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In The Lab at BADASS with Mo Mandegar

Posted: 11 September 2023

Our team in the Bay Area of California has been in the BADASS Labs since inception. The location has offered a great opportunity to be in the heart of innovation, as well as network with other industry providers. In late 2023, the team at BADASS Labs did an interview with our Vice President and US Head of Site, Mo Mandegar, D.Phil., about the emergence of the company and what makes it unique.

Although founded in 2022, Ascend is built on a solid foundation of expertise and puts vector quality and safety as the primary concern. It offers end-to-end services designed to help early-stage companies bring best-in-class AAV products through the clinic and to the market. That goal, Mo says, is achieved by investing in proprietary technologies for driving product yield, potency, and improved quality and having expert stable teams with proven track records.

Early-stage innovation and platformization of Ascend’s patented split-two plasmid technology has been deployed to meet the research needs of early-stage gene therapy partners, according to Mo. The company is simultaneously working to establish GMP manufacturing capabilities by late 2024 and has begun to develop relationships with big pharma companies. Over the next three years, Mo says Ascend expects to release more next-generation platforms that address efficiency, quality, safety, and cost issues for AAV vectors.

As for the Ascend Innovation Hub housed at BADASS, Mo notes it works closely with the research team in Munich, concentrating on plasmid, cell line, and process engineering. The company’s use of an unbiased target discovery approach allows for discovery of previously unsuspected opportunities for meaningfully amplifying the manufacturability of AAV, he adds. In addition, while at BADASS Labs, Ascend has benefited from the turnkey nature of the research facility for early-stage biotech companies and generated key data that enabled the company to raise $130 million in series A funding.

As a final note, Mo advises young scientists that it takes mental stamina over several years to go from an initial discovery to having a chance at commercialization and even a minimal impact on a field of research—years largely spent learning from one failure after another. Changing a field, he says, can take 30 to 40 years. The best chance of success is to seek advice from mentors, collaborate, learn from as many peers as possible, and do not burn bridges along the way, he concludes.

Note:Read the full story on the BADASS Labs LinkedIn page