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Jane Theaker, CEO of Kinomica

Name: Jane Theaker MSc, FIBMS

Company: Kinomica Ltd

Position: CEO

Kinomica team

Could you provide me with a whistle-stop tour of your career?

I worked for the NHS, AstraZeneca, QIAGEN and the laboratory of the government chemist before coming to Kinomica as CEO. I started in the NHS before moving to Zeneca diagnostics where I co-invented a technology called Scorpions primers in 1999. That was spun out to create a company called DxS which was later acquired by QIAGEN for $130M. I joined DxS/QIAGEN in 2009 and developed two diagnostic kits using my own invention Scorpions primers. The kits tested for mutations in the EGFR and Kras genes and were FDA approved around 2012. It was particularly satisfying for me to see my own invention from the "Aha!" discovery moment at the bench to being used to decide whether a patient was going to get a drug or not. Knowing that this invention might decide whether someone might survive lung cancer and get to watch their daughter get married had a huge impact on me. It is my own personal motivation and the reason why I work in life sciences and at Kinomica in particular.

Kinomica provides a cell signalling profiling service called KScan to the pharmaceutical industry. KScan allows us to rank the activity of enzymes called Kinases in a tissue like a tumour. Kinases are enzymes that add a phosphate groups on to proteins and turn those proteins from their inactive form to an active form. Using KScan we can predict how samples from patients will respond to drugs before the patient receives a drug treatment. This allows us to help to personalise therapies to patients.

 

How was 2020, how did you/your business adapt?

COVID certainly affected our business! Our laboratories which we rented at Bart's Cancer Institute were closed for over two months. Even more worrying some of our staff caught COVID. We therefore had to bring forward plans to expand and we set up a laboratory for sample preparation and tissue culture at Alderley Park in Cheshire. Hyper Recruitment Solutions helped us recruit by introducing us to two wonderful, dedicated scientists to support our growth. This allowed us to progress our commercial and Innovate UK projects while looking for alternative mass spectrometry facilities, which we eventually did at Oxford University. Oxford had special dispensation to remain open as they were working on COVID samples and luckily, they had spare capacity we could use.

Despite the COVID setbacks, we have continued to achieve considerable commercial success and secured further substantial contracts with blue chip Pharma clients. In addition, we have commenced some new COVID-focussed KScan projects with the Stoller Biomarker Discovery centre in Manchester looking at COVID blood samples and with an academic lung consultant looking at disease processes in the post-COVID lung.

 

Kinomica - Revolutionary Technologies for Precision Medicine

What are your hopes for 2021?

Like the rest of the country, get my vaccination and help stop the spread of COVID so we can get some normality back into all our lives!

But beyond that I would like to grow and scale Kinomica and move our KScan technology into clinical trials and clinical practise so that patients can start to benefit from this disruptive technology.

 

One prediction for this year?

That diagnostics and data science in particular will be our route out of many of the challenges we face. As a nation facing COVID, diagnostics and the resultant data should be at the heart of what we do and why we do it. Data equals insights and insights mean that the appropriate decisions can be taken.

It is the same for Kinomica in the Pharma industry. KScan cell signalling profiling gives unprecedented insights that can't be achieved using conventional "one at a time" antibody techniques. Our datasets and the resultant insights are highly disruptive and should change how we go about drug discovery, development, and diagnosis of disease.

 

What do "we" as an industry need to do more of?

We as a life sciences industry need to collaborate, communicate, and create powerful datasets that lead to insights that improve patients' lives. Our best chance of doing this lies in building diverse teams with a strong support network. In diversity, you have real strength. I can only point to the Kinomica team and our external supporters and cheer leaders, we have around us. I am incredibly proud to say I think we have a very diverse and incredibly strong team as a result, supported by an incredible ecosystem in our industry.