pharma trends at LSX World Congress  

The LSX World Congress returned for an in-person event in May, bringing together executives from the biotech, medtech and healthtech sectors, across two days to examine the latest trends across life sciences. 

DDW’s Reece Armstrong attended the event – here are the key takeaways from the show. 

One of the key theme’s across LSX was the market for advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), with a number of sessions exploring the current market for these therapies and the challenges and opportunities ahead.  

On the first day a session examining the business models for cell and gene therapies brought into question the investment landscape for this market and how companies can generate value for potential commercialisation of their products.  

With a lot of cell and gene therapies focused on rare diseases and oncology, the panel examined the implications for developers in the sector and what it means for companies trying to generate value and investment.  

During the panel, Jean-Philippe Combal, CEO of Vivet Therapeutics spoke about the potential reduced patient populations of developers for rare therapies but insisted that value creation should come the transformative nature of the therapy for the patient.  

Speaking from an investor perspective, Elisa Petris, Partner at Syncona said: “For us it starts with really understanding the disease and what the unmet need, and whether a cell and gene therapy platform is really the best modality to address that disease because that’s not always going to be the case.” 

Petris went on to speak about rare diseases and that for a long time they’d been ignored by the larger pharmaceutical companies, which has in turn given small biotechs the opportunity to grow within the field.  

On that note, a session later on during day one looked at the investment opportunities for biotechs and offered a stark comparison to the boom seen throughout the years.  

In the “A Platform For Success – Strategic Imperatives In Building And Growing Discovery Platforms” session, a range of platform companies and early-stage investors gave their opinions on how the market has fluctuated in recent years. 

The panel began as news of Pfizer’s $12bn acquisition of Biohaven made the rounds, putting in context the possibilities that discovery and platform companies have in the market.  

The session explored the fluctuating investment cycle and everyone agreed that now is an especially tough time for companies needing the capital to survive what is a very expensive business.  

For Arthur Sands, CEO, Nurix, having two sources of capital, both investors and partners, is essential.  

“Having these two sources of capital and constantly putting business development alongside investor relations is just critical,” he said.  

Companies that do this will survive, Arthur believes, due to how exciting their technology is in the life sciences field. 

Day two of the event featured similar panels with cell and gene therapies continuing to be a big topic at the show. However, in light of the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the talk “Managing Risk In The New World – Security, Data, Resilience In The Biopharma Supply Chain” looked at the impact that such global events can have on the industry.  

The session covered everything from the NotPetya cyberattacks in 2017, the Covid-19 and of course the war in Ukraine. In regard to Covid-19, the session highlighted the need for the pharma industry to reassess its supply chain routes, and pointed to concerns of things like outsourcing, which saw shortages of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) during the pandemic, and flight routes which presented logistical problems.  

The pharma industry has reacted to the pandemic on a different level to usual product development challenges. Issue of influx of data (Covid?) which is placed in cloud-based platforms presents risk. IT is an area where regulators are still catching up with the technology.  

Supply chain. Through pandemic pharma industry has had to reassess supply chain routes – flight routes cancelled etc – lack of storage and facilities. UK & Europe usually gone to outsourcing which proves to be a risk (Covid). 

The session also highlighted how raw materials produced in Ukraine are being affected by the war – maize starch as a particular example for tablet production – resulting in shortages for manufacturers.  

Other sessions on day two covered multi-jurisdictional drug development and the pros and cons of submitting applications across the FDA, EMA and MHRA. Some of the pros of working across multiple regions include seeing a truly global development programme, according to Nicklas Westerholm, CEO of Egetis Therapeutics. However, the risk is that you could receive contradictory advice from different regulators and judging from opinions on the panel, working with regulators in the EU presented the most difficulties.  

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