BioTech Startups Want to Revive Failed Medicines to Create New Lifesaving Treatments

Some Cancer-fighting compounds for kids gather dust on Big Pharma’s lab shelves. Children’s Tumor Foundation President Annette Bakker, Ph.D., won’t stand for that. She shared her efforts to rescue these assets with I Don’t Care’s Kevin Stevenson.

In her fight to end neurofibromatosis, an incurable condition that causes tumors to grow on the brain and spinal cord, Bakker is pioneering game-changing ideas in disease research.

Through Bakker’s experience in the pharmaceutical and biochemistry industries, she learned how separate the two ecosystems were. “The motivations that drive academic researchers are publications,” Bakker said. “The motivations that drive pharmaceutical companies is to develop those drugs, but in the meantime also to fuel the development of new drugs they need to patent. So, they need to keep the stuff secret. The very different systems these two worlds are living in make it difficult to translate discoveries into better treatments for patients.”

Bridging the gap in science politics to ensure discoveries lead to better treatments is the space where Bakker lives. “It’s about bringing the models to the drugs,” Bakker said. “It’s about bringing the different stakeholders together and creating that ecosystem.”

What led Bakker from her background in biochemistry to the pharmaceutical world was the desire to take great discoveries and make sure they were getting used. And what ultimately led her to The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) was to be a part of the solution in bridging the gaps, cutting through the red tape, and connecting the right people to make real change. “My philosophy is always, ‘move the foot,’ Bakker said. “Don’t blame anyone; incentivize them to change their behavior and feel good about it.”

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