Business Minds Meet Medicine Minds in Annual YPO Event
by Caroline Mekhiel
In February 2020, founder and CEO of Ring, Jamie Siminoff, invited Dr. Santosh Kesari, to speak to top business influencers at a YPO event held in Los Angeles to discuss modern advances in medicine including early detection and prevention of cancer and other neurological diseases, precision medicine, and immunotherapy.
The crowd was filled with young business moguls from every industry who were enthralled by Dr. Kesari‘s message that entrepreneurial thinking is critical for progress in breakthrough medicine.
Siminoff had met Dr. Santosh Kesari more than a decade earlier when his father had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a debilitating and rare brain cancer. Determined to find leading edge treatments, Siminoff had looked for answers, searching far and wide for doctors and medical centers that could help him. When he finally found Dr. Kesari, who was at Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute at the time, he not only discovered the innovator he was looking for, but hope for a cure to his father’s cancer as well. Dr. Kesari listened and spoke in a language that Jamie appreciated – the language of an entrepreneur. Even with Dr. Kesari’s proactive mindset, sadly, it was too late, but Siminoff recognized Dr. Kesari’s vision of pushing the envelope in brain cancer treatment as something to follow.
“After my experience, I always vowed to help Dr. Kesari and doctors like him in any way I could because he was a doctor that I knew one day might be able to change the world.” said Siminoff.
Now a founder of Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, California, Dr. Kesari has a thriving clinical and research practice dedicated to the treating and exploring the most deadly neurological diseases.
New Approaches To Clinical Development Of Drugs
At the YPO discussion at The Hangers Of Hawthorne, Dr. Kesari stated, “Over the past decade studying genomics and big data in healthcare, we have learned a lot about cancers and neurological diseases such as Alzhiemer’s and other dementias. While we continue to learn more, we need to better translate some of these insights by coming up with hypotheses that can be tested in the clinic quickly, specifically in regard to repurposing old and new drugs for severe diseases such as brain cancer and Alzheimer’s.”
Director of Neuro-Oncology, and Chair of Translational Neurosciences & Neurotherapeutics, Dr. Kesari and his team have been working on a new approach to accelerate clinical development of drugs for brain cancer, dementia, and other high unmet needs. He explained to the audience, “Medicine is complex and there are set ways of doing things, that is, treatment pathways for each particular disease, and there is a treatment pathway for brain cancers too. But for the past five decades we have been doing that, everyone gets radiation and chemotherapy initially which is the standard of care, followed by a clinical trial and none of these treatments have been successful to date.”
Because of this Dr. Kesari decided many years ago that the standard model of treatment was never going to work as a long-term option since both chemotherapy and radiation damage the immune system, especially in the new age of immunotherapies and targeted therapies which depend on a strong immune system to work.
Teaming Up To Find A Cure
Recently, Siminoff and Dr. Kesari connected again after more than 10 years when Siminoff determined to support Dr. Kesari’s new clinical trial to find a cure for brain cancer in the next five to ten years.
“So, we came up with a new approach called Precision Immunotherapy in the Neoadjuvant setting (PIN) study,” Dr. Kesari said, “The idea is to use new immune boosting and targeted drugs before radiation and chemotherapy to maximize the chance of patient response and to also get rid of all the issues we see after radiation and chemotherapy.”
This was a unique approach and Dr. Kesari and his team were the first to do it. Siminoff was one of the early investors in the PIN trial for patients with glioblastoma who had not yet undergone any radiation or chemotherapy.
“In our initial study we used two immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors which activate the immune system,” said Dr. Kesari. “We have several patients that responded for over a year, without having to do radiation or chemotherapy. While it is an early study with small numbers of patients, it serves as a proof of concept and is a starting point to add more drug combinations with the aim of trying to improve patient outcomes quickly.”
Currently, Dr. Kesari’s implementation of advanced precision medicine and immunotherapies has proved to be successful in comparison to standard of care treatments that can have more adverse side effects for patients.
“Since we are a business organization, one with some great people doing some very impactful and awesome business, in the end most of us gauge our success in the form of money. But when you invent something medical and clinical your success is gauged a little differently,”– Jamie Siminoff
The Highlight of the Night
Siminoff then transitioned into introducing what he called “the most priceless item of the night”. The audience was surprised when an energetic young man who had been mingling with the participants joined Siminoff and Dr. Kesari on stage to discuss how these advanced treatments keep brain cancer at bay, allowing patients to have a high quality of life.
It turned out he was speaking from personal experience as one of Dr. Kesari’s PIN trial patients.
Dr. Kesari’s advancements in brain research through clinical trials span decades. Research requires funding to support this forward thinking and innovation to face the most complex cases from brain cancer to dementia.
For more information on how to support Dr. Kesari’s brain cancer research, contact Director of Development, Mary Byrnes, via email or phone at 310-582-7102.
Clinical trials and research information can be found online at the Pacific Neuroscience Research Center.
About the Author
Caroline is an experienced marketing and communication professional, who has supported various health systems and academic medical centers across Southern California. Throughout her career she has supported key service lines and programs with an emphasis on implementing innovative strategies that drive volume and growth.
Last updated: April 21st, 2020