You were at the doctor’s clinic, being prescribed a drug for the next four weeks. Feeling satisfied with consulting the medico, you agreed to comply with the doctor’s instructions. However, it’s now been four weeks, and you’re still unwell. It turns out you have not taken the medication daily as the doctor instructed you to.
Skipping or taking medications at incorrect intervals often interferes with the expected benefits of the prescribed treatment. Patient’s motivation to begin and continue with a recommended drug is often determined by their expectations of the time taken to seek relief from their symptoms, unwanted side effects, and/or attitudes toward treatment. The lack of patient compliance often results in unsatisfactory treatment outcomes and additional unnecessary doctor’s visits.
Consequently, patients suffer as the disease progresses, and ultimately the quality of life declines; and doctors’ office is overbooked as they strive to provide effective patient care. Reflecting upon the patient-doctor struggles in prescription compliance, Diane Tang-Liu, the CEO and President of AiViva BioPharma, addresses the existing treatment burden for both patients and physicians. She believes that effective treatments could be made possible by completely shifting the treatment paradigm from the patient to the doctor.
For this reason, AiViva BioPharma, by addressing the disease fully and delivering drugs using innovative technology, has managed to seek optimal clinical outcomes.
We at Insights Care crossed paths with Diane Tang-Liu and did a deeper dive into her journey toward transforming treatment paradigms, further comprehending her approach to developing therapies that serve unmet medical needs.
Journey So Far
Diane Tang-Liu was born and raised in Taiwan. After she graduated from Pharmacy School, she came to the US to pursue her Ph.D. training in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the prestigious University of California, San Francisco. Since then, she has dedicated her career to pharmaceutical drug development and bringing products through regulatory approval to patients and physicians. Diane’s career started as an entry-scientist level and as her responsibilities grew, she reached an executive leadership position overseeing global drug development teams.
Dedicating to the Pharmaceutical Industry
Mid-career, Diane took early retirement due to a family illness that required her dedicated attention. It was only when the situation was under control that she was encouraged to combine her extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry, along with three of her professional colleagues, to make a difference and form AiViva.
Diane emphasized, “We believe one challenge associated with significant unmet medical needs and worthy of our research effort would be the diseases manifested by abnormal blood vessel growth, inflammation, and fibrotic (scarring) formation.”
Because these diseases span widely across ophthalmology, dermatology, urology and cancer— Diane’s know-how could be leveraged by AiViva to help patients globally.
Providing Convenient Solutions to Patients and Physicians
AiViva is a clinical-stage company with strong momentum. Since its founding in 2015, AiViva has moved quickly from inception, preclinical studies, through FDA’s Investigational New Drug Application, into its current phase: clinical trials. Its lead programs focus on wet age-related macular degeneration, prostate disorders and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Diane states, “Our goal is to provide effective and convenient solutions to diseases for patients and physicians.” For example, where current treatments for wet AMD require frequent and painful eye injections without treating the underlying mechanism of the disease. AiViva’s solution has a prolonged treatment duration and has the potential added benefit of resolving the underlying scarring, thus addressing the age-related irreversible vision loss. “We want the patients to improve their quality of life,” adds Diane.
Offering an insight into the severity of wet AMD, Diane points out that it is a disease of the eye associated with aging, which is the leading cause of vision loss. At present, AMD is considered an incurable eye disease. As people grow older, there will be abnormal blood vessel growth in the back of the eye, leaking fluid and blood, eventually causing scarring of the macula (the center of the retina where visual signals are collected) and resulting in vision loss.
“There are 11 million patients in the US, with a global prevalence of 170 million, suffering from some form of AMD. This represents a huge unmet medical need for good treatments,” states Diane. She explains that if wet AMD is not treated, patients may lose their eyesight very rapidly. Patients may lose an average of 3 lines or 15 letters over one to two years. Currently, AiViva has completed one clinical trial with preliminary positive results and plans to start another clinical trial on wet AMD patients in 2023.
AiViva is also preparing to start a clinical trial for prostate disease. Considering the aging aspect: enlargement (leading to hyperplasia) of men’s prostates begins around age 25 and never stops. Symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia may start to present as early as age 40. These symptoms may include frequent urination throughout the day and night, dribbling at the end of urination, and an inability to fully empty the bladder. Benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer may happen at the same time. Addressing the concern, “AiViva plans to file with the FDA an IND in 2023 to start clinical trials to address prostate disorders,” states Diane.
Easier Treatments, Better Outcomes
AiViva’s treatments make it easier for doctors to deliver effective treatments – and for patients to keep up with the treatment program – with innovative technological support by using a proprietary, patent-pending JEL™ technology that enables the direct and targeted placement of drugs exactly where needed, without the patient having to administer it.
One advantage that it brings is that it acts as a long-term depot rather than having to treat the patients frequently. Such a depot stores drugs and gradually releases targeted treatment over a long duration. This eliminates the need for frequent treatments while prolonging the effects of drugs plus reducing side effects.
The technological growth and development of AiViva have been attributed to its veteran BioPharma team, who have managed to raise $30M in the capital, including $9.3M this year, which is a noticeably remarkable momentum, especially in a challenged VC environment. They are also given credit for having a stellar track record of multiple FDA-approved drugs and successful exits, which has led them to diversify their product pipeline. These products in development are well-positioned to transform the treatment of several ailments while potentially delivering a solid revenue stream. At present, the team has 63 worldwide patent applications to ensure a long market exclusivity, of which 22 have been successfully issued so far.
Comprehending the JEL™ tech’s potential within the fields of urology, oncology, dermatology, and ophthalmology, AiViva is looking forward to seeking a multi-billion dollar in annual revenue potential.
Comprehending the Value of Knowledge and Highlighting Achievements
Diane understands the value of education, opportunity, and the importance of applying her know-how to lift others. These fundamental principles have guided her in her professional career and community service. With respect to the latter, she has received a Vision in America award for her community leadership in building a $10M South Coast Chinese Cultural Center in Irvine, CA, alongside being recognized with professional awards.
According to Diane, “AiViva believes in giving back to the community. We offer an industry internship program to Pharm D candidates.” The company’s position in community giveback is well reflected in the following testimonials from USC Pharm D candidates:
“My time at AiViva has been great. It exceeded any expectations I had. There are many different projects to work on, and thus many different opportunities to grow.”
– Mariam Geysimonyan
“Understanding the role of an industry pharmacist better. For me, I didn’t have any prior experience, but I understand, at least more, what the different functional roles would be for a company. In addition, I think Dr. Tang-Liu’s mentorship definitely helped with understanding the industry environment as well as workplace manners.”
– Royal Siu
“Everyone at the company was always friendly and nice, and I couldn’t have asked for a better rotation! It was great to see how a smaller pharmaceutical company operates.”
– Sarah Choi
“Outcomes gained from my internship: a) Competitor market research, b) Clinical development considerations, c) Engaging with experienced professionals. Internship prepared me for: Strategy position in pharma/consulting.”
– Doreen Nilo