As the CEO of Vascular Biosciences (VBS), I was very excited to be notified by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) that our company was the 2015 “Buzz of BIO” award winner in the “Pipelines of Promise” category.

See the NCBiotech story bout VBS’s Buzz selection here:

The award is decided by votes from our industry peers, so it was especially gratifying to be chosen as the “Buzz” winner to present at the June 2015 convention in Philadelphia. But after the initial excitement subsided, we were faced with a dilemma – what to focus on in the available 15-minute time limit.

The competition awards the winner with a featured company presentation as part of the BIO Business Forum, as well as free participation in BIO One-on-One Partnering, to source potential industry collaborations and funding opportunities.

Our company is developing a unique disease-homing cell-penetrating peptide with a wide range of clinical applications, making the decision of what to focus on during our presentation a difficult choice.

Here’s how the peptide works

Our CARSKNKDC (CAR) peptide targets the diseased carbohydrate layer coating cell membranes called the glycocalyx, and in a wide range of inflammatory, angiogenic and fibrotic diseases this glycocalyx layer is altered. Our CAR peptide recognizes this disease-altered glycocalyx, binds to it and internalizes into the diseased tissue.

Along with our peptide, any co-administered drugs in the bloodstream are also internalized into the diseased tissue, allowing our CAR peptide to provide a highly targeted means for disease-specific drug delivery.

Though we haven’t yet tested it in humans, our peptide has demonstrated pre-clinical efficacy thus far in multiple disease indications, including pulmonary hypertension, sepsis (a life-threatening complication of infection), cancer, cachexia (weakness and wasting of the body due to severe chronic illness), pulmonary fibrosis, chronic kidney disease and wound healing.

Because of the tight time limit for my “Buzz” presentation, I ultimately decided to speak specifically about the proven preclinical benefits of CAR peptide administration in just four of the conditions:

  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Sepsis
  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Cachexia

I chose these four topics not only because of their often-fatal outcomes for patients suffering from these difficult-to-treat diseases, but also because of the scarcity of effective treatments for them.

Through this Buzz opportunity, I was able to share our research, our products, and our passion with a large audience of like-minded peers eager to learn about promising technologies and novel approaches to disease treatment. From the convention, VBS has made some promising connections with multiple potential strategic investors and collaboration partners.

It was a great honor for our company to be selected a “Buzz of BIO” recipient. The event gave our company extra attention and credibility to our efforts, and enabled us to connect with potential partners from around the world that we otherwise would not have had the chance to meet. There are over 15,000 people at the BIO convention each year.

You, too, should get in on the ‘Buzz’

For this reason, I would highly encourage other companies to enter into the “Buzz of BIO” competition. The process to apply for the award was completely straightforward and relatively easy. I would advise other companies to sign up as soon as nominations are open, because spots do fill quickly.

Giving the presentation at the convention was definitely a learning experience, much like most presentations I’ve given in the past. There is always something to be gained when sharing your vision with others.

However, what resonated with me most from this presentation in particular was my interaction with audience members afterward. Their positive and encouraging feedback led me to believe I had effectively communicated the full breadth and depth of VBS’s potential.

The audience at our presentation, and the potential partners we met with one-on-one afterward, seemed to be genuinely excited about the future potential of our CAR peptide, and wanted to be a part of that future.

We look forward to further developing these partnering and investment opportunities to advance our CAR peptide into the clinic in order to help save the lives of patients.

David Mann is the CEO of Vascular Biosciences, a biomedical company with operations in Durham, N.C., and in San Diego and Goleta, California. VBS makes interventional catheters to obtain pulmonary endoarterial biopsies, provides molecular diagnostic services, and through its majority-owned subsidiary, VBS Pharmaceuticals, advances targeted therapies to enhance and prolong human life.