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Innovation Booms at 2018 BIO Conference

Just this past week, from Monday June 4th to Thursday June 7th, Boston hosted the highly-anticipated 25th annual BIO International Conference. More than 16,000 attendees and 5,000 organizations from over 70 countries came together to discuss some of the hottest topics in healthcare, from digital health to personalized medicine. It also set the World Record for the Largest Business Partnering Event in history, hosting more than 350,000 partnering meetings over the years.

The sessions were divided into multiple tracks, covering translational research, the opioid epidemic, patient access, reimbursement and much more. Genomic editing generated a lot of buzz, through which
the growing industry of personalized and precision medicine was explored. There are more companies in the genomic space than ever, and the conference was filled with panels, presentations and exhibitors sharing their insights and novel innovations. One of the super sessions, “Delivering on the Promise of Gene Therapy”, opened up the floor for discussion of the evolution, challenges, and opportunities in the field of genomic medicine. One panelist, Michael Dombeck of Precision Biosciences, offered us a more detailed look.

Dombeck is in Business Development at Precision Biosciences, a gene editing company based out of North Carolina that was historically focused in agriculture, but recently shifted into the gene therapeutics space. As he describes, “the goal was always to get to human therapies, however we did not think our technology was ready…so those first nine years in agriculture were spent perfecting the gene technologies” that could later be applied to human health. Genome editing gets to the root of the disease, an innovation much needed. He revels that “DNA is a therapeutic cure…and to be able to
modify DNA to get the therapeutic effect we want is really transformative.” These therapies could revolutionize modern medicine and the way healthcare is delivered. Dombeck looks forward to a future when gene therapy is no longer so novel, when there is no distinction made between gene treatments and more well-accepted interventions such as medications, infusions, and cell therapies. The ultimate aim is a one-time treatment that could cure patients of an otherwise limiting and dangerous genetic disease.

The genomics scene is growing quickly and will only continue to expand. There is still a long way to go, but for Dombeck and Precision Biosciences, the hope of starting to cure genetic diseases is within a few years’ grasp. This could be our reality very soon.

Boston is a huge hub of health technology and innovation. Conferences like BIO bring leaders and innovators of all backgrounds to the table. Thought provoking conversations spark new ideas and shed light on contrasting perspectives. And because medicine is always evolving, there will never be a shortage of opportunity to impact healthcare in creative and progressive ways.

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