Focusing on “Accelerating Drug Development”, Boston BioForum 2013 Hands out Excellence in Innovation Awards

By David Li and Dongyu Chen,

Cambridge, Mass., April 28, — Boston Bioforum 2013, the annual conference of Chinese Americal BioMedical Association (CABA), was held on April 27 at MIT Faculty Club. Many attendees traveled from the West Coast or even from China to show their support for Boston and CABA, less than two weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Group picture at end of afternoon sessions. (photo by David Li)

The theme of this year’s Boston Bioforum was “Accelerating Drug Development – From Bench to Bedside.” Over 300 attendees from US, Canada and China attended this year’s conference. Jun Han, the founding president of CABA, traveled from Shanghai and told me that he marked Boston BioForum 2013 on his calendar months ago.

A number of awards were handed out at Boston Bioforum 2013. Ariad Pharmaceuticals and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals won the Excellence in Innovation awards during the day sessions. These two companies’ innovative and cost-effective drug research and development processes were applauded by conference attendees.

In the evening reception dinner, Dr. Shiwen Lin, chairman of the board of CABA, handed out the prestigious excellence in community service to “three beautiful young ladies”: Zhe Tian, Ellen Fan and Jo Lee, all of them CABA members.

Phil Zhang, the current president of CABA, gave a brief overview of CABA’s major events over the past year. Shiwen Lin thanked Phil Zhang’s service to CABA over its six-year history, and especially over past 12 months being the president. Dr. Shiwen Lin announced at the reception dinner that Dr. Xiang Yu became the new president of CABA, and Phil Zhang became a member of the 10-person board of directors of CABA. Phil Zhang was also awarded the excellence in community service leadership award.

Dr. Xiang Yu was chairwoman of Boston BioForum 2013 Organizing Committee. She thanked Phil Zhang for his mentorship over past year and countless volunteers who helped make the conference a huge success.

During the day-long conference, the following major topics were discussed at the main conference hall.
• Industry Trends and Key Technology Innovations
• Globalized R&D: Resourcing & Collaborations
• Career Development and Entrepreneurship
• Networking Receptions and Vendor Exhibitions

Experts from leading companies and research labs delivered in-depth talks and panel discussions around the major topics at Boston BioForum 2013. In the first session, speakers talked about deuterated drug, associated business development and its challenges. As we know, some drugs are metabolized quickly by our body so that the drugs’ effects are not so “long-lasting”. By making the hydrogen atom into deuterium, one can increase drug in vivo stability and slow down the metabolism, thus you get more potent drug. However, the challenge is that only 3% of patent drugs are able to be make into deuterated drugs which indicates the challenges and limitations that drug companies face, if they are planning to make deuterated drugs.

During the second session, the talk about humanized mice was very interesting. Pharmaceutical companies face the fact that some drugs that work great on mice model but fail in clinical trials due to lack of efficiency, and some infectious diseases don’t develop in mice models. By introducing the humanized mice model, one can hopefully solve these problems. The procedure of producing a humanized mouse is by injecting human stem cell into immuno-deficient mice, and you can even target specific organs to make them “human”.

The discussions at the first afternoon section brought in the ideas of personalized cancer therapy. It’s well-known that patient’s response to certain anti-cancer drug varies a great extent because of genetic polymorphism, while the anti-cancer drugs are usually more toxic than normal drugs. One of the speakers told a story about a boy who was diagnosed cancer, his tumor sample was taken out, planted in different mice, and the mice were treated with different drugs, the effect was compared, and the best therapy was selected thus applied on the little boy. Attendees were asked to think about the possible trend of cancer treatment, provided that no “all-purpose” anti-cancer drug can be made.

The following is the list of speakers at Boston BioForum 2013.

Scott Biller, Chief Scientific Officer at Agios Pharmaceuticals
John Mathias, PhD, Head of Medicinal Chemistry for the Inflammation and Remodeling Group at Pfizer
Pamela Carroll, PhD, VP, Oncology Scientific Innovation at Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson
Prof. Jianzhu Chen Ivan R. Cottrell Professor of Immunology, MIT
Roger Tung, PhD, CEO and President of Concert Pharmaceuticals
Angelika Fretzen, PhD VP, Pharm. Chem. and Dev. Ironwood Pharmaceuticals
Michael Briggs, PhD, President and CSO of Woodland Pharmaceuticals
Timothy P. Clackson, PhD, President of Research and Development and CSO, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals
Yuan (John) Wang, PhD, VP Medicinal Chemistry, H3 Biomedicine Inc
Juan F. Rivera, MBA, Simon-Kucher and Partners LLC
Jeff Saunder, PhD, VP Small Molecule Drug Discovery, Ember Therapeutics
Sheila Dewitt, PhD, President and CEO of DeuteRx
Elkan Gamzu, PhD, Chairman, Hygeia Therapeutics & NeuroHealing Pharma., Inc
George Dai, PhD, Deputy Chief Invest. Officer and Head of Alternative Invest. Weatherbie & Co., Inc.
Areta Kupchyk, JD, Partner, NixonPeabody LLP
Chen Chen, PhD, CEO, Sundia MediTech Co, Ltd.
Richard Sol, PhD, Vice President of Corporate Development, Wuxi AppTec Inc
Zengquan Wang, PhD, CBO of Viva Biotech, Ltd.
George Shi, PhD, CSO, Anichem, Inc.
Jason Wen, PhD, MBA, CLP, RTTPUSPTO, Boston College
Alex Burgin, PhD, CSO, Emerald Bio
Fu-An Kang, PhD, VP, Wilmington PharmaTech
Donghui Qin, PhD, Manager, GlaxoSmithKline,
Frederic Somny, PhD, Head, Business Development, Piramal Discovery Solutions
Max Wang, PhD, CBO, Akeso Biopharma, Inc.
Chengbin Wu, PhD, VP, Biologics, Shanghai ChemPartner
Charles (Yuanzan) Ye, CEO, Acesys Pharmatech
Libing Yu, PhD, founder, CEO, Alputon
Xiang Yang Yu, PhD, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals
Jason Zhang, PhD, President, Acme Bioscience, Inc.