Member Spotlight: Q&A with Catailyst

Oct 01, 2023

Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and its efforts in advancing the life sciences industry and supporting the patients we serve. In October, we spoke with Jit Basak, Founder and CEO of Catailyst Inc. Jit, a first-time entrepreneur, a former medicinal chemist, and a former FINRA registered investment banker is a passionate and visionary leader who strives to create innovative solutions for complex problems in the life science industry. Earlier in his career, Jit spent nine years in scientific roles at both midsize biotech and large pharmaceutical companies: Chemocentryx, Inc. and Pfizer, Inc. Later, he was a Transaction Lead of the Corporate Development team at Shire/Takeda; Inotek Pharmaceutical as well. He holds numerous degrees: post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago, an MBA from the University of Connecticut School of Business, a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in synthetic organic chemistry, and a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India.

Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives.

Catailyst produced a database and data visualization platform that analyzes scientific, clinical, and business announcements through a combination of automation and artificial intelligence. The company was founded in 2019 and stayed stealth for three years while it developed its proprietary extractive artificial intelligence methods leveraging deep learning models and NLP methods. We focused on extractive artificial intelligence to ensure the integrity and reliability of our data. This includes methods of identifying, extracting, and categorizing relevant scientific and business information without human intervention. Today, Catailyst processes 500+ press releases, 100+ clinical trials-related information, and hundreds of SEC filings every day making data access for drug discovery easy, efficient, and at a fraction of the cost.

How do your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?

We help our biotech and pharmaceutical researchers and executives accelerate their drug discovery and development by providing access to accurate and up-to-date scientific and business information through a web-based portal at an affordable price. In addition, our platform provides customizable real-time alerts, superior search functionalities, and state-of-the-art visualization tools. We aspire to have a lasting effect on medicine creation for investment decisions, portfolio prioritization, new strategic initiatives, clinical trial planning, and transaction executions. Our goal is to help accelerate the research and development of new medicines.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?

There are several challenges that the industry is facing today.

  1. Increased generic competition for Drugs and Biologics, Pricing pressure from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): differentiated price controls for Biologics (13 years) vs. small molecules (9 years) and many other forces have created shifts in strategies for Pharma and investors both in recent years. Undoubtedly, indication prioritization and science selection have become more than ever important for long-term sustainability.
  2. Today, business leaders are constantly asking questions: a) Is there a real unmet need? b) if the new drug can exceed current market standards; c) how to design trials to establish a clear differentiation of better clinical outcomes.
  3. The cost of finding accurate data to support such a decision is currently very high and labor intensive due to overwhelming data flow and lack of an integrated data source. We often manage these situations with multiple subscriptions, or a series of internet searches to assemble information. Manual data verification and curation become highly time-consuming, causing delays in business decisions.

What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?

We aim to transform the way life science data and intelligence are accessed, analyzed, and utilized by biotech/pharma professionals, investors, and consultants. To date, we have efficiently and economically managed the company and have not required a formal capital raise till 2022. Now, we are in the middle of our first seed round and have raised more than a quarter of a million dollars, which gives us a good runway to propel the company forward. Our low-cost business model involved a partnership-based approach and non-dilutive government funding: a foundational partnership with a data science company Xelpmoc, a sales and marketing partnership with Launchit ventures, and MLSC funding. Since our initial launch of the product, we have been constantly improving the platform using customer insights. Most exciting to share is that we recently integrated visualization and clinical trials analytics. We will continue to build a few additional features: predictive data analytics, stock market data integration, and layering measured generative AI to the platform. Today we are ready to take it to all users.

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