12 February 2020
KaNDy can do: Challenging standards of care in women's health
Consilium speaks to Mary Kerr, CEO of Kandy Therapeutics, on the need for novel approaches to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as the wider challenges faced by companies operating in the women’s health space.
These are exciting times for Kandy Therapeutics? What are you most looking forward to?
Yes indeed, this is an exciting time for the company as we now have further confirmation that NT-814, a novel non-hormonal drug candidate, has the potential to “switch off” multiple debilitating symptoms of the menopause. If this profile is confirmed in Phase 3 studies, NT-814 represents a true breakthrough in the field of women’s health. We are looking forward to discussing the Phase 2b data with the experts in the field and regulators in the US and Europe to agree the Phase 3 programme.
What has been the biggest challenge around working in women’s health?
By far the biggest challenge is overcoming the widespread lack of understanding of just how debilitating the menopause is for millions of women on a daily basis. Menopausal symptoms spoil the lives of a large percentage of women for as long as 10 years at the peak of their professional productivity and at a time when quality of life should be improving rather than deteriorating. It was reported only last week that in the UK alone hundreds of thousands of women are wrongly prescribed antidepressants by GPs who mistake hormone imbalance for a mental health problem. It is reported that both healthcare professionals and patients fear hormone therapy and a non-hormonal alternative is urgently needed. Based on the evidence to date, NT-814 should offer this much needed alternative.
What or who is your biggest inspiration as a CEO?
Without doubt it’s my team, who are united in a common commitment to delivering quality in everything they do and willingness to collaborate and support each other. Equally I have had the great privilege to be part of the Galapagos Board for the last few years and observe the brilliant CEO Onno van de Stolpe in action. Onno is a force of nature and has built Galapagos, now the most valuable European biotech through his personal vision, single minded focus and persistence over many years.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting their career today?
Follow your passion, then work will be rewarding and less stressful. Try to be your authentic self, u nderstand who you are and what you have to offer – this is energising and sustainable for the long term. Do a Masters or PhD, education opens minds and doors.
You are CEO of two Companies – NeRRe and KaNDY. What do you do to relax?
My preferred way to relax is walking with my husband Clive and my eldest son’s French bulldog. Our favourite walks are by the River Lee in Hertfordshire, on Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds or on Portstewart’s glorious beach where I grew up.
What was the last (good) book you read?
I really enjoyed ‘Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking’ by Matthew Syed. He proposes that individual intelligence is not enough and that complex problems are best tackled by cognitively diverse teams who bring very different thoughts and perspectives, don’t always agree thus avoiding group think. I do believe that diversity is strength and coming from Northern Ireland have observed first-hand the importance of seeking out and respecting different opinions.