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Paving the Way: Bold Perspectives from Female Executives in Biotech featuring Krishna Allamneni

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Paving the Way: Bold Perspectives from Female Executives in Biotech featuring Krishna Allamneni

We are excited to release the second edition of Katie Litwin's conversations with female executives in biotech. This series highlights the innovative ideas and leadership of women shaping the future of the industry. In this edition, we feature Krishna Allamneni, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Concarlo Therapeutics, Inc., whose extensive experience and visionary approach are making a significant impact in biopharma.

At Concarlo Therapeutics, Krishna Allamneni leads Translational Sciences, Nonclinical and CMC Development, portfolio/project management, Clinical strategy, and Regulatory affairs. With over two decades of experience in small biotech and mid-to-large pharma, she has shaped nonclinical packages for seven successful products and led safety assessments of over 25 successful IND programs across a variety of therapeutic areas. Prior to that, she served in various leadership roles at Turning Point Therapeutics (acquired by BMS), Jazz Pharmaceuticals, NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Genentech/Roche, Celera Genomics, and Titan Pharmaceuticals. She is a recent graduate of the highly selective Women in Bio’s Boardroom Ready Program, designed to optimize a woman’s chances of success in finding a board appointment in Life Sciences.

Thinking More Broadly About the Future of Biopharma

Do you think M&A activity is back on the rise?

“It’s something that we’re keeping an eye on being a small company that is seeking to raise funds. Concarlo therapeutics is a preclinical oncology startup developing the first p27 inhibitor, to block CDK/2/4/6 activity. We’re evaluating every possible funding avenue, whether that’s partnership, acquisition, etc., and we’re watching funding activity closely. In the broader biopharma landscape, Licensing activities during Q12024 have been lower than prior Q1s with two-thirds of the deal value amassed by discovery/preclinical deals. Most large licensing deals over $1B were also focused ondiscovery/preclinical opportunities with economics heavily back-weighted (Source: DealForma). However, we have seen a significant rebound in numbers of M&A back to the pre-pandemic levels. We saw a record level of $1B+ megadeals this year with roughly $2.3B upfront cash paid as of April 2024. A majority of M&A activity focused on de-risked assets in mid-stage clinical development. Additionally, M&A deal count for novel modalities such as cell therapies and nucleic acid therapies doubled since last decade, while significant increase was seen in ADC and radiopharmaceuticals. While oncology M&A deal shares have been consistently high year to year, 2024 YTD has been a record year for Immunology & Inflammation.

What Trends Do You Think We’ll See Over This Upcoming Year?

“2024 is set to be a year of significant advancements across various therapeutic areas, particularly central nervous system (CNS), oncology, cardiometabolic disorders.

After years of limited progress, there is renewed optimism in CNS and neurodegenerative disease treatments. Major progress is expected in this field, akin to past advances in oncology. Innovations in neuroscience, addressing mental health disorders, and exploring new therapeutic uses of recreational drugs like ketamine and psychedelics are anticipated.

In cancer therapies, there is widespread optimism on immune checkpoint inhibitors beyond PD-1/PDL1, as we uncover biomarkers of greater relevance, tumor and host driven resistance factors, and pathogenesis of the immune-related adverse events across various organ systems. Additionally, targeted therapies such as molecular glues/degraders and antibody-drug conjugates are poised to make significant strides.

In the Obesity and Cardiometabolic Drugs therapeutic area, the success of Novo Nordisk's Wegovy has spotlighted obesity treatments, with Eli Lilly's Zepbound anticipated to drive further market growth. Beyond GLP-1 agonists, there's rising interest in other incretin-based therapies, as well as lean muscle preserving therapies, potentially leading to breakthroughs in muscle-targeted therapies for various cardiometabolic and neuromuscular disorders.

Overall, 2024 is set to be a year of significant advancements across various therapeutic areas. The pharmaceutical industry's ability to innovate and respond to emerging challenges continues to drive progress, ensuring a bright future for drug development.”

Remote Working and the “Shift” to Leaders in Biotech with Recruitment, Culture, Growth, and Success

Have you found the impact of “remote work” has hampered your hiring at all or opened new doors for your company? And how do you create a consistent employee experience if mixed?

“In one way, the COVID pandemic became a catalyst for hiring employees who were not necessarily going to be co-working.This remote talent has opened doors for our company’s talent acquisition strategy. We embraced remote working processes. We’ve been able to access a broader talent pool. We’ve brought in qualified candidates from diverse ecosystems, and that has brought new innovation and perspectives into our organization. While our development team with outsourced works streams are remote, our in-house wet lab team is based in NY.

We try to offer a flexible schedule where only hands-on bench work needs to be in-person and the rest of literature review, data compilation, and data visualization could be remote. What’s most important is that the work gets done and not just the perception of working. We have consistent values across lab and non-lab functional domains, and we strive to create a seamless employee experience for everyone. We want all employees' experiences to be clear and fair. We have recurring meetings, and most are not mandatory to be in-person. We provide access to resources that allow asynchronous productivity, such as SharePoint, Slack, Teams, and Zoom, with equal access to these resources whether in-person or remote. Occasionally we also have in-person celebrations, e.g. holiday parties, and we do virtual team-building activities, so everyone feels connected to our headquarters.”

Impacts of AI/Machine Learning and Automation on Biotech

Do you see AI as being a threat or benefit to drug development?

How are you building this into your company strategy?

“Concarlo is deeply interested in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)-driven drug discovery. We think it will be a significant opportunity for us to accelerate timelines and increase the probability of success of our scaffold hits through lead optimization into preclinical development candidates that are highly likely to translate into clinical drug candidates. AI could be seen as a threat or a benefit depending on the audience, but we recognize the complexities of it. We can use it for drug discovery, but then ultimately, we need to integrate human intelligence during in the process to enhance our decision-making into speed, cost-effectiveness, and the quality of products that come through our discovery pipeline into clinical development. We’ve been focused on supporting biology for our multi-pronged assay platform and using it for lead identification. We’re using AI to enhance our capabilities rather than take over our fundamental creative intellect and disciplined decision-making.

How will AI accelerate drug discovery and development?

"We cannot comment on drug discovery and development trends without mentioning the impact of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Increasingly, more companies are using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to guide their screening funnels during drug discovery. As the demand for real-world data analysis to inform clinical development and drug approvals grows, the involvement of AI/ML expands, and we will see this trend continue through 2024.

The World Economic Forum recently commented on the excitement around AI for drug development.We have the power to build out multi-model data sets and create diverse candidate pools. We can use AI for more efficient tumor diagnosis and identify the appropriate patient to enroll in that trial. Drug candidates that are nominated using AI-driven discovery screening are now entering clinical trials. And AI has the power to improve clinical trial outcomes by identifying the right patient for the right clinical trial. It will be interesting to see if there will be an appetite to compile and access large datasets from various pharmaceutical company archives to train AI algorithms, so the collective strength of well-trained AI could boost innovation, both in quality and quantity of medicines that reach patients."

AI algorithms may perpetuate societal biases in patient data collection, handling, and insight generation. How can we better identify and mitigate bias in AI applications for clinical development?

"To better identify and mitigate bias in AI applications for clinical drug development, we must adopt a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, ensuring diverse and representative data sets is fundamental; this helps prevent the reinforcement of existing biases. Secondly, developing transparent algorithms that allow for regular audits and adjustments can identify and correct biases as they arise. Thirdly, integrating multidisciplinary teams, including ethicists, data scientists, and clinical experts, can provide comprehensive oversight and diverse perspectives. Lastly, continuous education and training on bias awareness for all stakeholders involved in AI development and deployment are essential to sustain an unbiased approach. By addressing these factors, we can harness the full potential of AI while mitigating its risks. What’s important to consider is that AI is forcing us to ask what questions are important to solve and then helping to develop the tools to help answer them. It's crucial to recognize that AI could be used to compel us to confront and formulate critical questions that we may have overlooked due to human limitations in processing and recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data.


Krishna Allamneni's insights offer a compelling look into the dynamic world of biotech. Her leadership at Concarlo Therapeutics and her perspective on M&A activity, future trends in biopharma, the impact of remote work, and the integration of AI in drug discovery and development highlight the innovative and adaptive nature of the industry. Her commitment to pioneering first-in-class therapies, particularly in the oncology space with the development of the first p27 inhibitor to address drug resistance against CDK2/4/6 inhibitors, underscores her role as a trailblazer in the field.

As we navigate the evolving landscape of biotech, leaders like Krishna are paving the way for future breakthroughs and advancements.

Connect with Krishna Allamneni Today​