The Korea Herald


From pandemic preparedness to AI, experts to offer glimpse into future of bio industry

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : Nov. 20, 2023 - 14:23

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Global leaders from governments, the scientific community, the private sector, and international organizations related to vaccines and biologics, discuss Global leaders from governments, the scientific community, the private sector, and international organizations related to vaccines and biologics, discuss "The Future of Vaccine and Bio-health," at the World Bio Summit 2022 in Seoul. (The Ministry of Health and Welfare)

The World Bio Summit 2023 will gather experts to address a wide range of topics on the future of the bio industry, from pandemic preparedness to applications of artificial intelligence, organizers said Sunday.

“In the presence of global leaders from governments, the scientific community, the private sector, and international organizations related to vaccine and biologics, the two-day Summit will explore what we have achieved for enabling a pandemic preparedness and response ecosystem and showcase where and how we move forward, focusing on delivering safe, effective, and affordable countermeasures against infectious diseases in a short timeline,” the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea said.

The list of speakers includes Seamus O'Brien, R&D director at the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, who is set to speak about an integrated antibiotic development and access strategy to support pandemic preparedness.

Although antibiotics are the foundation of modern medicine, and they have protected human beings against harmful bacteria, antibiotic resistance caused more than 1.2 million deaths worldwide in 2019. O'Brien will stress the need to address antibiotic resistance considering the future pandemic and further explain the GARDP's strategic objectives.

They include the development and deployment of a strategic portfolio of treatments for priority infections, building a continuous public health pathway from a priority drug to a treatment for patients, implementation of adaptive collaboration and partnership models, addressing a global issue by targeting local disease burden and supporting countries public health needs.

Carmen Perez Casas, senior strategy lead of Unitaid, will focus on accelerating pandemic therapeutics development and manufacturing. Unitaid is an international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on addressing some of the world’s biggest health challenges, such as HIV, TB and malaria, children’s health, and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

Casas' session will highlight sustainable and scalable regional R&D and manufacturing capacity with business models that adapt to pandemic-relevant products. Casas will also stress the need for equitable access to therapeutics in the next pandemic.

According to Casas, now is the time to prepare by developing access-oriented products from the outset, securing access-focused financing, filling capacity gaps to avoid delays, and coordinating strategies across all medical countermeasures.

Petro Terblanche, CEO of Afrigen Biologics, will introduce Afrigen Biologics, a biotechnology company based in Cape Town, South Africa, that focuses on product development, bulk adjuvant manufacturing, and supply and distribution of key biologicals.

Terblanche will talk about mRNA, a type of molecule that contains instructions for cells on making proteins using its natural machinery.

Afrigen's focus on global collaboration for mRNA innovation will be highlighted. Through international partnerships and local capacity building, Afrigen has established the first-ever adjuvant production and formulation technology center on the African continent, according to the company.

This center focuses on next-generation vaccine adjuvants, which are geared at preventing disease and have therapeutic value. These adjuvants confer added potency and durability to vaccines.

Emanuele Montomoli, President and CSO of Vismederi, will bring VisMederi, a Siena in Italy-based research company in the life sciences and public health to center stage to demonstrate its role in supporting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an alliance launched to finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines to end the epidemic.

The research company receives orders worldwide in vaccines, where it conducts analytical testing of biological samples and validation of bioanalytical methods for the pharmaceutical industry. VisMederi is a part of CEPI's COVID-19 vaccine lab network, focusing on analyzing samples against the most relevant variants of concern.

Ricardo Baptista Leite, CEO of HealthAI, a Geneva-based company that focuses on uses of AI for health care, will address a brief history of the technology that enabled rapid diagnosis and detection of COVID-19 despite a shortage of health care workers.

Leite will outline HealthAI's strategic direction of building validation mechanisms on responsible AI for health and delivering advisory support on policies and regulations.

Speakers at the 2023 World Bio Summit will also include Rachel Park, director of business development at Eubiologics; Sudeep Kumar, senior vice president of Biological E; Morena Makhoana, CEO of Biovac; Willo Brock, executive vice president of FIND.