DocWire News: Can you provide us with some professional background on yourself?
Dr. Tram Tran: Yeah, hi, I’m Tram Tran, and I’m previously an academic physician with a background in general medicine, gastroenterology, and I was a transplant hepatologist for nearly 20 years in Los Angeles, and then joined Glympse Bio as the Chief Medical Officer about seven months ago.
Talk to us about Glympse Bio
Yeah, Glympse Bio was founded out of an MIT lab that was led by [inaudible 00:00:38] and Gabe Quang. And at the time what their technology was, was developing sort of these specialized tunable biosensors that were able to detect protein activity or protease activity. And they injected these biosensors into patients in order to detect protein activity. And so Glympse Bio was founded on the idea of protein activity and being able to measure that, and that’s what Glympse Bio does. And now we’ve certainly changed our technology a little bit to make it a little bit more easier for the patients in terms of not having an injectable version of the biosensor, but now being able to do it based on a simple plasma blood test.
What is it specifically about Glympse Bio’s technology that makes it so unique?
Yeah, so I think we are very used to tests that do RNA measurements or DNA measurements. We’re also very used to tests that measure protein levels in the blood for various different diseases. But I think what’s unique about the Glympse platform is that we are able to measure protease or protein activity. So proteases are basically enzymes that are very active in various disease states. They cleave proteins that are part of a disease process. And what we can do now is measure this protein activity or protease activity and that helps us to measure how the disease is working. It measures whether the is progressing or regressing, measure how active the disease is, measures a lot of the different biology related around diseases. So that’s unique to be able to measure protein or protease activity. It’s usually been very difficult to do. And that’s why the first round of technology was really about injecting it. And then it would go to the target organ and measure it. But now to be able to do that and measure protein activity by a blood test, I think is really the very novel aspect of what the Glympse platform does scientifically.
Talk to us about the current approaches for diagnosing nonalcoholic steathohepatitis (NASH).
Yeah. So NASH, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, is basically fatty liver that has inflammation. And over time, if you have inflammation, you may develop scar tissue. That’s called fibrosis. And over time, if you get a lot of fibrosis, that ends up being cirrhosis, and those patients end up with liver failure or cancer. So what we want to do is be able to diagnose NASH, which is right now diagnosed by a liver biopsy, by being able to measure it in the blood. So we can measure if there’s inflammation, measure how much scar tissue there is. I think that’s the most important thing because somebody might just have plain fat in their liver and that’s not necessarily going to be terrible in their life, but if they have a lot of fat plus they have a lot of inflammation and they’ve developed a lot of scar tissue, that’s a poor prognostic indicator for that patient going on to develop major liver problems.
So being able to pick up how much scar tissue they have in the liver is done by liver biopsy. And a liver biopsy is an invasive procedure. I do them and the needle is very long and it’s a very scary procedure. And while the complication rate is very low, it’s not zero. And so to be able to do something with a blood test, I think, is the key for NASH diagnosis is to get away from liver biopsy and be able to do things via blood testing instead. So that’s, I think, the current approach to diagnosing NASH is with liver biopsy, and we’d really like to get away from that.
What other future developments are you working on at Glympse Bio?
So I think besides NASH and being able to diagnose NASH and figure out how much damage there is to the liver with the blood tests that we’ve talked about for protease activity or protein activity, because proteases or protein activity is such a big part of many diseases including cancer, including inflammation, including maybe autoimmune diseases, we’re looking into using this same platform to be able to maybe make earlier diagnosis in some forms of cancer, especially liver cancer, because that’s where we have a lot of expertise with our liver disease and NASH experience, but also in other forms of inflammation and autoimmune diseases. So because proteins and proteases have impact on many other diseases, we hope to be able to use this across many other diseases. So that’s kind of the direction that we’d go eventually for our future developments at Glympse.
What are the company’s expected milestones for 2022?
So we released our data. Our first round of data really came out in this last fall at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, so that was kind of our first public release of our data in NASH. And this year we plan to continue to gather a lot more data in terms of staging disease, figuring out how much scar tissue and damage patients have on their biopsy versus the blood comparison. So just continuing to gather more data and publishing that data and having that data in the public domain so that people can really understand the potential of this platform across not just NASH, but as well as potentially liver cancer. So that’s really our milestone is to gather more data and start to really get that out there so people in the scientific world can start to really understand this better.
Any closing thoughts?
No, I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak about this. I think this is a huge unmet need in the world right now because we have so many patients, unfortunately, that have diabetes or have, are suffering from hypertension or obesity in these patients or the ones at risk. And we want to be able to get these patients diagnosed and into treatment if needed in order for them to be able to have decreased number of liver transplants and negative outcomes. So I think it’s just really about where the patients are in need right now is the easiest test possible, right? That’s what we’d like.