Dr. Mohamed Genead, CEO, President, & Co-Founder, Aviceda Therapeutics

Dr. Mohamed Genead is a serial life-sciences entrepreneur, senior innovative biopharma executive, inventor, and consultant with over 19 years of experience in Ophthalmology research and development. He is both a retina specialist and clinical investigator with a proven track record of success in developing and launching global ophthalmic products in the US and Ex-US markets. A veteran procurer of Angel and VC funding, Dr. Genead has raised and closed nearly $500M cumulatively across pre-seeds, seeds, and Series A to C & crossover financings. In addition, he has brokered over $1B in licensing agreements with Big Pharma partners and currently serves as a Strategic Advisor to top VC firms and biotechnology companies particularly around Ophthalmology.

Dr. Genead is presently CEO, President, and Co-Founder at Aviceda Therapeutics, a late-stage pre-clinical biotechnology company, leveraging disruptive nanoparticles-based therapy and technology platforms to cure ocular, inflammatory, neurodegenerative, and fibrovascular system diseases. Under his leadership, Aviceda attained a best-in-class valuation percentile and is currently in late Ph2/3 clinical development inside of 5 years.

Let’s take a closer look at Dr. Genead’s inspiring journey from being a retinal specialist to a serial life-sciences entrepreneur and how he is dedicated to building on a legacy of innovation to deliver the next-generation glyco-immune therapeutics.

A Remarkable Career Trajectory

Dr. Genead’s journey started during his training to become a retinal specialist and in the retinal research lab in Chicago trying to understand and develop treatments like gene therapy for inherited and acquired retinal degenerations like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. He realized early on that academic labs did not have the capacity or the conviction to develop effective therapies for these diseases, so he joined the team at Allergan. At Allergan, he was the only retinal specialist cum executive in the whole organization which placed him in a unique situation to develop truly effective treatments for these unmet medical diseases. While at Allergan, he led large teams and headed programs for retinal therapeutics such as Ozurdex, Abipicar Pegol, and Brimonidine DDS.

Notably, Dr. Genead’s accomplishments getting drugs through R&D all the way to FDA approval to eventual full commercial launch gave him a unique skill set to not only identify promising technologies but to develop the technologies into a drug and ferry them through pre-clinical and clinical regulatory hurdles for final approval and then not only get the therapies into human clinical trials but to launch the drug commercially. From Allergan, Dr. Genead went on to serve as the Global Head of R&D at an Orange County-based pharmaceutical company, a role in which he interfaced directly with the FDA and delivered numerous Big Pharma partnerships.

“However, at this juncture in my career, while working in biotech, I realized that the excitement was missing from the very rigid development programs that I oversaw in Big Pharma. It was this insight into the entrepreneurial side of retinal drug development that inspired me to become a serial entrepreneur,” shares Dr. Genead. He then went on to join other companies and founded several companies working with established venture capital firms such as Atlas Ventures. He adds, “Each entrepreneurial endeavor reinforced my conviction to be a serial life-sciences entrepreneur.”

Aviceda Therapeutics: The Future of Glyco-therapeutics

Incepted in 2018, Aviceda Therapeutics is a disruptive clinical-stage biotech company focused on the next generation of immuno-modulators by harnessing the power of glycobiology to address the innate immune system and chronic non-resolving inflammation specifically and profoundly using a propriety HALOS (High-Affinity Ligands of Siglecs) platform Technology. This platform is highly adaptable, enabling the development of a broad spectrum of therapeutics for immuno-inflammatory indications with large unmet medical needs.

Presently, Aviceda is developing glyco-immuno therapeutics targeting devastating ocular and systemic degenerative, fibrotic, and immuno-inflammatory diseases. The company has combined the power of its glycobiology and glycochemistry platform with its proprietary nanoparticle technology (HALOS) to engineer transformative disease-modifying medicines. Using its cell-based high-throughput screening (HTS) platform, Aviceda rapidly screens, selects, and optimizes ligands based on maximum affinity and specificity for each different type of innate immune cell. Moreover, Aviceda’s GCT nanoparticles are designed for optimal therapeutic durability and maximum therapeutic efficacy while utilizing the most effective route of administration.

A Light Bulb Moment

As they say, “Every great invention begins with a simple light bulb moment.” And voilà, this happened here too. Aviceda Therapeutics’ co-founder Michael Tolentino drew Dr. Genead’s attention to the work of Chris Scott (Co-founder, Aviceda Therapeutics). Chris was able to treat a mouse model of sepsis (Cytokine Storm in Covid) with a sugar-coated nanoparticle. Dr. Genead, while recalling the meeting, shares, “After understanding the concept that sugars covering all cells and organisms are recognized by sugar-binding receptors on immune cells (natural checkpoint receptors) to turn on or off inflammation, the light bulb went off in my head.” He thought if they could decipher this glycol code and present the correct code on a nanoparticle, they could develop effective and safe therapeutics that could modulate selectively or pan -selectively every immune cell type, be that innate immune cells or adaptive immune cells. Undoubtedly, Dr. Genead and his team made it happen. Going a step further, with this glyco-code, the team of Aviceda was also able to modulate and complement the non-cellular component of the immune system.

Key Movers & Shakers

Being a member of numerous professional and honorary societies including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Society of Cell & Gene Therapy, and International Society for Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision has been instrumental in Dr. Genead’s successful career. Similarly, the team at Aviceda are considered key opinion leaders, academic leaders, and professional society leaders in retina and ophthalmology which allows them to set records in terms of drug development, clinical trial enrolment speed, and eventually commercial launch and clinical utilization of the drug. Dr. Genead further reveals that they have retained advisors who are leaders in these professional societies as part of Aviceda’s strategy to design therapies and clinical trials that are optimized for the patient populations that need the treatment and the doctors that treat the condition.

Employing Deep Insights and Expertise

Having previously served as a clinical investor gave Dr. Genead deep insights into the subtle nuances that are required to design and run clinical trials optimally. He points out that there are differences between the FDA and EMA which are often not factored into drug development and clinical trial design. These differences affect timelines and drug launch success. Hence, applying these experiences to your own drugs, as he did, will increase the probability of crossing the NDA finish line with an effective, safe, and commercially successful drug.

Lessons Learned on the Entrepreneurial Journey

According to Dr. Genead, there are too many startups that are reactionary instead of being proactive. Therefore, one of the major takeaways that his prior experiences in Big Pharma have informed him and what he taught to his teams is that you need to predict issues or problems and have a set of options to deal with these potential future issues. He adds, “A corollary to this lesson is that you need to always work on your timelines. You need to look at all project timelines and make certain that there are no wasted steps and things are done efficiently.”

Celebrating the Career Milestones

Dr. Genead’s scientific team-building expertise that he developed during his years at Allergan allowed him to identify all the appropriate technologies and critical experts that he needed to decipher, synthesize, conjugate to nanoparticles, and test the sugar patterns to resolve or redirect inflammation. Under his leadership, the Aviceda team has successfully built a proprietary platform that can rapidly develop bespoke therapeutics that are ideal for a particular disease indication.

Therefore, Dr. Genead considers inventing, developing, filing an IND, and completing part 1 of a Phase II/III trial for AVD-104, Aviceda Therapeutics’ first therapeutic for dry macular degeneration in a matter of a few years as his most significant achievement to date. For him, this achievement is built on his previous triumph of developing a drug called Ozurdex which is one of shortest shortest-duration clinical trial programs of an FDA-approved therapeutic in medicine.

Words of Wisdom on Successful Fundraising

In Dr. Genead’s opinion, the main secret to successfully raising funds in the early phases of biotech startups is to have something truly innovative that addresses prevalent diseases. He feels that it is harder to raise money for Me too technology or a drug that is meant to enter a very competitive landscape. “An example is our technology which is definitely not Me Too but if we were addressing allergies instead of the most irreversibly blinding condition in the world, geographic atrophy macular degeneration, then fundraising would have been much harder,” explains Dr. Genead.

The Future of Ophthalmic Clinical Research

As an expert, Dr. Genead states that most ophthalmic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer are caused by dysregulation of the immune system. Therefore, clinically relevant therapeutic ophthalmic research as well as research for these other fields should focus on direct modulation of the immune system rather than indirect modulation of inflammation. He says that if you look at inflammation as a fire and most diseases are caused by uncontrolled fires like a house fire, then being able to instantaneously stop a fire with the building’s own fire suppression system is better than removing anything flammable from the path of the fire. Medicines like steroids and antibodies against inflammatory growth factors carry many side effects because you are not using the body’s native fire suppression systems. Hence, using sugar patterns to resolve inflammation is the homeostatic way of resolving fires that have gotten out of control.

Dr. Genead further highlights that the development of sugar therapeutics is synonymous with the development of antagonists to VEGF. Resolution of pathological inflammation stops the destructive components of inflammation and allows for the healing tissue regenerative properties of inflammation to dominate. Therefore, like anti-VEGF therapies which replaced destructive laser treatments, glyco therapies will replace the immune compromising and disabling therapies that are currently available for geographic atrophy with sight healing and restoring glyco therapy in the coming days.

The Road Ahead

As CEO, President, & Co-Founder, Dr. Genead envisions Aviceda Therapeutics to be a dominant company in the field of immune modulatory Glycotherapeutics that will develop effective safe therapies for retinal diseases, cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory diseases (arthritis, colitis, psoriasis) and auto-immune conditions including allergies. “As a company that invented, innovates, and pioneers this novel class of therapeutics that can effectively treat many diseases with unmet medical needs, we intend to be a dominant force in both biotechnology and in healthcare,” concludes Dr. Genead.

For More Info: https://www.avicedarx.com/

Content Disclaimer

Related Articles