During last two months many of us saw their colleagues only via such applications as Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts and other video conferencing systems. With conferences and workshops going virtual, we must adjust our way of communicating with clients and collaborators. Last week and the beginning of this week marked first PhoenixBio Group participation in the online conferences.
The first conference was the Annual Meeting of American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT) held on May 12-15. This is the largest association of individuals involved in gene and cell therapy research. The ASGCT’s 23rd Annual Meeting was their first-ever virtual meeting, so it had some technical imperfections which may be improved. It was beneficial that the abstracts were available online prior to the conference. The collection of the abstracts for this first digital meeting is the largest ever, with over 1370 abstracts and is full of the field’s latest and most innovative science.
With the rapid development of gene editing and cell therapy areas, the translatability of research into the clinical outcome remains a challenge. Chimeric mice with humanized liver proved to be a useful preclinical platform for the assessment of efficacy and safety in genome editing technologies. Be it delivery vehicles assessment or evaluating off-target effect – human hepatocytes in in vivo setting provide results most relevant to human outcomes.
To get an impression of the level of presentations at ASGCT’s first virtual Annual meeting, below are the highest-rated abstracts highlights:
- Dr. Peter Cook (Seattle Children’s Research Institute) showed how gene-edited regulatory T cells can be made specific to antigens in pancreatic islets, which would help more effectively treat type 1 diabetes.
- Dr. Blake Rust (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) talked about how a different immune cell-based approach, with CAR T cells, can be improved with antigen boosting for treating simian HIV viral rebound in nonhuman primates (NHPs) after interruption of antiretroviral therapy.
- Aisha AlJanahi (NIH) showed results from a longitudinal evaluation of CRISPR off-target effects in NHPs using a new method called error-corrected targeted sequencing.
- Faith Conroy (UMass Medical School) presented her work on how specific chemical modifications can create siRNAs that specifically target the silencing of mutant and not wild-type genes in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease.
Another digital meeting was brought to our attention by BioAlberta (Biotechnology Industry Association promoting Alberta’s life science sectors). As it is currently not possible to arrange face to face meetings, BiotechGate and their partners decided to offer companies the possibility to continue business development and interact with partners and clients through online Partnering Meeting (May 18-20, 2020).
Business Partnering Conferences always had significant digital component prior to the face-to-face meetings. Every participating attendee needs to publish company profile, define availability, and contact participants with meeting requests. After meetings are accepted by both parties, you just attend your pre-scheduled meetings. Previously meetings were held face-to-face, but with current “new normal” the meeting part was held via video conference calls.
The organizers expected over 1,000 attendees and had over 40 pharmaceutical companies registered, including 10 of the top 20 pharma companies. BiotechGate offered premium partnering free of charge to all subscriber of Biotechgate and Biotechgate partner members (over 4,000). They offered digital partnering to all life sciences companies and their business development and key management people to support new innovations and developments during these challenging times.
This recent experience for PhoenixBio Group is just a beginning of learning process of participation in digital events. Without doubt we miss in person discussions with our partners and supporters at the conferences, but it seems that we must adjust to these changes and get prepared to “virtual booth” presentation. The definitive benefit of being online – there is no limits and borders to our communication! We can connect anytime from the comfort of our desks, so let’s try to use this opportunity to its fullest extent!