Dr. William Hearl is the founder of Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. and is an experienced and successful life science businessman and entrepreneur. Dr. Hearl is adept at brokering mutually beneficial partnerships and identifying non-traditional collaborations and investment opportunities. The advent of the commercial development of LAMP technology came from discussions between Dr. Hearl and Dr. Tom August at Johns Hopkins University. Based on their mutual vision of the value of LAMP, ITI emerged and began operations in 2006. Read his full bio.

Interview with William Hearl of Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc.

Q: What need is Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. addressing?

A: Immunomic Therapeutics’ nucleic acid vaccines have the potential to utilize the body’s natural biochemistry to develop a broad immune response, including antibody production, cytokine release and critical immunological memory. This approach could put our investigational UNITE, or UNiversal Intracellular Targeted Expression, Platform at the crossroads of immunotherapies in a number of illnesses, including cancer, allergy and infectious diseases. Immunomic’s lysosomal targeting technology is currently being employed in a Phase II clinical trial as a cancer immunotherapy.

Immunomic is also collaborating with academic centers and biotechnology companies to study the use of the UNITE platform in cancer types of high mortality, including cases where there are limited treatment options such as glioblastoma multiforme “GBM”. We believe that these early clinical studies may provide a proof of concept for UNITE in cancer and, if successful, set the stage for future studies, including combinations in these tumor types and others. Preclinical data is currently being developed to explore whether the UNITE platform may amplify and activate the immune response in highly immunogenic tumor types and be used to create immune responses to tumor types that otherwise do not provoke an immune response.

Q: What are the products and/or services Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc offers/develops to address this need? What makes Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc unique?

A: Immunomic Therapeutics’ UNITE™ platform is founded on a combination of complementary technologies and capabilities: Immunomic’s proprietary lysosomal targeting technology, the optimal use of adjuvants, advanced antigen selection and optimization, the use novel delivery methods and the ability to manufacture material at a large scale.

Immunomic’s core technology has been expanded to amplify the immune response via a unique combination of intracellular and molecular biology methods for enhanced MHC-II presentation combined with potent adjuvant and delivery technologies that result in a unified and complete immune system response.

Q: What is your role at Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc., and what excites you about your work?

A: I am the founder of Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc., and I focus on brokering mutually beneficial partnerships and identifying non-traditional collaborations and investment opportunities.

As one of the founders of Immunomic Therapeutics and its CEO, I have helped forge the Company’s vision and direction since its inception. I have certainly enjoyed building a world class team of biotechnology professionals including my longtime colleague and co-founder, Dr. Teri Heiland. She leads an outstanding scientific team that reduces our UNITE platform to practice. However, what really excites me is that we have an opportunity to treat diseases, in particular cancer, and bring solutions to people in critical need of new therapies.

Setting Immunomic apart from other biotechnology companies is my company’s unique and decidedly entrepreneurial investment and business models. Initially, Immunomic raised a modest amount in angel investment capital, totaling less than $20M, which allowed Immunomic to maintain control over the vision and strategy of the company.

The unique investment strategy has yielded much success. Immunomic was able to blaze new trails with a strategy that returned a portion of our licensing revenues back to our initial investors, further fueling the entrepreneurial biotechnology ecosystem. Thus, with that minimal investment of less than $20M, the company created over $317M in licensing revenue and created a greater than four-fold return to its investors. Immunomic’s success in validating the UNITE platform through significant, early partnerships is a testament to the company’s capital efficiency and ability to reach significant milestones in a lean, cash-efficient way, avoiding the need to raise significantly dilutive funds.

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

A: The biggest breakthrough in recent years has been the discovery and use of immunotherapeutics and in particular the development of the anti-PD1 family of drugs which act to reverse the checkpoint inhibition of immune cells by a tumor. This has dramatically changed the landscape of clinical cancer research and has opened tumors up to new lines of attack.

This is where the investigational UNITE platform may enable a broad and robust immune response by exploiting the pathways and associated effect of activated antigen presenting cells. Once the barrier to tumor entry is reduced by the PD-1 drugs, then educated lymphocytes can identify and access the cancer cells, targeting them for cell death. Our lysosomal targeting technology drives antigen presentation through the MHC II compartment, and as such directly educates the helper T-cells about the cancer antigen of choice. This results in a Th1 oriented response with immune memory while maintaining presentation to the MHC I pathway. Combined with exosomal release of antigen-coated vesicles that can access B cells, UNITE can result in a comprehensive immune response. The UNITE platform could support this activity by combining the nucleic acid vaccine with select adjuvants and the appropriate delivery method.

Q: What are the short-term challenges that Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. and its peers are facing?

A: Within medicine, few technologies have had more impact than vaccines. Each year they prevent more than 3 million childhood deaths worldwide from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles, to name a few. Vaccines, such as those for HPV and Hepatitis B, have extended those preventative benefits for young and mature adults. Now, a new generation of vaccines, ones that harness a body’s immune system to treat disease rather than prevent it, are moving through clinical trials and into the marketplace.

However, for all their existing benefits and future potential, vaccines are still bedeviled by problems of perception and adoption. Patients can be suspicious of vaccines or confused by them, or they can fall into complacency, believing that certain diseases are no longer a threat. Regardless, the overall efficacy of vaccines is largely dependent on coverage, so when coverage dwindles, outbreaks occur. Take for example the recent measles outbreak in Minnesota, which began in a community that was suspicious of vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy also has a subtler and more insidious implication. It dampens the appetite for new vaccines, stifling innovation and robbing patients of better solutions.

We must help people better understand the enormous impact that vaccines have on the health of the population and we must continue to improve our ability to keep terrible diseases in check through the use of this tool.

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

A: A coordinated effort is going to be essential to conquer cancer in the long term. Without key partnerships, both present and future, it will be challenging to achieve the goals we have set before us. Particularly in the context of the fight against cancer, we know that a single therapy most likely will not provide the ‘silver bullet.’ We firmly believe the UNITE platform will play a fundamental role in the immuno-oncology landscape and we are looking forward to working with others in our industry to ensure success for our Company and more importantly for the patients in need of a lasting solution.

Interview with Andrew Carroll of Google AI

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 believe that applying AI technologies in healthcare will make physicians more valuable, and will make their careers more enjoyable and sustainable.

Read More

Interview with L. Staton Noel III of Panaceutics

Q: What need is Panaceutics addressing?

A: One of the key barriers to making precision/personalized wellness and healthcare products is the contradictory goal of manufacturing individualized products on a large scale. Meeting demand for personalized products can be expensive and logistically challenging.

Read More

Interview with Joe Zhang of Burning Rock Dx

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: The milestones in my mind include the first FDA clearance of Next Gen Sequencing instrument, MiSeqDx in 2013, this opened a new door for clinical utilization of parallel gene alteration detection in clinical setting.

Read More

Why are Scientists So Upset About The First CRISPR Babies?

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

Read More

Interview with Kara Davis of Stanford

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.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: These immune checkpoint inhibitors have been an incredible demonstration of the ability of the immune system to control and in some cases.

Read More

Interview with Shannon J. McCall of Duke University

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: After several years of the promise of precision medicine and abundant clinical trial work, the recent FDA approval of solid-tumor-agnostic therapies dependent on molecular biomarkers has catapulted genomic/precision medicine into the standard-of-care for late stage cancer.

Read More

Interview with Tao Chen of Paragon Genomics, Inc.

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: For whole genome sequencing to be a reliable clinical tool, it will largely depend on the cost of sequencing the genome and our ability to interpret the data.

Read More

Call for Action: The Time is Now for Patient Data Interoperability

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

Read More

Interview with Andrew Magis of Arivale

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. How soon, do you think, will we see what kind of accelerated growth?

A: I think the acceleration has already begun. Large sequencing projects such as NHLBI Trans-omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) and NIH All of Us are sequencing 150,000 and 1 million individuals, respectively.

Read More

Interview with Emily Leproust of Twist Bioscience

Q: NGS is enhancing patient care through improved diagnostic sensitivity and more precise therapeutic targeting. Prominent examples include cystic fibrosis and cancer. What other clinical areas NGS will most likely to change the standard-of-care in the near future?

A: Preventative medicine – using genetic data to identify traits that have the potential to cause harm in the future.

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Interview with Michael Phelps of UCLA

Q: You invented the PET scanner that changed the lives of millions of patients with cancer, brain and heart diseases. What are the potential benefits to patients of combining PET with radio-ablation technologies?

A: PET provides imaging assays of the biology of disease in many diseases today.

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Interview with Daniela Ushizima of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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 really hope that human physicians will not be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future.

Read More

Interview with Amy Compton-Phillips of Providence St. Joseph Health

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? What technological advancements are driving this change?

A: Genomic medicine is poised to move quickly from the research realm into integration with healthcare delivery, but there is always a time lapse between technology advances and what we do with those advances.

Read More

Interview with James Taylor of Precision NanoSystems

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: Patients are already receiving treatment using novel gene and cell therapies.

Read More

Interview with Julie Eggington of Center for Genomic Interpretation

Q: Together with Robert Burton you founded the Center for Genomic Interpretation (CGI), a non-profit organization. Can you tell us more about CGI and the mission behind it?

A: CGI’s mission is to drive quality in clinical genetics and genomics. CGI works primarily with laboratories, health insurance payers, clinicians, and patients/consumers.

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Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 16th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 20-23, 2019. 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.

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

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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