Levent Shih-Jen Liu, Investigator and CEO of the bioproduction plant at the Taiwan National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology is a highly experienced researcher working on novel vaccine development technique. Joining us at Phar-East in Singapore, Levent will speak on a core platform technology which their team has developed to help high volume production of recombinant lipoproteins with built-in potentiation for novel subunit vaccine development. Prior to the conference, we asked Levent several questions to give you some background on what you should expect from his presentation:
Q: Please give us a little background of your work at National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology
National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology is one of the institutes in National Health Research Institutes (NHRI)- a government-funded organization. I am an investigator in the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. My research interest is to develop infectious and cancer vaccines using recombinant lipoprotein technologies. The technology is a platform for vaccine development that can generate high immunogenic antigen in E.Coli expression system. We have developed therapeutic human papillomavirus vaccine for HPV-associated diseases which was licensed by the local company in 2016. Currently, we are interested in tumor-associated antigens ( i.e. mesothelin, survivin and TM4SF1) for cancer vaccines.
Recently, I was assigned to be an acting CEO of Bioproduction Plant in NHRI. The Bioproduction Plant is a pilot scale vaccine production plant. There are two PIC/S GMP products (BCG vaccine and anti-venoms) have been certified by Taiwan FDA. The cell-based influenza vaccines (H5N1 and H7N9) and EV71 vaccine were produced for clinical trials. In addition, we also produced recombinant lipoprotein-based vaccines (meningococcal group B vaccine and cancer vaccine).
Q: In your opinion, how will the Taiwan vaccine industry grow in the next 5 years?
The vaccine market is not big in Taiwan. The low birth rate is a problem in Taiwan. The numbers of newborn babies are 208,000 in 2016. Except BCG vaccine and anti-venoms, only one company (Adimmune) provide vaccines (seasonal flu vaccine, tetanus vaccine and JEV vaccine) in the market. They also have EV71 and H7N9 vaccine under development. However, there are many company were invested in the new vaccines development in recent years. The MVC (Medigene Vaccine Biologicals) has finished the phase II clinical trials of EV71 and H7N9 vaccines. The phase III clinical trials will be start soon. The Vax Genetics Vaccine has finished the phase I clinical trial of the therapeutic HPV vaccine. Some vaccines are under preclinical studies in different company.
In my point of view, the different vaccines will be launched in the next 5 years in Taiwan. The EV71, H7N9, Dengue vaccine could be the potential vaccines that can be used in human. The vaccine company will increased significantly. Currently, the government has a special grant to support the vaccine development. In addition, the industry-academia grant is encouraged. The government policy can drive the new vaccines development in Taiwan.
Q: What do you think as the next biggest research trend in Taiwan biotech R&D sector
In addition to the vaccine development, the oncoimmunotherapy and precision medicine will be the major direction in the future. Although the cancer immunotherapy has been underestimated its potential, the successful story for checkpoint blockade and CAR-T cell therapy bring the new hope for cancer immunotherapy. There are 6 checkpoint blockades were approved by US FDA, and a lot of similar drugs are under development. The CAR T-cell therapy was approved to treat certain type of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In Taiwan, some new innovative company jump into the CAR-T cell therapy and monoclonal antibody therapy field. The regulatory uncertainty for CAR-T cell therapy will be the major challenge. The precision medicine is based on the genetic sequencing and establishment of big-data to achieve the personalized therapy. Some company like to collaborate with academia to develop new therapeutic approaches. Recently, the gut microbiota has been reported that link to the human diseases include cancer, immune regulation, neuron diseases and metabolic diseases. Because the closed relationship between microbiota and human health, the application of the microbiota could be the next battle for biotechnology company.
Q: Who/what company would you like to meet at Phar-East 2018?
I will present out vaccine platform technology in this conference. The technology can be applied in various vaccines include human and animal vaccines. I will be happy to meet with the companies looking to develop new vaccines, interested in investing in new vaccines under pre-clinical stage.
Levent is one of 120+ speakers participating at Phar-East 2018. Visit our website for more information: www.terrapinn.com/phar-east/
About Phar-East 2018
From humble beginnings as BioMedical Asia in 2008, BioPharma Asia has attracted close to 20,000 attendees over the last 10 years. Established as a true one-stop shop for all things biopharma, our 2018 program is rebranded into Phar East 2018 to explore innovation in clinical trials, manufacturing, supply chain, market access, partnering, pricing, and more without restricting itself on the type and nature of therapeutic products. Visit our website for more information: www.terrapinn.com/phar-east/