NZBio Networking Dinner – Review

The first NZBio networking dinner of the year was held this Wednesday at the Rendezvous Hotel ( a different location – previously held at the Ellerslie Convention center). It was a great night which hosted approx 80 people.

There was a large contingent of MBE (master of bioscience enterprise) students from the University of Auckland which was great to see.

I met Laura Enborn and hopefully encouraged here to come along to the Spark and Chiasma Launches- Market Development Officer – Food and Nutrition at UniServices

I also briefly caught up with Andrew Kelly ( BioPacific Ventures) who I would ideally like to get involved in Chiasma this year as a speaker for either Synapse or the Brown Bag Lunch series ( still searching for a sexy brand name for the event)

The highlight of the night was meeting with Patrick Gladding after communicating previously via emails. His presentation that followed was great and touched on an area of biotech/ translational medicine that has been quite rare in the NZ Biotech industry. Patrick pointed the clear commercial implication of his work, a must for the NZBio crowd.

He noted that the next few weeks to come will be the make or break as he was waiting on the release of results from overseas tests on patients that had taken clopidogrel. If all goes to plan, it will be interesting to see what Patrick can make of his innovation.

Following the presentation commenced an intense debate/ Q&A session including mentions by Lynn Ferguson (Nutrigenomics NZ, UoA professor )

Below are some of my notes from the night:

  • Concerns were raised about whether Patricks work was the exception rather the norm
  • Specifically can you predict drug response with a few SNPs
  • Alot of phenotypes are are polygenic and have several levels of regulation including epigenetic
  • There is a great need for bioinformatics to understand and interpret the vast amounts of SNP information and bring it all together with all other aspects i.e. polygenes, epigenetics, to form one unique unit of prediction
  • Amplichip – CYp450 array – is the microarray made by Roche – Patrick’s work can add several more SNPs to this to make it stronger – quite cunning considering the number of Roche representatives in the room
  • Personalised medicine report by PWC 2005 –
  • Patrick is currently being supported by Sanofi – the maker of the drug
  • Christchurch also doing pharmacogenetics
  • personalised medicine can help pharma companies in clinical trials – when low % of repsondents
  • AMIRA pharmaceuticals – Founded by Dr. Jilly Evans – UoA alumni
  • This type of technology allows reduced cost, better treatment, less effect on patients
  • Drug companies will probably not like the former of those
  • innovations that utilise either 1000 or 1 SNPs have a market for each
  • snpedia

After the heated debate (which Patrick came out of brilliantly) I had several discussions around the room about the commercial viability of the personalised medicine field. Several points were made:

  • If you have a test that splits patients into respondents and non respondent. Will the doctors not give the drug to the predicted non responding patients. If the patients opportunity cost of not taking the drug based on this test is more severe than taking the drug i.e. death, will they still not take the drug. Obviously they would, hence the comprising the necessity of the test in the first place. This is especially relevant considering the recent positive off target effects of Herceptin in HER2- patients
  • Therefore if when looking for a disease care needs to be taken when moving into personalised medicine field i.e. metastatic cancer or HIV are two examples which will be hard to work with. There is a need to firstly think about what outcome do you want from the test and does this fit into a viable business model
  • A more viable approach would be instead of simply a yes or no test, a graded or tiered outcome would be more beneficial i.e. what dose should you get to be the most effective


1: The Venue

2:MBE students

3:Dietrich (NZTE), Patrick, Me

4: Patrick


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