Advancing Cancer Treatments: A Deep Dive with Paul Romness

Join us for an insightful episode where we explore groundbreaking cancer therapies and the inspiring journey of Paul Romness, CEO of OS Therapies.

Podcast Overview

In Conversation with Paul Romness

In this episode of Entrepreneurs, Business & Finance, Henry Harrison sits down with Paul Romness, CEO of OS Therapies. Paul shares his personal and professional journey, detailing his transition from the biopharmaceutical industry to founding OS Therapies. The conversation delves into the innovative cancer treatments his company is developing, inspired by a personal mission to combat osteosarcoma.

Paul discusses the challenges and successes of starting a biotech company, the importance of perseverance, and his vision for the future of cancer treatment. This episode offers a compelling look at the intersection of entrepreneurship and medical innovation.

Key Topics Discussed

paul romness

Paul Romness' Background

Paul’s extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and his transition to entrepreneurship.

The Birth of OS Therapies

The catalyst for starting OS Therapies and the formation of a nonprofit organization to support osteosarcoma research.
OS Therapies

“Doing startups is no country for old men.” – Paul Romness

The Journey of Entrepreneurship

A Conversation with Paul Romness

Episode Transcript

HENRY: Well, good afternoon, Paul. Welcome to entrepreneurs, business and finance.

PAUL: Hey, Henry.

HENRY: So Paul and I one of my very good friends even though we live in separate cities now, we grew up together in Arlington, Virginia. He’s still in Arlington, Virginia. When I go up to visit, which I like to do fairly often, he’ll often end up staying in his house because he’s a very generous person.

And I was thinking before this call of all the Things that we, you know, have shared over the years. We’re at each other’s weddings. Our parents were friends. We’ve been to funerals. Unfortunately we

PAUL: prefer weddings or funerals.

HENRY: Yes, sir. Our brothers are both doctors and both trained at the Mayo Clinic as did your father.

I used to go see your father. If I had various orthopedic injuries I played golf with your dad. And really the story still goes on. So I’m very glad to have you here because although I know some of the story…

PAUL: We played a lot of golf together and I actually had the best shot of my life. Playing with you down in Dallas one day.

HENRY: That’s right. That’s right. I remember that very well. So I’ll let you tell the story because it’s very exciting. I know it has to do with your daughter’s best friend and your daughter’s a part of this as well. And you haven’t Long experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, but lately you have, not that lately, but in the last number of years, you took a big chance and I, which I think is going to pay off for you and for lots of people and became an entrepreneur full fledged.

How did you how did that get started in your own words?

PAUL: Well, as I often say doing startups is no country for old men. I remind myself that the founders of Home Depot Ken Langone, and who’s the other guy? Chuck. Lives down Atlanta. These, those guys started Home Depot at age 55. So we’re not too old to do this, Henry, but I would recommend being an entrepreneur to people much younger than us.

HENRY: Bernard Marcus, is that who you’re thinking of?

PAUL: Yeah, Bernie Marcus. Yeah, Bernie Marcus. Yeah. They didn’t start Home Depot until they were 55, I think. I actually didn’t know that story. That’s pretty cool. Yeah, but you know, we started the company because this disease found us. I’ve been in the biopharmaceutical world my entire career Johnson Johnson, Amgen, Beringer, Ingelheim.

But it wasn’t until my daughter’s best friend, some of our best friend’s daughter was diagnosed with this very deadly bone disease called osteosarcoma in February of 2017. I’m looking out the window from my house, I can see their house from here and I know I’m ruining the suspense, but I’m going to tell the end of the story first, because Olivia is doing great, and she’s been six years cancer free now, and she sits on the board of O.S. Therapies. But when she got sick, there weren’t a lot of options, and half the kids that get this disease end up dying of the disease. So we wanted to make sure we change the odds for Olivia, and then in the long run, we’ve realized we think we can change the odds for not only kids with osteosarcoma, but maybe some other solid tumors as well.

It would certainly be my life’s work if I were just to impact the overall survival of just one small rare disease. Just imagine, Henry, if we could do this with some other solid tumors as well. Frankly, blood tumors, you know, the industry has been very successful in a lot of blood tumors. The solid tumors have been challenging.

And just like osteosarcoma, breast cancer, or some of these other bigger cancers, they present as a solid tumor. It gets resected. The body gets blasted with chemo and radiation. And if the disease doesn’t come back, the patient’s fine and they live their life the rest of their life. Or maybe some side effects from the long term, side effects from the tachema and radiation.

But in general, they live their life, the rest of their life, relatively normal. In half the kids that get osteosarcoma, it comes back. And in solid tumors, when it comes back, it doesn’t usually come back to the place where it originated. In breast cancer, it doesn’t come back to the breast. It actually, these little micrometastases are looking for two things.

Oxygen. And as a result, they end up landing in the lungs and the brain. And it’s the same with osteosarcoma, same with breast cancer, same with a lot of solid tumors. And that’s where your survival rate drops. So we wanted to find. A way of preventing those little Darwinian bastards that survived the chemo and radiation from landing in the lungs and the brain.

And we ended up, first of all, starting a non profit. My daughters were on the board of that. I have, I helped fund it. Obviously, Olivia’s father helped start that as well and fund it. And we raised, I think, close to 3 million for osteosarcoma research. And a week before we had a bunch of doctors coming into town to really teach them about the importance of genetic testing, I read in our trade magazine about a technology that was being given up.

And I knew why, because osteosarcoma is a very rare disease. But what we’ve done is build a company around that disease, but also built it around other solid tumors as well. Long answer. Sorry.

HENRY: That’s a terrific answer. Yeah. And I was struck by that because I remember you started. And actually I know I’ve met Olivia and I know her father from growing up in Arlington, parents knew each other, same kind of thing.

So it is a very close circle and what a terrific family as it is yours. Do the yeah, I remember when you made that step to. And I recall, and I may be off on this, but he went from basically 1 cancer to 3 and then if you get 1 of the 3 or all 3 of the 3, then you can take that expertise and that research and knowledge and help with all sorts of other cancer.

So it’s not exactly like you got to hit this target. You’re making progress no matter what is the layman’s terms from my understanding of medical research. Is that accurate? Can you correct me where I’m off on that?

PAUL: Well, I think there are a couple questions in there and I’ll try and kind of parse it out with the appropriate answers.

First of all when we started the company, we started before that with a nonprofit. That nonprofit and seven or eight other nonprofits have invested in the company because their primary mission is advancing research. So we do have a clinical trial going right now that is being paid for by those investments, and that is advancing research.

It is going well. We have 41 kids that have been enrolled across 21 different facilities across the country children’s hospitals across the country, and they’re receiving our therapy. It’s stimulating the body’s immune system to go out and fight these little micro metastases. But if it seems to be going well, but if that trial did fail, the mission of those nonprofits still would have been fulfilled.

Thank you for your time. in that they would be advancing research. But if it does well and if we’re successful and we develop a new treatment for osteosarcoma, which would be the first new treatment in over 40 years, then they’ve done more than just advanced research. They’ve brought a new therapy to market.

Vertex is a pharmaceutical company that was financially supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation a few years ago to the tune of 150 million. The royalties that Virtex sold and gave the proceeds to the Cystic Fibrosis was 5. 3 billion or 4. 3 billion. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation can now use that money to not only develop more treatments because there aren’t many treatments for Cystic Fibrosis, just like there aren’t any new treatments for osteosarcoma.

They can then start working on cures. And then ultimately prevention, which is what nonprofits of disease diseases are all about, right, is treat, cure, prevent. So I think that was one of your questions. The other question is we’ve, when we first started, we were a one hit wonder. We had this one technology for osteosarcoma.

As a business model, that is very challenging. If we failed on our clinical trial that’s going on now, which I don’t think we will. I think it is. It seems to be working pretty well. There are certainly kids alive that wouldn’t be alive otherwise. But if we had failed with that, just one technology would have, we would have been done.

And I think we have a better ability to affect not just osteosarcoma, but other solid tumors, because if this does work in osteosarcoma, we’ll do a bundle trial, phase three bundle trial, and Other solid tumors, but we also brought on another technology. That’s really hot in the biotech space right now.

It’s called antibody drug content conjugates. Otherwise known as and if you look at the last 2025 deals over the last 12 to 14 months in the biotech space, the big ones. Anywhere from 400 million to 43 billion are in this ADC space and what that is, I always often describe it as a cruise missile with payloads attached to it with these little silicone linkers, which is our intellectual property special sauce, which are pH sensitive, but that targeting ligand directs the The whole cruise missile, if you will, to a certain part of the body where the cancer is located, and then the cancer environment.

Eats away at those silicone linkers and drops these multiple payloads into and around the cancer environment, debulking these large, solid tumors. So, our original technology is to prevent those little micro metastases from landing in the lungs. Our next technology, which is the really hot ADC space, and for which we have some very particular next generation advantages.

is really to debulk these large solid tumors. So both of our platform technologies dovetail nicely to each other.

HENRY: Well, I hope so too. And I admire your perseverance as a fellow entrepreneur. I know it takes a lot of stick to this. I’ll call it. And I know you you made public about how you cashed in some of your retirement and so it wasn’t like you were coasting in this with an extra a whole lot of money to fund this thing without any problem.

PAUL: Henry, what you’re referring to was quote in the Arlington magazine, our local. Community magazine that Henry and I grew up in and that it was an incredible article about why we developed the company and, and there was only one misquote in the entire thing. It said that I had said that we cashed in.

I had said that I had cashed in my retirement for this. I never, I never told the reporter that it was actually my chief medical officer who told her that, cause I would never have actually brought that up. But yeah, my daughter’s college funds are in this, my retirement funds in this. The boat has pushed off the dock.

HENRY: Well that’s also a story of a lot of entrepreneurs I’ve known that have whatever you think of Elon Musk, I’m reading his biography, and he’s re upped with all his money, like, 3 or 4 times at this point and so that’s hey, maybe you’re the next I don’t know, are you going to be the wealthiest man in the world?

That’s a pretty big step, but I think you’re more concerned about saving some lives and making a contribution. So,

PAUL: I’ll tell you, and I learned this at Johnson & Johnson and it, it, anyone that has worked at J and J, it’s usually a kind of a guiding principle for them. Every decision we make. It is about the patient first.

So, if we have a decision to make, what’s in the best interest of the patient? And then obviously, what’s in the best interest of caregivers, of the community, and, and our shareholders. But I think if you do the other three, then the shareholders should do just fine. This is what I call a do good, do well investment.

And, you know, to be part of our mission, to have helped. with treatments around a very rare disease in kids. It’s, it’s, it’s a horrible disease, and then it attacks teenagers after puberty. In the long bones, so if you think this is your distal femur this is the start of your kneecap, this would be your tibia.

There’s bone plates right here, and in the tibia, and the distal humerus, or proximal humerus of the shoulder, where the bone plate comes together after puberty. And as a result, because girls get puberty a little earlier than boys, girls get a little earlier than boys osteosarcoma, and there’s just a miscalculation in that growth plate coming together.

And that’s where the osteosarcoma takes hold.

HENRY: It really is heartbreaking when you hear the stories and then hear it graphically. But the positive thing is Successes in the air as far as the trials and as far as what’s working and as far as continuing to be able to provide the financing to advance not only research, but but cure.

So I think you know, you have to have steps along the way. So congratulation on. number of the 1st, few steps and I believe there’ll be many, many more successful ones to come and thanks for sharing this from your heart. And because I know you, I know. It’s patients 1st, so thanks again.

PAUL: Absolutely. Thanks.

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