My Question Is…Networking Lunch, 30th November 2020

Our second ‘My Question is…Networking Lunch’ saw another round of enticing questions submitted by the One Nucleus community.  Six questions were chosen from those submitted and then the individuals who submitted the questions hosted a small breakout group to discuss that question.  40 delegates joined the virtual networking meeting on Monday 30 November 2020. 

The discussions were an opportunity for attendees to engage with others in their group, whilst sharing their expertise or perhaps using it to learn more about the topic being debated.

The first question submitted by Mike Ward, Global Head of Thought Leadership at Decision Resources Group was “What should companies do to be more patient-centric both in terms of their discovery focus and development ambitions?”  A clear message was that the patient perspective should always be at the forefront for companies developing medicines and the group discussed examples of what good patient-centricity looks like.  It was highlighted that both a top down and bottom up approach is useful, so the whole organization should embrace the vision around good patient-centricity (e.g. individual KPIs).  Identifying the best way to do this was the ongoing challenge and there is not a one size fits all approach.

Question two was hosted by Simon Wright, Partner at J A Kemp “Should patents be granted for COVID vaccine/therapy?”  The overarching feeling from the group was why shouldn’t patents be granted in this area, given that they are fundamental to life sciences research and are already used for the re-purposing of drugs, anti-virals, vaccines and pcr tests.  It would be difficult to define a boundary around Covid.  Maybe the right question to ask is what do you do with a granted product in this area?  Other options include selling, licensing, or putting it in a patent pool.  Patents enable control and prevent ideas from being stolen or copied.

Question three, submitted by our very own Aline Charpentier, Head of Innovation Support at One Nucleus was “What does sustainable investment look like in biotech?”  The attendees were not approaching this from an investor perspective but more sharing guidance from their own experiences of what they felt was a sustainable life sciences industry.  This could, in turn bring, us closer to some sort of metric that could be used to develop sustainable investments.  Three themes were identified including making the business more environmentally conscious and using bottom up solution in this area.  Secondly, a more inclusive and diverse workforce is proving to be a more profitable and efficient way of running a company.  Finally, it is important to consider the societal impact and how we can make sophisticated therapeutics available to the wider patient pool and not only those who can afford more expensive treatments.

Question four was submitted by Ann Dugdale, Freelance Consultant at Taylors Hill Consulting “What does it mean to be a "partner of choice" (and what can companies do to become one)?”  The group focused on the first part of the question and the key take home message is that the ideal partnership will vary depending on factors such as type of company, geographical location and the type of business deals being done.    Nevertheless, strong partnerships are governed by transparency, open conversations, and trust.  The group also considered use of the phrase “partner of choice”.  Such a phrase could be used for more Marketing purposes (e.g. by Business Development staff).  It could also be an aspirational term which then influences the activities that a company does to achieve that aspiration.  The group concluded that being a “partner of choice” is not essential for every business.  

Our fifth question which was submitted by John Faulkes, Consultant at PPMLD Ltd was “Should companies in the global industry be collaborating to generate infectious disease/ pandemic medicines?” There is clear evidence for local collaborations but there is still much that needs to be addressed on a global scale, e.g. the issue of AMR.  If Governments were willing to offer incentives or fund directly this would help and potentially lower the risk that is putting some big Pharma companies off.  Government interventions could also take the form of ‘obligations to collaborate’, which companies would need to fulfil to operate at a certain level.  This year has seen companies find new ways to accelerate their research, as well as develop their partnerships with regulatory organisations.  It will be interesting to see what happens with regards to this progress in future.  Data is also crucial to driving smart decisions around the selection of therapies going forward and this data is not competitive, but data that can be shared.

The sixth and final question was submitted by Dawna Newcomb, Application Specialist EMEA, Cell and Gene Therapy at Abcam “Finding targets for cell and gene therapy - what drives innovation and research?”  Cell and Gene therapies offer great potential for discovering future therapies.  There are still a lot of challenges in making these therapies work but conversations tend to focus on manufacturing.  To get to this point, we must first find the relevant targets and this discussion focused on how to drive innovation in this area.  The group highlighted the older techniques that are still being used (e.g. IHC and FC) to determine whether therapies move forward and that centers for innovation are still found a lot in academia. Large companies are still quite risk averse but have been lowering their risk by purchasing very small and innovative cell and gene companies which is helping to drive up innovation.

One Nucleus is very grateful to all that participated and please keep sending us your questions!