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Directors Talk – Interview with Cadence Minerals CEO Kiran Morzaria

An exclusive Directors Talk interview with Kiran Morzaria, CEO of Cadence Minerals #KDNC. In this exclusive 15 minute video interview, Kiran discusses Cadence Minerals ongoing projects and strategy. He explains the spread of minerals and commodities, market performance, driving value for shareholders and the Amapa Iron Ore project.

Radiation for Mesothelioma: Could Proton Therapy Be the Answer? – Advanced Oncotherapy #AVO

Researchers at the Maryland Proton Therapy Treatment Center say that a highly-targeted version of proton beam radiation could be the future of radiotherapy for malignant plural mesothelioma.

Advanced Oncotherapy #AVO, is developing a unique, fully integrated, proton therapy system. The LIGHT System is expected to be the first commercially available linear proton accelerator for medical treatment of cancer patients.

Link to the full Directors Talk article at the link below.

Directors Talk Q&A – Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) Mike Sinclair – Disrupting the Market

Advanced Oncotherapy plc (LON:AVO), Executive Chairman, Mike Sinclair provides an insight into his background in healthcare, his vision for AVO and the opportunity the Company has to transform the global radiotherapy market.

Q1: Mike, thank you for speaking with us. Can you tell us a little about your work in the healthcare sector before the creation of AVO?

A1: Sure; I’m a physician by training and began my career in the healthcare industry in 1971. Over the next forty-odd years, I founded and built, or had senior roles in, companies in the UK and the US, often working with institutional investors and/or with colleagues from prior ventures. Some of these companies had global markets, others were domestically focused; most became market leaders.

For example, Allied Medical (“AM”), where I was Chief Executive and which I founded, was acquired, grew to be the largest hospital management and healthcare personnel firm in Europe. I was subsequently recruited by Hospital Affiliates International (“HAI”), the losing bidder for AM, to create their international hospital division as President of HAI. HAI’s parent company then merged and had to divest its hospitals division, so I returned to the UK and founded Hospital Capital Corporation, which built and managed hospitals and nursing homes around the UK, many of which were subsequently sold to US-based firms. When Lifetime Corporation, a US home healthcare business I set up in the mid 1980’s and which was listed on the NYSE, was acquired in 1993 it had revenues in excess of $1 billion and was US market leader. Atlantic Medical was a US-domiciled healthcare venture fund, with portfolio companies focusing on IT and telecoms services for healthcare providers; one such company, Quovadx, went on list on NASDAQ at a highly profitable level for our investors. Finally, Care Capital, the forerunner to Advanced Oncotherapy, was originally set up in 1994 to develop, own and lease medical office buildings (“MOBs”) to healthcare operators and listed on AIM in 2006, ahead of its realignment to oncology in 2012.

Q2: You must have gained a lot of industry knowledge from those experiences, no?

A2: What I’ve learned, aside from how to nurture and run a successful, multinational healthcare business, is an intimate understanding of the nature of hospitals and the healthcare sector as a whole: how hospitals operate, how they are financed, how they provide their services, etc., in both the public and private sectors. That experience is particularly broad here in the UK, in the US, Middle East and in Asia. They are all significant for AVO: the UK is our home market and site of our flagship project in Harley Street, the US is an early adopter of proton therapy, the Middle East is playing catch up with Europe and the US, creating local centres of medical excellence, while Asia is a key growth market.

Q3: And in that context, what read through is there for AVO from your background?

A3:  Value-based care is an imperative for many healthcare providers. This may be obvious in the private sector, where costs are relatively transparent, and might be expected to be critical or to at least feature in the decision making process in the public sector; NHS England produced a discussion paper on this very subject in February of this year.

Lifetime treatment costs would be expected to be lower for proton therapy than X-ray based radiotherapy, due to less chance of developing serious side effects (which need medical care, and represent an additional cost), fewer treatment sessions (hypo-fractionation: less time needed in hospital so lower cost) and a reduced probability of secondary cancers from radiotherapy treatment later in life (particularly relevant in paediatric cases).

AVO’s goal is to reduce the immediate cost of treating each cancer patient, as well as cutting the lifetime cost. The modularity of LIGHT, our unique linear proton accelerator and integrated patient treatment systems, should allow for mass production, physical installation to smaller existing radiotherapy departments/buildings, reduced shielding requirements, more efficient commissioning and high patient throughput, all of which will help lower the immediate cost of treatment to any hospital or clinic. Lifetime costs should be cut further through LIGHT’s designed ability to vary the direction, the dose and the energy of the beam (performing active spot-scanning) hundreds of times per second, thereby targeting tumours accurately in a way that is not currently possible with cyclotron/synchrotron proton therapy systems.

Q4: What about the risks facing AVO; how would you describe those?

A4: The progress we’ve made recently has greatly reduced any technical risk and those aren’t my words but come from our scientific colleagues. Market risk is minimal as there’s a clear unmet medical need for proton therapy systems and recent advances in immunotherapy are likely to be complementary to proton therapy, as most cancers are treated with a combination of radiotherapy, surgery and/or chemotherapy. Furthermore, precisely targeted ultra high doses of ionising radiation i.e. what LIGHT is designed to be able to deliver, can be used to trigger what’s called the abscopal effect, whereby the body’s own immune response attacks outlying secondary tumours. We’re also doing everything we can to minimise regulatory risk. The main risk relates to AVO’s ability to stick to its plan; this is two-fold with management having to ensure the company remains focused on its priority, installing the first LIGHT system in Harley Street, and that we have sufficient funding to realise that goal.

I am continually humbled by our ability to attract the very best people in their fields to work at AVO. This gives me great confidence that we will achieve our targets. In addition, the Board is continually looking at ways to optimise our capital structure and ensure we are fully funded through to first patient.

Q5: And what of the opportunity for Advanced Oncotherapy plc?

A5: It is notable that some industry experts, such as Professor Jay Loeffler of Harvard Medical School, and who sits on our medical advisory board, expects proton therapy to completely replace X-ray based radiotherapy, if and when costs become similar for both treatments. Others believe the two approaches will be used to treat different types of cancers. Whatever the eventuality, there is a growing body of evidence on proton therapy’s clinical superiority.

I’ve had a long career in healthcare; AVO is, without a doubt, the most exciting project I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with.

AVO has the capacity to disrupt and gain significant market share in not just the proton therapy global market, which is set to break the $1 billion mark in the next few years, but the whole radiotherapy market. Bearing in mind that only around 1% of the world’s population in need of radiotherapy will receive proton therapy, the opportunity for AVO cannot be overstated.

Link here to the full interview on the Directors Talk website

Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) Chief Ops Officer Ed Lee Q&A with Directors Talk

Advanced Oncotherapy plc (LON:AVO) Chief Operating Officer Ed Lee talks to DirectorsTalk about his background, what that experience brings to AVO and how that knowledge can translate into shareholder value. Transcript below or read on the Directors Talk website here

Q1: Ed, thank you for taking time to speak with us. I understand you joined Advanced Oncotherapy earlier this year?
A1: Thank you for the opportunity to engage with your readers. Yes, I joined AVO in February and have been busy getting to know the company, its culture, personnel, and, of course, the LIGHT system, while helping drive our production priorities forwards.

Q2: Is that your background then, in production?
A2: Yes it is. I worked in senior management production roles with the likes of Meggitt and Northrup Grumman for over 10 years, before joining Optivus Proton Therapy in 2011, where I’ve been since. At Optivus I had dual responsibility for production and for client-facing tasks, such as installation and on-going system servicing.

Q3: Can you tell us a little more about this experience and why it is relevant to AVO?
A3: One of the key crossovers from my time at companies in the aerospace & defence industry is the critical nature of their systems. Quality has to be guaranteed, given the absolute requirement to avoid failures with potentially catastrophic consequences. The same is true of Optivus and all proton therapy businesses, albeit in a more directly relevant manner where patient care is absolutely paramount.

Q4: For those who don’t know, can you explain what Optivus is and does?
A4: Of course. Optivus was the pioneer of proton therapy in the 80’s, setting up the first hospital-based proton treatment and research centre at Loma Linda in California. Today, Optivus has two key products: their own proton therapy system, which is analogous to the hardware of LIGHT, although not a linear accelerator, and a treatment planning system i.e. the computer software and hardware that controls all patient treatment (analogous to LIGHT’s patient treatment systems).

That centre has now treated more than 20,000 cancer patients over 27 years, which is more than any other. That experience, through helping to run a 4 treatment room facility, can translate directly into AVO’s commercial operations.

LIGHT itself is a turn-key solution, in that it provides everything a hospital or clinic would require. My background with Optivus gives me insight into every step of the production process and LIGHT’s clinical application.

Q5: Ed will you explain further how that experience can benefit AVO?
A5: In driving improvements in manufacturing reliability, such as in on-time delivery, for example. On-time delivery relies on enhancing the strength of the production process to reduce occurrence of faulty goods and by executing project plans on time and on budget. This comes about from working closely alongside different departments, establishing the right work culture and employing great people.

All this should lead to an efficient and reliable production process and an ability to offer excellent customer service.

Q6: And is your educational background in a discipline related to manufacturing?
A6: It is, yes. I trained as a mechanical engineer.

Q7: So your focus is on the design and implementation of new machines and systems?
A7: It is to a great extent, but not completely so. For example, I have also worked on the financial analysis and cash flow modelling of new products.

Q8: How is that relevant to what you are doing now?
A8: It’s essential to maintain a financial perspective on the whole of the manufacturing and client servicing process. AVO’s shareholders are expecting a return on their investment and it is my responsibility to help ensure that that happens.

To put it another way, everything that’s done by our scientists and engineers will be financially sound.

But it’s important not to forget that we’re in the business of treating cancer. Like many others, my own family has had to cope with this disease and we have personally benefited from proton therapy.

Q9: And what progress can you flag to AVO’s shareholders?
A9: We’ve already hit a number of the key targets in our project timeline: the proton beam through the RFQ, delivery of CCL units, receipt of our unique ionisation chamber and, just recently, successful integration of and beam firing through the first Side Coupled Drift Tube Linac (“SCDTL”) module.

LIGHT has been designed to be the only proton therapy system on the market that can be mass produced, thereby maximising our commercial opportunities. To do that, we have to make sure there is robustness in our design and repeatability in our manufacturing process.

Q10: Is that readily achievable?
A10: No, it isn’t. But it comes from having an overview of the whole manufacturing and client-servicing process, which I have, and by working with all relevant stakeholders, such as our suppliers, manufacturing partners, customers and, of course, our R&D team.

Q11: How much of a benefit is it to AVO to be able to draw on the knowledge of your scientists and engineers in Geneva?
A11: It’s hugely beneficial to AVO. My challenge is helping to ensure the intellectual property within AVO gets converted into shareholder value. It’s one I am relishing and am confident we can achieve as a team.

DirectorsTalk – Q&A with Professor Steve Myers at Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO).

Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO) subsidiary ADAM S.A. Executive Chairman professor Steve Myers talks to DirectorsTalk about the LIGHT system, it’s likely impact, the design, the progress being made and its future.
Q1: Professor Myers, you became Executive Chairman of ADAM S.A. (ADAM), the CERN spin-off and Advanced Oncotherapy’s (AVO’s) subsidiary, in late 2015, and joined AVO’s Board earlier this year. Your primary responsibility is overseeing the development of AVO’s proprietary and novel proton beam therapy (PBT) technology, LIGHT?

A1: Yes, that’s right. The single most important aspect of LIGHT is that it is based on a fundamentally different design to all other PBT systems. All existing technologies are based on cyclotrons or synchrotrons; LIGHT is the only linear proton accelerator designed for medical application in the treatment of cancer.

Q2: Does that matter?

A2: It matters a great deal. These differences, in terms of technology and costs, have major implications for LIGHT’s potential disruption of the global radiotherapy market. Its technology provides a paradigm shift in clinical effectiveness: the speed at which the energy and direction of the beam can be modulated, the production of secondary radiation, shielding requirements, beam size, size of magnets along the beam transfer line and, hence, the size of the patient gantry, these are all radically better with a linear accelerator.

Costs, in regards to upfront capital expenditure, ongoing maintenance and decommissioning, have also proven prohibitively high for hospitals and clinics when considering existing technologies. LIGHT will be available at a fraction of the cost of comparable competing systems.

Q3: So why aren’t there more linear proton accelerators in hospitals?

A3: From a design perspective, it’s because the engineering behind LIGHT is sufficiently challenging that it has taken the expertise within ADAM, and the experience of continually designing, creating and operating next-generation particle accelerators, to build one.

Q4: How has that expertise translated into LIGHT’s design; can you highlight some examples?

A4: There are a lot, but to pick just one of LIGHT’s components as an example, in February ‘17 we reached a major technical milestone by hitting the desired output energy from the RFQ (Radio Frequency Quadrupole). The RFQ has a number of unique properties: operating at 750 MHz, so it is far smaller than comparable systems, and the energy of the proton beam can be altered 200 times every second, for more accurate tumour targeting and adaptive treatment.

Q5: So where are we with LIGHT?

A5: We outlined the milestones we’re working towards at the investor evenings in March 2017 and hitting those is very much our focus. We updated the market with the progress we have made on the patient positioning system, ionisation chamber and RFQ on June 12th 2017; we’ll be providing further updates on milestones in due course.

Q6: So a major technical event will be generating a proton beam of sufficient energy to treat superficial tumours later in 2018?

A6: That’s right.

Q7: And then, once the first machine has been produced?

A7: There is a huge, unmet medical need for new PBT systems and AVO has been putting the foundations in place to cope with this demand. At the same time, we will keep innovating and continue leveraging LIGHT’s unique capabilities. A potential future addition to LIGHT could be the ability to generate a beam of heavier ions, with higher relative biological effectiveness than even protons. Other enhancements could include enhanced accelerating power and, therefore, a shorter LIGHT system or more efficient radiofrequency generators to reduce already low operating costs. LIGHT’s modular nature lends itself perfectly to the possibility of upgrades and to further improved clinical benefits and/or lower costs.

But, I should stress that the Advanced Oncotherapy PLC LIGHT is already sufficiently different to existing technology to be hugely disruptive in the current market. Getting LIGHT into mass production is what we’ll be concentrating on.

Professor Steve Myers, Executive Chairman at ADAM S.A. thank you for Joining DirectorsTalk today.

 

Link here to Directors Talk

Directors Talk – Q&A with Michel Baelen, Head of Regulatory Affairs at Advanced Oncotherapy Plc

Article published by Directors Talk 

Q&A: Advanced Oncotherapy Plc Michel Baelen, Head of Regulatory Affairs

Michel Baelen,  head of Regulatory Affairs at Advanced Oncotherapy plc  (LON:AVO), talks to DirectorsTalk about the attraction of joining AVO, his past roles and how this experience benefits the company, work done to date and Michel’s plans for regulatory and quality control going forward.

Q: Michel, what attracted you to join AVO?

A: The development of the proton beam therapy system LIGHT, with its innovative and clinically superior approach to the treatment of cancer.

Q: So how does the position fit to what you have done previously?

A: I have a background in electronic engineering and was responsible for IBA’s regulatory and quality assurance affairs for 19 years.

Q: Can you tell us what IBA is?

A: IBA is the current market leader in proton beam therapy. As well as working at IBA, I was previously head of the European Commissions’ industry association for medical devices and worked in a regulatory/quality capacity assurance at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

Q: So how does your experience benefit AVO and its investors?

A: Having worked on both sides of the regulatory fence I know exactly what AVO must do to meet all regulatory and quality control requirements.

Q: In that regard, what have you been doing so far?

A: We’ve been in dialogue with the major regulatory bodies and have been working through what we, AVO, must do to ensure we meet their requirements in as efficient and timely manner as possible.

Q: Can we expect any newsflow to that effect?

A: Absolutely, although timing is difficult to predict; we have been very busy in this regard and hope to make announcements to this end.

Q: On the LIGHT system itself, can you tell us some of the key features that will differentiate it from its competitors?

A: From a safety perspective, the ability to monitor the exact nature of the proton beam and completely control its transmission i.e. if the beam needs to be shut off, we will be able to ensure the patient receives no dose at all. Another is to vary the energy of the beam and, accordingly, the dose the target tumour receives at very high frequencies, for more accurate tumour targeting.

Q: For any new technology with the potential to disrupt a market, there must be risks associated with the realisation of that technology?

A: The development of LIGHT will be a process and there are challenges ahead.  For example, the accelerating modules will contain a vacuum at much lower pressure than is present in existing radiotherapy systems. In addition, the ability to vary the energy of the proton beam with every pulse requires highly sophisticated and robust software control and management.

Q: Are there any other key safety USPs?

A: Yes, the LIGHT system will not suffer from comparable proton losses and, as a result, will not irradiate and physically/chemically alter, otherwise known as activate, the shielding and surrounding materials that any radiotherapy system is housed in. For example, the decommissioning costs of non-Linac proton accelerators can be up to three times as high as the initial cost. So that can be a major headache for hospitals and clinics; LIGHT is the only proton therapy system using a linear particle accelerator.

Q: And given the potential hurdles inherent in LIGHT’s development, what is AVO doing to manage and overcome those risks?

A: Two key approaches adopted by AVO have been to hire industry experts, in all relevant fields, and to partner market leading companies, such as Thales. For example, Thales, which will mass produce LIGHT for AVO, has already demonstrated its ability to create a vacuum at the required level that I previously referred to. We have also hired an expert in safety-critical software from Airbus, a market leader in another industry where it is absolutely essential that software, and the systems that that software controls, perform precisely as required.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight?

A: Just that we, AVO, are doing everything we can to ensure we clear all regulatory and quality control hurdles in all major markets and with all relevant bodies, globally.

Michel, thank you for your time.

Feedback PLC – Dr Balaji Ganeshan talks to DirectorsTalk about Stone Checker JV.

Dr Balaji Ganeshan, Chief Scientific Officer at Feedback (FDBK) talks to DirectorsTalk about a new JV with UKUA forming the company “Stone Checker Software Ltd”.

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