Oppenheimer: SPARKlers Dazzle at 5th Annual Stanford Collaboration

Oppenheimer: SPARKlers Dazzle at 5th Annual Stanford Collaboration

Posted on November 10th, 2021

We co-hosted Oppenheimer’s 5th annual Biotech Emerging Science Summit for investors along with Stanford University’s SPARK program in a virtual format with collaboration from BioCentury. Our event featured academic presentations on recent breakthroughs in medicine, two panel discussions on intriguing topics in emerging biotechnology and corporate discussions with AcureX, DNLI and EDIT on recent progress and upcoming catalysts. Co-director of SPARK Prof. Kevin Grimes described SPARK’s mission as creating synergistic partnerships between Stanford University and industry advisors to advance academic discoveries from the laboratory to clinical practice. SPARK has a 56% success rate across 145 graduated projects that have entered clinical trials or have been out-licensed to an existing biopharmaceutical company or a start-up. We remain highly encouraged by SPARK’s innovation and prospects for emerging companies, which we believe reflect strong long-term tailwinds for the industry.

SPARK Faculty presentations included: 1) Dr. Lori Muffly on improving hematopoietic stem cell transplantation with targeted therapy, the basis of JSPR; 2) Dr. Ed Engleman on programming myeloid cells for the treatment of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, which led to Dendreon, Bolt, Medeor, and Tranquis; and 3) Dr. Jin Billy Li on the development of therapeutic RNA editing technology based on endogenous ADAR enzymes.

A panel discussion on Hot Topics in Emerging Biotech moderated by Simone Fishburne of BioCentury featured Andy Chan of Genentech/Roche, Camille Samuels of Venrock, Karl Handelsman of Codon Capital and Gayathri Swaminath of Greenfire Bio. A dynamic exchange touched upon translating important lessons from oncology and rare diseases to other therapeutic areas including neurodegeneration, how new modalities continue to drive biotech innovation and the importance of increasing diversity to improve the biotech talent pool.

Corporate updates from Dr. Bill Shrader, founder and CEO of AcureX and Dr. Carole Ho, CMO of DNLI provided important insights into recent developments in neuroscience. Dr. Shrader described his company’s focus on the development of Miro1-targeted therapies for neurodegenerative diseases with a proprietary Miro1-driven drug discovery platform. Dr. Ho described late-stage clinical programs DNL310 for LRRK2 Parkinson’s disease and DNL310 for Hunter syndrome which could revolutionize CNS therapeutics with DNLI’s BBB technology.

An engaging fireside chat with Dr. Lisa Michaels, CMO of EDIT explored the recent clinical update for EDIT-101 in the BRILLIANCE trial. Early efficacy signals were encouraging as two patients from the mid-dose cohort had FST improvement, providing clinical proof-of-concept for EDIT-101, and patient testimonials provided additional details on the favorable impact to their quality of life.

We hosted a panel discussion featuring Sarah Bhagat of Sofinnova, Caroline Stout of Ecor1, Ali Urman of ARK Invest and Michael Margolis, Oppenheimer’s co-head of Healthcare Investment Banking. We heard diverse and impressive descriptions of the most intriguing areas for financing and investing in emerging biotech. Importantly, our discussion highlighted the critical role of patients in the biotech ecosystem thereby closing the loop on a core value of SPARK.