The richest physician in the world and founder of NantWorks, who is worth $12.9bn according to Forbes Magazine, has decided to invest in Sorrento Therapeutics. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong will buy 19.9% of Sorrento Therapeutics equity through the purchase of stocks at $5.80 per share. The agreement aims to help in the development of several drugs in the pipeline for cancer and autoimmune diseases.
(Picture of Dr. Soon-Shiong courtesy of Forbes Magazine)
The doctor turned biotech entrepreneur, together with Sorrento Therapeutics, will devote $20 million to the global strategic collaborations first project named The Immunotherapy Antibody JV. Their first joint venture will concentrate on the production of multiple immuno-oncology monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for the treatment of cancer, which will include anti-PD-1, anti-PD-L1, anti-CTLA4b mAbs, and other immune-check point antibodies.
Immunotherapy makes use of a patients immune system to treat cancer. Antibody therapy is just one type of three which can be used as a method of treatment. This is the most successful form to date and involves the use of antibodies which help the immune system to fight the cancer pathogens. When the antibodies bind to the cancer pathogen, they induce antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, leading to cell death. The leading global bank, Citigroup, has predicted this market will bring in up to $35 billion a year over the next decade, which will make it the top selling group of drugs.
Dr. Soon-Shiong explained that combining NantWork's cutting edge expertise in genomic and molecular profiling of cancer patients and Sorrentos industry-leading G-MAB antibody technology, we believe will enable us to develop multiple novel therapies for malignant disorders where there is currently a significant unmet need. Through this partnership, it is our goal to provide relief for millions of people who today have limited treatment options. This will be a model relationship aligned to accelerate development and production of novel cancer immunotherapies.
Dr. Soon-Shiong was recently featured in 60 Minutes for his research efforts in the world of cancer. He first made his name by developing a successful cancer drug, despite his numerous critics. He is now confident that through his visions he can find a cure for the disease which is responsible for 1,500 deaths per day in the United States. He believes the technology required to beat cancer is available today through the use of high-speed tumor genome sequencing machines. This will allow the cancer to be treated according to the genome sequence and its mutations, rather than its location within the human body.
Using genome sequencing in cancer treatment is not a novel idea however, so what is so special about Dr. Soon-Shiong's project?
The answer is the sheer size. Dr. Soon-Shiong has invested nearly 1 billion dollars of his own money in order to fund a vast amount of technology, including super computers, which boast the ability to sequence 1 genome in 47 seconds. There has been some controversy as to whether this statement is completely accurate but there is no doubt that the technology and computer scientists he possesses is beyond that of any other research institute.
Hopefully with this money and technology combined with the use of antibody technology, a cure for cancer may be in the foreseeable future.