Derek Jantz, PhD, is the co-founder and CSO of Precision BioSciences and a 15-year veteran of the genome editing industry. As a protein engineer, he was an early developer of zinc finger technology and has spent most of his career designing proteins for genome editing applications. He performed his graduate studies in biophysics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Jantz co-founded Precision BioSciences in 2006 after co-inventing a novel method to modify the DNA-recognition properties of meganucleases. Read his full bio.

Interview with Derek Jantz from Precision BioSciences

Q: What need is Precision BioSciences addressing?

A: Precision’s ARCUS genome editing technology is a proprietary, non-CRIPSR platform that has applications across cell therapy, gene therapy, and agriculture. We are able to edit everything from plants to primates, so prioritizing projects is an imporant part of what we do. In agriculture, we are focused on enhancing nutritional value and fortifying at-risk crops. In medicine, we are developing ex vivo gene edited cell therapies that fight cancer as well as in vivo gene editing therapies targeted to the liver and the eye.

Q: What are the products and/or services Precision BioSciences offers/develops to address this need? What makes Precision BioSciences unique?

A: Our lead product is an off-the-shelf CD19 CAR T to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is made from the T cells of healthy donors, which we edit in two ways – first, we add a receptor that targets cancerous cells and second, we knock out a receptor that mediates graph-versus-host interactions to eliminate the need for donor-patient matching. Using this method, we can generate hundreds of vials of CAR T cells from a single manufacturing run to treat patients when and where they need it. Another even newer area of genetic medicine we are excited about is in vivo therapeutic genome editing. Because the ARCUS editing platform works effectively and reproducibly in non-human primates and other large animal models, we can look beyond basic mouse studies and begin using editing to therapeutically suppress or correct expression in models that inform the development of human therapeutics.

Q: What is your role at Precision BioSciences and what excites you about your work?

A: I am the CSO of Precision BioSciences and also a co-founder, along with Matt Kane (our CEO) and Jeff Smith (our CTO). We started the company back in 2006, soon after Jeff and I created the earliest version of ARCUS, but I’d already been working in genome editing for almost 10 years by then. I have studied and worked with zinc finger nucleases, TALENs, and CRISPRs, but have always preferred the homing endonuclease (aka meganuclease), which ARCUS is based on, for therapeutic applications. The time and effort our team at Precision has put into this platform has been nothing short of heroic, and now we are seeing the pay off as we progress toward clinic in both cell and gene therapy.

Q: When thinking about Precision BioSciences and the domain Precision BioSciences is working in, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?

A: The field has made real headway into editing human cells in vitro, particularly for CAR T. Several new gene edited CAR T therapies are either in the clinic or expected to enter the clinic within the next year. In vivo therapeutic editing isn’t quite as far along but there are a couple of ZFN-based therapies in very early clinical studies. We recently published a study in collaboration with the Wilson lab at Penn demonstrating, I think for the first time, high-efficiency, long-term in vivo editing in primate liver. We knocked-out the PCSK9 gene in several animals, resulting in therapeutically-relevant reductions in LDL cholesterol that are stable now well into the second year of the study. We think the study provides a blueprint for developing additional liver-targeted in vivo editing therapies using the ARCUS platform.

Q: What are the short-term challenges that Precision BioSciences and its peers are facing?

A: For the field at large, translating our success from the bench to the bedside has been challenging. Gene editing has revolutionized biomedical research, but creating bona fide in vivo therapies is a big ask and the place everyone in this space would like to go. This means creating new medicines able to cure disease by editing patient DNA at the organ or tissue of interest, preferably with a single treatment. It’s the “holy grail” of genome editing and what I have been working toward my whole career. We’re close but we aren’t there yet. The transition to large animal models – getting beyond mouse work – is a crucial step toward bringing these therapies to the clinic. And as the first wave of ex vivo edited cell therapies enter clinical trials we will gain a greater understanding of what safety risks, if any, are posed by gene editing. This, in turn, should help to clarify the regulatory path for the subsequent wave of in vivo therapeutics.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience?

A: How soon and how completely genome editing will reshape the future of medicine are still big questions, but I am more and more confident this will happen sooner and with a bigger impact than many appreciate. As a scientist and as a person, I could not be happier to have made this my life’s work.

Interview with Ralph Snyderman from Duke University

Q: What research are you or your lab focusing on and why, and what problem(s) are you trying to solve?

A: My work involves designing, implementing and studying innovations in medical education that allow our medical schools to fulfill our social contract to improve the health of our communities and reduce the suffering of our patients.

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Interview with Catherine Reinis Lucey from UCSF

Q: What research are you or your lab focusing on and why, and what problem(s) are you trying to solve?

A: My work involves designing, implementing and studying innovations in medical education that allow our medical schools to fulfill our social contract to improve the health of our communities and reduce the suffering of our patients.

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Interview with Gunnar Carlsson from Ayasdi

Q: What need is Ayasdi addressing?

A: Ayasdi is pioneering the application of artificial intelligence to value-based care by targeting two of the most complex problems in healthcare: population risk stratification and clinical variation management.

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Interview with Nikole Kimes from Siolta Therapeutics

Q: What need is Siolta Therapeutics addressing?

A: Chronic diseases, including inflammatory diseases such as asthma, now represent the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.

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Note from Dr. Patrick Conway, President & CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield NC to PMWC

VC activity is booming in healthcare, with second quarter drawing in $5.1 billion in capital. That is 22% of the total $23 billion raised by all VC-based companies in the U.S., according to latest Pricewaterhouse Coopers quarterly report.

Read More

Interview with Atul Sharan, Co-founder and CEO, CellMax Life

Q: CellMax has developed non-invasive blood tests based on Circulating tumor cells CTC. How do you see these tests being adopted clinically?

A: Survival rates are greater than 90% for cancers that are detected at an early stage.

Read More

Interview with Wendell Jones from Q² Solutions | EA Genomics

Q: What need is Q² Solutions | EA Genomics addressing?

A: As a leading provider of genomic services in clinical trials and discovery, Q² Solutions | EA Genomics advances science by harnessing technological expertise to drive understanding of the human genome and disease biology to detect the effects of therapies.

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Interview with Ben Solomon from GeneDx

Q: What need is GeneDx addressing?

A: GeneDx was started in 2000 by two NIH scientists with the mission of making genetic testing accessible for patients with rare diseases.

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Interview with Ty Ridenour from RTI International

Q: What need is RTI International addressing?

A: As an independent research institute, RTI is dedicated to improving the human condition. We answer questions that demand an objective and multidisciplinary approach—one that integrates expertise across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering, and international development.

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Interview with Madhuri Hegde, Vice President and Chief Science Officer of PerkinElmer’s Global Laboratory Services

Q: What need is Global Laboratory Services addressing?

A: PerkinElmer Genomics is global (genomics) laboratory service with laboratories in US, India and China, addressing genetic/genomic testing across the globe.

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Interview with Rita R. Colwell from University of Maryland College Park and John Hopkins School of Public Health

Q: What research are you or your lab focusing on and why, and what problem(s) are you trying to solve?

A: The research that I am focusing on is understanding the microbiome of the human system and the environment, which means understanding the gut flora and its relationship to health and disease.

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Interview with Dr. Nicholas Dracopoli from Personal Genome Diagnostics

Q: What need is Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) addressing?

A: PGDx is developing standardized, clinical Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) kits to help enable effective treatment decisions for cancer patients.

Read More

Interview with Mohsen Hejrati from Clusterone

Q: What need is Clusterone addressing?

A: AI and machine learning are becoming cornerstone technologies for scientists and engineers, but access to these technologies is still cumbersome.

Read More

VC Investment in Precision Medicine Boomed in Q2 Mega-deals Hitting Record Levels

VC activity is booming in healthcare, with second quarter drawing in $5.1 billion in capital. That is 22% of the total $23 billion raised by all VC-based companies in the U.S., according to latest Pricewaterhouse Coopers quarterly report.

Read More

Interview with Patrick Conway from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

Q: In the past, you served as director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. What are you most proud of accomplishing at CMMI?

A: During my tenure at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one of my many roles included serving as the Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

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University of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), held annually in Silicon Valley, is coming back to North Carolina for its 2nd Conference back at Duke University on September 24-25, 2018.

PMWC 2018 Duke, the 15th installment of the conference, will spotlight the explosion of biomedical technologies, driving initiatives that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care.

 

  • Track 1 will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • Digital Phenotyping
    • Precision Public Health
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • The Microbiome
    • Rare Disease Diagnosis
    • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
    • Early Days of Life Sequencing
    • Diversity in Precision Medicine
    • Resilience
    • AI and Machine Learning
    • Gene Editing
    • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Point-of Care Dx Platform
    • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
    • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
    • Next Gen. Workforce of PM
    • Immunotherapy
    • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
    • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
    • Neoantigens
    • Emerging Technologies In PM

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), held annually in Silicon Valley, is coming back to North Carolina for its 2nd Conference back at Duke University on September 24-25, 2018.

PMWC 2018 Duke, the 15th installment of the conference, will spotlight the explosion of biomedical technologies, driving initiatives that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care.

 

    • Track 1 will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Precision Public Health
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • The Microbiome
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Resilience
      • AI and Machine Learning
      • Gene Editing
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources
        to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Next Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Immunotherapy
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy
        ctDNA, etc.
      • Neoantigens
      • Emerging Technologies In PM
  • Track 2- PMWC 2018 Duke Showcase, will enable 15-minute company presentations on latest novel technologies. Apply to present here.
big data diagnostics session

Clinical Dx Showcase

crispr showcase

Emerging Therapeutics Showcase

NGS Showcase

Genomic Profiling Showcase

AI Showcase Session Image

AI and Data Sciences Showcase

  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 500+ multidisciplinary attendees, from across the entire spectrum of healthcare, representing different types of companies, technologies, and medical centers with leadership roles in precision medicine

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