Interview with Jeremy Bridge-Cook, President & CEO
Q. You’ve worked in some very senior roles in the US In Vitro Diagnostics industry. Why did you decide to join Rna Diagnostics, a small Canadian startup?
A. Rna Diagnostics provides an opportunity to commercialize a game-changing technology that promises to radically improve the treatment of cancer patients. I joined Rna Diagnostics because I believe we can help cancer patients worldwide avoid ineffective chemotherapy and unnecessary side-effects and have a better chance of disease-free survival. My goal is to lead Rna Diagnostics through the initial commercialization of the RNA Disruption Assay™ (RDA™) in primary breast cancer and to build a company that delivers rational cancer treatment services to cancer clinics worldwide. I also appreciated that Rna Diagnostics has a powerful and well protected platform technology applicable to multiple cancers and chemotherapy regimens and a service lab business model which allows us to go to market very quickly. All of these factors, along with the impressive team in place, contributed to my decision to join Rna Diagnostics.
Q. How will your previous professional experience, at Tm Bioscience and Luminex Corporation, further the success of Rna Diagnostics?
A. I’ve developed many clinical diagnostic products for commercial markets, run manufacturing organizations, and managed sales and marketing organizations so I will focus the company on the right strategic priorities and drive execution of the business plan. The depth and breadth of IVD industry experience I have accumulated during my career combined with my training as a scientist and my deep knowledge of molecular biology will help the company move forward successfully. And the company is ready for this next phase based on the great work done by Dr. Pritzker and the team.
Q. What priorities will you focus on initially?
A. The transition, thanks to Dr. Pritzker, former CEO and now Chief Innovation Officer, has been seamless and it’s clear the top priority for the company is to launch the commercialization of RDA™. We have been, and will continue to, engage oncologists at breast cancer centres in Europe and North America as Early Access Partners (EAPs). These EAPs will work with us to utilize RDA™ in their clinical practices. They will spread knowledge and experience of RDA™ to their peers by speaking at conferences and publishing scientific papers. The second priority is to complete accreditation of our production laboratory in Sudbury to provide clinical lab services to customers around the world.
Q. How would you describe current chemotherapy management for breast cancer and the impact RDA™ could have for these patients?
A. Doctors are making the best possible use of the tools they have available to them, but there is room for improvement that could have significant beneficial impact for patients. The problem right now is that doctors don’t know which chemotherapy drugs will help which patients. They are not able to measure tumour response to chemotherapy in real-time. RDA™ makes real time monitoring possible. RDA™ enables doctors to identify if a patient is responding to a particular chemotherapy, and if not, switch rapidly to another drug that may be more effective. The impact will be to save lives, reduce terrible side effects, and save the healthcare system money.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
A. I live in Toronto with my wife, Philippa and our three children. When I’m not working, or chauffeuring the kids around town, I enjoy competitive cross bike racing and kayaking at our cottage north of Toronto.
First Patient accrued in Head and Neck trial utilizing RDA™ in new indication
The first patient has been accrued for a trial utilizing RDA™ in a new indication; assessing response to chemoradiotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. This trial could significantly decrease the long-term morbidity of chemoradiotherapy for head and neck cancer, producing significant improvements in quality of life. Dr. Andrew Pearce, Chief of Oncology, Northeast Cancer Centre of Health Sciences North in Sudbury is the lead Principal Investigator.
“Head and neck cancer treatment side effects can be devastating to patients so assessment of treatment efficacy with RDA could impact patient outcomes and quality of life significantly,” said Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, Chief Scientific Officer of Rna Diagnostics. “We expect that RDA will provide critical information to clinicians to help guide treatment decisions as it does in breast cancer.”
Patients will be enrolled from the head and neck cancer clinic of the Northeast Cancer Centre of Health Sciences North, Sudbury, Ontario. Funding for the study is provided by the Northern Ontario Academic Medicine Association Clinical Innovation Fund.
New study utilizing RDA™ in canine lymphoma underway as first dogs accrued
The first dogs have been accrued in the recently announced new study to investigate RDA™ as a predictor for chemotherapy efficacy in canine lymphoma in partnership with University of Guelph Institute for Comparative Cancer Investigation and the Mona Campbell Centre for Animal Cancer at the Ontario Veterinary College. This study of canine lymphoma is based on the success of an initial canine lymphoma study completed in 2014.
Lymphoma is one of the most prevalent cancers for dogs, and is frequently treated with combination chemotherapy. This study will focus on dogs who have failed to achieve initial remission or have relapsed and for whom rescue therapy is now being utilized.
“We hope to determine whether RDA™ can predict how well dogs with advanced lymphoma respond to their chemotherapy early in treatment, so they could be switched to another more effective chemotherapy if necessary.Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that all dogs with lymphoma get the best treatments we have available. Since lymphoma in dogs is very similar to lymphoma in humans, the results of this study may also improve our understanding and treatment of human cancer,” said Dr. Brenda Coomber, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences; PhD; Co-Director, University of Guelph Institute for Comparative Cancer Investigation, and Principle Investigator for the study.
The Ontario Centres of Excellence Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II fund has provided $100,000 for the study.
By predicting survival outcome early during treatment, RDA has the potential to spare many dogs from ineffective drugs, enhance their survival outcome and save money. The overall potential from the clinical utility of RDA™ is broad because RDA™ is applicable in several types of cancer that affect not only humans but also companion animals.