There is an alarming need for medical services and facilities since the pandemic has struck but that not only has shown the world the need for better and efficient medical resources but a need for improving the healthcare and fitness of the people. Since every medical facility and resource is being diverted towards the treatment of patients suffering from Covid-19, the other diseases and illnesses which are largely unmet are not being given proper medical attention or resources. We cannot overlook the fact that the existing medical conditions still exist and pose an imminent threat to the lives of the people regardless of the severity of the pandemic. There is a need for experts and specialists in the field to provide treatment or medicine for the diseases that are largely unmet and require immediate medical attention before it takes the form of another pandemic.
Aptorum Group Limited is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, working to provide medical treatments, extensively in the domain of oncology and infectious diseases. They are one of the leading companies, taking the innovation curve ahead, dedicated to discovering, developing, and finally commercializing the medical treatments for such diseases which are not only infectious but as they are not given proper and adequate attention, can pose a serious threat to the survival of mankind.
They are not only dedicated but their sincerity and work speak a great deal about the company’s vision and goals. Also They are not only changing the way of treatment in oncology and infectious diseases by providing breakthrough treatments but are leading the competition in the market and strongly holding their dominance as one of the best pharmaceutical companies.
In conversation with the CFO of Aptorum Group, Sabrina Khan. Let’s hear more about the company, its products/services, and the CFOs professional journey.
- Tell us about the company and the challenges faced during the initial stages.
Aptorum Group Limited (Nasdaq: APM, Euronext Paris: APM) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutic assets to treat diseases with unmet medical needs, particularly in oncology (including orphan oncology indications) and infectious diseases. The pipeline of Aptorum is also enriched through (i) the establishment of drug discovery platforms that enable the discovery of new therapeutics assets through, e.g. systematic screening of existing approved drug molecules, and microbiome-based research platform for treatments of metabolic diseases; and (ii) the co-development of a novel molecular-based rapid pathogen identification and detection diagnostics technology with Accelerate Technologies Pte Ltd, the commercialization arm of the Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research.
As a start-up company, lots of things have to be done by ourselves from scratch. Setting up teams, proposing new projects, sharing new ideas, looking for new opportunities. Depending on how you view this. Some may think it’s a challenge but I would see this as an opportunity. And I enjoy it because I don’t have to follow other people’s footsteps and can turn my imagination into reality and create something I want.
I race myself; I can only be the best version of myself.
And I am my barrier to success and my challenge to overcome.
Don’t waste time trying to be like others, be the best version of yourself, and have confidence in your actions.
- Tell us about the products/services Aptorum offers, new additions, and the plans for taking the company ahead with the changing times and trends.
Aptorum Group focuses on diseases that are currently largely unmet or do not have an effective treatment available. We believe that patients in these disease areas often suffer from the lack of choices of (effective) drugs and are faced with limited therapeutic options available. On this basis, I believe that our company’s product objective is simple – to bring effective drugs to these patients and tackle these diseases. One of our major therapeutic developments is in “orphan diseases” (also known as rare diseases) which are an exciting emerging market and have huge growth potential. In the US, over 7,000 orphan diseases have been identified (compared to over 2,500 identified back in 2015), and that approximately over 90% of these diseases do not have effective treatment.
On this basis, Smart-ACT™ was set up to focus on screening our library of over 2,600 existing approved small molecule drugs against the selected orphan disease targets, the aim is to “discover and repurpose” drugs that can work for other orphan disease indications and to shorten drug development from on average of 10+ years to 3-4 years and cut short the total cost of drug development in some cases up to 90%. Drug repurposing is well regulated and has had numerous successful precedents (for example, better-known ones are Viagra, Trastuzumab, Minoxidil, etc) and the US FDA has a reg 505b(2) approval pathway which we can fast track repurposed drugs too late human clinical trials because all these drugs have established safety and toxicity records when previously approved.
We will continue to develop the existing projects, yet we will also explore new ways to develop more treatments to target the ever-growing numbers of orphan diseases and unmet medical needs. The traditional way of drug development may take years and it’s difficult to deal with the continuously growing number of diseases.
- Tell us about your professional journey.
I first began my career at Ernst & Young as an auditor and where I received my CPA qualification. I then took the role of senior finance manager at Global Cord Blood Corporation which was formerly called China Cord Blood Corporation. This was where I learned IPO and M&A and also found my interest in the healthcare and medical sector. I realized not just doctors can save lives. I could use my expertise in finance and accounting to contribute to medical development through M&A and capital raising, which is very meaningful and keeps on motivating me to overcome different challenges at work.
- Tell us about the team and work culture at Aptorum Group.
I treat them as my team members and always encourage them to share their views and suggestions. When encountering any difficulties, I usually guide them to get their answer rather than providing them a quick solution. Getting their answer is the best way to inspire them to think and build their commitment to the team and what they do. I want them to seriously understand why they are doing it that way and what they are doing instead of blindly taking instruction from above.
- Your take on constant vigilance as a need or strategy and your views on the rat race in the market.
A need, business is like life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get next. You have to be on top of your game at all times.
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