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Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Steve Alexander, Associate Editor
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Dr. Reid Rubsamen
Flow Pharma, Inc.
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – June 1, 2020
CEOCFO: Dr. Rubsamen, what is up at Flow Pharma, Inc. today?
Dr. Rubsamen: Flow Pharma is a vaccine company. We develop vaccines for two different purposes. One is making vaccines that can actually be therapeutic to treat patients with cancer. That is also known as the immuno-
Our second activity is making vaccines to prevent viral illness. We have done quite a bit of work in that space; including developing a successful vaccine for Ebola that we tested in animals with the University of Texas medical branch and US National Laboratory at Galveston. We are now developing a vaccine for Marburg, which is like Ebola, but a weaponized version of Ebola. We are doing that work under contract with the United States Department of Defense.
We are also currently testing a vaccine for COVID-
CEOCFO: What do you understand about developing a vaccine that gives you an edge? What do people misunderstand or not recognize about what goes into this process?
Dr. Rubsamen: Vaccine development, for the last many decades, has been focused on antibody vaccines. These are vaccines that work by injecting a dead piece of the virus, or a virus that has been attenuated so it is not toxic, so it produces an antibody response, where antibodies are then produced and circulate throughout the body. When a circulating antibody sees and successfully attacks that virus, the virus becomes neutralized. That approach has been very successful for many viruses. Polio vaccine, vaccines for childhood illnesses and so on, have been marvelously successful. However, there are some viruses for which antibody vaccines have never been developed. Most notably HIV and also of course, the common cold. There is no vaccine for the common cold, and we are now dealing with this disease called COVID-
We are testing a T-
CEOCFO: What does it take to switch over? How do you ramp up? How do you not lose what else you have been working on? What are the logistics?
Dr. Rubsamen: Fortunately, we have a vaccine platform. Our platform has a name. It is called FlowVax™. Our vaccine platform uses microspheres, tiny beads of biodegradable material, into which we place tiny markers called peptides that are little tiny, tiny pieces of a virus that we make synthetically. Therefore, there is no virus component in the vaccine. We combine with those microspheres and the peptides with chemicals called adjuvants to enhance the immune response. We have made, and successfully tested, doses of FlowVax vaccine for Ebola and a FlowVax vaccine to treat breast cancer. We have now made, and are testing, doses of a FlowVax platform vaccine to protect against COVID-
By using this platform technology, in a high-
CEOCFO: What are you finding in the tests so far?
Dr. Rubsamen: We have been able to get a good immune response in the primates by delivering our COVID-
CEOCFO: Is inhalation used in other vaccines?
Dr. Rubsamen: Yes. Nasal delivery, of course, is available for flu vaccines. I know that my kids, when they were growing up, did not like needles, so they like the flu vaccine delivered by nasal spray. Commercial vaccines marketed today are generally not designed for delivery by inhalation. We see vaccine delivery by inhalation as an advantage for COVID-
CEOCFO: Are you funded for what you need to do next? Are you looking for addition funding or partnerships?
Dr. Rubsamen: Our company is funded by angel investors and grants. We are indeed raising money now to ramp up and accelerate our COVID-
CEOCFO: What have you been finding from the investment community? There are so many ideas on how to develop a viable vaccine. Is it easy to understand the Flow Pharma approach?
Dr. Rubsamen: We are on the World Health Organization consortium of about seventy vaccine developers. We are part of two committees on the WHO consortium. We have representatives on the assay committee and on the animal model committee. Of the seventy, we are the only people developing a T-
We are doing this work at a time when there seems to be general recognition in the academic community that a T-
CEOCFO: How much attention do you pay to what is going on at the other companies working on vaccines for COVID-
Dr. Rubsamen: First, it is nothing short of amazing that companies have gotten vaccines fielded so quickly to deal with COVID-
We have published three peer reviewed journal articles. We presented our COVID-
CEOCFO: Why do you stay active as a practicing physician?
Dr. Rubsamen: My purpose as a trained professional is to heal the sick, literally. I am fortunate to have had excellent training. I studied computer science at Berkeley, Stanford and MIT. I got my MD at Stanford concurrent with my Masters Degree in computer science. I went on to study as a post-
There is great part of the Hippocratic Oath that I like as much “First, do no harm,” which is, “Whichever home you shall enter, it shall be to heal the sick.” As physicians, we are here to take care of sick people and to prevent people from getting sick. All of the things that I do are part of that and, of course, we have to raise money to be able to do these things. We want investors to be rewarded for the vision and risk that they took by giving us some of their precious resources so that we could move forward. However, the ultimate goal, the master goal here, is to take better care of people and to prevent them from getting ill from these terrible viruses.
Flow Pharma, Inc., COVID 19 Vaccine, Inhalation Vaccine, Coronavirus Vaccine, Dr. Reid Rubsamen, CEO Reid Rubsamen talks about Flow Pharma’s COVID-
“A sustainable immune response to coronavirus appears to be very importantly linked to the cellular part of the immune system, and maybe not so much to antibodies, for long term protection. Basically, we looked at the survivors of the SARS outbreak, and we are copying the behavior of their immune systems with our COVID-
Dr. Reid Rubsamen