Interesting Speakers at April's ManxBioMed Meeting
31 May 2017
Biomed is already a substantive and thriving sector on the Isle of Man, with a diverse set of companies already operating here with over 100 jobs and a growth rate of 13% since September 2013. It is clear from the success of companies already operating here such as Panacea, Nasaleze, BodyStat, SEQ and Prometic, that the Isle of Man has great potential as a biomed location, and interest in the Island has been encouraging (over 54 biomed companies have visited the Island over the past three years).
The Isle of Man’s biomed sector enjoyed some good coverage in the national papers a few weeks ago when a two page article was published in the SuperNorth supplement of The Times (a digital version is available at: http://www.supernorth.co.uk).
At the most recent meeting of the ManxBioMed Cluster Dr Ken Milne, Director of Corporate Services, Department of Economic Development (DED) presented the findings of the Isle of Man Biomed Strategy Report, commissioned by the Department and conducted by Dave Taggart, operating under Manx Business Connection. Overall the outlook is extremely positive. Through focusing on existing strengths in areas such as data and digital, developing legislation and regulation to foster innovation and enterprise developing a broader network of partnerships with academic centres, for example, the Isle of Man has an opportunity to secure a strong position as a biomed location.
Also presenting was Anne Mills, CEO, Hospice Isle of Man who spoke about challenges facing hospices. The audience learnt that current approaches to care are unsustainable because of increasingly ageing population, rising numbers of chronic disease and co-morbidities requiring end of life care for different sets of conditions and needs, changing social circumstances, as well as an increasing number of people living alone. Through a number of bold steps including becoming a research active hospice, Hospice Isle of Man intend to not only address these challenges to provide the best possible care for the Island’s population but to become a centre of excellence in end of life care.
Damian Bond, Chief Executive, CynapseDx Limited spoke next and provided an insight into early detection of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Misfolded proteins that form deposits and probably brain damage in these diseases have until now been difficult to measure in a blood sample and alternative methods are expensive and not always reliable with a staggering £52 million wasted every year in the UK through misdiagnosis of Parkinson’s disease alone. CynapseDx believes its technology can in addition to identifying Alzheimer's and Parkinson's can also improve diagnosis of MSA (Multiple System Atrophy) and will be working in collaboration with Farid Khan (Protein Technologies), based in Manchester, for the next 18 months before moving operations to the Isle of Man.
The audience were extremely pleased to welcome Dr Lorin Johnson again to hear about his new venture Glycyx Therapeutics, Ltd, an Isle of Man based pharmaceutical development company. Lorin is a successful American biotech entrepreneur with strong family ties to the Isle of Man. As a part-time resident on the Island, he has worked closely with the Manx Biomed Cluster for the past five years, and saw it as the ideal home for his latest venture. Glycyx will focus on acquiring and developing undervalued pharmaceutical assets in the fields of oncology, gastrointestinal conditions and neuroscience. Typically, these are drugs whose current owners – ranging from university spin-outs to multinational healthcare companies – see limited potential, but where the Glycyx team can see greater opportunity, by changing the development strategy, the formulation, or pursuing entirely new indications in a ‘repurposing’ of the drug. It was using this repurposing strategy that enabled Dr Johnson to grow the previous company he founded, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., into a global leader in the in-licensing, development and commercialisation of treatments for gastroenterology disorders, and to reach the point where it was acquired for $15.8bn by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.
The ManxBioMed Cluster will be meeting again at the end of June.