[Report] 2021-01-23 SAPA-NE 22nd Annual Conference: A New Era in Biotech and Life Science

Updated: Feb 17

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Jan 23rd, 2021, Boston, the world’s renowned center for education and innovation in the global medical field, welcomed Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SAPA)’s New England Chapter (SAPA-NE) members, world-renowned leaders and regulators to join the 22nd SAPA-NE Annual Conference “A New Era in Biotech and Life Science” virtually. Zoom meeting simultaneously live streamed on YouTube to our show rooms where vendors and attendees networked via the Spatial Chat platform.

The virtual event attracted more than 800 SAPA members, and friends globally to listen to over a dozen outstanding speakers, representing both academic and industry leaders. The conference was opened with remarks from Dr. Lin Lin, Chair of the conference. Dr. Lin shared the mission of SAPA-NE and the progress of the community made during a unique 2020.

Dr. Lin Lin is addressing the mission and various activities in SAPA-NE

The morning session features multiple lectures from academic and business leaders, who shared their views on the development of emerging modalities in drug discovery and development, including proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC), gene editing, and CAR-T therapies. After the welcome remark, Dr. Eric Fischer, Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and Co-Director of the DFCI Center for Protein Degradation, first discussed his understanding of small molecule mediated protein degradation with PROTAC molecules. Targeted protein degradation (TPD) refers to the use of small molecules to induce ubiquitin-dependent degradation of proteins. TPD is of interest in drug development, as it can address previously inaccessible targets. However, degrader discovery and optimization remain an inefficient process due to a lack of understanding of the relative importance of the key molecular events required to induce target degradation. Dr. Fischer introduced the exciting works from his lab combining structural biology, cell biology, and biochemical reconstitutions to address the molecular mechanism of small molecules targeting multi-component ubiquitin ligases.

Dr. Eric Fischer is presenting "Small Molecule Mediated Ubiquitin Ligase Targeting"

Mr. John Evans, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member at Beam Therapeutics, introduced the platform and vision of Beam Therapeutics. Beam is pioneering the use of base editing, a potential new class of precision medicines, to provide life-long cures to patients with unmet medical needs. Mr. Evans shared the approaches that Beam is taking and an exciting pipeline spun out of ground-breaking technological advances from perspectives of both gene editing and delivery. Mr. Evans also discussed his vision for precision genetic therapies, that can be widespread standard of care in the future.

Mr. John Evans is presenting "Beam Therapeutics: Precision Genetic Medicines Through Base Editing"

The last speaker of the first session, Dr. Zonghai Li, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of CARsgen Therapeutics, shared the landscape, progress, and limitations of CAR-T therapies. CARsgen has conducted comprehensive studies in key technologies in CAR-T cell therapy, including drug target screening and validation, antibody screening and optimization, building next generation CAR-T technology platforms and manufacturing and production techniques, to develop precisely targeted, efficient, safe and high-quality CAR-T cells. Dr. Li discussed CARsgen’s pipeline, recent clinical data from multiple myeloma cell therapy data, as well as various preclinical studies using combination therapeutics to broaden CAR-T therapies’ application in solid tumor.

Dr. Zonghai Li is presenting "Strategies to Increase the Antitumor Activities of CAR-T Cell Therapies in Solid Tumors"

Following the virtual coffee break highlighting virtual network and vendors show, the second half of the morning session was started with an exciting talking from Dr. Liang Schweizer, Co-founder, President and CEO and HiFiBio Therapeutics. Dr. Schweizer focused on the technical breakthroughs from HiFiBio leveraging single cell profiling technology, and its integration into drug discovery as well as its applications in cell therapy, antibody and biomarker discovery. Dr. Schweizer also shared with the audience the exciting progress of HFB30132A, its SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody as a treatment and prevention therapy of COVID-19, which is currently being evaluated in clinic studies.

Dr. Liang Schweizer is presenting "Pioneering “Drug Intelligent Science” a Novel Single Cell Approach for Drug Discovery and Development"

Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) contain a disease-receptor antibody and a payload drug connected via a linker. The rate and extent of payload delivery depend on both tumor properties and ADC characteristics. Dr. Dian Su, Sr. Scientist from Genentech, shared how drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics studies paved the discovery and development of Antibody-Drug Conjugations (ADCs) by conjugation site, conjugation chemistry, and linker modifications.

Dr. Dian Su is presenting "Pave the Road to Drug the Undruggable: Driving ADC Discovery from the DMPK Perspective"

The morning session was concluded by Dr. Yan Chen, Founder, President and CEO of Elpis Biopharmaceuticals. Elpis focuses on therapeutics that target and activate the immune response to eradicate tumors and deliver improved outcomes for patients with difficult-to-treat and resistant cancers. Dr. Chen discussed the work at Elpis where mRNA display platform was applied for the development of novel mechanism-driven protein therapeutics across a rich pipeline composed of immuno-modulators, dual targeting tandem CAR-Ts and novel bispecific antibodies.

Dr. Yan Chen is presenting ''mRNA Display Technology Enables Rapid Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering to Harness Immuno-Oncology Therapeutics"

Virtual Lunch Session featured Brad Warsen, Executive Director of Quality for the Devens Cell Therapy Facility at BMS; Dr. Sanchayita Ghose, Executive Director, Head of Global Downstream Bioprocess Development at BMS; Dr. Ji Li, Principal Scientist, Mechanism of Cancer Resistance TRC at BMS; Dr. Chun Shao, Principal Scientist, Process Development Analytics at BMS. Together with Moderator Dr. Dong Yang, perspectives on communication, collaboration, mentorship and career growth were shared with the attendees.

Panelists are sharing perspectives on Realizing Your Potential in Biopharma Industry during BMS Virtual Lunch Session

Ms. Joyce Chen and Dr. Xue Liang moderated Parallel Virtual Lunch Session, which was centered around Capital Markets and 2021 JP Morgan Recap. Dr. Alex Li, Managing Director of TF Capital, Board Director of SAPA, Past President of SAPA-NE shared An Investor’s View of Life Science Capital Market in China; Mr. Eduardo Schur, Partner in the EY Life Sciences Practice and Dr. Qingcong Lin, CEO of Biocytogen Boston brought their perspectives of 2021 JP Morgan Recap and future trends of life science development and investment.

Parallel Virtual Lunch Session on Capital Markets

Parallel Virtual Lunch Session on 2021 JP Morgan Recap

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has devastated the most vulnerable in our society — adults 65 years of age or older, persons with underlying conditions, and the economically deprived.