Reflecting on BioTrinity 2023  

Science connection and networking

BioTrinity 2023 marked the 17th annual edition of BioTrinity and took place in London, UK from Tuesday 25 April to Wednesday 26 April. DDW’s Megan Thomas spoke with attendees, and comments on the event.   

Fundraising and investment  

Coming out of a global pandemic, in-person events initially added a degree of novelty to networking. At previous events, there has been an air of excitement but uncertainty of how quickly to adopt ‘business as usual’. This uncertainty seems to be a thing of the past, if BioTrinity is anything to go by. Most presentations in the Scientific Track included active fundraising and drugs developing into their next phases.  

Fundraising and investment are a core pillar of not just BioTrinity events but of the drug discovery industry at large, so events such as Tuesday’s keynote, Investment Trends for the Life Sciences Industry, are critical for members of the industry. In his keynote, Tim Haines, Executive Partner at Abingworth, presented a path forward through the global economic uncertainty in the UK. Another particularly enlightening presentation on this topic was a panel discussion, Exciting Exits – An insight into the latest collaboration, acquisitions, co-development success stories, in which Lilly Gateway Labs’ VP & Global Head, Julie Gilmore, shared how Lilly is fuelling M&A activity, and in which CEO & Co-Founder of DJS Antibodies, David Llewellyn, shared the success story that is his company’s acquisition by Abbvie.  

Dr Neil Torbett, CEO of PhoreMost, joined the panel Interesting Investment Case Studies, which discussed updates on academic investments, charity collaborations, and specialist seed funding. He told DDW: “Alongside my fellow panellists, I was able to provide unique insight from the perspective of PhoreMost, sharing my experiences of fundraising and targeting the right investors to support our mission.”   

Sheelagh Frame, CSO at Ubiquigent, said: “The fundraising environment is harsh at the moment, but it’s clear that there is appetite from investors to support novel approaches and solid science.”  

Inspiring leadership  

A focus of the Business Track at this year’s event was leadership. More than just who’s who, but rather a deep dive into what makes a good leader, and what is required from life science leaders in the future.  

This was particularly evident in The CEO of the Future, where panellists discussed the major changes seen in the external environment that are impacting business operations. What must CEOs ensure is happening in order to move forward, rather than remain stagnant? According to the panellists, companies must adopt new processes, focus on speed and simplification, embrace digitisation, stay open to new and varied collaborations, and ensure patient centricity remains the reason we’re all doing what we’re doing.  

In The Evolving Role of the CRO, panellists showed that research partner organisations and their service provision to R&D companies is essential. In this vein, so emerges the concept that the CRO is a leader in the space and the unique expertise they offer should be readily embraced.   

In what might be interpreted as an active effort to make the industry a more inclusive and diverse arena, particularly in senior positions, the Inspiring Women in Life Science panel was informative and, as the name suggests, inspiring. However, it was equally inspiring to see an equal distribution of men and women across all events, not just this particular panel. Ubiquigent’s Sheelagh Frame, said: “It was wonderful to share experiences and thoughts about building better workplaces alongside some other inspiring women in life science.” However, she also presented thoughts in a technical update, Targeted Protein Degradation – Progress, Direction and Prospects. Dr Debora Lucarelli, CEO at Enhanc3D Genomics, said that, as well as the opportunity to catch up with existing contacts, and to meet with new potential partners and investors via the partnering system, she was “also very pleased to have been invited to join the Inspiring Women in Life Science panel, alongside some really fantastic, aspirational female leaders from across the industry.” 

Exciting science to watch  

Apart from partnering opportunities and hearing insight from industry leaders, another major reason why events such as BioTrinity are so appealing is the science. Across the scientific track’s company showcase presentations, innovation was bubbling and it is particularly exciting to watch the following companies in the future.  

By targeting Fas ligand (FasL), FasT Biopharma can prevent apoptotic cell death, which can  otherwise  lead to blindness, cancer immune failure, diabetes, viral pathology (including effects of Covid-19), liver degeneration and lung fibrosis. Progress is steady and while FBP001 for Dry AMD and Glaucoma and FB3P003 for Other Diseases are only moving from Hit Identification into Lead Optimisation, FBP002 for Colorectal Cancer and Other Cancers are both en route to Preclinical Development.  

In the vaccines space, Imophoron is changing the way we make vaccines, to provide the world with the next-generation of therapeutics for unmet medical needs and future threats. In its pipeline, Imophoron is working on ADDomer based vaccines for three diseases, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Covid-19 and Chikungunya. The RSV candidate is the lead program, and the company is working towards generating the pre-clinical data to support a Phase I clinical trial.  

MitoRx Therapeutics is a pre-clinical stage rare disease biotech that wants to become the leading global developer of medicines arresting the progression of degenerative diseases drive by mitochondrial dysfunction, with a focus on neuromuscular disease, metabolic disease and neurodegenerative disease. MitoRx is developing a pipeline of first-in-class first-in-target small molecules for diseases involving mitochondrial dysfunction: its candidate for Duchenne muscular dystrophy is between Pre-Clinical and Phase Ia and is not yet IND filed, while its three other candidates for CBS-deficiency (Classic hyperhomocysteinemia), Huntington’s disease, and additional neurodegenerative diseases (for which it is open for partnering) are all between lead and pre-clinical.  

Last, but certainly not least, Samsara Therapeutics is a biopharma company aiming to discovery first-in-class therapeutics that treat rare genetic and neurodegenerative disease, and extend healthy lifespan. Samsara is leveraging its knowledge of new autophagy biology to rapidly advance multiple drug candidates to the clinic – promising new therapies designed to treat serious rare genetic diseases and neurodegenerative disorders with a strong genetic component. Its clinical pipeline includes a TRPML1 activator, Beclin activator neuro, Beclin activator peripheral, and GTPase activator, the first three of which are preparing for Phase Ia/b trials.

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