The Disruptor26 is a new podcast series from Kineticos Life Sciences Founder and CEO, Shailesh Maingi. See inside the public adventures and private challenges that have shaped the lives of 26 maverick individuals working to disrupt the life science industry; and learn what drives them and their success. Join Shailesh as these mavericks share their personal stories, including the insights and ideas that led them to their innovative and transformative approaches impacting the current and complex life sciences ecosystem. Throughout the next year, Shailesh will engage 26 scientists and entrepreneurs in one-on-one discussions about careers, family and work-life balance, significant challenges, celebrated successes, accepted failures, and the future of life science and healthcare.
“The right people from the standpoint of expertise…motivation…passion to get the work done!”
A Conversation With Dr. Mark Gilbert, Juno Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer Part 1
Shailesh and Mark discuss the history, present, and future for CAR-T. In part 1, learn all about Juno Therapeutics as Mark gives us all the details of the early days and how Juno was started. Hear about the challenges they encountered when CAR-T was a brand new therapy in the industry and how they overcame them.
Mark: “We could not raise money for CAR-T. No one was interested in touching this.”
Shailesh: “What we hear about a lot is that you have to have the right people. This wouldn’t have been possible without the right people.”
Mark: “The right people from the standpoint of expertise, the right people for the motivation on why they are there, and the right people for the passion to get the work done. I absolutely agree.”
Shailesh: “Then of course you had to have money. You can have all the right people but if someone is not willing to put down a lot of money – you know biotechs are not cheap – you have to have the right financial partners.”
Mark: “I would argue for cell therapy that becomes even doubly true. You have to have capital for the basic research as well as moving into the clinical phase of development if one can…the second part that is key with cell therapy is the ability to work – or get a slot – with a contract manufacturing organization that you trust. That actually ends up being the key limiter because it’s a significant capital investment early on.”
“Even though were are decades into this we are still in the early days of CAR-T, there are so many ideas about where we are with CAR-T!”
A Conversation With Dr. Mark Gilbert, Juno Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer Part 2
Shailesh and Mark discuss the history, present, and future for CAR-T. In part 2, learn all about the current and future state of CAR-T as they dive deep into the world of engineered T Cells.
Shailesh: “Even though were are decades into this we are still in the early days of CAR-T, there are so many ideas about where we are with CAR-T.”
Shailesh: “CAR-T is just one construct, why don’t we talk about the other technologies – allogeneic, CAR, K, TCR, and T-Cells. Can you talk a little bit about these other technology platforms and what encourages you about each.”
Mark: “One of the things I would look at are NK Cells. Natural killer cells were the reverse of how an alpha beta T-Cell works. They are turned on unless they get inhibitory signals. They are there to see if there is a disruption in the tissue as the first responders to any setting.
Shailesh: “The immune system is so elegant in this way. NK Cells are looking for the absence and T-Cells are looking for the presence. So it makes it harder for any kind of virus or anything that is invading to bypass both of those immune responses.”
“It has Limitless Potential!”
A Conversation With Dr. Dave Ousterout, CSO and Co-Founder of Locus Biosciences Part 2
Shailesh and Dave discuss the history, present, and future for gene editing and CRISPR. In part 2, learn all about the current state of gene editing and the impact CRISPR is making right now. Dave answers questions about where we are now with innovation, the current trends with biotechs, updates on Locus Biosciences, and what the future holds for CRISPR and gene editing.
Shailesh: “What trends are you seeing today?”
Dave: “I think notably Carl June and Penn having a CAR-T trial earlier this year, where they knew these translocations were occurring and they were able to characterize that, at least in their Phase I trial. They didn’t see any deleterious effects, which is incredibly encouraging and I think some similar data is coming out for CRISPR Therapeutics taking a similar approach to their CTX 110, 120, and 130 clinical programs.”
Shailesh: “Can we talk a little bit about the future for CRISPR and gene editing?“
Dave: “It certainly is a technology that you don’t have to have much hyperbole to say it has limitless potential. I do think it is one of the greatest achievements humans have done in the past 30 years…It’s also given us the opportunity to change what we call the code of life.”
“They stumbled upon the fact that CRISPR was able to reject viruses called bacteriophages!”
A Conversation With Dr. Dave Ousterout, CSO and Co-Founder of Locus Biosciences Part 1
Shailesh and Dave discuss the history, present, and future for gene editing and CRISPR. In part 1, learn all about history of gene editing and the revolutionary impact CRISPR made for the industry. Dave answers questions on who were the key players early on, who really progressed the field, why is CRISPR different and why is it such an exciting technology?
Shailesh: “Why is CRISPR different, how did it get started and why is it so exciting compared to whats been done previously?“
Dave: “CRISPR is dominant likely because it’s been so much easier to work with. But zinc fingers and meganucleases and a separate technology called TALENs, they are still very much in the commercial stages and moving towards clinics. I think what’s unique about CRISPR is that it really gave access to anybody for it to work. You didn’t need to have specialized skills or need to ‘grow up’ in the field to understand how to create your own nuclease.”
Dave: “DuPont, a group lead by Rodolphe Barrangou and Phillippe Horvath, were really studying what is CRISPR and what is its goal. They stumbled upon the fact that CRISPR was able to reject viruses called bacteriophages. They did it in a way that seemed to indicate a snippet of the virus was collected by the cell and put between those repeats. So it became part of CRISPR, like a vaccination card and that was they key insight into “this is an immune system” and it set off a lot of collaborations in the field for the next 3-5 years.“
“We Didn’t Have Any Gun Powder Left!”
A Conversation With Derek Hennecke, Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor, Part 1
Hear how and why Derek Hennecke, founder and ex-CEO of Xcelience and Kineticos Disruptor Fund investor, took a chance, purchases, and later sold Xcelience (now a Lonza company). Learn about Derek’s personal challenges as an investor, how he handles work/life balance, and the unforeseen setbacks that affected his businesses; and eventually led to his ultimate successes. In Part 1, Shailesh and Derek discuss how his education, early jobs, and family shaped his career path and defined his unique and interesting life journey.
Shailesh: “If I didn’t have my family foundation of security and stability… I wouldn’t have been able to do any risky things like starting a business or investing; and wonder if you feel the same way…”
Derek: “Starting a business, my wife said, ‘Buy it!’. The recession hit and research services was cut to zero, but coming home to a stable family environment helped a lot.”
Shailesh: “I started my business in July of 2007 and you started a year earlier; we met shortly after that. Could there have been a worse time to start a business?”
Derek: “No. We started out at a break-even point, going incredibly well… We went out and bought a building and equipment, and then the recession hits.”
Shailesh: “So take me back. You’re in the middle of it, going through all of these things. With so many unknowns how did you manage through all of that?”
Derek: “We went through all of our cash that we had… with no lending possibilities. We had to adjust our processes and approaches… and set us back about 4 years in our growth.”
“We Realized We Could Potentially Replace Antibiotics!” – Part 2
A Conversation with Paul Garofolo, Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor, Part 2
Locus Biosciences is revolutionizing the treatment of bacterial disease using its CRISPR-Cas3 technology to kill targeted bacteria while leaving the many species of good bacteria in the body unharmed. Listen to Kineticos Founder and CEO Shailesh Maingi and Paul Garofolo, CEO of Locus Biosciences as they discuss the past, present, and future of Locus Biosciences and the CRISPR-CAS3 enzyme. This conversation dives deep into how Paul was willing to take a major leap of faith that led to the discovery that the CAS3 enzyme, originally developed for agriculture applications, could ultimately revolutionize the treatment of bacterial disease.
Shailesh: “Part of what it takes to be disruptive, is understanding the partners that you want that will be strategic.”
Paul: “With Locus, we’re not trying to flip this… We are actually trying to change the world.”
Paul: “The real vision of the company is how do you help cancer patients along their journey.”
Shailesh: “Paul… No one is thinking of this. That’s what makes you so disruptive!”
Paul: “It’s fun to be on that edge!”
“We Realized We Could Potentially Replace Antibiotics!” – Part 1
A Conversation with Paul Garofolo, Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor, Part 1
Shailesh: “Part of being a Disruptor, is seeing things that other people don’t see. You saw something in this CRISPR-Cas3 that some people didn’t. Could you explain what you saw.”
Paul: “We can start there. Probably a good place to start.”
Shailesh: “So you had a target. You said, I’ve got a technology that works. Then you had to get it to the rights cells.”
Paul: “You can think of it in terms of a bomb. You had a warhead (a payload), you didn’t have a missile (a delivery system); you couldn’t get it anywhere.”
Shailesh: “When did you feel like, ‘You know what. I really have something here.’?
Paul: “Well, I thought we had something in the Fall of 2015 because you knew that the CASf-3 enzyme was super powerful! How big it was we didn’t quite get.”
“Truly, What You Do Is Disruptive” Part 2
A Conversation with Amit Vohra, Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor, Part 2
We continue our Disruptor26 podcast discussion between Shailesh and Amit Vohra. Listen to this inspiring conversation as two investors discuss what true entrepreneurial spirit looks like. In this second part, Shailesh and Amit cover what the challenges are to starting your own business, as well as, how to maintain the steady flow of creative ideas that aid in the success of a Life Science business in such a dynamic market.
Shailesh: “Running a company requires a very creative person, someone that is not linear, and are able to synthesize something that is not obvious. How exactly do you do that?”
Amit: “The main aspect of that is keeping people around you that can provide a diversity of opinion. That really helps when you fall into your own biased opinion and refuse to see something a different way.”
Shailesh: “What do you see in terms of MedTech and how it’s going to change in the next 10-15 years?”
Amit: “There are some bigger things happening beyond AI imaging and robotics. I think augmented reality is going to have a big play, not on just surgical training, navigation, and so much more.”
Shailesh: “We would fund these companies, but I would have a hard time finding good CEO or CFO candidates. Those are the hardest positions to search for. I find it very difficult to find the right candidate, so I understand exactly what you did.”
“Truly, What You Do Is Disruptive” Part 1
A Conversation with Amit Vohra, Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor, Part 1
Learn how Amit Vohra, founder, President & CEO of Promaxo, and Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor got involved in the Life Sciences industry and started Promaxo. Amit discusses how he has created a successful business model from his years of experience in multiple Life Sciences fields. Listen in to discover how Amit created his own path that led him to his accomplishments today.
Shailesh: “Tell us what you’re doing with Promaxo and what the approach is; and particularly how it is disruptive. Also, along with the AI and automation functions as well.”
Amit: “We look at ourselves as bringing a confluence now of MRI imaging, with robotics and AI. In the long run, the vision is to have a whole view of a patient that could then enable more targeted decisions.”
Shailesh: “Your background is quite unique. Tell us about how you had the idea to start this company, and how your background played a role in that.”
Amit: “I’m an engineer by training and all my work when I started my doctorate work, even though I’m a mechanical engineer, I ended up working on a project that was post anthrax. Everything was being driven by DOD and the U.S. Army…”
Shailesh: “What I think is the hallmark of a good entrepreneur, is not that they look at what everybody else is looking at and make it work. They look at different things and find opportunities where others don’t see a present opportunity. That’s where real innovation happens.”
Amit: “I appreciate that. What was happening was after I had left Commercialized Sciences, I wanted to work in neurology again, it’s been 9 years now. Let’s do something different!”
“We Didn’t Have Any Gun Powder Left!” Part 2
A Conversation With Derek Hennecke, Kineticos Disruptor Fund Investor, Part 2
We continue our Disruptor26 podcast discussion between Shailesh and Derek Hennecke. Listen to this insightful conversation as two investors discuss the processes that aided them in the successful launch of their ventures. In this second part, Shailesh and Derek dig deeper into the changing world of Life Sciences, what it takes to be an investor in this dynamic market, and what the future holds for Derek.
Shailesh: “Eventually things started to get better and you started to grow. Then a time came where you realized, ‘I’ve taken it as far as I can.’ What was involved in your decision to find a partner to take that business to another level?”
Derek: “One was the global regulatory aspect. We had an operation in the UK that taught me that we were going to have to be sharp. We’re responsible for drugs, people’s lives, and people’s programs and were we the right type of partner to do that?”
Shailesh: “This is one of the things that I think separates entrepreneurs from other people, is being able to grind it out and remain optimistic. That sounds easy, but it is really hard to do.”
Derek: “It really is. You have sources of optimism, you’ll deplete them, and have to find other sources like sports, family, or other hobbies… We’re in a derived demand business, it can be tough to wait for a spark of optimism in that situation.”
Shailesh: “No matter how balanced we are in our work, it’s always a-symmetric. How did you go back and balance things between family, work, and all these other interests that you have?”
Derek: “You’ve always got to think about these things… It’s important to try to find what you’re going to do, and have that passion for that’ll last you your remaining working years.”