At the Benzinga Global Small Cap Conference Thursday, Jason McCarthy, senior managing director at Maxim Group, hosted a panel discussion on how biotech companies are getting back to fundamentals following an extremely disruptive period during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The panel discussion included Steve O’Loughlin, CFO of Actinium Pharmaceuticals Inc ATNM, Bill Williams, CEO of Briacell Therapeutics Corp BCTX and David Dodd, chairman and CEO of Geovax Labs Inc GOVX.
Pandemic Fallout: Williams said one of the unfortunate impacts of the pandemic is that patients haven’t been coming in for regular checkups.
“Unfortunately I think that presents us with a situation where oncologists are going to be seeing patients with more advanced tumors, and I think that’s going to have an impact on the biotech environment going forward in the next couple of years as people start to realize things got let go that shouldn’t have gotten let go,” he said.
Fortunately, the biotech field has also been making major strides in cutting-edge cancer treatment, he said.
“At the same time, we’re seeing tremendous advances in things like immunotherapy, where we’re harnessing the power of the patient’s own immune system to attack and destroy cancerous tumors, and this presents a huge opportunity for these therapies to be developed, especially in patients with advanced types of cancer.”
Targeted Therapy: O’Loughlin said Actinium is focusing on targeted radiation therapy at a cellular level inside the human body.
“We’re using our technology now to condition patients not only for bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant, but also CAR T and adoptive cell therapies, as well as gene therapies. With our technology, we’re able to target certain immune cells and deplete them to create an ideal immune environment, homeostatic environment, for these cells to then persist and expand and exert their therapeutic effect,” O’Loughlin said.
Dodd said GeoVax is working on utilizing the techniques the company used for constructing vaccines against infectious diseases to research the MUC1 tumor antigen in cancer treatment applications.
“We’ve had very promising results in animals in terms of both the therapeutic as well as the recurrence model,” Dodd said.
“We’re currently targeting to move that into clinical development in conjunction with [the University of Pittsburgh] and Dr. [Olivera] Finn probably within the next 15 months.”
Dodd also said GeoVax is working on a coronavirus Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) program as well.
“We received funding because of our ability to encode broader groups of proteins into our MVA, which we have designed to be a single-dose vaccine,” he said.
To see more of this panel discussion or any of the other presentations at the Benzinga Small Cap Conference, purchase lifetime access to the video recordings of the event at this link.
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