Sam Waksal, Co-CEO and Chairman of Graviton Biopharmaceuticals and former CEO of ImClone Systems, sees another growth opportunity in the biotech sector that could change the trajectory of treating cancer and genetic diseases .
“It will change the outcome and harness the patient’s immune system to develop a new generation of drugs that will save people’s lives,” Waxal said in an interview on Thursday’s “Mornings with Maria.” It doesn’t save us, but it has changed the outcome.”
Last year, Graviton acquired the rights to develop and commercialize a ROCK2 inhibitor designed in China. ROCK2 inhibitors target Rho/Rho-containing protein kinase 2 and penetrate the central nervous system to provide therapeutics for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and genetic disorders. press release.
“The Rho kinase pathway is important in how cells age and how cells get sick. “It’s important in cancer because it’s important in cancer,” Waksal elaborated. “
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According to Waksal, who claims to have been working on this development for more than a decade, ROCK2 inhibitors halt the process of aging and growth in diseased cells.
“When this isoform, ROCK2, that we are working with is activated, disease occurs, senescence occurs, and cells cease to be the ‘clean cells’ that exist when they are young and healthy, and become ugly cells that are diseased.” become and age. ,” further explained Waxal. “And we’re blocking that pathway with the new generation of drugs we’re making.”
The biotech entrepreneur, who has founded other pharmaceutical companies such as Kadmon, Équilibre and MeiraGTx, believes the drug could fill unmet medical needs in diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s. I hope
“The field of neurobiology is the last bastion of metaphysics in medicine. It’s important,” said the CEO. “Today, 10% of people who reach the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. We spend a trillion dollars a year just wiping drool from our mouths.”
“To take care of sick people and not be able to do anything for this patient population is not only a burden on the family, it is a burden not only on the economy, but in fact I I think America will be bankrupt by then,” Waksal continued. “Something has to be done to change the outcome”
Waksal warned of “unmitigated disaster” as a result of the government’s failure to make biotechnology investment a national priority.
“It is important that the world, and the American public, understand that lives are being saved and life expectancy is increasing because of the novel approaches we are taking in this industry,” he said. Told.
President Joe Biden last month signed an executive order launching a national biotech and biomanufacturing initiative and held a summit at the White House with senior government officials and department heads to administer the order and raise $2 or more. Discussed plans for how to allocate. a billion.
The plan mentions unspecified funding for exploration of medical breakthroughs, including $1 billion for bioindustry manufacturing infrastructure and $2 to support sustainable American fertilizer production. Includes a $50 million grant program.
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With ROCK2 inhibitors under development and trials in the US, Waksal encourages Americans to find “easy ways” to protect themselves and keep their cells healthy.
“I drink coffee every day because I think it’s cardioprotective. I run because I think it keeps me healthy and young,” said the Graviton founder. “But what we really have to do is innovate and find ways when things go wrong or when we get infected with something that is a new virus that is spreading around the world… like COVID. To…we have to be innovative enough to stop the disease.”
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Reuters contributed to this report.