Exclusive interview for SPINOFF.COM with Liz Parrish, the CEO at BioViva, about their breakthrough regenerative gene therapies targeting the aging process

BioViva is a gene therapy innovation leader developing therapies to treat severe genetic disorders and cellular aging. They are working on several patents and are seeking strategic partnerships to help them make a positive step forward in their efforts to bring cures to an aging populations and to those who suffer from chronic and monogenic disease. BioViva’s mission is to create a world free of suffering from the conditions and diseases of biological aging by harnessing the power of gene and cell therapy. Their goal is to bring regenerative medicine to clinical application quickly, affordably and safely. 

SOC: Dear Liz, we are so grateful for your generosity this day in spending time speaking with us and sharing your insights about your unique gene therapy that targets to rejuvenate aging process. Our investors and we would like to learn more about a vast experience of your academic endeavours and your professional/scientific background. 

Mrs. Parrish: Yeah absolutely. I took science in college. I left college when I had my second child because my first child had some health issues but I stayed very close to the health industry and gathered updates on what was happening in biotechnology. From there we created our family entrepreneur path. We had a couple of successful software companies that are still running. After my son got sick in 2013 I decided that it was time to actually go back into biotechnology.

I had spent a couple of years previous to that helping to educate the public about stem cells and working with a start-up non-profit that was being developed to help educate the world about what was happening in the world of regenerative medicine with stem cells. But after my son was diagnosed I becamу strongly interested in genetics and turned entrepreneurial path toward creating a healthier world. At that point, I gathered together a combination of medical doctors and scientific researchers that could help to create and backup the science, as well as treat patients with our new technology.

SOC: Considering your tremendous experience, we would like to know whether you had other projects? Could you please share the story of their creation and success.

Mrs. Parrish: Yes, we had a couple of software companies and each one of them was successful; helping with various areas of plugins for a numver of major companies. They served their purpose. They taught me how to run a company, what's required to succeed and how to make the company profitable. We're taking that information and business acumen, and we're applying it to what will be this century's most important we're actually moving it to what will be this century most important movement - biotechnology. We have collaborated with an expert network of scientific researchers and medical doctors in order to make this project successful.

SOC: It is so interesting to know more about the process of your technology/product creation. Please tell on which stage of commercialization your technology/product currently is? Was your project funded by any state financing or grants? 

Mrs. Parrish: BioViva is privately funded. Right now we're translating medicine from research to the clinic for human use. We are also investing money into our own research and development. This will enable us to create patentable technologies. All of these novel technologies will target the greatest unmet need on the planet, which is a biological aging and complex disease.

The company has 3 primary aims. First, we're buying into manufacturing and focusing on reducing the cost of actual production. That allows us to create a product that costs less than other gene therapies currently on the market. We're also putting money into research and development so that our own technology is always moving forward.

However, our first exciting big move is actually opening clinics. We're creating partnerships in a number of different regions in order to be the first in the world to market conventional gene therapies for chronic and complex disease. These clinics have a number of purposes. First, we're seeking professional business partners who may have their own technology already available and ready for clinical testing. We want to provide a platform to offer a plethora of next generation treatments from both our own company and collaborating partners. Of course, BioViva itself will also directly translate medicine from our own research into therapies to treat patients with the highest need.

These clinics will generate our initial revenue stream and profits. We're also developing our own manufacturing capability in order to manufacture in house and drive down associated costs. Right now there aren't enough gene therapy manufacturers to actually fit the market so it's an additional robust strategy to make profits.

Finally, our third area of investment is research and development which is time-consuming but will set the stage for later gains as we translate our own promising technologies into the market. We'rу working on about 8 patentable technologies right now with the goal of eventually bringing these to the market. It will take longer to get these into our clinics, but we'll get there, and we've made a strong start with the technologies we're currently working with. 

SOC: Has BioViva already received any honors or awards?
Mrs. Parrish: We have probably the biggest media movement on the planet for gene therapy right now. We've been highlighted in many magazines, articles and videos from leading media outlets including the BBC and The Guardian.  We're an early stage company but we're growing and establishing a strong patient base.

SOC: In the formation of every scientific spinoff, one of the most important keys to success is the team. For many potential investors, the management team is the most important element in deciding whether to invest in it or not.  Could you please share some information about the team members who supported you and the project? What are the key additions to the team needed in the short term?

Mrs. Parrish: So we are a growing company. Our current scientific advisory board are very well known and well established in their respective fields. One of our stronger scientific advisers is George Church who is the head of genetics at Harvard University. His support and his expertise has been invaluable as we've grown as a company. At present we're creating joint ventures are happening for manufacturing, some of them are happening for groups who want to be a part of establishing investment, and other joint ventures are clinics that we helped to launch 2008. So, we find groups with specialized knowledge who can join our team and then help us create a platform that we need in each country. This is a collaborative effort, you need specialist in each area. So, BioViva is growing quite exponentially and quite proudly with both the scientific community, the medical community and business professionals. 

SOC: It is not a secret that the development of a new technology and its subsequent commercializaton presupposes some problem and addresses unmet needs. Respectively, what problem did you intend to solve by creating your technology/product? What results did you plan to achieve?

Mrs. Parrish: Yeah absolutely. Biological aging and associated complex diseases are the biggest market on the planet. It's actually the largest unmet need in medicine. Each disease represents about a trillion dollar market each year. So what we're hoping to do is to medically reverse the 10 hallmarks of aging, and we expect this to slow and reverse the process of a biological aging in the cells. There is a scientific evidence that this can be done. We want to do it in humans in order to stave off the major and most costly diseases on the planet. We're the first to market with our gene therapy, and gene therapy will be the only technology with long-term impact on diseases. Of course, to be legitimate we have to run proper trials. This shows that the technology actually works. We'll likely be working to create about ninedifferent gene therapies, each focusingon a different aspect of aging. This combinatorial approach is most likely to yield the best results and completely change the healthcare market as we know it. We predict each gene therapy to be highly potent by itself, and greatly more effective than the vast majority of approved pharmaceutical drugs available today. But a combination is the ultimate goal. We are trying to move on financially and find funding to get to market first before others biotechs. 

SOC: Understanding the USP from the investor's side could make the technology/product #1 for them. What are the USP of your technology/product and fundamental difference from other technologies/products that tried to solve this problem before you?

Mrs. Parrish: Our number one aim is to be first to market with regenerative gene therapies. These will prove what BioViva can do. Number two - we have a super strong marketing force. Actually with very little work, the world has shown a great interest in making this type of technology available for humans. The third is gene therapy. This is where we're going, this is where much of medicine will go. So much like a software company, a human is programmed with DNA and so reprogramming, editing and upregulating genes that makes cells healthier and bodies more useful has the potential to be an incredibly powerful tool. Quite honestly, the technology is what's driving us forward, along with the medical team that we have built and that has the actual know-how to use it. 

SOC: In order to understand the peculiarities of this particular spinoff our investors always ask what is the investment structure of the company? Do you still own the controlling stake in your spinoff? 

Mrs. Parrish: Yes. I still have the controlling stake at the company. We have finished our seed round, and our startup round. We're in a series A now. We have set aside plenty of shares in order to not dilute the original owners of the company. So we will continue to try to keep the mission of the company on board with the mission of the founder for as long as possible. And the reason that we set up BioViva in these three forms - clinics, research, development and manufacturing is so that BioViva can become profitable ahead of other biotechnology companies, and because of that profit, we're not interested in diluting equity at this early stage.

SOC: The potential investors will be curious whether you already have the first clients and signed contracts? What was the feedback from your partner's markers and customers?

Mrs. Parrish: Well, actually we have thousands of e-mails of people who want to participate in trials. So in a sense we have our first clients, but we're waiting for the regulatory approval that we hope to get in early 2018 in two locations to start doing therapy. Regulatory approval will enable us to advertise and tell the world that we actually have our regulatory approval for our first clinic.

SOC: It is very important to understand your particular vision about unique features of your company. Why do you consider the major market players might be interested in investing into a promotion of your technology/product on the addressable market?

Mrs. Parrish: The number one reason is: we have a fantastic management team and business plan. We are biotechnology company with a strong plan to work smarter and become profitable. The second one is, many investors are interested in longevity technology that helps them and their families live longer and healthier. And the third thing is that investors want to own this technology. Right now biotechnology is expected to become the biggest innovation of the 21st century. We're actually going to create human bodies that are healthier, live longer and that are smarter, faster and stronger. The payoff has the potential to be enourmous to both the investor and the society. So advances of the future will make investors want to own that biotechnology so that they always have access to it when a family member gets sick. So that they actually own the technology of the future.

SOC: To tell the truth, I would really like to own that technology right now as well. We wonder what are the current competitors at the market? Could you please share with us the results of the market studies, if there are any? 

Mrs. Parrish: Well, what's fantastic is that, there are a couple of biotechnology groups already addressing biological aging with their treatments. And what we can do is actually help take those groups to the market. One clinical aspect of BioViva is set up to bring in a multitude of biotechnology groups, benefit from the technology that they've done their research and development on and then share and profit from launching their product as potentially equity in their company. In this manner BioViva clinics will become a portfolio company. Of course, the bedrock is the gene therapies we already have and will acquire.

SOC: The potential investors will be curious whether you already have the first clients and signed contracts? What was the feedback from your partner's markers and customers?

Mrs. Parrish: Well, actually we have thousands of e-mails of people who want to participate in trials. So in a sense we have our first clients but we're waiting for the regulatory approval that we hope to get in early 2018 in two locations to start doing therapy. And so we can actually advertise right now and tell we actually have our regulatory approval in our first clinic that we can advertise from.

SOC: It is very important to understand your particular vision about unique features of your company. Why do you consider the major market players might be interested in investing into a promotion of your technology/product on the addressable market?

Mrs. Parrish: We have the ability and network to launch through this now. So you know what to do if you get a rare disease in five years, because then we will have a greater understanding of the human genome. Then it's very likely that you can just come to us and we'll be able to create a personalized gene therapy for you that may be a once in a lifetime treatment. Right now what we're doing is working on optimizing the efficiency of each gene therapy treatment. And so some gene therapies may work for a number of days, but still create better health for a number of years. Other therapies will actually persist for up to 20 years or more and will represent excellent cost effectiveness in the long run. So the beauty is not taking a pill every day. A once in a lifetime treatment, or even a treatment you repeat once every 20 years is an exciting and new prospect for medicine.  

SOC: Now we would like to refer to the next very crucial and we would even say essential aspect for spinoff companies’ as the strategy of R&D, production, distribution and marketing processes. Do you have your own unique strategy? Which of these processes do you consider your spinoff is strong at?  

Mrs. Parrish:  We're actually strong in all of these acts as we have both medical doctors who have the technical ability along with experienced business partners to launch first class clinics and successfully provide treatments to patients. We have also brought in manufacturing specialists who know how to bring the cost down of gene therapy at the manufacturing level, as this is a major roadblock to wider application right now.

Our other big strength is that we have specialists in microbiology that are working on gene therapy research right now, and have actually spent the last 10 years of their lives working on improving existing gene therapy process and manufacturing to create more effective, efficient and more forward-thinking technology. Many of the gene therapies that are going through trials now are based on older technology as they're based on older viral vectors. More powerful options are now becoming viable and are superior alternatives. By using these more powerful vectors you can essentially get more for your money, by achieving a stronger effect for less cost and reduced side effects. So we can bring down not only the cost of the therapy, but we can create a more powerful therapy at the same doses for patients in need. 

SOC: As a rule, the majority of spinoffs outgrow into exits. How do you determine the market for your product/technology and estimate its volume and dynamics? What is your potential share on the market? How do you think what market cap your company plans to reach at the peak of its development and why? How long might this process take?

Mrs. Parrish:  Right. We will be setting up several clinics in many places of the world within the next eight months. We will be using our own patented technology first, which we'll manufacture in our own facilities. Lastly, we're setting up our research and development branch to optimize our existing technology and bring new therapies into our clinics. These are our three business arms and actually each one of these groups and technologies is a potential exit. But we have to entirely exit when you have a patent and biological aging gene therapies that affect biological aging can actually exit on one therapy. If you have the desire to, investors will actually lead us through how they feel about doing business and what areas, they want to enter and exit on. But that's the beauty of feedback is that we've separated each one of these in two separate forms so that each one of them is a potential avenue with great profit. 

In terms of predicted timescale, it's really hard to say because the market is so huge and constantly evolving. By 2020 there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 5. The market is so immense that it's really hard to put a dollar value on it. We know that Big Pharma is being pressed by companies like ours, and gene therapy companies are doing buyouts all the time of technologies in companies that they want to move forward.

The Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation suggested that by the year 2050 the complex diseases caused by biological aging will be actually the number one killer on the entire planet. So the market is so big that what we have to really look at is, what we can capture in the various clinics that we can start treating patients. If we are doing paid for trials in the first 18 months or so, we can get up into the 20 million dollar profit area and we can continue to grow after that. We will actually grow more as we bring down the price of gene therapy, because it will open it up to the whole world market. Right now it's a more expensive technology.

SOC: For spinoff companies their intellectual property is a key to success. The investors pay particular attention to it. What key intellectual property does your company have (patents, patents pending, copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks, domain names)?

Mrs. Parrish: We hold a provisional patent for our first dual gene therapy. We have a medical doctor who's adding another gene therapy to the treatment. But right now, our main microbiologist is sitting on about eight patentable technologies for the company, that are based on research that is evident and successful in both animals and humans. It's just our own variation of those therapeutics. We're actually starting research and development projects within the next three months which will give us the scientific background to actually put those patents in commercial use. More laboratory work will create more intrinsic value for the company. 

As far as proprietary information and know how, the company excels in that. And that's one of the most powerful tools in gene therapy right now, because the problem is with gene therapy and patents. If we put out a patent and you know the gene we're working with, and you know what we're trying to target, it creates a situation where you create competitors. Obviously it's a great market for gene therapy, and one of the things BioViva will excel at is bringing what are considered biosimilars to the market at a fraction of the cost of competitors. 

SOC: The investors will want to get a clear picture of how many rounds of investments have you completed? Are you seeking for the investments at the moment? What is the volume and time limits? What milestones will the financing get you to? What did you plan to use the invested funds for?

Mrs. Parrish: We have done our seed round and a start-up round, so that's all completed and we're currently in a Series A. We are looking for additional investments right now to expectide our growth. Our series A will close in 2018. This Series has already attracted investments, and we're still looking for 13.9 million dollars to close it out.

These funds are used for BioViva's three-prong approach, so they're used for two areas that are going to provide more immediate profit - our clinics and manufacturing brabches. The third area is research and development which will drive future growth. And so that's a longer projection for profit, but eventually the IP company owns will form a robust profit centre in next five years. 

In summary, initially there are two ways to expedite financial return with BioViva. Then our third research and development approach will provide a more long-term turnaround for profit.

SOC: Could you please describe your ideal investor? What aspects are important for you, for instance, is it experience, country, the amount of own private capital or maybe some personal qualities? Will existing investors participate in the round?

Mrs. Parrish: Right. We're seeking mission oriented private investors eager to combat biological aging for themselves and the world; who would like to invest in one of largest unmet needs in a burgeoning market. We really appreciate those with a background in Law or Business, but we'll always appreciate passionate investors who are simply keen to contribute to the the technology of the future.  

SOC: And the last question, could you specify the most convenient way you would like to receive inquiries from potential investors? Should it be by e-mail or personal phone call?

Mrs. Parrish: The best way to contact us is via the e-mail. That's why, we can keep up with each investor personally. We have several e-mail addresses, but the best one for investment is ir@bioviva-science.com.

SOC: We would like to express gratitude for the time you have dedicated to this interview. SPINOFF.COM will observe the development of your spinoff with great pleasure and interest. Also, we are thankful for providing all the necessary materials. We are pleased to forward all potential investors the database of the spinoff supportive materials such as presentation materials, schedules, videos, pictures, figures, blueprints, text materials etc.