Becker's Healthcare Virtual Event 2024 - Matthias Kleinz

Navigating Biopharma Innovation: Insights from Matthias Kleinz at Becker’s Healthcare Virtual Life Sciences Event

Events Translational Sciences UPMC Enterprises

The Becker’s Healthcare Virtual Life Sciences Event recently convened luminaries from the biopharma and life sciences industry, providing a platform for in-depth discussions on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities. Matthias Kleinz, DVM, PhD, Executive Vice President of Translational Sciences at UPMC Enterprises, the innovation, commercialization, and venture capital arm of UPMC, was among the distinguished speakers.

Dr. Kleinz’s session shed light on the rapid transformation occurring in the biopharma and life sciences sector. Advances in technology and groundbreaking research are propelling this evolution forward. However, with progress comes challenges — particularly in governance, access, and ethics. It is essential to approach innovation in a balanced manner that not only drives scientific and medical advances but also ensures the safety of patients and their data, along with increasing equitable access to therapies.

At the core of the discussion, Dr. Kleinz shared insight into UPMC Enterprises’ investment strategy, outlining three key areas of focus:

  1. Early-Stage Discovery Research: UPMC invests in translational academic research, bridging the gap between academic discovery, product development, and commercialization. This effort drives advancements in technologies toward commercialization in collaboration with industry.
  2. Venture Capital Investments: Supporting emerging and established technologies and companies driving towards clinical development of novel healthcare technologies is a priority for UPMC. The aim is to accelerate the path required to make these technologies available to patients at UPMC and across the globe.
  3. Strategic Partnerships: UPMC Enterprises actively seeks innovative health care partnerships. The goal is to effectively pilot and deploy novel technologies in clinical settings to prove their utility and clinical impact, ultimately driving meaningful adoption to improve patient care.

UPMC Enterprises boasts an expansive portfolio of startup companies that are addressing a range of diseases using a variety of modalities. When asked to describe the strategy behind investment at UPMC Enterprises, Dr. Kleinz said, “At UPMC, what we’re focused on is increasing health care access, improving outcomes, and ultimately trying to lower the cost of care. I think that is where we need to drive health care in the future, and we try to invest in companies across a digital and life sciences portfolio that can enable any or all of the above.”

Two recent examples of partnerships that are advancing and are particularly exciting to the translational team were highlighted by Dr. Kleinz:

  1. UPMC Enterprises is supporting research efforts on next-generation tumor-infiltrating T-cell (TIL) therapy for solid tumors in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. The recent FDA approval of the first TIL therapy for solid tumors is a significant milestone for the industry that provides momentum to ongoing work at UPMC.
  2. UPMC Enterprises’ partnership with portfolio company Cerevance, which is focused on revolutionizing Parkinson’s disease treatment, is showing promise by targeting a non-dopaminergic pathway that aims to deliver therapeutics benefits without the side effects associated with traditional dopaminergic therapies.

In the ever-changing realm of health care, the partnership between pharmaceutical companies and health systems plays a critical role. Dr. Kleinz articulated UPMC Enterprises’ perspective on these partnerships, emphasizing focus on strategic alignment with patient and organizational objectives, costs and risk-sharing, and the utilization of real-world clinical data.

The Translational Sciences team at Enterprises is closely monitoring AI advances and other industry trends to seize opportunities for leveraging powerful technology. Dr. Kleinz underscored the importance of distinguishing promise from potential.

“For us that means we first and foremost invest in data infrastructure that would put us in a position to deploy and test AI and machine learning technologies in a responsible fashion for tailored pilots before driving a potential broader roll-out in the future,” he said.

As UPMC Enterprises looks toward the future, Dr. Kleinz said the organization is dedicated to harnessing technology that transcends mere therapy. This focus extends to exploring technologies and modalities with the potential to deliver lasting cures for patients. A standout example of this commitment is portfolio company Avista Therapeutics, which is pioneering next-generation gene therapies with the potential to cure blindness.

Concluding the panel, Dr. Kleinz again emphasized a crucial message for his fellow leaders in the life sciences industry: Forge connections and engage in collaborative problem solving.

Learn more about Translational Sciences at UPMC Enterprises.

 To watch the on-demand panel, register here: Becker’s Healthcare Virtual Life Sciences Event.

You Might Also Like…

More From the Blog