A Neuroscientist on Biotech Investment and COVID-19
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Edny Inui trained as a behavioral neuroscientist with a PhD from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She serves as an early-stage investor at Portfolia and focuses on life sciences business development at Pacific Inui Consulting.
- COVID has accelerated interest in biotech, but that’s not necessarily the full picture. M&A activity, which drives the value of early-stage assets, slowed early in the pandemic’s virtual environment, resulting in a lower number of transactions and value per deal. Recent deals (e.g., BMS’ $4B acquisition AskBio and SNY’s $359MM acquisition of Kiadis) are likely based on pre-existing relationships and pre-COVID diligence.
- There isn’t a huge incentive for infectious disease R&D given the complexity of pricing in the space. Both the increase in stewardship to prevent antibiotic resistance and lack of commercial incentives for vaccines has been a large issue for biotech innovation over the last decade. As a result, we don’t generally see responses to infectious disease until we’re in the midst of a crisis.
- Novel platforms could give us an advantage to move faster. The search for a COVID vaccine will likely create the necessary platforms to execute vaccine R&D more quickly and more effectively, essentially building the infrastructure for future vaccine development.
- Top of mind trend: Using gene therapy for single-gene disorders and the modification of viral vectors for enhanced delivery.
- Current passion project: Portfolia is a venture fund focused on women investing in women-led companies.