Christine Whiteside, COO of VoxCell BioInnovation, joined me for a deep-dive into 3D bioprinting, including current and future applications and key barriers to realizing its full potential. She also shared her tips for getting new healthcare and biotech startups off the ground, plus much more.
Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:
Q: Tell us what the current situation is, what I call the problem statement of why the way we do clinical new drug discovery in cancer is not potentially sustainable?
A: It’s a really great point and a big conversation. What we see right now, obviously cancer is a devastating disease, whether you’re affected by it because you had a diagnosis or you’re affected by it because of someone you know has had a diagnosis. It impacts all of us. What we see is that over 25,000 people every single day around the world are dying from cancer.
To your point, the drug development industry and the process to get those life-saving therapies that help the people who are affected, it takes more than 15 years and $2 billion to go through that drug development process to get those drugs to market. What we see with cancer specifically is that those are conservative numbers. It can be more than 15 years and more than $2 billion. The funny thing is that 95% of the drugs that go through this drug development process fail so they are not successful. They do not get to market. We’re spending so many resources on developing these drugs that aren’t successful.
At VoxCell, we focus on the pre-clinical stage before it goes to humans. The pharma industry is very structured and very well-cemented for a number of reasons. What we’re seeing right now is that there is an opportunity between the first steps of drug development, which is cell monolayer. They are a single layer of cells in a petri dish and then it goes into animal models. What we’re seeing is, that is a huge jump in complexity and so where our technology tries and comes in is between those two. Of course, we still test on cell monolayers and then being able to test on those truly biomimetic tissues. These are tissues that are 3D bio-printed with human cells or cancer cells. They have vasculature that is physiologically relevant to the human body. There’s a lot more complexity than that cell monolayer and it’s in a 3D environment.
We’re hoping that we can gradually increase those translations and in using our tissues, increase the confidence in what drugs move forward so that we’re able to eliminate the drugs that are not going to do well in humans, sooner. What we’re actually seeing in the tool drug discovery pipeline is a lower failure rate and more successful drugs are actually getting to the people that need them.
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Christine Whiteside, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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