Dr. Lai-Goldman is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of GeneCentric Diagnostics, Inc., a molecular diagnostics company focused on developing and commercializing assays that enable oncologists and their patients to make informed, individualized, treatment decisions. She is also the managing partner of Personalized Science, LLC, a consulting company that is focused on innovative diagnostics for patients’ unmet clinical needs. Dr. Lai-Goldman currently serves on the board of directors of West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc., a provider of drug administration systems, and Qvella Corporation, a privately-held molecular diagnostics company. Read her full bio.

Interview with Myla Lai-Goldman of GeneCentric Therapeutics

Q1a: GeneCentric employs Drug Response Biomarkers developed via the Cancer Subtyping Platform (CSP). (a) What makes your approach of biomarker development unique?

A: By applying CSPTM technology, GeneCentric is developing universal drug response biomarkers to enable more effective and efficient drug development informed by high resolution, genomic-defined cancer subtypes. This approach is distinct from other strategies which seek to generate biomarkers by profiling responders to specific drugs. Instead, CSP-derived genomic profiles are designed to characterize tumor biology by combining gene expression data with disease-related molecular pathways and immune cell expression through advanced computational biology technologies.

Q1b: What specific need are you addressing with these biomarkers?

A: Today, new treatment approaches such as immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapies have begun to change the landscape for cancer treatment. This has resulted in dramatic improvements in long term survival rates compared with conventional chemotherapy, but the benefit has only been realized in a subset of patients. We believe that by targeting biological subtypes, drug developers could increase clinical development success for new therapies while expanding indications for existing drugs and achieving better patient outcomes overall.

Q: What are the specifics behind the Cancer Subtyping Platform? How does the technology work?

A: CSPTM leverages enormous, publicly available gene expression datasets complemented by proprietary data and tools to develop discrete sets of key genes that define cancer subtypes. By reducing the multitude of genes associated with each cancer to discrete key gene sets, GeneCentric enables rapid development of tumor specific clinical assays. CSPTM assays are “platform agnostic”, capable of being deployed on established, commercial instruments.

GeneCentric’s ability to identify and reduce to practice a select set of genes that define cancer subtypes and predict drug response underlies the company’s core patents and proprietary position.

Q: How do you prioritize specific biomarker (universal cancer subtypes) development? How do you decide on what diseases/cancers to focus on next?

A: Our initial subtypes were developed in conjunction with our scientific founders, Chuck Perou and Neil Hayes, who are experts in lung and head and neck cancer. Our subsequent profilers, such as bladder cancer, were developed in response to interest from our pharmaceutical partners. We plan to announce additions to our completed profilers shortly, also added due to commercial opportunities.

Q: How is the Cancer Subtyping Platform used in the context of drug development?

A: GeneCentric’s CSPTM provide unique value at each phase of drug development. As a couple of examples, CSPTM can be investigated as a response biomarker on retrospective data sets, which can be particularly useful if there were unexpected findings in the study. As I noted before, CSPTM profilers were developed to be platform agnostic, and therefore, can be developed as companion diagnostics to be integrated into a prospective trial to support drug approval or expand market potential. Conversely, our CSPTM can be applied in the setting of prospective clinical studies, to enrich for patient responders by qualifying them not merely on the basis of a particular alteration or mutation, but rather on their particular subtype comprised of both tumor and immune biology features to better characterize the nature of an individual’s cancer as well as the likelihood of response to both the active agent being tested, as well as the comparator agent against which it is being evaluated. This approach can increase the likelihood of favorable response to the active agent as well as accelerate conduct of the study – contributing to overall program success.

Q: Can you provide an example of successful drug identification/prioritization using the CSP technology?

A: We’re looking forward to publishing some recent results using the CSPTM technology.

Q: When thinking about precision medicine, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?

A: We’ve all been excited about the recent successes that patients have been realizing with the expanded use of immunotherapy for the treatment of many different types of cancer. This has been truly transformative for patients who previously had little hope.

As we develop more treatment options for cancer patients, the fundamental tenets of precision medicine become even more critical: finding the right drug for the right patient. Therefore, the ability to define the fundamental biology of each patient’s tumor, through the development of better biomarkers (and future companion diagnostics), becomes even more critical.

In addition to thinking about the science of precision medicine, it’s interesting to look at the strategic moves that significant healthcare companies are making. For example, Roche acquiring Foundation Medicine, Flatiron Health, and Ignyta; LabCorp acquiring Covance; CVS acquiring Aetna, all signal that companies are thinking about different ways to deliver healthcare in the future.

Q: What are the short-term challenges that GeneCentric is facing in the context of precision medicine?

A: Many of the fundamental issues facing precision medicine overall are also at play in the development of subtype profiler assays we are advancing with our academic and industry partners. From the technical perspective, the drive toward liquid biopsy for detection and characterization of cancers, as well as assessment of response, is an area of tremendous effort, investment and potential. Progress has not been as rapid as many hoped, and translating our assays to the setting of liquid biopsies is also one of our objectives. On the practical side, the appreciation of both the clinical and economic value of NGS and novel biomarkers is a cause being spearheaded by PMWC among others. Resetting the value proposition for biomarker development and use among payers and providers, in order to enable their more effective and efficient development would be a transformational change for both industry and diagnostic companies, with the greatest beneficiaries being patients and the clinicians who care for them.

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

A: I’d like to thank the PMWC for understanding the importance of bringing together such an esteemed audience and for expanding its activities into North Carolina.

Interview with Ken Bloom of Ambry Genetics

Q: Tell us more about your organization/company. What patient population are you serving and which services are you specializing in?

A: Ambry Genetics is a recognized leader in high quality complex genetic testing. We seek to find the genomic cause or contributors to rare diseases, abnormal phenotypes and hereditary disorders.

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Interview with Lee Pierce of Sirius Computer Solutions

Q: What is the state of big data and analytics in healthcare, and how to best use the reams of data available?

A: More than ever, Healthcare organizations are achieving measurable value through use of their data and analytics assets. There is more raw material available than ever to create value. This raw material is the data flowing from internal systems and applications and also from devices and systems external to healthcare organizations.

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Interview with Anita Nelsen of PAREXEL

Q: There are various new, emerging technologies that bring us closer towards a cure for life-threatening disorders such as cancer, HIV, or Huntington’s disease. Prominent examples include the popular gene editing tool CRISPR or new and improved cell and gene therapies. By when can we expect these new technologies being part of routine clinical care?

A: Today’s emerging technologies are making the promise of individualized treatment a reality.

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Interview with Ilan Kirsch of Adaptive Biotechnologies

Q: The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: For decades cancer was viewed as solely a cell-autonomous condition.

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BMS buys Celgene | Lilly buys Loxo Oncology – Does this Signal a Return to Strong Deal-Making Activities in 2019?

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster $74B deal to buy Celgene creates an oncology powerhouse amid industrywide excitement about the rapidly evolving science and explosive growth of the sector. The agreement could signal a return to deal-making for the pharmaceutical industry in the $133B global oncology therapeutics market.

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Interview with Gini Deshpande of NuMedii

Q: What need is NuMedii addressing?

A: NuMedii, has been pioneering the use of Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and systems biology since 2010 to accelerate the discovery of precision therapies to address high unmet medical needs. Artificial Intelligence approaches are a natural fit to harness Big Data as they provide a framework to ‘train’ computers to recognize patterns and sift through vast amounts of new and existing genomic

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Interview with Minnie Sarwal of UCSF

Q: Genomic medicine is entering more hospitals and bringing with it non-invasive technology that can be used to better target and treat diseases. What are some key milestones that contributed to this trend?

A: Completion of complete sequence data from the human genome project, and the advances in proteomic, microRNA and epigenetic assays added a layer of pathway biology to the understanding of human diseases.

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Interview with Shidong Jia of Predicine

Q: Once sequencing has been validated as a clinical solution via trusted workflows, and coinciding with the technological developments driving costs lower, we can expect accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx. How soon, do you think, will we see accelerated growth and what can we expect?

A: We will see accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx in 2019 and the coming years as more biomarker-based cancer drugs are gaining approval.

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Interview with Iya Khalil of GNS Healthcare

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have sent vast waves across healthcare, even fueling an active discussion of whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians in the future. Do you believe that human physicians will be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts?

A: I think that there’s a lot of speculation and uncertainty around AI, but I don’t foresee a time when we won’t need physicians.

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Interview with Ilya Michael Rachman of Immix Biopharma Inc.

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” Besides CAR T-cell therapy what do you think next generation immunotherapies will look like to successfully combat cancer?

A: The next generation of immunotherapies will build on the insights discovered by immunologists like James Allison and Tasuku Honjo and extend them to modify the body’s response to tumors.

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Join me to Kick off PMWC Silicon Valley in the Santa Clara Convention Center, Focusing on Every Element of Precision Medicine

My team worked in collaboration with Bill Dalton, Kim Blackwell, Atul Butte / India Hook Barnard, Nancy Davidson and Sharon Terry to create a program that touches every component of precision medicine while bringing together all of its key stakeholders. Leading participating institutions including Stanford Health Care, UCSF, Duke Health, Duke University, John Hopkins University, University of Michigan and more will share their learnings and experiences and their successes and challenges, as they make precision medicine the new standard of care for all.

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Interview with Dominic Eisinger of Myriad RBM

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” Besides CAR T-cell therapy what do you think next generation immunotherapies will look like to successfully combat cancer?

A: Next generation immunotherapies include CAR-Ts, TCRs, cancer vaccines, ADCs, bi-specific antibodies, and checkpoint inhibitors.

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2018 Year in Review Milestones: Stakeholder Partnerships Carving Precision Medicine’s Future

2018 has clearly been a year when significant opportunities intersected with strong partnerships to yield advancements. In particular, the clinical advancements that were realized are a testimony to stakeholders working together to deliver on promises affecting major aspects of precision medicine. 2018 has clearly been a year when significant opportunities intersected with strong partnerships to yield advancements.

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Interview with Lisa Alderson of Genome Medical

Q: Tell us a little bit about Genome Medical. What market need is Genome Medical addressing and how?

A: Genome Medical is a telegenomics company that is bridging the gap between available, genetic expertise and the clinical application of genomics.

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Interview with Nasir Bhanpuri of Virta Health

Q: What need is Virta Health addressing?

A: Virta Health delivers an evidence-based treatment to safely and sustainably reverse type 2 diabetes without the use of medications or surgery. In the U.S. alone, type 2 diabetes and prediabetes affects 115 million people, and the economic burden is well-over $300 billion and growing.

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Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 17th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 21-24, 2020. The program will traverse innovative technologies, thriving initiatives, and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advancements in precision medicine and cutting-edge new strategies and solutions that are changing how patients are treated.

See 2019 Agenda highlights:

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

See 2019 Agenda highlights:

    • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • AI & Data Science Showcase
      • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
      • Clinical Dx Showcase
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Emerging Technologies in PM
      • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Gene Editing / CRISPR
      • Genomic Profiling Showcase
      • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Microbial Profiling Showcase
      • Microbiome
      • Neoantigens
      • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • Precision Public Health
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Resilience
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Wellness and Aging Showcase
  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 2000+ 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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