The next dimension in drug discovery
High-throughput screening (HTS) of large collections of molecules against novel drug targets is an intuitively powerful approach to early stage drug discovery. To harness the expected power of this technique, most large global pharmaceutical companies have made major investments in preparing and testing massive libraries of small molecules against a wide variety of targets. These investments have generally been disappointing as only a small number of new drugs have been discovered.
One limitation of the common HTS libraries is the two-dimensional (2D) character of most of the molecules in the collections. These rod or disc-like shapes bind to many other sites as well as the intended target-site, resulting in numerous side effects. Addressing this problem has been difficult because of the complexities of more 3-dimensional (3D) chemistry, particularly the number of synthetic steps required and the starting templates available.
Vast Bioscience has overcome these stumbling blocks with a technology platform called VAST (Versatile Assembly on Stable Templates). This platform enables the rapid and simple synthesis of an almost limitless array of drug-like molecules with diverse, complex and tailored 3D-shapes.This large array of 3D shapes are unique and explore an enormous universe of unchartered 3D space when compared to pharma collections. This provides the ability to develop molecules for lots of different targets, and indeed the VAST library has provided hits over a number of different target classes. In addition, history has taught us that as molecules progress from discovery to drugs they have increased 3D character, reflecting improved safety being driven by improved selectivity. This 2D to 3D progression is driven by hit rates in early discovery, with higher hit rates and promiscuity for 2D molecules when compared to 3D molecules and the dearth of systematically diverse 3D shapes in pharma collections of molecules for screening. Vast Bioscience addresses the issue by providing large arrays of systematically diverse 3D shapes for screening.
Vast Bioscience’s business strategy is to offer the pharmaceutical industry, as a whole, a unique opportunity to develop innovative drugs with superior potency, target selectivity and safety. These efforts are supported by a management team with a strong pedigree in biotechnology as well as drug discovery and development.
Vast Bioscience: the next dimension in drug discovery!
Meet the team
Board of Directors
JOHN BARTON BEcon [UQ] MBA [RMIT] MBus (Marketing) [RMIT]
John is Director and CEO of boutique financial services firm, MGD Wealth. In addition to his leadership and management responsibilities, John is regularly involved in strategic matters for MGD executive, professional and business owner clients and has a strong focus on the charitable and not-for-profit sector as part of the Philanthropic Advisory team. Prior to joining MGD, John held senior leadership roles with Shadforth Financial Group, Tynan Mackenzie, ipac and AXA Asia Pacific. His career has presented him with opportunities to work both locally and internationally – in Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. His experience across financial services is complemented by his knowledge and passion in the area of behavioural economics – the study of emotions and psychology and how they influence real world finance and investment decisions.
MARK SMYTHE PhD
With close to 30 years’ experience in the biotechnology sector, Mark has a proven track record of translating innovative technology into valuable products. A medicinal chemist by training, he was involved in the discovery of the marketed drug Relenza while still a PhD student. He later founded Protagonist, a NASDAQ-listed global biotechnology company with operations in Brisbane and San Francisco and an international consortium of investors and partners. At Protagonist, he raised approximately $90 million in commercial funding, and licensed numerous compounds and technologies to various pharmaceutical partners, including GlaxoSmithKline, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Zealand Pharma.
DEBORAH RATHJEN BSc(Hons) PhD MAICD FTSE
Deborah is Executive Chair of Bioasis Technologies Inc., a US headquartered biotechnology company focused on delivery of biologics across the Blood Brain Barrier and was formerly chief executive officer and managing director at Bionomics. Dr. Rathjen joined Bionomics in 2000 from Peptech Limited, where she was general manager of business development and licensing. She was a co-inventor of Peptech’s TNF technology and leader of the company’s successful defense of its key TNF patents against a legal challenge by BASF.
Dr. Rathjen has significant experience in company building and financing, mergers and acquisitions, therapeutic product research and development, business development, licensing and commercialization. Dr. Rathjen has been recognized internationally with awards and honors including the 2004 AusBiotech President’s Medal, 2006 Flinders University Distinguished Alumni Award, 2009 BioSingapore Asia Pacific Biotechnology Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, 2009 Regional Finalist Ernst & Young – Entrepreneur of the Year and 2014 Woman Executive of the Year BioPharm Industry Awards. In 2015 Dr. Rathjen was included in the top 50 most influential Australian businesswomen by The Australian.
Dr. Rathjen received her doctor of philosophy degree in immunology from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and her bachelor of science degree in immunology from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.
Colin is a senior strategic and operational executive with over 20 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, technology and banking. Including running a technology based startup to driving the commercial activities of a pharmaceutical business across Asia Pacific’s emerging and developed markets.
IAN FRASER BCom FCA
Ian is a Chartered Accountant and Company Director. He has been a company director of public and private companies for the last 15 years prior to which he was a senior corporate advisory partner of a major chartered accountancy firm for 28 years.
PETER ANDREWS AO PhD FTSE FAICD
Peter is a scientist and bio-entrepreneur who has established and led multi-disciplinary scientific teams at various research institutions, including the first Australian laboratory in computer-assisted drug design at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (Australian National University) in 1975. Since 1985, he has founded or co-founded a number of scientific companies, including Vast Bioscience, Implicit Bioscience, Alchemia and Biota (developers of the anti-influenza drug Relenza). In 2000, together with Professor John Mattick AO, he established the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, and subsequently served as Queensland's first Chief Scientist from 2003 to 2010.
RICHARD MARSDEN BA GDIP APP FIN
Richard has held senior wealth management positions with NAB, Berkley Group and Tynan Mackenzie, and more recently as Queensland State Manager for Tynan Mackenzie in Brisbane. He is now a wealth management and tax planning director at MGD Wealth. Richard has a keen interest in biotech and also sits on the board of Implicit Bioscience. Richard has held a number of honorary positions in not-for-profit entities involved in education and fundraising for medical research.
ANDERS FRANSSON BSc LLB MBA GCCom GAICD
Anders has over 25 years' experience as a corporate and finance lawyer, gained in top tier firms in Australia and Bermuda. Anders obtained his MBA and a finance degree in 2008–2011 and has since directed much of his energy toward start-up companies. Anders is a consultant to Gadens in Brisbane and sits on a number of boards.
WIM MEUTERMANS PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Wim joined Vast Bioscience in 2015. He is one of the key inventors of the VAST small molecule discovery platform and is co-inventor on 12 patent families relating to VAST technology. Wim has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of drug discovery, managing multiple discovery programs in diverse therapeutic indications (pain, antibacterial, oncology and respiratory disease), including the discovery of Alchemia’s IND-ready candidate.
ELKA PALANT MPharm
Senior Project Manager
Elka joined Vast Bioscience in 2015 and has worked in the biotechnology sector for over 15 years, gaining experience in early stage technology development including preclinical research, clinical development (to phase II in pain), regulatory strategy, project management, alliance, contract and intellectual property management, and other commercial activities required to progress novel technologies through the drug development process.
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