TT Factor: Seeking Partners to Develop New Generation Biomarkers

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Video title: TT Factor: Seeking Partners to Develop New Generation Biomarkers
Released on: July 20, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at #BIO 2012 in Boston, Fintan Walton talks to Daniela Bellomo, Managing Director of TTFactor S.r.l.
TTFactor: A Technology transfer company
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO in Boston, 2012. On this show I have Daniela Bellomo, who is the Managing Director of a company called TTFactor from Italy, welcome.
Daniela Bellomo:
Hi Fintan, thank you for the opportunity to talk to you today.
Fintan Walton:
So Daniela, tell me about TTFactor ?
Daniela Bellomo:
So TTFactor is a technology transfer company of two large research institutes in the north of Italy Milan, based in Milan. The Two institutes are devoted exclusively to oncology and research, cancer research one of them is the European Institute of Oncology which is Italy's largest private hospital dedicated to cancer cure and is a large hospital runs 200 clinical trials per year and has top of the art facilities and in at reference point in Europe for breast and lung cancer. So we have patients from all over Europe coming to us for these two diseases and off course it covers all the other cancers as well. So that's one of my shareholders, the other shareholder is the FIRC Foundation, Institute for Molecular Oncology which is a basic science institute dedicated to molecular oncology basic research and the quality of this institute is based on really high top level basic research where you know we have one of the highest impact factors in publications in Europe. So these two institutes are doing great research, great basic research and they founded the campus together, they created this large facility and force of about 500 scientists and 300 clinicians working in research, and in 2010 they decided they were matured enough to start thinking about doing applied research and starting relationships with industry to promote their own products and that's how TTFactor started.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so first of all just how those institutes actually funded at the moment? Where the source of fund is?
Daniela Bellomo:
The institutes, well one of them is funded by a charity, a large charity in Italy and the other one is funded by their shareholders which are most of the large banks in Italy so and there is a private hospital as I said. And TTFactor is funded by these two institutes exclusively, so we are lucky enough to have funding up to profitability without having to depend on external funding for this period, so we are lucky enough to be able to make our own choices without external influences until we come to profitability.
Importance of Biomarkers research and opportunities
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so you're obviously involved in the technology transfer, so you are the interface between these two institutes and the pharmaceutical industry and other industry bodies presumably, so I mean as looking at your the information about you and your organization and I suppose one of the things that's coming out of the research there are biomarkers for an example, so could you tell us a little bit more about the opportunities that are rising there and how important they are to the future of oncology ?
Daniela Bellomo:
Yes biomarkers, okay in general what comes out from our research and this model that we've created is not only basic science type of you know patents and IP so targets and the biomarkers but also drugs that we've designed, internally designed and developed and which we are taking up to in the Phase. So the biomarkers as we said very important instrument these days as alone as diagnostics and we have several diagnostics that we are developing and one of which is we've secured the funding to do a perspective clinical trial now and we are planning to release in the next few after the clinical trial proved it's worth, but you know biomarkers are essential now as also companion diagnostics to the drugs that we are developing or that we are partnered with others, and the beauty of our model is that we that hospital also made an investment on our hospital via biobank where we have access to thousand and thousands of samples to create these biomarkers, so we are working with several companies couple of US, Israel companies on developing new generation biomarkers for those drugs.
Fintan Walton:
So I suppose when you described yourselves as unique it's, the uniqueness is the factor that you've got these two different organizations working together, because each of them bring different components ?
Daniela Bellomo:
They create an integrated pathway from basic science to the clinic, because that unique thing about them is they have great science and this is come on to other institutes but they have made an investment in drug development, drug discovery and development and that's very peculiar so we brought a group of medicine and chemists coming from industry with a long experience in making drugs and these bridges that gap between that normally every academic institution has between the great science, the targets and what is useful for industry which is something a bit more advanced, so that's one of the unique features. The second thing we are very proud to say that this is a company facing companies, so TTFactor is not an office of an institute it's a company that can talk the same language as the companies we face, so we are very flexible, we are very adaptable to the industry needs and we can guarantee fast times to response.
Programs and partnership strategy
Fintan Walton:
At the moment what are you offering to the pharmaceutical industry? What programs are happening right now that are of interest and attraction to the pharmaceutical industry?
Daniela Bellomo:
Well we have several programs as you can imagine having all these scientists we receive a lot of different inventions, we've partnered a few already so we've been very lucky that in a year and a half we managed to do over 80 contracts we've many with medium biotech and also with pharmaceuticals, and the programs that we are looking to partner now are the drug development programs which will be ready probably the first one will be ready to partner in a year's time and which are targeting cancer metabolism and epigenetics. We are looking to partner the diagnostic and biomarkers that we've developed especially in the in lung cancer diagnostics where we are very hot and the breast cancer area.
Key challeges ahead for TTFactor
Fintan Walton:
So what are the key challenges you see for your organization over the next two to three years and may be also the opportunities that you see?
Daniela Bellomo:
I think the challenge is always how to draw the maximum value from an opportunity, I think this in a program of tight financing this is really what is missing that we are hoping to take some of these products into spin off's and we're really hoping that the venture capital and the financing community can respond to the interest that these things can have. So the challenge is that always to be able to do the maximum with scarce resources and but I think this is very, it's very much changing, we find that the companies that are coming to us that really there is a lot of interest for academic institution of a certain quality to contribute positively to their pipeline and we are working very well with these and also we are fortunate to have a group of advisors so we have a high standing scientific advisory board to the company that comes from industry venture capital and some of them are here in Boston, so and they connect us to the industry so we are hoping to really get seen and get the value of our products we see and promoted them.
Future plans
Fintan Walton:
And then finally Daniela, you know what do you see in the future? What's your plan for the next you know three to four-years is this it obviously to do more partnerships obviously?
Daniela Bellomo:
Yes, well the difficult thing is to keep your deal flow going and this is very important to us, so we really want to point on our relationship with the scientists to for inventions to come through and for our internal programs to move forward and always have a deal flow that we can propose to industry, so we working on our co-alliance are the scientist as much as there the industry and we are confident that from what investment that has been made in target validation, drug discovery biobank, biomarkers this is gonna happen in the next three or four-years. So we are looking forward to may be come here in a year's time or two and tell you a bit more about the successes.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, well we'll look forward to that. Daniela, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Daniela Bellomo:
Thank you Fintan.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Daniela Bellomo
Managing Director
At the time of recording this PTV interview Daniela Bellomo serves as Managing Director of TTFactor S.r.l. Daniela Bellomo, is the founder and the General Manager of TTFactor. Daniela has been a scientists gaining her PhD at the University of London and carrying out post doctoral research in cardiovascular biology in UK and Australia. Following her MBA in 2001 she has been working in technology transfer for IMBCom, the tech transfer company of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, Australia and in Italy for the San Raffaele Scientific Institute where she served as Director of the Tech Transfer Office for several years. She has been an author and speaker in many publications, events and university courses regarding innovation. In 2011 she has awarded of the Rosa Camuna Price by Lombardy Region, for her scientific and socio-economic commitment.
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
TTFactor S.r.l
TTFactor S.r.l is the tech transfer company of the FIRC Institute for Molecular Oncology (IFOM) and the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) incorporated for the purposes of advancing scientific results arising from the IFOM and IEO through technology licensing, sponsored research and spin off creation.