Member Spotlight: Q&A with Translate Bio

Oct 02, 2017

Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and support the patients we serve. This month we spoke with Ronald Renaud, who has served as Translate Bio’s chief executive officer since 2014. Formerly, Ron served as president and chief executive officer at Idenix Pharmaceuticals before the company’s acquisition by Merck in 2014. Ron serves as a board member of Translate Bio, Akebia Therapeutics, Chimerix and Axial Biotherapeutics.

Tell us about your organization and your current initiatives.

Translate Bio is an emerging biotech company focused on transforming RNA science into revolutionary medicines to treat a wide range of genetic diseases. Our science uses the body’s own machinery to produce proteins to treat the underlying cause of debilitating and life-shortening genetic diseases. We are a small group of just over 50 scientifically curious and entrepreneurial individuals, and we are currently in high growth mode as we look ahead to our first clinical study in 2018. People and patients drive our work at Translate, and we are committed to changing the standard of care for patients with few or no options today. Our current initiatives include cystic fibrosis and OTC deficiency, a urea cycle disorder. We anticipate that our future initiatives will include many other rare diseases of high unmet need as well as exploring new ways to address more common therapeutic areas such as cardiometabolic, renal and oncologic diseases. 

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

We are currently focused on leveraging the strengths of our platform to address the underlying causes of diseases like cystic fibrosis and OTC deficiency. As a patient-driven organization, we have optimized our technology, including our manufacturing and delivery techniques, to help us reach more patients faster. As our first two programs enter the clinic, we will apply the same tried-and-true development process fine-tuned over the last 10 years to many other disease areas, accelerating the process from target selection to clinical studies. Our early focus is on rare diseases but the list of diseases we can target with our technology is extensive. Like many other small, growing biotech companies, we are limited by our finite resources. We plan to partner and collaborate to expand our platform, helping us reach more patients sooner than we can on our own.

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

The biggest challenge facing the life science industry is the lack of resources. There are so many great ideas, and so few people to execute them. There’s an overwhelming demand for the talent required to turn these ideas into treatments, or even better, cures. It is an incredible time to be operating in the biotech industry, but the search for top talent is challenging. 

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

Translate Bio will become a clinical stage company as we are on track begin Phase 1 clinical testing in early 2018, and we hope to play an important role in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. Also, we are very excited to consolidate our operations under one roof in a standalone location in Lexington, MA, as our team is currently spread out across Cambridge and Lexington. We’ll also be focused on prioritizing our programs in early development and continuing to pursue meaningful partnership and collaboration opportunities to expand the reach of our platform. 

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