Authors: Sharon Salt, Editor
Frank Bennett is the Senior Vice President at Ionis Pharmaceuticals (CA, USA). He is responsible for research at Ionis and is the Franchise Leader for Neurological Programs there, including both research and development activities within the neuro program. Dr Bennett has been with the company research programs for 29 years.
What led to your interest in developing antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) as therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative diseases?
We’ve always had an interest in neurological diseases, however, when we first began and founded the company we felt that there were some questions we needed to address before we tackled neurological diseases. Thus, we decided to focus on viral infections where it was known what causes the disease. In addition, oncology was an area we were focusing on and as this was new technology, we thought it was perhaps important to study the technology in a disease where the risk–benefit ratio favored accepting more risk associated with the drug.
Once we established the technology (approximately 15 years ago), we began exploring neurological diseases. One project that we started on early was a collaborative project working with Don Cleveland’s group at the University of California San Diego (CA, USA).