Houston, TX, September 9, 2021 - Benzinga.com, a financial and tech online media, interviewed Audubon’s CEO, Rostyslav Semikov. The conversation focuses on the company’s mission and vision, the next envisioned growth actions, and the success of our ongoing crowdfunding campaign. You can read the full interview below.
CEO Rostyslav Semikov on Audubon Bioscience's Vision to Bring Diversity and Efficiency to Biobanking Space
Houston-based biobanking company Audubon Bioscience envisions a world where cancer is detected early and treated effectively, with equal access to treatment across all patient groups, regardless of socioeconomic or racial background. The company is working toward that vision by building a global biobanking network to provide an expansive range of biospecimens that support the cutting-edge research necessary to make that world possible.
Benzinga sat down with Audubon Bioscience CEO Rostyslav Semikov to talk about what the biobank does, what plans it has in store for the future and how that’s helping researchers in the quest to develop better diagnostics and drugs for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Benzinga (BNZNG): What are the key challenges in the biomedical research space that Audubon Bioscience is addressing?
Rostyslav Semikov (RS): Our clients are biomedical researchers coming from diverse institutions spanning the public and private sector, including leading research facilities at universities, the CDC [Center for Disease Control] and NIH [National Institute of Health] as well as major pharmaceutical companies and biotech startups. No matter where they come from, the biggest struggles they all face, particularly in the cancer research space, is trying to procure the right biosamples within the right timeline at the right budget. Our goal at Audubon is to address all 3 of those dilemmas.
The right biosamples are those that are procured ethically, are of good quality and have sufficient clinical data. The right timeline is the one that fits with the project. All projects have certain timelines in which they have to be accomplished. If samples aren’t delivered within those timelines, the research is postponed. The right budget is the one that the company can afford, regardless of its size.
With our growing network of clinics across the globe, we have expanded access to ethically procured, high-quality biosamples with the specifically requested data that researchers need. We also help researchers find the right samples quicker and help with the logistics of getting those samples delivered within their timelines. Finally, at Audubon, we can customize projects based on their capacities and needs so that each project is tailored to the researcher, regardless of budget size.
BNZNG:Audubon is very close to reaching its $250,000 crowdfunding goal. What goals will this new funding help Audubon achieve?
RS: The bulk of this round of funding will go toward hiring more staff and increasing our operational capacity. We are heavily reliant on our experienced staff to provide the quality of service we aim for and, as we look toward expanding, this capital will be key to increasing our overall capacity.
We are striving to raise $500,000 in total with the equity crowdfunding platform, MicroVentures. We finished the 1st round of the campaign this summer, raising $250,000 and have just launched the 2nd round to raise another $250,000 towards our growth. Then, we plan to go for Series A investor funding. All of this will go toward building up the staff and equipment we need to manage our growing network of clinical sites around the world.
BNZNG: Audubon Bioscience already has a worldwide presence, but as you work toward further global expansion, what are your targets for the coming years?
RS: Our ultimate goal is to be present on all 6 continents. In the next 5 years, we plan to have 500-plus clinical sites in 50-plus countries and states.
BNZNG: Why is this global presence so important from a biomedical research perspective?
RS: There is significant diversity in human genetics across various ethnic groups, especially when we compare different continents and it has a major impact on the genetic diversity when you start to pinpoint certain biological pathways within diseases. This genetic variation creates clinically significant differences in risk factors for diseases and how a patient will respond to particular treatments, depending on their genetic background as well as lifestyle factors.
To address that properly, it’s important to study the genome of the human population comprehensively — both in the preclinical and clinical phases of research. However, in the current biobanking landscape, getting access to a more diverse range of biospecimens, especially within the timeline and budget constraints many researchers face, is difficult.
At the moment, we have more than 100 clinical sites located in 12 countries, which puts us in the top 10 biobanks that have a global presence in terms of the number of sites and the number of countries where we are present. The wider the geographical, ethnic and racial diversity we can provide in our biosamples, the more effective and comprehensive clinical research will be.
BNZNG: You’re launching a new e-procurement platform next year. What will the online platform look like? How will it work?
RS: The idea is to make the procurement process more automated and minimize the hands-on interaction required between clients and our biobank and partner clinical sites so that researchers can get the samples they need faster and with less hassle.
Currently, the process of getting samples involves a lot of back-and-forth between staff and the client as they iron out the details of what samples they need, what samples the biobank already has, what we need to procure prospectively, and how to handle the delivery from the biobank to the researcher.
Our e-procurement platform, which we’re aiming to launch by the end of 2022, will streamline this entire process from the search and selection of specific biosamples to the document exchange to the final financial transaction. By creating an online, searchable database that works similar to an e-commerce platform, we are making it easier to see and select the samples we already have in stock and place orders. It will also feature tools to help researchers customize projects to what they need through the platform without the need for all the back-and-forth between our staff, clinics and clients.
While there are a few platforms like this out there — about 4 or 5 that I’m aware of — most biobanks still aren’t offering anything like this. Most significantly, there is currently no platform comprehensive enough to include the range of functions and biosamples we can make available, so there’s still a large market segment that’s not being served at the moment.
BNZNG: What other goals or expectations do you have for Audubon in the next 5 years?
RS: We want to make a major impact in helping researchers develop new and fine-tuned earlier diagnostics with more effective drug options for cancer patients. We also want to educate the general public, patients and their family members about the biobanking field and how something as simple as a blood draw can go on to make the world of a difference in translational medicine.
Also, to provide our growing client base with the high-quality and diverse bio samples they need, we will add hundreds of new clinical sites and expand our presence into at least a dozen more countries around the world. This expanded global presence will help us contribute toward the development of hundreds of diagnostics and therapeutic solutions that will help save tens and hundreds of thousands of lives. Towards this goal, we aim to grow our base to exceed 500 satisfied clients and partners by 2026, generating a total of $50 million in revenue.