How Reed Jobs’ venture company is fighting cancer | TechCrunch

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Reed Jobs’ new venture could change the lives of an estimated 18.1 million diagnosed cancer patients worldwide. Yosemite, Mr. Jobs’ cancer-fighting biotechnology fund, was launched in August with $200 million in funding from investors including MIT, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and John Doerr. Jobs first became interested in oncology after his father, Steve Jobs, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died while his son was an undergraduate at Stanford University.

“What I really care about in this world is making a big difference for cancer patients, and what we’re doing here in Yosemite, and what I’ve wanted to do all my life, is making a difference in the way we live. “In the meantime, we can make cancer less deadly,” Jobs said on stage. Today’s TechCrunch Disrupt.

Yosemite is notable not only for its focus on cancer, but also for its unique structure, which Jobs says he hopes “ultimately others will emulate.” . The company operates a traditional venture fund, but devotes 2.5% of its funds to donor-advised funds that operate as nonprofits. The funds are allocated as grants, and Yosemite provides grants without acquiring intellectual property rights. The model was first tested at the Emerson Collective, a business and philanthropic organization founded by Jobs’ mother, Laurene Powell Jobs.

“The reason we’re doing this is that we’re actually piloting this at Emerson, partnering with the world’s best researchers on their best projects so that we can avoid the risk of corporatizing science. But you also get the best network of KOLs in the world,” said Jobs. “We’ve been doing this for so long that we’ve been fortunate to support about 500 labs so far, giving us a very large footprint across the academic ecosystem.”

Jobs is optimistic about the development of next-generation therapies, such as immunotherapy and gene-editing therapies, and how quickly they can be realized. He recalls that when he started working in Stanford University’s cancer lab at age 15 (Jobs is now 31), genome sequencing was still relatively new. Jobs’ lab used it to study a hereditary form of colorectal cancer that is usually fatal.

“We found signs of mutations there, but basically there were a huge number of mutations out there, like millions of mutations. These cells are very controlled. However, the differences between these cancer cells and other parts of the body have been very clear since the beginning of immunotherapies being tested, and even today’s immunotherapies are not effective against this type of colon cancer. “It’s surprisingly effective,” Jobs said. “In my lifetime, I have already seen an area change from just an absolute, very poor prognosis to one that is now widely treatable and has very good long-term survival rates. .”

One technology that Jobs sees as promising is liquid biopsy for early detection. Currently, screening includes procedures such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, mammography, and colonoscopy. “These work very well, but for residual cancers, this is really tricky, often discovered late, metastatic, and much more dangerous.” Liquid biopsy or MRI or PT AI and others can now detect early cancer markers with great accuracy. “Although the field of liquid biopsy is still in its infancy, it is an area that will become increasingly important for early detection of problems. If we can do that, we will have even more options.”

Job is particularly animated when talking about epigenetic engineering. “Essentially, your DNA is wrapped around these different proteins, and you can chemically turn different regions of the genome on or off without changing the DNA,” he explains. Masu. “So the skin cells just turn off all the genes in the liver. We don’t need that, right? But how that works can actually be disrupted and changed a little bit. Many diseases suddenly We know they’re not caused by mutations or the wrong gene; they’re caused by reduced gene expression.”

These include many autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases that occur when the immune system is weakened. What epigenetic engineering can do is reverse gene expression by creating a “dial”. “That dial is really interesting, and you can actually touch on a whole new kind of disease, which is much more interesting than just going in and changing things,” Jobs says.

Yosemite launched last month, but Jobs has been investing in it for eight years through Emerson Collective. When asked which investment he was most proud of, Jobs listed his two. The first was a grant to Yale University, which worked with its major hospital system to bring together clinical trial representatives from across the state. “We have a large academic medical hub in this small state, and we’re really getting representation proportional to our demographics, and I’m really proud of that. It’s a first for that entire institution.” In terms of corporate investments, Jobs cited his Tune Therapeutics in the epigenetic editing field. This is an example of the type of company development Yosemite does.

“We have combined the best experts in this type of editing and the delivery mechanisms required to get into cells,” Jobs says. “They didn’t even know each other. We introduced them in our living room and drew up a business plan. I’m proud to say that over the past three years, the company has become a true leader in this field. I think so.”

When asked if he had ever thought about starting his own company, Jobs replied: Given market trends, and indeed scientific trends, this is probably far more than any one company could ever achieve. I’m also naturally competitive, so my family believes that if we’re going to start a company, we have to make it a success. ”

Developing new cancer treatments is difficult, but Jobs is optimistic. “I’m all for being ambitious. Biotechnology is not as linear as technology, it’s always full of mystery and difficulty, and it can be very exciting. I believe most It’s that we’re seeing the biggest advances right now in the major cancers that take lives, and that’s what really motivates me. It’s lung, it’s breast, it’s prostate, it’s colon, those are the really, really big killers. . We believe that over the next 20 years, mortality rates will decrease significantly.”

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