The number of people living with Parkinson’s disease is increasing at an alarming rate. Experts predict a global total of 17.5 million patients by 2040. In fact, among all neurological disorders, the fastest growing one is Parkinson’s disease, whose growth is surpassing that of Alzheimer’s disease.
A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is life changing. While the experience of living with Parkinson’s differs among patients, many of the challenges are shared by the majority of people living with the condition.
Parkinson’s disease primarily affects movement and causes symptoms like tremors, stiffness and impaired balance and coordination. Patients require long-term treatment to control symptoms and may eventually have to adapt the way they perform simple everyday tasks.
As the disease progresses, the motoric manifestations typically worsen, frequently leading to difficulty in walking and speaking, as well as emotional and cognitive changes, sleep disturbances, depression, memory issues and fatigue.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain, the substantia nigra. The exact cause of this neurodegeneration is not fully understood, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is thought to play a role.
Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that controls motion, mood, and motivation. The loss of dopamine homeostasis is the main cause of the symptoms seen in Parkinson’s disease.
Despite the vast amount of research on Parkinson’s disease, there has been no major breakthrough in the way Parkinson’s disease is treated since the introduction of Levodopa in the 1960s. Levodopa, which is taken orally, is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels through the circulation to the brain, where it is converted into dopamine.
While Levodopa can greatly improve the quality of life of patients with Parkinson’s disease initially, the effectiveness of the drug eventually wanes. After what is known as the “honeymoon” period, patients usually develop involuntary muscle movements, a condition known as dyskinesia. This phenomenon is a result of daily fluctuations in Levodopa concentrations. As the disease progresses, treatment often requires the use of devices that continuously deliver Levodopa. These devices have a significant toll on patients’ quality of life and are associated with various complications.
Mr. Adam Brian heads Lonza Personalized Medicine, which focuses on developing and bringing to market tools that enable research and development, scale out, and commercialization of patient scale cell therapies, with an emphasis on decentralized and point of care manufacturing. Mr. Brian is a results-oriented leader with extensive experience in the life science and medical device industries. Proven track record of increasing revenue, improving operations, and building and leading high-performing teams.
Dr. Eytan Abraham heads Resilience cell, gene and nucleic acids Franchises. Dr. Abraham holds a Ph.D. in developmental and molecular biology from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and a post-doctorate in cell-therapy and tissue engineering from the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Abraham is an experienced scientist and business leader with expertise in basic and applied biological and cell therapy R&D as well as in management, technology, and commercialization.
Anat Naschitz is a lifescience investor and entrepreneur, with 27 years of experience across biotech, pharma, digital health and medical devices.
Anat co-founded and co-led OrbiMed Israel, an Israel focused VC fund and part of the leading, $20bn global healthcare investment firm, and was previously with Apax, the €60bn private equity firm, where she started her investment career. Previously Anat was an Associate Partner with McKinsey in London, where she advised the world’s preeminent pharmaceutical companies on strategy, acquisitions and spinouts.
Throughout her career Anat has founded companies and nurtured them through success. Examples include 89bio (Nasdaq:ETNB), developing a likely best in class therapeutic for NASH, which she co-founded and spun out of Teva, taking it public on Nasdaq 18 months post creation, currently trading at $1bn; Sobi, which evolved out of a Pharmacia spinout and currently trading at $7.4bn; and many others.
Currently, Anat is co-founder and CEO of 9xchange, a biopharma marketplace, creating transparency and enabling the ecosystem to monetize pipelines and discover assets whose availability was unknown, through a seamless, initially anonymous, AI-driven process.
Anat earned her MBA at Insead in France and her LLB at Tel Aviv University.
Dr. Yeal Weiss is currently CEO of Mahzi Therapeutics, a company focused on the development of therapies for ultra-rare genetic neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Weiss completed her MD at Hadassah Medical School at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. She has over 20 years of industry experience in medical/clinical and business development roles at Genzyme, Merck and Ultragenyx. Dr. Weiss is a member of the NIH driven Bespoke Gene Therapy (BCTG) consortium, ASGCT translational committee, N=1 collaborative and is a 2022 Termeer Fellow. Board member/advisor to ADNP and FOXG1 foundations.
Noam is a physician with 20 years of experience in the field of complementary medicine (Brighton University). He formerly headed the Chinese Medicine Unit at Sheba Hospital. Noam is the founder and CEO of the Association for Noga (Her Way), which develops advanced therapies for ultra-rare diseases.
Liron brings many years of experience in cell- and gene-therapy translation. Prior to joining NOGA Therapeutics, Liron headed the discovery and the early-phase development of oncology at Enlivex Therapeutics. Prior to that, Liron led the hemophilia A program (currently in phase III) at Spark Therapeutics, USA. Liron holds a PhD from and conducted postdoctoral research at the Technion.
Noam previously co-founded Emendo Biotherapeutics, a leading CRISPR company that was acquired by Anges, Japan, in 2020, for $295M. As an expert on intellectual property strategies at Ingenium IP, Noam advised dozens of biomed companies on building their IP-business strategy. Noam holds a PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science in the field of DNA damage repair.