At the recent 2014 Pennsylvania Bio Annual Dinner & Awards Celebration, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s reputation as an international leader in pediatric medicine was further cemented, as the Hospital was honored with two awards celebrating its business and research innovations. CHOP was handed the “Deal of the Year” award for its successful spinout of gene company Spark Therapeutics, while the University of Pennsylvania and CHOP were jointly given the Patient Impact Award for their groundbreaking immune therapy research.
An organization devoted to ensuring Pennsylvania “is the global leader in the biosciences by creating a cohesive community,” with hundreds of members Pennsylvania Bio represents the “entire life sciences industry” in Pennsylvania. Each year the organization holds a dinner and awards ceremony to celebrate the previous year’s successes.
Based in part on the innovative work of Children’s Hospital’s Katherine A. High, MD, Spark Therapeutics, a “fully integrated gene therapy company,” was launched in October 2013 with a $50 million capital commitment from CHOP. According to the company’s website, Spark has “established human proof of concept in two organ systems — the eye and the liver — and are advancing a Phase 3 program in blindness caused by mutations of the RPE65 gene; a Phase 1/2 program in hemophilia B; and preclinical programs in neurodegenerative diseases and other hematologic disorders and forms of inherited blindness.”
The Pennsylvania Bio “Deal of the Year” award is intended for “a company that has promoted the growth of Pennsylvania’s bioscience industry by way of a substantial deal or strategic partnership,” closed in 2013. Other nominees for the 2013 award were Invisible Sentinel and small molecule-focused pharmaceutical company Tetralogic.
CHOP’s second award of the night, the “Patient Impact Award,” is for “a company or organization that has made a significant contribution to the quality of healthcare or length of life of patients in 2013,” according to the PA Bio web site. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania were honored for their joint immune therapy research. In addition to CHOP/Penn, other nominees included medical device manufacturer Actuated Medical and Bethlehem, Pa.-based Orasure Technologies, which develops and manufactures diagnostic and oral fluid specimen collection devices.
Led at CHOP by Stephan A. Grupp, MD, PhD, and at Penn by Carl H. June, MD, the CHOP/Penn immune therapy partnership has been investigating using modified versions of patients’ own immune cells to attack — and destroy — tumors. Last year the partnership led to dramatic, extraordinary results: two children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood leukemia, achieved a complete response after being treated with immune therapy. Since receiving the treatment one of those patients remains healthy and cancer-free.
“The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is thrilled to be honored with these two awards,” said Philip R. Johnson, MD, chief scientific officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. “They are a testament to the hard work of our investigators and staff, who work every day to improve the health of children.”