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50 Most Trustworthy Companies of the Year 2019

An Interview with Allan Camaisa, Calidi Biotherapeutics CEO: “We are Disrupting Traditional Cancer Treatments.”

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“Our mission is to eradicate difficult-to-treat cancers, through enhanced oncolytic viruses potentiated and delivered by stem cells which is a breakthrough for cancer patients.”

Conventional therapies for cancer such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy remain a mainstay in the treatment of cancer, but in many cases, a targeted approach is lacking, and patients can be vulnerable to drug resistance, side effects, and cancer recurrence. In recent years, novel concepts have begun to emerge to improve the traditional therapeutic options in difficult to treat cancer types.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Calidi Biotherapeutics.

Calidi is a clinical-stage biotechnology company with a proprietary technology that overcomes the challenge of the effective delivery of oncolytic viruses. The company is advancing its cell-based oncolytic virus delivery platform for the treatment of difficult-to-treat cancers. The company has announced an exclusive veterinary worldwide license for the development and commercialization of its lead drug SuperNova1 (SNV1) with VetStem, an industry-leading biopharmaceutical animal health company.

Calidi is headquartered in San Diego, California with additional offices outside Munich, Germany.

Allan Camaisa, Calidi Biotherapeutics CEO, spoke exclusively with

The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. What’s the factor that makes your company stand out from the competition?

Our stem cell platform acts as a ‘Trojan horse’ hiding the virus, preventing the oncolytic viral elimination by the patient’s immune system, and facilitating initial viral amplification inside stem cells. The stem cells then release the active oncolytic virus and promote the replication of the virus at the tumor sites. Our treatment kills tumor cells and changes the tumor from being unrecognizable by the immune system (Cold) to recognizable by the immune system (Hot).

Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?

Funding: This is the main challenge we faced in our initial years. We have had to educate state and federal organizations, investors, and the pharmaceutical community about our mission: We are a pioneer in our cell-based approach to curing cancer.

We take time to do things right while ensuring that we provide a positive patient experience.

Q. Is your company a ‘leader or a follower’?

Our company is a leader in the delivery and potentiation of oncolytic viruses utilizing a novel stem cell-based platform. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower. Allowing others to lead within the organization regardless of the title is a hallmark of excellence.

Q. What’s your most important asset?

We have people with passion in what they do, because they believe in our mission to eradicate cancer using a novel approach (stem cell delivery of an oncolytic virus into solid tumors). Our timing is excellent when it comes to disrupting traditional cancer treatments.

More importantly, we have aligned ourselves with leaders within immuno-oncology and they have come alongside us in carrying our message to the community.

Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s reputation?

The foundation of our reputation: People see we have leaders within the medical and scientific communities that are aligned with business leaders who do business ethically.

In addition, our cutting edge scientific advisory board has had a significant role in helping us to frame our roadmap.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Our solution has the potential to have a global footprint providing low-cost cancer treatment solutions for many patients.

Allan Camaisa: A Proven Leader

Allan Camaisa a serial entrepreneur, investor, and technologist, with proven leadership skills in bootstrapping start-ups. He has had three successful exits, which were sold to publicly traded Fortune 1000 companies. Mr. Camaisa has always created tremendous return for his shareholders. He has proven operational experience in recruiting the right team, creating a culture of trust, and collaboration. Since taking over as Chairman and CEO, of Calidi Biotherapeutics, he signed an agreement with National Institute of Health (NIH), recruited top immunologists to the Scientific Advisory Board, and entered license negotiations with large pharmaceutical organizations.

Prior to Calidi, Mr. Camaisa was the CEO and Chairman of Parallel6, Inc., a creator of a digital mobile software platform which engaged clinical trial participants and powered the enrollment, management, and retention of those participants on behalf of pharmaceutical organizations. Parallel6 was sold to PRA Health Sciences in 2017. Their clients included Sanofi, STSI/Genentech, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, Abbott/Abbvie, PPD, PRA Health, Pfizer, Roche, and the NIH, among others.

In 2005, Mr. Camaisa founded Anakam, Inc., a software security company, focused on healthcare, which safeguarded digital medical records through a platform which delivered government level multifactor authentication and security. Anakam sold a global license to the Veterans Administration (VA) to secure access to the VA’s primary patient portal called My HealtheVet. Other notable Anakam clients included the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, the Department of Homeland Security and several medical device companies including Boston Scientific and EntraHealth. Anakam was recognized by INC 500 as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. and was acquired by Equifax in 2010.

Prior to Anakam, Mr. Camaisa founded High Technology Solutions (HTS), a software systems integrator which he grew from just two colleagues to over 500 employees and $50 million in revenues. HTS was recognized as an INC 500 company three years in a row and was sold to Wireless Facilities, Inc. (now Kratos Defense) in 2004.

Before entering the business, Mr. Camaisa served eight years as a surface warfare officer in the United States Navy. He currently owns seven U.S. patents and has received many personal awards including the Deloitte FAST 50, the Governor’s Small Business of the Year Award and the Ernst and Young Regional Entrepreneur of the Year. He also received awards from the San Diego Asian Business Association, Tech America, and the U.S. Small Business Association, which honored him as Small Business Person of the Year.

Mr. Camaisa is a graduate of both the United States Naval Academy and the prestigious Owners Management Program at Harvard Business School.

“Our solution has the potential to have a global footprint providing low-cost cancer treatment solutions for many patients.”