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Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
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Precigen poised to disrupt gene and cell therapy industry with UltraCAR-
Dr. Helen Sabzevari
President & CEO
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine
Published – April 27, 2020
Investor Relations Contact:
CEOCFO: Dr. Sabzevari, according to the Precigen website, you are “Advancing Medicine with Precision.” What does that mean for Precigen?
Dr. Sabzevari: Advancing medicine with precision means that we are focusing on getting the right medicine to the right patient at the right time rather than taking a one-
At Precigen, precision medicine is about identifying a therapeutic target in a specific indication and then designing our therapies to target patient populations that will stand to benefit most from that treatment.
CEOCFO: Would you give us some examples of what you are working on and how the precision part comes into play?
Dr. Sabzevari: In the field of immuno-
We now have two UltraCAR-
Our second UltraCAR-
CEOCFO: How have you decided what conditions to consider? Are some easier than others?
Dr. Sabzevari: We take a science-
For example, we have a library of specific vectors that can deliver genetic payloads for expression of multiple therapeutic genes simultaneously. Secondly, we have technology platforms that can deliver these vectors in the most efficient way, both virally and non-
We look at the totality of these platforms combined with the diseases we are targeting in patients with high need to carefully design therapeutics where there is science and preclinical evidence suggesting potential for success.
We are also trying to bring cutting-
CEOCFO: What would a hospital need to have in place in order to create this overnight? Equipment, technology, training?
Dr. Sabzevari: From the perspective of the hospital, if they have a “clean room,” which the majority of cancer centers have, then they have what they need to implement UltraCAR-
The Precigen team works very closely with the hospital to do a “technology transfer.” We train the technicians at the hospital on how to manufacture UltraCAR-
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the FDA clearance for PRGN-
Dr. Sabzevari: As with any new therapy, the FDA looked at all aspects of the proposed clinical study protocol to ensure patient safety before the study was granted clearance to proceed. For the UltraCAR-
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the change of name to Precigen?
Dr. Sabzevari: I originally started in mid-
In that context, the decision was made to change the name from Intrexon. As part of this change, we prioritized programs and also parted with certain assets and subsidiaries that did not fit within the vision for the new healthcare-
CEOCFO: What has been the response from the medical and scientific communities? Do people understand what you are doing? Are they somewhat skeptical?
Dr. Sabzevari: I think the scientific community is becoming more and more excited about Precigen as they learn about us and as we begin to progress in the clinic and present preclinical data at medical meetings. For the past two years, we have kept ourselves fairly under the radar. The reason for that was to give us time to develop our platforms, ensuring that they were well-
CEOCFO: What about the investment community? Do they recognize what you have developed?
Dr. Sabzevari: Our story has been resonating with the investment community in the conversations we are having, especially with the changes that we have made, including a tighter focus on healthcare, a refocusing of resources on priority programs, and driving fiscal responsibility across everything we do.
As Intrexon, we were focusing on everything from apples to salmon to mosquitoes to energy, and of course, health. With all of these activities, it was difficult for analysts and investors, especially in the biotechnology space, to appreciate the value of the healthcare portfolio. As the new Precigen, the investment community is starting to understand the potential value of the health portfolio.
CEOCFO: Why pay attention to Precigen right now?
Dr. Sabzevari: There are multiple reasons to pay attention to Precigen. First, our mission: The patient is at the center of everything we do and drives every aspect of our daily work. We believe what’s right for patients is right for the company and our stakeholders. Second, our technology and therapeutic platforms differentiate us from others. We have the technology platforms under our roof to enable cutting-
With the new Precigen, we are a dedicated gene and cell therapy company with unique technology and therapeutic platforms and a disciplined approach to fiscal responsibility and resource management that, we believe, will enable us to meet our goals. We also have a team of leaders and scientists that are performing at the highest level. They have dedicated their careers to helping patients and they are driving the Precigen portfolio forward with tremendous speed.
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