What next for Séamus Mulligan?
Entrepreneur might turn attention to Maynooth University cancer therapy spinout
Adapt Pharma developed a non-injectable form of Naloxone, which resulted in a $735 million payday for its investors, including serial pharmaceutical entrepreneur Séamus Mulligan
You’d never say that a $735 million payday was not a landmark occasion but the sale of Adapt Pharma – the maker of the opioid rescue drug Narcan that is widely used in North America – wasn’t the first time that serial pharmaceutical entrepreneur Séamus Mulligan and his team had seen a company deliver on its promise.
It was the challenge as much as the potential financial reward that drove him and his team at Adapt. So what now for a man that is not known for taking time off and putting his feet up?
Mulligan and his team will be busy for the next year or so anyway, bedding Adapt into its new owner, Emergent Biosolutions. But Mulligan – and eventually probably his key team – are likely to be looking at other, new opportunities.
Chief among those, for now at least, is a small spinout business from Maynooth University.
Avectas is developing a cutting edge technology to help treat cancer patients. Its approach makes cells extracted from a patient permeable temporarily, allowing them to be re-engineered to attack cancers before being infused back into patients.
The approach addresses two key challenges in the immunotherapeutic approach to tackling the disease – the reliance on viruses to help re-engineer cells and the length of the costly cell engineering process.
Delivering re-engineered cells faster and at lower cost has clear advantages for doctors, patients and whoever is paying the bill for the treatment in an era where cost is an increasingly contentious issue for medicine.
Mulligan and his team have already been heavily involved in funding Avectas even while their focus was on Adapt.
It plays to the strengths of the Mulligan team – drug delivery – and, like Narcan, targets an emerging medical priority – gene editing to tackle disease.
It’s early days and the target is ambitious. So are the potential rewards. Given his track history, you wouldn’t bet against Mulligan pulling off another coup.