12 Dec 2018 CRO and CMO Summit Recap
On Friday, November 30, Life Sciences PA held its annual CRO & CMO Summit, a half-day program for companies specializing in advancing cell and gene therapies. This year’s event was hosted by West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. at their facility in Exton, PA.
The program started with keynote speeches from Felix Hsu, Senior Vice President, Head of the U.S. Business Unit, and Joe Hughes, Chief Science Officer, from Wuxi AppTec, a leading global pharmaceutical, medical device open-access capability, and technology platform company with global operations. With its industry-leading capabilities in small molecule R&D and manufacturing, cell therapy and gene therapy R&D and manufacturing, and medical device testing, WuXi platform is enabling more than 3,000 innovative collaborators from more than 30 countries to bring innovative healthcare products to patients.
Felix and Joe’s presentation provided an overview of the current landscape of advanced therapies. They discussed how such therapies get manufactured, what the supply chain and logistics process looks like, the overall risks and challenges, and what they see for the future.
Following the keynote session, I was excited and honored to moderate an all-female panel discussion that delved more specifically into clinical trials. The panel was put together by West’s Women Investing and Networking Group (WIN), which aligns with the values and core tenants of Navigate’s Women’s Leadership Network (WLN). The panelists included:
– Kelly Ritch, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, MedNet Solutions. She currently focuses on helping customers get the most out of the company’s platform.
– Roberta Steere, Senior Solutions Consultant Director, Early Product Development, Oncology, PAREXEL. She currently focuses on oncology, but started the cell and gene therapy group at PAREXEL to support their clients who are in the early phases of development.
– Cindy Reiss-Clark, VP & GM Biologics Market Unit, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. She currently focuses on manufacturing biologics and understanding the complexities of manufacturing logistics and what it takes to get products to patients.
The panelists each shared an overview of their company and their career path, including how they navigated any challenges they met along the way. They then discussed topics including the foundation of clinical trials in cell and gene therapy, some of the risks inherent to advanced therapies, how to overcome issues related to a small patient population, and the future of manufacturing cell and gene therapies.
They agreed that the future will likely lead to a hub or global treatment model, where all aspects of the therapy are completed in the same place, which would lower risk and costs.
The panelists were engaging, and it was interesting to hear more about clinical trials and patient-related considerations following the broad perspective of the industry from the keynote speakers.
After the event, West gave a tour of their lab. With the knowledge from the day in mind, attendees had the opportunity to learn more about how the company manufactures and tests their products to ensure that they are safely made and protect and promote patient health.
The event was well-attended and provided a holistic perspective of advance therapies, from the lab, to R&D, to the patient experience. Many thanks to West for hosting, Life Sciences PA for organizing the event, and the speakers and panelists for sharing their thoughts and experiences.