Biotechs make in­roads

Con­necti­cut com­pa­nies mak­ing pres­ence felt at world fo­rum in Philadel­phia

The News-Times - - BUSINESS - By Luther Turmelle

The set­ting for one of the world’s largest biotech con­fer­ences this week may be Philadel­phia’s Cen­ter City, but the pres­ence of sev­eral New Haven tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies is giv­ing the pro­ceed­ings a lit­tle Con­necti­cut fla­vor.

Guil­ford-based In­veniAI is one of four New Haven-area com­pa­nies ex­hibit­ing at Bio 2019, one the world’s largest fo­rums for the biotech sec­tor. More than 16,000 at­ten­dees are tak­ing part in the con­fer­ence, which con­cludes Thurs­day at the Penn­syl­va­nia Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

The other New Haven-area com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­fer­ence are:

1 Wood­bridge-based Vis­tara Bio­sciences, which spe­cial­izes in de­vel­op­ing bioin­for­mat­ics for drug dis­cov­ery. Bioin­for­mat­ics is the sci­ence of col­lect­ing and an­a­lyz­ing com­plex bi­o­log­i­cal data such as ge­netic codes.

1 Thetis Phara­maceu­ti­cals of Bran­ford, which is de­vel­op­ing ther­apy for treat­ing gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­ders such as Crohn’s dis­ease and ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis. 1 Al­loMek Ther­a­peu­tics of Wood­bridge, which is de­vel­op­ing low-tox­i­c­ity treat­ments for can­cers.

While many of the par­tic­i­pants at Bio 2019 are biotech and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing new drugs, In­veniAI’s core busi­ness is us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to as­sess com­plex data pat­terns in po­ten­tial drug can­di­dates, ac­cord­ing to Aman Ka­hant, the com­pany’s chief busi­ness of­fi­cer.

“We’re try­ing to make sense out of all

that bi­o­log­i­cal data,” Ka­hant said Tues­day. “By do­ing that, we be­lieve that we can dra­mat­i­cally shorten the time it takes to bring a drug to mar­ket.”

Many of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness with In­veniAI are com­pa­nies with drug can­di­dates that have reached the mid-point of the three-phase process as­so­ci­ated with get­ting fed­eral Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proval to sell them in the United States.

“As we seek to ful­fill our busi­ness vi­sion to bring in­no­va­tive treat­ments to pa­tients faster, we very much ex­pect that In­veniAI’s plat­form will not only en­able us to iden­tify al­ter­nate ther­a­peu­tic value for our port­fo­lio at an un­prece­dented speed but also cap­i­tal­ize on our ex­ist­ing in­vest­ment by re­duc­ing the time to mar­ket, clin­i­cal cost of de­vel­op­ment and en­hanc­ing the prob­a­bil­ity of clin­i­cal suc­cess,” Mit­suo Sa­toh, ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and head of the re­search and de­vel­op­ment di­vi­sion for the Ja­panese phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giant Ky­owa Hakko Kirin, said when the two com­pa­nies an­nounced last De­cem­ber that they would be work­ing to­gether.

Ka­hant said an­other ben­e­fit of In­veniAI’s tech­nol­ogy is that if the drug trial process ul­ti­mately de­ter­mines the can­di­date prod­uct has failed to work for its pro­posed use, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal can­di­dates will no longer have to start from scratch in an ef­fort to find an­other pos­si­ble way the com­pound can be used.

The abil­ity to use ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to an­a­lyze com­plex bi­o­log­i­cal data goes well be­yond the biotech and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal fields, he said. InevniAI of­fi­cials are begin­ning to ex­plore us­ing the it to help de­velop prod­ucts in the con­sumer health care, skin­care and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts fields, ac­cord­ing to Ka­hant.

“We are ex­plor­ing the other ar­eas the tech­nol­ogy might com­ple­ment, but pharma is core to what we do,” he said. “It’s an area that re­ally can make a dif­fer­ence and one that is the most lu­cra­tive.”

In­veniAI’s pre­senece at Bio 2019 en­ables the com­pany to seek out new clients, re­new re­la­tion­ships with ex­ist­ing ones and seek to at­tract ven­ture cap­i­tal, Ka­hant said.

In­veniAI was spun off from an­other New Haven-area tech­nol­ogy com­pany, Bran­ford­based BioX­cel Corp., in May 2017 and has about 15 em­ployee, Ka­hant said.

Join­ing the New Haven-area tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies at Bio 2019 are of­fi­cials with the state’s tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment arm, Con­necti­cut In­no­va­tions. Of­fi­cials with the agency say they have meet­ings sched­uled with rep­re­sen­ta­tives about 40 com­pa­nies dur­ing Bio 2019, some of which have ex­pressed in­ter­est in mov­ing to Con­necti­cut.

Con­trib­uted photo

Aman Khant, chief busi­ness of­fi­cer of Guil­ford-based In­veniAI, left, talks with Kr­ish­nan Nand­a­balan, the com­pany’s pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, at Bio 2019, an in­ter­na­tional biotech con­fer­ence be­ing held in Philadel­phia this week.

Con­trib­uted photo

Gary Mathias, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and co-founder of Thetis Phar­ma­c­ceu­ti­cals, cen­ter left, and Aaron Mathias, direc­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, cen­ter right, meet with busi­ness as­so­ci­ates at Bio 2019 in Philadel­phia.

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