Interview with Dr Alex Matter, CEO Of Experimental Therapeutics Center A*STAR and an oncology expert

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Dr Alex Matter is no stranger oncology experts. Formerly the Global Head of Oncology Research at Novartis, he also played an important role in the success of several anticancer drugs, including Gleevec/Glivec® and more recently, Tasigna® and several other anticancer drugs as well as one HIV protease inhibitor (Reyataz®) that is marketed by another company. Ahead of Dr Matter joining us at the 10th BioPharma Asia Convention 2017, we’re delighted he shared a preview of what you can expect to hear in his session, “Changing landscape in First-in-Human studies, in the era of targeted drugs and immunotherapy


Q: In your opinion, what needs to be done in preparing our generation for creating personalised medicine in the future?

Matter: Some would argue that good doctors have always practiced personalised medicine. What is changing is the power of resolution in genomics medicine. It is my impression that we are just starting to scratch the surface of what personalised medicine might offer. The challenge will be to offer state-of-the-art medicine at affordable cost. We are far away from a solution of this thorny problem.


Q: What inspires you to stay in Singapore and to manage ETC and D3 platform?

Matter: It is a truly exciting task to tackle, in close collaboration with mostly academic collaborators, novel drug targets, to discover candidates for preclinical development and to bring these to Proof-of-Concept in man, based on tolerability, biomarker activity and early clinical read-out’s


Q: What do you see as the best Asia biomedical breakthrough in 2016? 

Matter: The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2016 was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi from Japan “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy”. This is a ground-breaking discovery which may hold the key to understanding neurodegenerative disease, type 2 diabetes and others.


Q: What is your advice for young scientists working in biomedical research?

Matter: Look around, travel, work overseas in various environments and collect those experiences that seem most important to you.


Q: Back to the topic of your presentation, is immunotherapy the future of medicine?

Matter: It is a given that immunotherapy will be an important addition to the armamentarium of oncologists. It is a cure for some but not the majority of patients. There is still much more work to do.



Dr Alex Matter and his team at Experimental Therapeutic Center (ETC), an unit of A*STAR will also be hosting our site tour for the 10th BioPharma Asia Convention 2017, Singapore happening next 21-23 March 2017. Book now to join us.

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