Philip Astley-Sparke (Xt, 1989) visited College to deliver a lecture to Upper College students on a career in the biotech industry. Philip's company, Bio Vex, have been the leaders in the dawn of a new approach to treating cancer, called virotherapy, which was reported widely in the national press as front-page news.
BioVex developed the pioneering therapy, currently known as TVEC, to the point of becoming the first such product to be approved for use in patients. TVEC should further reduce mortality in melanoma and other cancers without the severe side effects more commonly associated with chemotherapy.
Philip studied Sciences at A Level at College and won a place at Bristol University in 1991. On researching an essay required for his university application, he read Nature articles and became interested in disease pathways and immunology. In his first term at Bristol University, he became aware of a course that dealt with these topics specifically (Cellular and Molecular Pathology) in which he ultimately graduated in 1993. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen, he became a specialist investment banker in the Life Science field with Robert Fleming working on initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions in the Biotech sector. By working with Biotechnology companies, he realized he would prefer to be on the inside driving their development rather than advising from the outside, and in 2000 he joined BioVex as employee number six shortly after the company had been spun out of University College London. Philip, became President and CEO and was convinced that if the company was to succeed they needed to move to the US. In 2005 he relocated the company to Boston MA, along with his family. In the US he built the company from scratch establishing commercial grade manufacturing and nascent commercial capabilities.