Mar 4, 2020
David Johnson, CEO and co-founder, GigaGen discusses the company's recombinant intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy in development to treat patients with primary immune deficiencies and its potential to overcome limitations of current IVIG plasma-based therapies. David describes how GigaGen's recombinant IVIG is not tied to plasma supplies and has the potential to provide a high purity, consistent and ultimately safer treatment alternative for patients in need.
#primaryimmunedeficiency #IVIG #antibody #PolyclonalAntibodies
Page 1 of the Interview with David Johnson GigaGen
Welcome to the EmpoweredPatientPodcast.com show. I'm Karen Jagoda, and my guest today is David Johnson. He's the CEO and co-founder of GigaGen, that's G-I-G-A G-E-N.com. And Dave is an inventor, he's an entrepreneur and is an expert in single cell immunology. And we're talking today about IVIG therapies for patients with primary immune deficiencies. And Dave, I want to welcome you to the show today. I really appreciate you taking a few minutes.
Thank you. Happy to be here.
So let's start off by just explaining what IVIG is and how medications are made up that are in this form.
IVIG currently is derived from plasma of human donors. So what happens is thousands of plasma donors go into collection facilities and the facilities collect plasma from these individuals, and then pools of these donors' plasma get subjected to a manufacturing process where antibodies are extracted from the plasma. And believe it or not, this is actually a drug that's given to patients who have immune deficiencies. And what that means is that these are people who can't make enough antibody or don't make the right kinds of antibodies and therefore need these supplements from the plasma of these donors.
And so why are these therapies so important? People can't get the same benefit from taking some kind of pill?
No. Well, if you think about it, this is a chronic disease. And so people have this for their entire lives. Most people get diagnosed in their 20s or maybe 30s. And the only other real alternative is to take antibiotics, for example Cipro, for the rest of your life. And as you could imagine, if you take Cipro, it's fairly toxic, and also eventually you get resistant bacteria, actually pretty quickly. So doctors really have no other choice right now but to use these IVIG therapies.
So part of the reason it's interesting to talk to you is not only the work that you're doing to change the world of IVIG, but also there's a shortage of traditional IVIG therapies across the country. So first, tell us a little bit about why there's a shortage and then how your therapy is aiming to overcome those kind of shortages in the future.
Yeah, as you can imagine, people are busy and it can be difficult to get donors to go into the collection facilities to donate plasma. You get some financial reimbursement for going and donating, but it can be really difficult to collect enough plasma to create enough antibody that would meet the demand. Another issue is that outside of the US, it can be difficult to collect plasma sometimes because of infectious disease outbreaks. For example, China has difficulty collecting plasma. You can imagine with the coronavirus outbreak, it's going to be even more difficult. Then some places in Europe you can't give people any compensation for plasma donations, so that makes it harder to collect. So all around, there's growing demand for IVIG products, but not really growing plasma supply. So it's a big problem that, somehow it needs to be solved one way or another.