EP 53: How Mission Bio is Helping Physicians Beat Cancer

Charlie Silver | CEO and Co-founder of Mission Bio

This CEO is taking every precaution to ensure his business gets the talent, visibility, and backing it needs to stay ahead of the life sciences pack.

Charlie Silver, CEO of Mission Bio

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Episode Summary

It’s critical for cancer patients to get accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans as quickly as possible. Yet, doctors often spend precious time trying to discern exactly which form of the disease they are dealing with because they can’t see the individual cells involved.

Charlie Silver, CEO of Mission Bio, hopes to change that.

“Diseases like cancer have mutations where all the cells are different,” Silver says on Founders & Funders. “Those differences in DNA, from one cell to the next—that’s actually causing the disease, and those differences among cells are very hard for sequencers to pick up.”

To address this, Mission Bio developed technology that bolts onto sequencers, allowing machines to scan individual DNA across every disease-causing cell in the sample.

As a result, Silver continues, “You can find those rare cells and mutations in the spectrum that contribute to the disease. We sell a technology that improves the precision of existing sequencing so that our customers at the cancer centers and drug companies can come up with better treatments for their patients.”

Though Charlie didn’t found Mission Bio—it was spun out of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)—he has always been interested in finding high-powered ways to look deeper into materials. In this interview, he shares more about the similarities between what he’s doing now and his past experiences, as well as why this particular technology is perhaps more important than anything else he’s done to date. He also explains how and why he stacked the deck to ensure the company succeeds.

Here are a few other highlights from this interview:

On higher resolution: “I’ve always been very interested in seeing more deeply, increasing the resolution of how we look at the world, so you have a better understanding of what’s in the world around us, and how to engineer it to make it even better.”

On working in a new industry: “This is a different industry, and that’s been a learning experience for me, but I think a fresh set of eyes on the industry also brings a unique perspective.”

On learning from customers: “It’s been really inspiring to see the work that the customers have done in the platform, especially in an academic setting, because our customers are not basic researchers. They’re the MD, PhDs at the cancer centers, typically who are seeing patients every day and pulling samples from those patients to run clinical studies. Ultimately they’re using the results of those clinical studies to feed back into the care of their patients. These folks have the most incredible stories behind what they’re doing on a daily basis.”

About Charlie Silver, CEO and Co-founder of Mission Bio

Charlie Silver is CEO and Co-founder of Mission Bio, where he leads a team dedicated to solving complex biological problems with precision engineering, innovative biochemistry, and supported bioinformatics. Charlie has dedicated his career to commercializing next-generation hardware technology and scientific instrumentation at emerging ventures in healthcare and semiconductor.

Prior to Mission Bio, Charlie led engineering at Novelx, which was acquired by Agilent, where he served in R&D and marketing. Charlie received a joint MBA from UC Berkeley and Columbia University, an MS in physics from UW Madison, and a BA in physics from Columbia University.

About Mission Bio

Mission Bio delivers targeted solutions for high impact applications with Tapestri Platform. The Tapestri Platform is the industry’s first single-cell DNA sequencing platform, enabling precise detection of heterogeneity in disease progression and treatment response. Application areas include blood cancers, solid tumors, and genome editing validation. The platform includes an instrument, consumables and software, which plug seamlessly into existing NGS workflows.

Tapestri Platform was honored as a Top 10 Innovation of 2018 by The Scientist, as well as utilized by researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) for the largest single-cell study completed to date. Additional studies in therapy resistance and Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) using the Tapestri Platform have been reported by other leading cancer centers, including the University of California, San Francisco, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University. With Mission Bio, researchers have a highly sensitive, targeted, and customizable solution to move precision medicine forward.

Mission Bio is a portfolio company of Bascom Ventures and Chestnut Street Ventures.

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