Connect2Innovate Special Part 2 - Liquid Biopsy

Over the past few decades, professionals in the life science industry have been creating innovative ways to diagnose and test diseases efficiently. One of them is liquid biopsies – a method of obtaining blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid to detect cancer cells –  which can be used to predict a variety of diseases by identifying specific biomarkers [1].

This non-invasive technique is much more efficient compared with a standard method called tissue biopsy [1]. The future of liquid biopsies is in an advancing field, which has been applied in the relevant healthcare areas. However, despite its excellent design in diagnostics, it comes with its own unique challenges. These challenges include sensitivity issues preventing the method to become a standard test [1]. There is hope that the advancement of therapeutic technologies can improve this tool. Liquid biopsy technologies will play an important and evolving role in the future of diagnosis and care for patients.

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ArticleTobias
Connect2Innovate Special Part 1 - Biosensing & Interfaces

The Science Entrepreneur Club has partnered up with Merck Accelerator and Clustermarket to support innovative startups who build technologies across the areas of Biosensing & Interfaces, Clean Meat and Liquid Biopsy Technologies. With the overall theme of ‘Connect2Innovate’, we are organising a series of events: three meetups on each of the key areas, and a pitching event, which will provide the opportunity to win a cash prize and Sigma Aldrich vouchers for laboratory supplies. The winner also receives a ‘Golden Ticket’ to the Merck Accelerator Selection Days taking place in November with the opportunity to join the Merck Accelerator at the Innovation Centre in Darmstadt, Germany in January 2020.

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ArticleTobias
Start Codon partners with Clustermarket and Science Entrepreneur Club to support life science and healthcare start-ups

Founded in April 2019, Start Codon aims to identify and recruit high potential life science and healthcare companies from across the UK and beyond, provide seed-funding, and leverage the worldclass resources of the Cambridge Cluster to reduce risk and prepare them for a successful Series A fundraise. Under the terms of the partnership agreements, Clustermarket will provide Start Codon’s companies with guided access to their leading online equipment sharing platform and a dedicated field application specialist, and Science Entrepreneur Club will help to identify and connect Start Codon with the highest potential life science and healthcare companies across the UK.

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Press ReleaseTobias
Gain a Collaboration Partner with Merck Accelerator

Applications for the next intake of the Merck Accelerator Program are open! The company is looking for up to 12 collaboration-ready startups in their key areas to benefit from Merck’s extensive experience in reaching collaborations and partnerships with startups. In the previous intake, 565 startups from all continents applied for the program and this year, the company is really interested in partnering with startups from the UK. As Munya Chivasa, Head of the Merck Accelerator stated, “We have had great experiences so far with UK teams that have been part of our program. Science entrepreneurship in the golden triangle continues to be a vital source for innovation and us at Merck see so much potential for collaboration with Startups from there”.

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Guest ArticleTobias
Business Plan or Business Wish List?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not possible to develop a business plan for every business idea. If you are in the disruptive-innovation arena playing the new product–unknown market game, for example, developing a business plan may be just time wasted. People like Richard Branson, Steve Blank, Pierre Omidyar o Saras Sarasvathy, among others, have expressed their not so encouraging opinion about writing a business plan.

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Guest ArticleTobias
How to navigate the jump from academia to a career in biotechnology: lessons from one scientist to another

This post is the first in a mini-series by the Science Entrepreneur Club (SEC) that deals with taking the leap into biotechnology, providing tips and advice drawn from my own experience. 


I gained my MSc and first Biotech experience in the Netherlands. In pursuit of further progressing my career I was accepted to King’s College London’s PhD programme. My PhD experience was irreplaceable, but it also cemented my conviction that my future lay within biotech and not academia. I have navigated the jump from academia to a career in Biotechnology and am now a privileged employee within the ballooning cell and gene therapy sector in Oxford.

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Mapping tumour evolution to deliver better therapies: an interview with Cambridge Cancer Genomics

I sat down with John Cassidy, CEO of Cambridge Cancer Genomics (CCG.ai), to talk about his journey. I heard about CCG.ai a while ago but really started to pay attention when they hit the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list for Europe. They’re an exciting startup building a Precision Oncology platform using AI and Machine Learning that can be integrated into clinical workflow. With this, they can precisely map tumour evolution and tailor cancer therapies in accordance with the stage of evolution. Tumours are incredibly heterogeneous, genetically unstable and genetically change in response to therapy - hence CCG.ai's ambition to map their evolution. By carrying out DNA and RNA sequencing they unpick the tumours' biology and then correlate it with the therapeutics most likely to be effective. Finally, they take liquid biopsies to measure treatment response and predict the patients’ response to treatment going forward.

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Biotarget Competition: Speeding up the race to beat cancer

There is an urgent need to develop novel drugs and technologies for the treatment of cancer, tackling problems of low efficacy of current drugs and high patient mortality. On the 11th June the Science Entrepreneur Club, in collaboration with Arctoris, Clustermarket and Insilico Medicine, and the support of Cancer Research UK, hosted the first Biotarget competition to promote early-stage start-ups that are developing new strategies to fuel the fight against cancer.

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Press ReleaseTobias
CAR-T cells and Autolus - Advanced Cell Programming Technology

Over the past few decades there has been a new wave of cancer therapeutics - immunotherapies that are capable of activating the immune system to recognise and fight malignant cells. CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptor) T cells are one the emerging therapies from this space, and are beginning to enter the clinic. Here we explore CAR T cell therapy and one of the pioneering companies in the field.

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Scientists enter research collaboration to outsmart cancer

Cancer is a disease that afflicts an alarming number of people, with one in two being diagnosed with a type of cancer during their lifetime. The global cancer burden has risen to 18.1 million people in 2018, which makes cancer one of the leading causes of death worldwide. While clinical developments and advances in early detection and treatment have already changed the lives of many people suffering from this disease, there is still a tremendous need to develop new knowledge and make new breakthroughs in cancer drug discovery and development.

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Press ReleaseTobias
RNA interference is hitting the market - Alnylam’s success heralds a new era for RNAi therapeutics

It has been a bumpy ride for RNA interference-based therapeutics. The protein-silencing phenomenon that shot into the spotlight with its 2006 Nobel Prize fell (aptly) quiet thereafter, suffering clinical disappointments and losing high-profile backing. But it is back with a bang: the first RNAi drug was FDA approved in August and a number of Big Pharma companies are striking deals with developers. Does this mark a watershed moment for RNAi therapeutics?

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ArticleTobias
Health Technology  - The Digital Revolution: Part 2 Digitising Diabetes

Technological advances are permeating into the healthcare industry and are transforming the norns of patient care. The development of medical technology (MedTech) devices that can be used by clinicians, nurses, technicians and, most importantly, patients themselves is rapidly increasing. Such technologies are enabling greater access to patient data to monitor disease status and predict future health events. With tech giants such as Google and Apple diving into healthcare, only further acceleration of these patient-centred technologies can be expected, unlocking a wealth of patient data. Not only this, but the rise of wearables and mobile technologies has expedited the mass collation of health data.

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ArticleTobias
Health Technology: The Digital Revolution - Part 1: AI & Imaging

Our era is witnessing a technological revolution. Healthcare is becoming increasingly digitised, empowering both patient and physician. We’re using computational power and data to better predict, diagnose and manage patients with complex health conditions. In part one of this series we explore AI and imaging and the effects these have on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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ArticleTobias
Bioprinting: a myriad of (t)issues

Bioprinting uses 3D printing-like techniques to combine cells, growth factors, and biomaterials - collectively named ‘bioinks’ - to create living tissues that almost perfectly mimic their structure in the body. Bioinks are deposited layer by layer onto a supporting hydrogel, which functions like paper in conventional printing. However, unlike normal printing, the hydrogel dissolves once the product is mature, leaving it freestanding.

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Tobias
Climbing Everest: From Zero to One with a Life Science Startup

We spoke to Dr George Frodsham, founder and CEO of MediSieve, a startup seeking to revolutionise the treatment of blood-borne diseases with a novel magnetic blood filtration technology. He described his journey from a back-of-an-envelope idea to a £1.56m grant from Innovate UK, compared building a life science startup to scaling Mount Everest and offered some advice for those attempting the climb.

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Nightstar Therapeutics: Catching The Eye

Nightstar Therapeutics is a London-based clinical-stage gene therapy company, developing treatments for inherited retinal diseases that lead to progressive blindness. Nightstar was born as a spinout from Oxford University, co-founded by Professor of Ophthalmology, Robert MacLaren. The company’s pipeline of therapies focusses on rare eye diseases that have no currently approved treatments, presenting a clear unmet medical need for patients. As a result, investors have been keen to tap into this potentially lucrative gap in the healthcare market. Indeed, since Nightstar’s initial public offering (IPO) on the USA’s biotech-friendly NASDAQ stock exchange market in September 2017, it has grown to boast a market capitalisation of $500 million.

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Tobias
HUMAN 2.0: What does the future look like for the human mind & body?

This February and March, the SEC is looking at what impact human augmentation will have on the future of our physiology. We will explore the potential scientific, social and ethical implications of human augmentation through the lens of four different technologies including brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), bionics and prosthetics, neurotechnology and gene editing, and finally, bioprinting. But before looking at our first technology, we examine what human augmentation actually is, its origins and how close it is to commercialisation.

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Tech SpotlightTobias
Entrepreneurship starts with rejecting conventional thinking

I visited the Imperial College Incubator in White City, London, to talk with Steven O’Connell, the associate director and programme manager at RebelBio, a life science startup programme backed by VC firm SOSV. Steven completed an undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical biotechnology at the Cork Institute of Technology and a translational masters degree in Biotech and Business at University College Dublin before joining a startup called GlowDx, which was part of an early RebelBio cohort. From there he went on to join RebelBio as the programme manager and has helped nurture over 60 life science startups over 7 cohorts. We discussed RebelBio’s approach in selecting promising startups and how to maximise their chances of success, as well as how scientists should reject conventional thinking when approaching entrepreneurship.  

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