This afternoon Nature Biotechnology published its annual review of “some of the best that academic research had to offer the startup world in 2014.” The article, in the March 2015 issue, covers the editors’ selections of the top startups – and this year they picked eleven companies to highlight across cancer, gastrointestinal, fibrosis, pain, and rare disease areas.
Last week on February 28th – as I sat down to write this short blog – was Rare Disease Day 2015.
Rare diseases, and there are estimated to be 7000 of them, impact almost 30 million people in the US alone, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). These diseases – such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Fabry Disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, obviously weigh heavily on the patients and families impacted, and on the healthcare system as a whole. It’s hard for many of us to appreciate the impact of having a child born with a debilitating or life-limiting disorder, to struggle with having a poorly understood condition, to be studied as a patient with an unusual and challenging condition, or to agonize with being misunderstood while seeking an accurate diagnosis or treatment approach. It’s tough to ponder. We have a long way to go in medicine.
This blog was written by Tom Hughes, CEO of Zafgen, as part of the “From the Trenches” feature of LifeSciVC.
Getting a drug from discovery to market requires more than a dozen years, so you just can’t do biotech in a 10-year venture fund – it just takes too long, right? Fortunately, wrong. The data just don’t support this premise, although this common misperception of biotech continue to be promulgated by industry pundits, and I hear them within the institutional investing community in particular.
Three years ago, I was walking across One Kendall Square in pursuit of a late lunch and bumped into a friend – another biotech CEO. I was a year into my role as CEO of Idenix, a publicly traded biotech focused on hepatitis C. My friend was CEO of his respective private biotech for many years. The two of us had known each other for a long time and exchanged a few quick updates on our respective companies. Before we parted, he asked me if he could “pick my brain” on being a public company CEO as he was thinking about taking his successful private company public. I responded – “be careful what you wish for” but was happy to have that future chat with a good friend. As I walked away from that brief conversation, I was surprised at how quickly my sarcastic response came out and have reflected on it many times.
This blog was written by Ron Renaud, CEO of RaNA Therapeutics, as part of the “From the Trenches” feature of LifeSciVC.
Every week it feels like there’s yet another big event happening in the engineered T-cell therapy space. Recently it’s been biotech-pharma partnering. Before that it was the biggest biotech IPO of the year. And before that, it was a parade of positive clinical data at ASH. It’s as relentless as the blizzards pummeling Boston this winter. As CEO of Unum Therapeutics, a next-generation T-cell therapy company, I find myself sitting in the middle of the action and so I thought that it might be a good topic to talk about for my first “From the trenches” contribution.
This blog was written by Chuck Wilson, CEO of Unum Therapeutics, as part of the “From the Trenches” feature of LifeSciVC.