Gene Therapy Meeting Draws Record Numbers to Make a Difference

According to a report by MedCityNews, gene therapies have been catching increasing interest. They’ve been popular in the news and hot talk among medical professionals, but it seems like the buzz is catching on. One meeting multiplied its attendance nearly four times from 350 to over 1200. Why has attendance spiked in such a way? Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for more information.

Alliance for Regenerative Medicine

Every year for the last 13 years, the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM) has hosted its annual Cell and Gene Meeting. The first meeting took place in 2006. At that time it only attracted around 350 scientists. This relatively small group of researchers maintained interest in the field despite adversity. Much of the world perceived gene therapies as impossible or dangerous, due to some early failures in testing, including the death of a patient.

Recent success by more modern technologies, however, have flipped the script. As CAR-T therapies gain traction and approvals, interest continues to grow. Scientists, and businesses alike are pursuing gene therapies with greater vigor. This year’s conference brought in around 1,200 people. The previous year saw an attendance of about 900.

All Together Now

Now the meeting draws a number of different entities. Nearly the entire field of gene therapy research is represented in some way. According to one CEO, “all major pharma companies are active in this space.” Each one attends the meeting as a way to scout new opportunities, or to promote their own.

One example is the group known as BlueRock Therapeutics. BlueRock designs therapies for autoimmune disorders. In order to do so, the group uses pluripotent stem cells. Their research also extends into cardiology, neurology, and Parkinson’s. The group’s reach is extending. Their research appears more and more useful. With this new territory come a variety of challenges. Not the least of which is that BlueRock lacks the finances to pursue all of these possibilities independently. Thus, the annual meeting provides an opportunity to find investors and stakeholders.

Another company present was Organovo, which originally focused on creating 3D-printed organ tissue. Specifically, the company has worked on finding ways to use this technology to create help create 3D-printed samples for pre-clinical toxicity studies investigating therapies for liver and kidney disease. Athersys is another group providing novel solutions with a product called MultiStem. This treatment focuses on patients with heart disease, inflammatory, and immune disorders, and stroke. The product is intended to be a readily available, easy-to-use form of cell therapy.

As the number of attendees has increased, so too have the number and power of ideas. According to ARM’s former chair, that’s what the meeting is all about. “ARM was built on the idea that we’re going to work together to solve some thorny issues.”

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