Investment Strategies in Phage Therapy

Investment Strategies in Phage Therapy

Investment Strategies in Phage Therapy

Host: Steven yang
Guest: Richard Alm, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, CARB-X

00:12  Steven Yang
Now we know phage therapy is part of the bigger picture of antimicrobial efforts, especially at dealing with the growing threat from antibiotic resistant bacteria. From an investor perspective, to make the right bet, it’s important to have a more comprehensive understanding of the big picture and be able to compare phage therapy horizontally through the other products on the market. I’m Steven Yang, and this is phage therapy today. We’re honored to have Dr. Richard Alm with us on the show today. After his PhD at the University of Adelaide and his post-doctoral work at the University of Victoria and University of Queensland, Dr. Alm served in R&D, a management position at AstraZeneca for 20 years before he became the vice president at Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, now known as Zikani Therapeutics until 2018. Starting in 2019 doctor who is currently the alliance director at CARB-X and a consultant to the World Health Organization. Dr. Alm, thanks for joining us today.

01:18  Richard Alm
Oh, you’re welcome. Nice to be here.

01:20  Steven Yang
Yeah, it’s great to have you here. So I must say, Doctor Alm, going through your career path over here, I feel like you definitely take a few harsh turns over here, both location wise, as well as the career pathway. So I guess I’m always interested, how does our guest, the formative years eventually get you where you are now? I guess also tell us about how you became interested in learning about phage therapy and also what does CARB-X do, what do you guys do over here?

01:54  Richard Alm
Yeah, of course. So, yeah, I mean, going back many years, my career, if you like, has taken a few turns. I had originally wanted to be a veterinary scientist, but growing up in the eighties in Australia, there were very limited options as to the number of universities that would actually teach that. And so for personal reasons, I had wanted to stay in Adelaide and so my dreams of becoming a veterinary surgeon got dashed. And so I found my love in microbiology and so I did my major, my undergraduate microbiology and then did both my honors and my PhD in microbial pathogenesis. And I was lucky enough, I think, during the last year of my PhD, to share a bench with a scientist that was on sabbatical from Canada, and he invited me back to his lab to do a postdoc in Canada. And so I of course accepted, had never left Australia and so came and went to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, which was beautiful. And I spent three years there, after which I went back to Australia, to Queensland to do another postdoctoral fellowship in Pseudomonas Pathogenesis. And during that time the professor that I had worked for in Canada had been getting research funding from Astra. It was before AstraZeneca and he got asked to set up a research satellite in Boston here. And so he called me back in Australia and said, “Will you come back to the United States and travel back across the ocean, work with me again?” And so I did. And my plan was obviously to only come for four or five years. And I’ve been here 23 or so, I’m still here. And so that became Astra, became AstraZeneca. And then unfortunately in 2015, AstraZeneca got out of infection like a lot of the large pharmaceutical companies have. I spent a few years at a small startup where I was involved with CARB-X from the recipient side. We had a CARB-X grant that I was PI on, and then when that company pivoted and got out of anti-infectants again, I joined CARB-X and have been there for two and a half years. And when I joined there, there was one phage company that was in negotiation after having come in an early round, and that was Eligo Biosciences. They were in negotiation. There hadn’t been the contract hadn’t been announced yet, but they were that they were being negotiated. And so when I first started, we had a 2019 funding round, we called it. It was broken up into four parts. And I was responsible for the nontraditional. So the odds and ends that the island of misfit toys I called it, all the bits that didn’t fit into the vaccines or diagnostics or direct acting school molecules. Everything else got bundled into the nontraditional round and that included phage. And so we had I think we had 11 or 12 phage or phage related products supply, of which I think we have a three, a three tiered application stage. And I think six of them made it through to two longform and three of them eventually got funded. So now we have four phage companies in our portfolio. And I had used phage, you know, throughout my formative molecular biology years more as a tool in the lab. I did my Ph.D. on Vibrio cholera. There were the people in the lab that were there working on the first phage of vibrio cholera, that had been isolated from sewage and in low- and middle-income countries. We’re working on phage there, but I’ve never really considered phage as a therapeutic. I’d heard about it in Eastern Europe, but had never really experienced that. I’d rather use it as a molecular biology tool. So I was really excited to see the advancements that have been made in phage and how they had been used and their introduction into Western medicine. And I think that they hold a very unique and specific niche for treatment. We have in CARB-X now I’m pleased to say we have a couple of programs looking at treatment with phage and a couple looking at prevention of infection using phage. And so I think it’s a very exciting field that we’ll still as a community, I think, working out exactly where phage will fit with this, with their therapy. They’re obviously extremely flexible, as you know. And I think there’s many opportunities for how they can impact the treatment of infectious diseases.

06:39  Steven Yang
Wonderful. So I guess before we go into the details of these companies, tell our listeners about what kind of is it private funding, is it public funding CARB-X is.

06:50  Richard Alm
CARB-X was founded in 2016. It was a competitive application put in. The executive director is Kevin Outterson out of the Boston University School of Law. He had been in health policy for years, and he, together with a couple of colleagues, put in an application in response to a call from the federal government that was established under the Obama administration. The Presidential Action Committee Against Combating Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria, so PACCARB. And so that sort of was the foundation of CARB-X where the BARDA, which is part of the Health and Human Services Department of the US government, they had put money to form this accelerator to help fund pre-clinical projects in the space. And it was for therapeutics, preventatives and diagnostics and Kevin and his small team in the beginning went out and raised other money from other funders. And so in our first five years we’ve been funded by BARDA from the US Government, but also we have funding from the German and the British government, the UK government and also we have a lot of funding from the Wellcome Trust who were initial partner with BARDA and also from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And we also get in-kind services from NIAID, which is part of the NIH. And so our companies that we fund get access to the pre-clinical services on a streamlined basis through that offered through NIAID. And so it is, it’s a completely nonprofit. We do, we fund companies through a competitive application process. CARB-X doesn’t take any equity state, so all the funding is non-dilutive, which is good for the companies because I think the companies in this ecosystem struggle because of the economic challenges that selling antibiotics can cause, and it’s a reimbursement model. So it’s quite unique. So it currently for pre-clinical work, CARB-X will put in 90% of the cost and the companies put in 10%. And then as programs move into phase one, which is as far as we as we fund, it’s an 80/20 split where CARB-X would put in 80%. But I will say that it’s more than just the money. A lot of these smaller companies don’t have the broad personnel base within their company where they have expertise in all the disciplines and so every team, every company, the CARB-X funds has a team built around it where we will supply free of charge access to our consultant network. We have about 160 to 200 consultants on retainer that we can draw on across all the different disciplines to provide ad hoc both business and scientific support to these small companies as they progress their program through. And so it’s a very it’s not just, you know, here’s the funding good luck and leave the companies alone. There’s a lot of interaction. People like myself in the R&D team at CARB-X, we get to know our companies and our product developers very well. We work with them and we discuss with them on a monthly basis, sort of what areas they may need support in. And then it’s our job to then go out and try and find that support for them, to help them as much as we can progress their projects. And so it’s a true collaboration, very unique funding model, but a very good one.

10:36  Steven Yang
I think that’s definitely true because especially for those you mentioned, there are pre-clinical companies. So this early stage mentoring is definitely a very big thing. And also the way you fund it, I guess for biotech, you never have enough money.

10:53  Richard Alm
Yeah, true. I mean, I will say that the one thing that having worked for almost 20 years in a large pharma and seeing the unfortunate exit from large pharma of so many infection groups is where I’m nervous that the field is losing some of the institutional knowledge about how to do this type of research. And I think it’s important from an educational aspect to keep some of those people engaged, to try and teach the next generation of antibacterial drug companies.

11:26  Steven Yang
Elaborate a little bit on that.

11:28  Richard Alm
Yeah. So I know that when AstraZeneca got out of the infection space, there were scientists there that had spent 30 years like chemists that knew every class of antibacterial inside and out that had been worked on across the industry. And when they left and then when our infection group of AstraZeneca dissolved, a lot of people went off to other therapy areas. And that knowledge then is lost from the infection, antibacterial space. And so if those people don’t come back to infection, you lose that knowledge. And with so many large companies leaving and, you know, the infection therapeutic area, those people, if they either retire or they go into other therapy areas a lot, go to cancer or metabolic diseases, chemists that discipline knowledge is broad based. So they can go to other therapy areas quite easily. You lose that knowledge of the uniqueness of how to treat infections and how to make molecules that can actually cure bacteria. Because a lot of that, a lot of the uniqueness of the drug discovery aspects in antibacterial research is unique to the bacterial space and so very different to making compounds and drugs for other therapeutic areas, both in terms of the amount of compound that you need to make. So even the process of chemistry is more challenging. Early on, you might have to make kg and kg early on. So you have to start your process chemistry early formulation is challenging because your doses are so high with small molecules. And so there’s a lot of unique challenges in infection that if people that have worked on that leave retired, go to go to another therapeutic area. There’s no training of the younger generation to pick that up and continue to develop it and make progress in the field. Very useful to make sure there’s that continuity of knowledge.

13:35  Steven Yang
Definitely. Yeah. What is a background of all these all the big pharma is leaving the antimicrobial space?

13:43  Richard Alm
You mean why did they get why did they get out?

13:45  Steven Yang

13:46  Richard Alm
Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, ultimately the economics of antibacterials are challenging because unlike, you know, heart medicine or, you know, things that you take every day for years and years, antibiotics, antibacterial drugs are used on a very acute short-term basis, you know, really, you know, 10 to 14 days. There’s a few indications where you give them a bit more chronically, but typically they use very acutely. And so that’s one of the challenges. You don’t sell a long, you don’t get a patient for life. You get them for 10 to 14 days. So that’s one challenge. The other challenge is that you spend all this time making a good drug, let’s say, that is active against some of the resistant bacteria. And as soon as you launch it in, the nature is to say, okay, we’re going to leave that until we really need it. And so then they put it on the shelf until you really need that drug. And so then you don’t sell it anyway so that you spend all this time and effort and resource making this drug, and then it gets put on the shelf for that last, you know, last resort antibiotic and it doesn’t get used. So therefore you don’t have the sales. And then the third pillar, if you like, of challenges that a lot of drug sensitive bacteria that cause infections can be treated with generic drugs, which are very cheap. And so inherently people are nervous to use expensive antibiotics when the cheap ones may work a good percentage of the time. And so they now typically try and go to the generic ones first, especially in the hospital situations where all the reimbursements in the US are bundled. And so you basically get reimbursed by the indication as the drugs are used. And so if it’s treatment within a hospital, financially it’s better for the hospital room to use the cheaper drug rather than the expensive drug because they only get paid a certain amount per infection, if you like. And so I think you put all those three together. It’s a very challenging business model. And the times of antibacterial drugs being blockbusters and selling, you know, half a billion to a billion dollars a year of sales are pretty much gone. I think there’s probably only one drug now that is even close to that in yearly sales. And so I think the large companies in the you know, their in their business, they need to show profit to their shareholders. They moved on to they wanted to focus in on different therapeutic areas and infection is one that’s not going to give them the biggest return on investment compared to some of the cancers and stuff.

16:35  Steven Yang
So you’re right, they left the space for smaller companies and also more innovative ways for treatment and sturdy set up the model kind of what is now working for them.

16:48  Richard Alm
And I think that’s what you see now. I mean, I think that if you look at the preclinical pipeline now, it is 80% small and medium sized companies and by small companies I mean less than ten people. I mean there’s a lot of very small micro companies that basically do most of their research through CROs and then and that’s there, they don’t have to pay a lot of salaries because they usually only have one, maybe two assets. And so they go through CROs and they try and move programs through that way. And I think that’s where CARB-X has really been able to help the ecosystem to come in and help those. But you’re right, in terms of the innovation, I think what we’ve seen in the last four or five years is, you know, some of the some of the recent publications that have come out have shown that the preclinical pipeline up to, you know, testing in humans, approximately half of the antibacterial pipeline is now directed against single pathogens. You know, both the CDC and the World Health Organization put out their threats list of their priority pathogens list, you know, against these are the pathogens that that most work should be done on because these are the most challenging bacteria. And researchers have focused on that. And then looked at ways to kill just those specific bacteria. And I think that has led to a lot of nontraditional approaches. And, you know, I mentioned earlier in the podcast about the CARB-X funding round in, you know, when I first joined CARB-X and there were four funding rounds in 2019 and the nontraditional was actually by far the largest in terms of the numbers of applications and the numbers of awarded grants, because there’s a huge amount of diverse and innovative science that’s going on out there. And these small companies working in this nontraditional space have these ideas, but they don’t have the financial resources to try and prosecute those ideas. And I think that’s where push mechanisms like CARB-X are very valuable because it helps develop that science, not just for that particular group, but also for the entire ecosystem. Because everyone learns if you do a certain aspect of science and then you publish it, the whole field learns. And I think that we encourage all our developers to publish their research and talk about it as much as they can, because I think it moves the whole field forward and that’s what we’re going to do as a society.

19:40  Steven Yang
That’s a very big picture you just painted. I know  you mentioned this once or twice. It’s about how some different pathogenically, some of them are more sensitive already to the existing drug, but some of them maybe are some rare pathogen, maybe they’re antibiotic resistance, and where we see phage in this picture?

20:01  Richard Alm
Yeah. So I think there is a growing antibiotic resistance trend. And I think that’s the slow moving tsunami, if you like, of fear among people. You know, that that are in this space because the resistance, the percentage of resistant bacteria are growing. And the more they the higher the percentage of resistant bacteria, the harder they are and the more recalcitrant the treatment options are, because they just they don’t work. And I think that’s where you’ve seen phage therapy sort of grow in the United States, mainly at the moment through emergency use and compassionate use, where patients have been completely untreatable, their infections have been untreatable with multiple different antibiotics that have been tried because the bacteria that’s causing the infection are resistant to all of these drugs. And so as a last resort, people have been using phage therapy. And, you know, the challenge with that is, you know, in many cases, that is a success that that and then a successful treatment, I think, which gives people a lot of confidence that phages can play a really important role in the treatment of MDR infections, multidrug resistant bacterial infections. I think the challenge from a regulatory and a clinical perspective is when you treat a single patient, usually a very vulnerable patient at the, you know, in serious medical need with an underlying infection and you treat them with phage. It’s a one-off customized treatment. And so that treatment has never been evaluated in a randomized clinical trial to understand how to use phage most appropriately in the clinic as an even as an empiric therapy. And so I think as phage therapy graduates and becomes more mainstream and matures in its use, I think what is needed is clinical trial and some of them are ongoing now, which is great to see is randomized clinical trials where you are evaluating key clinical parameters with phage in a controlled fashion in a clinical trial. And I think that will give a broader acceptance to phage being used as a therapy or as a preventative, because it then will get regulatory approval as a broad product rather than a compassionate use product to this particular patient. And I think that’s what the next step the field needs to see. I mean, we’ve seen that clinical benefit, but a lot of those patients are very sick and some of them succumb to their infections. But you don’t know if they have succumbed to their infections because by the time they got the phage treatment, they were in such dire medical need that even the phage couldn’t help them. And so I think you need to understand you. We need to understand as a community where is the best place to position phage and where can they have the maximum benefit for the treatment of these infections? There’s no doubt that they will play a role. The question is finding that patient population or that indication where they can be most useful to the broadest number of patients.

23:43  Steven Yang
Right. So eventually it all goes back to the clinical data.

23:47  Richard Alm
Yeah. And I think the one thing about phage that I mean is everyone that’s worked with phage knows this, but it’s, it’s worth pointing out and that is phage are inherently really specific. They can be specific for a particular species, but also for a particular isolate within that species. And so a lot of these emergency use cases, you have to match the exact isolate that’s causing the infection in that particular patient with that sensitivity to a phage, I think as groups start to strategize and come up with ways to either make larger cocktails of phage so they can be used empirically, that will help cover the maybe the differences within a species of different strains. I think what is still one step beyond that is how can we quickly diagnose the causative agent of an infection so that we know which phage cocktail to give? And I think that’s where diagnostics are a really fast-growing area in infection. Typically, you know, if you go back, you know, years diagnostics was you played out the biological samples and two days later you get what bacteria it is and whether it’s sensitive. And by that time, it’s hard to give care if you’ve already treated the patient empirically until you know exactly what’s causing the infection. I think especially with patients that are extremely sick or extremely vulnerable, you need to have that answer quicker and if you’re going to use a very precise medicine like bacteriophage, then I think you need to know that with more confidence earlier in the treatment cycle so you can make sure you’re putting the right treatment on board. And if that happens to be a phage cocktail that you know that you are putting that the correct phage against the right species. And so I think the combination of the development of diagnostics, rapid diagnostics as well as these broader I’m calling them cocktails, but there could be other engineering aspects that broaden that host range of phage. I think that combined will take phage from treatment of a single patient where you’ve tested a susceptibility of that pathogen to your phage, to a broader, more empiric treatment paradigm where you can diagnose the patient and then treat them empirically with phage at the outset. And I think that will be the paradigm shift that we need in phage therapy.

26:24  Steven Yang
Right. And was that I guess, concern of your when you were making your company valuations in there?

26:30  Richard Alm
So CARB-X is so CARB-X thinks about it two different way. We I mean, we obviously fund diagnostic companies as well. And so we pay attention to with the emerging diagnostic technology platforms out there. And you know, the speed at which you can get the result I want we didn’t choose or not choose which phage companies to invest in based on whether there was a diagnostic available. I mean, I think that that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. We chose our phage portfolio in the initial instance to capture the breadth of phage research that’s going on. As I said, we have two companies that are looking at using phage in a preventative mode, two that are looking in a therapeutic mode, very different patient populations, different indications and different stages of development. And so our goal at CARB-X was initially to when we stepped into the phage space was to say, let’s take a diversity of approaches and try and understand support these companies. We like this, we like their underlying science. Let’s support these companies. Hopefully get them to the point of evaluating the products enough so maybe we can inform our funders, but also inform the ecosystem what the best direction of travel for phage therapy is. Is there a niche or is it going to be every indication will work with phage if you get the right phage, the right formulation and the right administration, it’ll always work. Or are there specific patient populations where phage is going to be superior to anything else? And so I think rather than putting all our investment into one particular and making out, we knew the answer to that question straight away. We wanted to invest more broadly and try to use our investment to try and advance the field to understand where phage therapy could be most useful.

28:48  Steven Yang
Right. Well, that’s leadership mindset here. Yeah.

28:52  Richard Alm
I can just thank our funders because they supported that.

28:55  Steven Yang
So yeah. So one aspect that is interesting to me is because looking at your phage portfolio, investing through a through a four, you mentioned none of them are phage therapy in the most traditional sense. They’re all using some kind of innovation like locus biosciences, of course. Like they’re trying to do different kind of engineering stuff directly using phage, using this virus specific bacteria to treat bacterial infections. And I’m just wondering, what’s the cost for that? Are you just looking for something that’s more innovative?

29:35  Richard Alm
So we, you mean like the CRISPR engineering?

00;29;40  Steven Yang

29:41  Richard Alm
Yeah. So there was some evidence that, you know, that locus, the locus had the CRISPR engineering. I mean, we have three CRISPR phage actually in the program, you know, in our programs, different CRISPR systems. But I think that there was some evidence that the use of CRISPR can also increase the speed of killing, which I think is important. I think we didn’t we didn’t certainly didn’t go into our investment saying we only wanted to invest in CRISPR phage. That wasn’t a high priority choice that we made. But I think as we looked at the programs that had the best data package when they applied because obviously the application process that CARB-X is the final stage is where they come in and they present that have submitted a large dossier of written information. But then they come in and present to an advisory board that’s objective outside of CARB-X. And we built an advisory board that had some experience in bacteriophage when they came and presented, it was really to holistically look at the data package and then deliberately try and say, okay, well this is where these different technologies differ. And then if we can’t decide which one is better, well then we should give both a chance to see. Let the data tell us which one is better and be data driven. And so we certainly didn’t go in so we were only going to fund engineered phage. I think that was just serendipity. But I will say that the different CRISPR systems bring different attributes. I think the you know, we have one program that uses phage purely as a non-replicated delivery device, which is a, you know, specific delivery of payload. You know, we have some that will replicate at the site of infection, which I think brings very unique pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, if you like relationship because you’re actually making your product at the site of infection, which for a small molecule never happens. So I think the ability to actually produce more drug at the site of infection will change the way we have to model pharmacodynamic response.

32:21  Steven Yang
Yeah if we’re going to say if there’s something have in common about these companies that have been selected or be their data package will be a little bit more mature compared to the rest.

32:33  Richard Alm
Yeah. So we have well mature so, so certainly there’s a couple that are late stage and so their data package was more mature. There was a I think locus. If you pull them out specifically, their particular program that we’re funding was that it was in a slightly earlier stage but they as a company had had taken one of their products basically into man. So they had demonstrated their ability to take a product into a traditional, more traditional clinical trial. Yeah. So I think it’s a combination of the data package that they had already generated and they presented their underlying thesis as to what patient population they were going to try and treat. And I think people often ask me, what advice do you give to small companies as they’re, you know, developing a product and thinking of applying. And my usual answer is, look, you’ve got to start with the end in mind. Think about the patients you’re trying to treat, what is unique about them and what aspect of that infection do you need to make sure that you can address with your product being a bacteriophage or being, you know, a small molecule or being a vaccine or anything. Think about the patient population because ultimately that’s what’s going to drive the success of your product if you’re making your medicine. And so if you think about, you know, the first step, you have to have the end in mind. The journey may be very different, but the destination, you have to understand your destination. And so I think that certainly with the if you just thinking about out of the sub portfolio stage companies we certainly looked at the differences of indications that those these companies were targeting as well to say, okay, they understood the patient populations, they presented a good thesis as to how they feel that phage would be able to address those patient populations and had a road map of how they were going to, you know, prosecute that project. And so I think it’s a combination of stage of development, data package and vision for how to get to that, you know, to the final product.

35:05  Steven Yang

Great. That’s a very good perspective because I was going to ask you about I guess my original question was going to ask, how do you see the phage has more competitive advantage to compared to other antimicrobial products. But I guess kind of I feel like your answer is going to be it’s really not about competing with each other. It’s really about how each solution should be finding the right target, the right population for treatment.

35:36  Richard Alm
Yeah, that’s definitely part of it. And I think that’s true. I do think that the specificity of phage treatment, I think is also very attractive. You know, as long as we can couple up with high quality and high confidence diagnosis of what’s causing the infection I think over the years, you know, over the last 20 years, we’ve understood a lot more about the risks of broad spectrum killing of bacteria with, say, a small molecule because of the the damage it can do on your microbiome and the dysbiosis that it can cause. And then, you know, obviously the C difficile grow back and stuff. So I think that the precision of killing a bacteriophage is one of its or one of its strongest attributes that if you can go in and, you know, I hate to say surgically remove the pathogen that’s causing the infection and leave everything else untouched. That obviously from a patient perspective is the best outcome because you’re removing that. You know, the organism that’s causing the problem, but you’re leaving everything, everything else untouched so that it doesn’t cause dysbiosis or any other side effects. The question is, how well can we harness that with bacteriophage and, you know, harking back to the diagnosis but I think that knowing which patient populations you can remove enough of the bacteria to allow the patient to recover is also important. And so that’s where it comes to patient populations in my mind. I mean, so if the patient is extremely immunocompromised, you need to understand how much of the infecting pathogen you need to reduce to have the patient recover. I think the phages ability to, certainly some phages ability to penetrate biofilms is important. In some of those volume associated infections, small molecules often can’t penetrate that. And so I think having bacteriophage in those types of infections is also important. And it may be that a combination of small molecule and bacteriophage is going to be the best treatment. Right. And so I think that, again, in the confines of a controlled clinical trial to understand that combination therapy of phage plus traditional antibiotic is going to be something that’s worth studying, because that may ultimately be, you know, the best treatment for patients. You get that, you know, fast, fast killing by the bacteriophage and then and then the more prolonged effect of an antibacterial. And there’s also evidence to say that there can be some synergy, which is, you know, which is really good for the patient. So I think there are many attributes we need to understand about bacteriophage, but I think that they will play an important role as we move forward.

38:47  Steven Yang
That’s something we’re all happy to hear. Well, we are running a little late on time, Dr. Alm. But before we let you go today, final question. Is CARB-X still accepting new applications? And if yes, what recommendation would you give to the people just entering the market to prepare?

39:06  Richard Alm
Yeah. So I think the answer is CARB-X. The original grant to CARB-X was a five-year grant from BARDA. And that’s coming to an end back in the middle of 2021, BARDA announced a broad agency competitive application code for biopharmaceutical accelerate, which is what CARB-X was and their commitment to fund such an accelerator for ten years, which is a tremendous commitment by the U.S. government. Now, the group at Boston University, we applied for that and we’re waiting. And so hopefully, I mean, they will certainly be a biopharmaceutical accelerator, whether it’s the group at Boston University or another one that they choose is unknown yet. But I think that whichever group gets that, there will be application calls immediately because as that new funding comes in, then there will be money to spend on innovative emerging technologies. In terms of the advice that I would give anyone that’s applying for these types of funds, it’s probably, probably multi-pronged. I think it’s you know, I’ve already mentioned come in with a knowledge about the patient population you’re trying to treat. I think that’s you know, having the end in mind is very important. It doesn’t matter even if you’re early and hit lead, you may not have your full clinical development strategy developed. You almost won’t. But you still should have a vision as to where you want to go. Be extremely conscious about presenting pertinent data and have, you know, the application is confidential and so be as data rich as you can, acknowledge what gaps you have and come up with a plan as how to most expeditiously fill those gaps with data that can convince you one way or another. I think, you know, all of us scientists realize that not everything is going to work every time. The best product developers know how to take data and pivot and understand where they can improve rather than just being blunt. Never be afraid to get the right answer right. Even if that answer may not be what you want to hear for the development of your product, it’ll inform the next generation of your product, which will be even better. Right? Right. Science is an iterative learning process and I think we all need to learn from that. So I think that’s my advice. I think start with patient in mind. Be as data rich as you can, acknowledge your gaps and how you’re going to fill them.

41:49  Steven Yang
Great. Wonderful. Yeah. Well, thanks so much for joining us today, Dr. Alm. And I guess good luck to all the companies in your portfolio.

41:57  Richard Alm
It’s been my pleasure. It’s been wonderful. I think going on this journey with CARB-X and seeing so many innovative technologies and I hope to be able to continue doing that.

42:08  Steven Yang
That’s Dr. Richard Alm. I’m Steven Yang, and this is phage therapy today. Thanks again for your support and listening to our podcast, if you like it. Follow us and give us five stars in the end. Happy holidays.