Dr Göran Ando, who joined Tessa’s Board of Directors last April, recently visited our Corporate Office in Singapore, where he shared his views on the potential of cell therapy and the key ingredients needed to successfully translate early research efforts into patient treatments.
Dr Ando is among the most respected leaders in the global pharmaceutical industry. With more than 35 years of experience across R&D, manufacturing, IT, and M&A, he brings a unique perspective on the outlook for the industry. “Science moves in leaps and bounds, so suddenly you will have big breakthroughs like gene therapy that will change completely how we look at a disease,” Dr Ando commented. “My view is that, over time, many of the cancers will become not diseases that you die from, but more chronic or even curable conditions.”
Immunotherapy has already changed the way we treat a number of cancers. “It’s becoming the basis of treatments and now we’re looking at combinations on top of it,” Dr Ando explained. “We are just seeing the possibilities and some of the early promises are really stunning.”
He pointed out that Tessa’s Virus-Specific T cell (VST) platform – developed from extensive research at Baylor College of Medicine – combines academic rigor and biotech innovation to create novel ways to effectively target and kill virus-linked cancers. “Overall, it’s a very broad platform with many opportunities,” Dr Ando remarked. He also highlighted the important step Tessa is taking in building our own cell therapy manufacturing site.
“What I first saw in Tessa was the differentiated VST platform, which is built on extensive and robust research, and provides many potential sole and combination therapies to effectively target and kill virus-driven cancers.”
Collaboration between academia, biotech and pharmaceutical companies will also be critical to unlocking the potential of cell therapy. While a lot of the basic discoveries will continue to be made in academic centres, the ability to translate early research into promising projects and new medicines will come from the fast-paced biotech environment. The pharmaceutical industry, in turn, is especially strong in late stage development and commercialization, making the medicines available throughout the world. Dr Ando views the three spheres of the industry as interlinked, each a vital part of the path towards creating impactful cancer therapies.
“Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are key to accelerate the research breakthroughs that will make cancer a manageable condition – an ambitious, but not unattainable, goal.”
With more than three decades of experience, Dr Ando has seen the biotech industry come of age in many aspects, from humble, mostly academic beginnings to the commercial powerhouse it is today. As he ponders the next decade, he sees no reason for the growth to slow. “The whole industry will continue to prosper and be the engine for new medicines of the future.”