Pictured above: Kevin Hrusovsky, PPH Founder; Tyler Shultz, CEO Flux Biosciences Inc; Lyanne Alfaro, Nasdaq
Powering Precision Health Summit Convenes the World’s Most Renowned Scientific Innovators Advancing Biomarker Technologies
Fourth annual Summit in Barcelona, Spain gathered more than 250 attendees and 40+ speakers revealing the latest in scientific biomarker research across neurology and oncology
Powering Precision Health (PPH), the internationally acclaimed Summit focused on precision health and the latest in biomarker research, drew record attendance at its fourth-annual event held Nov. 19 in Barcelona, Spain, convening the world’s foremost scientists and medical leaders in precision health to introduce novel and disruptive research across the fields of neurology and oncology.
“The PPH Summit continues to evolve and grow as the global epicenter for transforming healthcare with the use of non-invasive biochemical biomarkers, and this year’s event was no exception,” said Kevin Hrusovsky, PPH Founder. “PPH Summit is a unique opportunity to collaborate on the many seminal advances in measuring biomarkers minimally invasively, understanding their role in health, personalized treatment and disease prevention from a global community of scientific leaders. The research around blood-based biomarkers is gaining significant traction in the healthcare industry. The 2019 Summit offered us the chance to discuss and debate credible advances toward the clinic in drug development utilizing biomarkers and the mounting body of evidence these breakthroughs are advancing in preventative medicine around the world. We are excited to see so many of today’s leading medical innovators, investors and patient advocates focused on utilizing disruptive biomarker technologies to advance the science that powers precision health.”
Hrusovsky kicked off the Summit with a talk entitled, “Vision to Reality: Disrupting Healthcare with Digital Biomarkers,” highlighting the growing clinical evidence for neurofilament light (Nf-L) as a blood biomarker for detecting, prognosing and monitoring neurodegenerative conditions, and driving new biomarker research breakthroughs in oncology and immuno-oncology. The attendees were energized for an important day of discussions, tackling high-priority disease areas such as cancer and neurodegeneration with blood-based biomarkers as evidenced by the more than 40 research presentations shared at the event alone. There are now over 650 third-party peer-reviewed publications highlighting disruptive biomarker technologies for early disease detection, drug development and disease prevention.
Attendees were also treated to a fireside chat-style Q&A, “Fraud is Not a Trade Secret,” with Tyler Shultz, CEO of Flux Biosciences, Inc., widely known as the Theranos whistleblower, which highlighted the importance of PPH’s impact on restoring transparency and investor trust. Hosted by “Nasdaq Spotlight” correspondent Lyanne Alfaro, Shultz and Hrusovsky discussed the importance of ethics, accountability and nurturing a culture of transparency and open debate in medical innovation and entrepreneurship.
Highlights from PPH 2019 Neurology Track include research presentations further revealing the advantages of Quanterix’ Simoa technology in enabling sensitive detection of important biomarkers in many neurological diseases. In particular, several talks highlighted the role of Nf-L as a promising diagnosis and treatment monitoring biomarker in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and suggested that it is getting close to becoming a clinically relevant tool. Nf-L was also reported as a promising biomarker for several other neurodegenerative diseases such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Huntington disease and peripheral neuropathies. In one of the presentations, new data revealed that Nf-L levels were elevated in mutation carriers several years prior to clinical symptoms of Huntington disease, observations similar to those published earlier for ALS, AD, FTD and MS. The collective data suggests that Nf-L may become a screening tool for people at risk for developing neurodegenerative diseases earlier, and will in turn facilitate clinical trials, and eventually a better chance for people suffering from those diseases, to be treated earlier and more successfully. Additionally, new data was also presented on phosphorylated tau and its potential to aid in detection of amyloid pathologies when used in combination with other biomarkers, such as amyloid beta isoforms 40 and 42. Many PPH speakers continuously emphasized the importance of panels of biomarkers that allow identification of specific disease mechanisms and endophenotypes in the future.
Andrew Beard, Head of Business Development and Companion Diagnostics, Molecular Services US at Siemens Healthineers, talked about the transition of a biomarker from research to clinical use. He also described the importance of combining imaging with molecular measurements, including Nf-L. Beard described development of the Nf-L assay on the automated immunoanalyzer to support future global use of Nf-L in clinic.
The PPH 2019 Oncology Track featured research extolling the benefits of ultra-sensitive immunoassays for biomarker analysis in clinical samples, as well as analytical and diagnostic validation of single and multiplex protein biomarkers for the detection of cancer. The expert panel discussion, “Applying Digital Protein Biomarkers to Oncology & Immuno-Oncology: Is the Time Now?” addressed the critical nature of using “fit for purpose” validated biomarkers to advance drug discovery and development efforts for anti-angiogenesis inhibitors, immuno-oncology and other key inflammatory applications, breast cancer, and how to choose and implement relevant biomarkers in clinical practice.
“PPH is about collaboration; it’s what we can learn from each other. That’s going to get us answers much faster than working independently,” continued Hrusovsky. “Scientific breakthroughs shared at this year’s event are creating a groundswell of new opportunities for seeing disease earlier in the cascade and long before symptoms present and hopefully leading to new strategies for drug development, therapy response and prevention.”
The PPH 2019 Summit was made possible thanks to the generosity of multiple sponsors who embraced the vision of precision health, including: Biogen, Novartis, BTIG, Quanterix, Canaccord Genuity, Cowen Group, C2N, Adx NeuroSciences, Leerink, JP Morgan, Avison Young, Mintz Levin and Octave BioSciences.
Presentations are available for viewing here and in addition, watch the panel discussion on “Challenges and Opportunities for Blood Tests for Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, and ALS,” featuring several of today’s leading scientific minds hailing from the University Hospital of Basel, the University of Gothenburg, Memorial Healthcare and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. To learn more about the PPH Summit, visit: https://poweringprecisionhealth.org.