01 Nov Interview with Clifford Reid of Travera
Prior to founding Travera, Dr. Reid was the founding Chairman, President and CEO of Complete Genomics (NASDAQ:GNOM), a leading developer of whole human genome DNA sequencing technologies and services. He was also Executive Chairman of Genos Research, a consumer genomics company he spun off from Complete Genomics. Prior to Complete Genomics he founded two enterprise software companies: Eloquent (NASDAQ:ELOQ), an internet video company, and Verity (NASDAQ:VRTY), an enterprise search engine company. Read his full bio.
Interview with Clifford Reid of Travera
Q: What need is Travera addressing?
A: The cancer community is suffering from a lack of biomarkers that match drugs to patients. The NCI-MATCH study reported in 2016 that fewer than 10% of cancer patients could be matched to a therapy. Oncologists need a much better way to match effective therapies to their patients.
Q: What are the products and/or services Travera offers/develops to address this need? What makes Travera unique?
A: We are developing a new cancer biomarker that directly measures the response of cancer cells to cancer drugs in a few hours. Our goal is to enable oncologists across many different types of cancer to order a next-day test that predicts the most effective therapies for their patients.
When a cancer drug is applied to a cancer cell that is responsive to the drug, the cell loses a miniscule amount of its weight in just a few hours, long before it dies. We are using a new MIT invention, the Suspended Microchannel Resonator, that can weigh single cells with sub-picogram precision, which is 10-100x more precise than the previous most sensitive instruments. This new measurement tool uniquely provides us with the speed and sensitivity needed to identify which cancer drugs will work for which cancer patients.
Q: What is your role at Travera and what excites you about your work?
A: I am the founding CEO of Travera, which was founded by a team of MIT scientists and Dana-Farber oncologists. I am excited about the prospect of our cancer biomarker being universal, applying to the many cancer patients who currently have no biomarkers. I am particularly excited about offering relapsed patients who have exhausted their standard therapeutic options with a biomarker that can guide their oncologists to additional therapies that unexpectedly show response when tested against their unique cancer cells.
Q: When thinking about Travera and the domain Travera is working in, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?
A: We are part of a wave of innovation in non-genomic (phenotypic or functional) cancer biomarkers. Phenotypic biomarkers will complement and augment genomic biomarkers, which have proven difficult to develop for the majority of cancer patients. Phenotypic biomarkers promise to dramatically expand the number of cancer patients who benefit from precision medicine.
Q: What are the short-term challenges that Travera and its peers are facing?
A: Precision medicine for cancer has become almost synonymous with genomic biomarkers. We are facing the challenge of educating the cancer community that there are new types of non-genomic biomarkers that are overcoming the limitations of genomic biomarkers and the limitations of traditional functional testing in cancer.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience?
A: Travera is commercializing a radically new measurement tool that can measure the changing weight of single cells with exquisite accuracy. It potentially has many applications in cancer and immunology. Our first application is directly measuring the response of cancer cells to cancer drugs for patients and their oncologists. But we also envision new applications in drug development, including immunotherapies (for making our unique biophysical measurements of CAR T-cells). We are always looking for partners to help us explore these new applications.