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RARE - Tomas Baldwin

RARE - Tomas Baldwin
by Laura Hulley
April 24, 2024
10 Mins
RARE - Tomas Baldwin
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In this episode of RARE, I welcomed Tomas Baldwin, Co-Founder and CEO of the UCL-spin out Guilford Street Laboratories. A company that was created to advance the state of diagnostics in healthcare, particularly for those suffering with rare, cardiac and neurodegenerative disease.

Alongside his position at Guilford Street Laboratories, Tom is also a Research Fellow at UCL,  conducting research that focusses on improving our understanding of the immune response to treatment in patients with rare disease. 

Tom joined us on RARE to introduce the company and talk us through their purpose or vision.

Tom’s Journey
Tom started his career in sales, not in the life sciences sector but always felt this pull back to science. After spending a year in the role, he decided to go back to university to complete his Masters in Molecular Biology, at which point he moved across to Great Ormond Street Hospital at the Institute of Child Health where he went onto complete his PhD. His focus was on rare forms of childhood epilepsy. It was here that he was first introduced to the rare disease space, but also to mass spectrometry and biomarkers and how they can be used in drug discovery through to clinical trials.

 

Guilford Street Laboratories 
After his PhD, Tom started working with Prof. Kevin Mills and Dr Wendy Heywood. Kevin and Wendy have led the translational mass spec team at GOSH for some time with over 30 years of experience in the development and translation of fluid based biomarker tests, specifically in rare disease. The group has now had approximately 30 tests developed and rolled out into the NHS or industry. Unfortunately, working in this area there are not many “silver bullet tests” left to discover - single biomarker tests that can perfectly pull apart certain diseases, for instance when you think of type 1 diabetes you think glucose – within rare disease it’s not always that simple. What the group have done is to really carve out their specialism in using mass spectrometry to create panels of biomarkers where they measure 5-10 different proteins or lipids, then use machine learning algorithms to pull these together, allowing them to create a specific test for a variety of different diseases that didn’t previously have a test.

As part of the work they have been doing academically over the last few years, they developed a new platform for the measurement of anti-drug antibodies with a particular focus on enzyme replacement therapies in rare disease. By using mass spectrometry, they are advancing the landscape for how this sort of testing is done. They are able to give clinicians and companies read outs on the entire immune complex instead of what is currently available where you typically receive a measurement on one or two. This has been very well received, currently if clinicians want to see a patient’s antibody response to these enzyme replacement therapies, they typically have to send a sample back to the company who is manufacturing and selling the drug which can take a very long time. You also cannot get comparisons to other drugs that might be available. In addition, when we think about how the NHS is paying upwards of £200,000 per patient per year for some of these drugs, there is a real need to have a good understanding of whether a patient’s antibody response is somehow limiting the effectiveness of the treatment.

Tom explains how they felt they had something very important on their hands with this new piece of technology and felt strongly that they wanted to commercialise themselves. They are very fortunate to be backed by University College London to form their spin out – GSL. They are also backed by MyCardium AI, another UCL spin out. Their CEO and COO joined their board and MyCardium have been instrumental in their early days in incubating their business to where they are now.


Mission of GSL
Tom explains how they are starting this endeavor at an interesting time. Historically there hasn’t been a consistent inclusion of these fluid-based biomarkers in clinical trials but there is documented evidence that these kinds of proteins or lipids should be included as part of the diagnosis and they are perfectly positioned to start offering and developing these tests for clinical trials. 

The entire aim is to utilize the decades worth of experience of their founding team in this biomarker development to expedite the landscape of diagnostics, from drug discovery through to therapeutic development with a focus on rare disease but branching out into other indications too.


GSL - the next 12 months
The company is up and running now, it’s taken a while to get to where they are. They have started working with partners across a variety of therapeutic areas to either offer tests that they currently have available or in some cases develop new tests to support with their pre-clinical or early stage clinical development. The major aim for them over the next year is to bring some of their existing or lead products to market, and for Tom in particular, a major focus on their multiplex panel for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

More information about Guilford Street Laboratories can be found at their website https://www.guilfordstreetlabs.com/ 

Thank you to Tom for taking the time to feature!

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