Eric Ostertag, MD, PhD, Recounts His Journey from Penn Grad to Poseida CEO on “Close to the Edge”

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Eric Ostertag, MD, PhD, was the first graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s gene therapy program, where he studied under pioneer researcher James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, some two decades ago. Now, as CEO of Poseida Therapeutics, Ostertag leads a developer of curative cell and gene therapies based on its own proprietary gene engineering platform technologies.

Ostertag recounts his journey from Penn to Poseida on Episode 9 of “Close to the Edge.”

Ostertag pursued his interest in molecular biology by co-founding and serving as executive vice president of PhenoTech, and later became CEO and president of Vindico NanoBioTechnology, a developer of nanometer-scale particulate technology, before founding Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, where he also served as CEO and president from 2003 to 2015. That year, he directed Poseida’s spin out from Transposagen, and has served as Poseida’s CEO ever since.

On “Close to the Edge,” Ostertag explained how and why Poseida came to focus on cancer and genetic diseases. He also discussed Poseida’s recently-launched collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceutical, in which it agreed to apply Poseida’s technologies to develop up to eight nonviral, in vivo gene therapies, including a Hemophilia A candidate already under development. The collaboration could generate more than $3.6 billion for San Diego-based Poseida.

Ostertag also assessed the fields of cell and gene therapy and shared Poseida’s approaches to overcoming the primary limitations of current generation cell and gene therapeutics.

On the cell therapy side, Ostertag discussed autologous CAR T cell candidates P-BCMA-101 (multiple myeloma), the company’s lead pipeline candidate, and P-PSMA-101 (metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer), for which Poseida in August presented positive preliminary Phase I data from the first nine patients, three of which showed a greater than 50% decline in prostate-specific antigen and concordant PSMA-PET imaging results. A year ago, a clinical hold had been imposed on the study following a patient death which according to the company was “exacerbated by patient non-compliance.” The hold was lifted three months later following protocol amendments that were intended to increase patient compliance and safety.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Ostertag also detailed Poseida’s Cas-CLOVER gene editing platform, designed to prevent off-target edits; the company’s fully allogeneic approach for several of its pipeline CAR T candidates; and how its “booster” molecule enables making hundreds of doses from a single manufacturing run.

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