Life science

Through the lens of our platform company Wheeler Bio, learn how we set in motion an EchoSystem that addresses major headwinds for early-stage drug developers and shifts a longstanding biopharma industry paradigm.

The problem

The gap between drug discovery and development has long been an obstacle for emerging biopharma companies. The global biopharmaceutical market has become a critical component of the healthcare industry, serving as both a major driver of innovation and a source of lifesaving and life-changing medicines. The pandemic highlighted the urgent need for a rapid supply chain supporting their discovery, development, and commercialization and illustrated the benefits of activating substantially shortened timelines without compromising quality and safety.

The solution

Founded in 2021 within Echo’s venture studio in downtown Oklahoma City, Wheeler Bio sets out to compress the discovery to development timeline by pushing the boundaries of collaboration. Inspired by supply chain disruption, emerging Pharma 4.0 concepts, and the promise held by startup biotechs developing therapeutic proteins to treat cancer, autoimmune disease, metabolic disease, and a new wave of rare diseases, Wheeler Bio’s founding team aimed to build a different type of biopharma Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) focused on speeding up the early development supply chain.

Outsourcing to biopharma CDMOs continues to be an efficient use of capital for biotech startups and emerging biopharma, where an outsized portion of novel drug discovery begins. However, with more investors shifting their focus to drugs further along in the development process, sponsors at the earliest stages of company formation are increasingly faced with the challenge of accessing the capital needed to advance toward clinical trials.

In response to this challenge, Wheeler Bio established a highly differentiated operating model alongside an accelerative and proprietary development platform that helps clients overcome massive headwinds. Through the Portable CMC™ platform, startups and emerging biopharmas can more easily access a scalable, high-quality, open-source platform for scale-up production of first-in-human (FiH) materials at a price point reflecting 50 percent that of industry benchmarks. Moreover, Wheeler Bio’s satellite operations in coastal biotech clusters allows its customers to have broader access to a well-integrated platform while still benefiting from the significant cost advantages, expanded biomanufacturing infrastructure, and skilled workforce present in the strategic center of the country.

Completion of Wheeler Bio’s state-of-the-art Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) facility, along with planned expansion as an anchor tenant of Convergence starting January 2025 and close proximity to OU Health’s Stephenson Cancer Center, further enables their mission to accelerate the translation of drug discoveries into clinical impact for customers.

Wheeler Bio is an unlock for sponsors to simplify and speed up their Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls (CMC) development and Investigational New Drug (IND) filings. With alignment in Echo’s life sciences venture capital platform, a meaningful and cost-effective solution is available to address the most persistent bottlenecks for the rapidly growing biopharma industry.

By leveraging the inherent advantages and resources in the center of the country, Wheeler Bio is uniquely positioned to provide startup biotechs with critical access to rapid, high-quality development and manufacturing services and to accelerate translation timelines.

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