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High Bluff Academy graduate works on new next-generation treatment for lymphoma

Bryan Duoto
Bryan Duoto
(Courtesy)

Bryan Duoto struggled with math and science in the large classrooms of Carmel Valley’s public schools.

He loved ancient history and dreamed of becoming an archaeologist. He was a voracious reader and could finish an 800-page book in a week, but math and science never made sense to him. His mother, Jill Duoto, owner of High Bluff Academy, found teachers who could build his confidence in those subjects and as a result, his love of science began.

“My husband and I were shocked when Bryan told us he was going to major in biology,” said Jill. “But we were even more surprised when he was accepted to a graduate program at SJSU with a full-time paid internship at Stanford University’s Department of Medicine.”

After receiving his master’s degree, Stanford hired him to continue his research on stem-cells. Bryan and his team have published many articles on their research in prestigious journals such as Science Magazine.

Bryan and his wife Lauryn moved to Seattle, where he conducted research for the University of Washington before taking a full-time position at Bristol Myers Squibb. For the past two years he has been part of a team that developed a biologic treatment for a specific type of blood cancer.

“We were recently approved by the FDA for our cell therapy treatment BREYANZI for large b-cell lymphoma (LBCL) through a Biologics License Application. This represents the fourth CAR-T cell therapy approved in U.S. history,” says Bryan. “My job at BMS has been to evaluate and develop new technologies for increasing production and a supply chain of therapies as well as lowering the cost-per-unit.

“When I first started two years ago, this treatment cost $500,000 per person and we were able to produce 14 drug products a week. Now we manufacture 52 units a week and sell each for $125,000 per person. In the future, we hope to continue lowering this cost and convince more insurance companies and foundations to cover these treatments.

“While we technically can’t use the term ‘cure’ because our clinical trials only lasted six years and not the required seven years for remission to be determined permanent, it does appear that most patients who are diagnosed fairly early and without other major health impairments are experiencing complete remission,” Bryan said.

Bryan is currently waiting to hear from admissions departments about his applications to Ph.D. programs, including one in nanoengineering at UCSD.

“I love to use my son Bryan’s story to allay the fears of parents of late bloomers,” says Jill. “Our education system assumes that all students are ready for higher-level thinking skills at the same age. At High Bluff Academy, we have developed a unique system for breaking down complex problems and building student confidence step-by-step. So far, the results are tremendous. Bryan’s story is not unique at our school. Our teachers have changed lives by expanding students’ opportunities to careers in science.”

High Bluff Academy is located at 5531 Cancha de Golf, Rancho Santa Fe, 92091. Visit www.highbluffacademy.com.


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