Recently, the team at VetCell Therapeutics had the honor and privilege to meet with Democratic Congressman J. Luis (Lou) Correa (District 46). The focus of the meeting was to discuss the functionality and advancement of the biotech industry within Correa’s district. The Congressman has shown a general interest in further developing federal funding, understanding the challenges to secure VC funding, getting product approval by the FDA and supplying financial reimbursement by insurance companies for the biomedical industry. To better understand these aspects of the industry, the Congressman’s staff reached out our company.
Alongside the Congressman were two senior officials from Biocom, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Jimmy Jackson, and Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Panetta. Biocom provides a strong public voice for research institutions and life science companies that fuel the California economy. Acting as the largest advocate for California’s life science and serving nearly 1000 members, they frequently collaborate with elected representatives and regulatory officials at the federal, state, and local levels. VetCell Therapeutics, an extension of PrimeGen Biotech, is a member of Biocom, who was the organizer of this meeting.
Congressman Correa took his first political office position with the California State Assembly in 1998, followed by a 10-year membership with the Orange County Board of Supervisors, beginning in 2004. As an elected representative of the US congress, he has become an advocate for affordable healthcare, immigration and veteran rights, cyber security, and overall economic progression. The Congressman expressed a genuine desire to understand what types of challenges small biotech companies face while trying to bring biomedical products to the market. A large portion of the discussion was centered on the FDA, as the agency has a key role in the product approval process. Seemingly, his visit to VetCell Therapeutics divulged his interest toward aiding the advancement of the biotech industry, including cell-based therapies.
Upon the two parties meeting, the challenges involved with developing a stem cell therapy became the first topic for discussion. The VCT executive team, Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Fari Izadyar and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chad Maki, discussed the financial hurdles that accompany a business that is focused heavily in research and development. Our business team, Mr Thomas Brown and Mr Tom Ramos, discussed the means required for achieving long-term success, through product development and FDA approval, within the industry. Congressman Correa discussed the options for policy change that could allow for the minimization of these concerns and for generating higher congressional interest for the field. According to CEO, Joseph Panetta, the average age of a congressional member lies in the mid-50s. As a result, companies pursuing development in fields of work involving novel theories of understanding, such as VetCell Therapeutics, require an increase in educational awareness to spark an influential interest toward the field. Congressman Correa hopes to pioneer this heightened awareness in support of the biotech industry.
To close out the event, Congressman Correa and his colleagues received a tour of the VetCell Therapeutics research and production facilities. The viewing of the veterinary GMP-compliant clean room offered Correa a perspective of what it takes to adhere to the regulations within the biotech industry. In addition, the observation of the cell culture, flow cytometry, and histology labs allowed him to acquire a better general understanding of the daily operating procedures of a biotech company. Our research team was busily working in the labs at the time of the visit. This was well received, as it provided our visitors first hand experience of working in a lab.
Overall, the Congressional visitors appeared impressed by the cleanliness, professionalism, and scientific rigor upheld by VetCell Therapeutics. Both parties hope to continue dialogue regarding the developing issues of the biotech industry and the options to promote progression that were addressed upon this initial meeting. There seemed to be synergy between the two groups that stem cell research needs continued funding and support, and that further understanding and acceptance of cell based therapies will aid the FDA’s efforts towards guidance and approvals, which in turn will help companies like VetCell Therapeutics to be successful in the industry.