Dr. Leen Kawas, Propel Bio Partners’ co-founder and managing general partner, discusses how the biotechnology industry has changed throughout the past several years and highlights the most prominent developments.

As the global biotechnology industry continues its 21st-century expansion, this highly diverse field shows no signs of slowing its growth. In 2023, market research firm Grand View Research valued the worldwide biotech market at USD 1.55 trillion.

From 2024 to 2030, the aggregate biotechnology market is predicted to expand at a compound annual growth rate (or CAGR) of 13.96 percent. Grand View Research believes the biotechnology industry’s growth is continuing to accelerate. Rapid-fire biotech advances in the United States and other industry-leading countries seem to support this prediction.

Snapshot of the Biotech Industry in 2024

Today, biotechnology encompasses numerous disciplines including bioimaging, cellular and tissue engineering, genetics, genomics, and molecular biology. Each year, forward-thinking biotech firms develop technologies that enable more accurate diagnostic capabilities.

Biotech companies also innovate new products and therapies to treat specific diseases. New platform technologies are often applicable to multiple medical conditions. New data gathering and interpretation techniques enable more streamlined research applications.

In the United States, multiple government initiatives show promise in modernizing often-cumbersome regulatory infrastructure. Government entities are also involved in clinical studies standardization initiatives.

3 Key Areas of Innovation

The biotechnology industry has seen numerous advancements in recent years. Leen Kawas, Ph. D. discusses three notable innovations, each of which can potentially benefit a specific audience across the globe.

COVID-19 Enhanced Drug Development Opportunities

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased biotechnology firms’ drug development activity. In fact, this global event spurred multiple companies’ aggressive pursuit of successful drug candidates. A drug’s Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) approval opened the door to large-scale vaccination manufacturing contracts.

To illustrate, in 2021, drug manufacturers produced more than 11 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine worldwide. This translated into vaccinations for approximately one-half of the globe’s population. In addition, the mRNA vaccines’ success, combined with faster approval processes, have provided drug manufacturers with higher vaccine-related revenues.

Higher Demand for Chronic Disease Clinical Solutions

Across the globe, more people are becoming affected by chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and age-linked macular degeneration. Increasingly robust demand for clinical solutions is expected to continue.

To illustrate, major companies are in the investigational and developmental phases of pipeline products targeted to large-scale disorders. Cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and diabetes are high on the list.

Resources are also being allocated toward the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Dr. Leen Kawas’ grandmother was impacted by Alzheimer’s, giving Dr. Kawas an incentive to find an effective therapy for the disease.

Increasingly Accepted Biotechnological Methodologies

Biotechnological methodologies, or platform technologies, are designed to address a range of medical conditions. These technologies include stem cell technology, genetic engineering, and DNA fingerprinting. During the past few years, these complex technologies have begun to enjoy wider acceptance.

To illustrate, an enhanced personalized medicine focus has increased the stem cell technologies market. This marketplace need has spurred the development of innovative stem cell therapeutic agents.

Biotechnology Advancements in Developing Countries

The United States is generally recognized as a biotechnology powerhouse. Large corporations and start-up businesses alike are involved in diverse biotech ventures. Multiple companies engage in ongoing drug development work while other firms pursue promising medical therapies.

However, certain developing countries have recently entered the competitive biotechnology arena. Governmental entities in these nations frequently sponsor biotech initiatives designed to speed up product approvals and streamline medication regulatory efforts.

Emerging countries are also beginning to see biotechnology investments to combat the rise in chronic and infectious diseases. These nations are also receiving research and development funds geared to the advancement of innovative genomic techniques.

As would be expected, developing countries’ biotech market expansion will be enhanced by more healthcare infrastructure and spending. Concurrently, these nations can now benefit from less-expensive disease diagnostic processes. Together, these developments can help stimulate beneficial economies of scale and related practices.

Dr. Leen Kawas Combines Entrepreneurial and Technological Expertise

Dr. Leen Kawas combines proven experience in the biotechnology industry’s entrepreneurial and technological arenas. Dr. Kawas is Propel Bio Partners’ Managing General Partner. This Los Angeles-based biotechnology venture capital firm partners with top-tier start-ups and early-stage biotech entrepreneurs.

Dr. Kawas works with companies that thrive on creativity, innovation, and discipline. Founders with a longer-term outlook, and a commitment to thorough due diligence, receive strong consideration. Although she actively seeks out women- and minority-owned firms, Dr. Kawas is open to pitches from all founders.

Investment Candidate Selection Criteria

Dr. Leen Kawas details her investment selection requirements. ‘Specifically, the candidate must have a clear advantage relative to the competition. Again, we’re not going into areas where it’s very busy, it’s product Number 10. No, it has to be first-in-class or best-in-class. Sometimes, you could have a product that is so clear, and from the outside, it could appear that this is an indication that this is a product that is de-risked.

‘[However], you’re not only approving the product and the mechanism of action of how the product is working. You’re also evaluating the clinical strategy, clinical development,

and execution. Do you believe that this management can execute?’ Dr. Leen Kawas asked.

Resourceful Management is Key

The United States biotechnology industry moves at a rapid pace. Managers are often tasked with making quick, complex decisions that could enable the company’s path forward or help relegate it into oblivion. Therefore, Dr. Leen Kawas focuses on finding managers comfortable with this decision-making dynamic.

‘We spend a lot of time with management. The unique thing about [the] life science industry is you cannot make decisions in isolation. If you’re making a financial or a corporate decision, you have to think about the product development [and] the science.

‘It’s always multifactorial decision-making. Do we believe that this CEO or this management group are going to be able to make effective decisions with shifts in the

financial environment, with shifts in the regulatory environment, taking advantage of opportunities that are out there?’ Dr. Kawas queried.

Dr. Leen Kawas’ Preparation for Her Propel Bio Partners’ Role

Prior to Dr. Leen Kawas’ current role, she served as Athira Pharma, Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer (or CEO). During Dr. Kawas’ time at Athira, she managed multiple drug development cycles. She also successfully coordinated Athira Pharma’s September 2020 Initial Public Offering. For her remarkable achievements, Dr. Kawas received multiple industry accolades.

Dr. Leen Kawas Thrives on Opportunities and Challenges

Today, Dr. Leen Kawas embraces the opportunity to positively impact the biotechnology industry’s continued growth. She also feels well-equipped to address the inevitable challenges that will arise. Working with talented Propel Bio Partners team members, and providing guidance for the firm’s biotech entrepreneurs, she is confident she is on the right path.

This story originally appeared on https://www.sacramentonews.net/news/274132002/dr-leen-kawas-highlights-the-biotechnology-industrys-expansion-and-discusses-key-developments

--

--

Leen Kawas

Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology and entrepreneur