Interview with Dr. Beatriz Llamusí, CEO and co-founder of ARTHEx biotech

Brief Introduction about yourself and ARTHEx Biotech

I have been working as a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Genetics in the University of Valencia, dedicated mainly to deciphering the pathomechanisms of Myotonic Dystrophy disease and finding new therapeutic targets for the disease. ARTHEx Biotech S.L is a spin-off company of the University of Valencia incorporated on September 2019 and participated by Invivo Capital on December 2019. Arthex is dedicated to develop an antimiR-based treatment against Myotonic Dystrophy disease.

Tell us about you implication in the project and your personal opinion about it.

As a postdoctoral researcher I participated in the discovery of two new microRNAs involved in Myotonic Dystrophy pathogenesis. As a result of these studies, I was included as inventor of the patent protecting the use of antimiR molecules inhibiting these two microRNAs, for the treatment of Myotonic Dystrophy. In order to continue with the development of antimiRs as a treatment, I was awarded several valorization project including Caixaimpulse program and FIPSE, which provided funds, specific training and networking opportunities. I had a strong support from the director of my laboratory in the University of Valencia, Rubén Artero, who was very successful at obtaining public funding to continue with the project at the Unviersity. However, in a such an expensive project, the creation of a company became necessary to look for private funding. Now, I am the CEO and co-founder of ARTHEx, which is dedicated to the preclinical and clinical development of these assets, and have closed our first financial round successfully. We have now a real opportunity to impact patients´ lives.

What is your added value proposal as a spin-off?

Our main strength is our strong background as researchers specialise on the disease, which provided us fluent communication with other researcher, clinicians, patients associations and companies working on the field. In addition, we have discovered a new therapeutic target in a disease with no actual treatment, where all previous clinical trials have not been able to show effectiveness.

What is the best and the worst part of your job?

The best part of my job is the flexibility and lack of routine. I am learning new things every day with the encouraging of being helpful to the society.

The worst part is the lack of support. I have been very lucky to find the right people at the right moment, but it is almost a miracle to find investment funds in Spain willing to fund early stage projects of high risk such as ours. Very few people believed on us, so at some point I started thinking that creating a biotech company with real possibilities of success, coming from the Academia world, it was just a dream. However, after two years of hard fight, it became a reality.

How do you guarantee your work/life balance?

I am very lucky, because I love my work, so it is a part of my life. In addition, I have two small children that force me to disconnect easily at home. Sports helps also.

A good advice you will share with someone that is starting in the business world as entrepreneur.

A sentence I read on a book about Shimon Peres, one of the fathers of Israel state: “If an expert tells you that something cannot be done, look for another expert”. Believe in yourself and find your way to move the world in the right direction. Do not be discouraged by people telling you that it is not possible.

What is your opinion about Technology Transfer between universities and companies?

My opinion is that it hardly exist in Spain. There are very good professionals at the tech transfer offices, but they are overwhelmed by all the projects they are running, and there are not appropriate criteria to rank these projects on priority basis. The best tech transfer offices I know, have outsourced part of their activities to different specialized companies, and in my opinion this would be the only way to improve and boost the tech transference in Spanish Universities or research centers.

What do you think about the YEBN? What would you wish to do together with YEBN and its community in the future?

Example of CreOrgans co-founder response: I would like, through the help of YEBN, to concretize and strengthen the relationship with the new entrepreneurial realities, forming the Biotechnologists also on the entrepreneurial, managerial and administrative side, which is essential in my opinion.

Completely agree with the reply of CreOrgans co-founder. One of the main backwards I found was my luck of experience and training in managerial and administrative fields. Stronger interactions between the academic world and the companies is needed to encourage the exchange of professionals with different backgrounds.

With this we come to the end of the interview. I want to thank you in the name of the YEBN for your time, it is always a pleasure to contrast ideas with experts from the bio-field. See you very soon! And remember: get inspired and get involved!

Jordina Balaguer

Communications Officer of the YEBN e.V.