ZUG, Switzerland and NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- SELLAS Life Sciences Group (SELLAS or the Company), a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel cancer immunotherapies for a broad range of cancer indications, today announced the appointment of Dr. Jonathan Eckard as Chief Business and Strategy Officer.
With over a decade of Wall Street experience following the biotechnology sector, Dr. Eckard brings to SELLAS both important industry insights and an understanding of the healthcare equity markets. His appointment to this newly-created position will support SELLAS' strategy to optimally develop its novel agent, galinpepimut-S immunotherapeutic, which targets the WT1 antigen and has the potential to target more than 25 cancer types.
"We are delighted to have attracted a highly regarded analyst to SELLAS' executive team. Jon's knowledge of the biotechnology sector and immunogen-oncology will be pivotal in optimizing the company's strategic and financial goals," said Dr. Angelos Stergiou, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SELLAS.
"Dr. Eckard's appointment further builds upon the recent strengthening of SELLAS' management team with the appointment of several industry experts in finance, clinical-medical and commercial development to rapidly advance our differentiated cancer immunotherapy program. We are building on a pivotal momentum after the recently announced positive clinical data in acute myeloid leukemia, malignant pleural mesothelioma and multiple myeloma."
Dr. Eckard will join SELLAS from Barclays, where he was a Director and Senior Biotechnology Analyst. Prior to joining Barclays, Dr. Eckard covered the biotechnology and specialty pharmaceuticals sectors at Citigroup, Leerink Swann and HSBC. As a research analyst, he received several accolades including Institutional Investor's "Best up-and-comer" and "Rising Star," and is broadly recognized for his knowledge in immunogen-oncology.
"SELLAS' highly differentiated therapy is positioned optimally in the emerging immunogen-oncology landscape and has the potential to benefit patients across a range of different cancers," Dr. Eckard said. "I am encouraged by clinical data for galinpepimut-S to date and am excited to be joining SELLAS as we approach our initial Phase 3 trials. I look forward to working with the SELLAS team to maximize the potential of this exciting therapy across various indications as a monotherapy as well as combination therapy."
Before his career in financial services, Dr. Eckard was in academia, conducting cancer research and teaching at the NYU School of Medicine. He earned a BS in Biochemistry from Ohio University, along with an MS in Toxicology and a PhD in Toxicology and Carcinogenesis from the NYU School of Medicine.
About SELLAS' WT1 Immunotherapeutic Anti-cancer Treatment, Galinpepimut-S
SELLAS' WT1 immunotherapeutic anti-cancer treatment (generically designated as galinpepimut-S) is a late clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy being developed to target hematologic cancers and solid tumors, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), mesothelioma (MPM), multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and multiple other cancers. The WT1 antigen is a transcription factor that is not generally expressed in normal adult cells, but appears in a large number of cancers, as well as in certain cancer stem cells. WT1 has been ranked by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as the number 1 target for cancer immunotherapy. While WT1 has not been druggable by traditional approaches, it can be targeted by the immune system. Specifically, a number of different peptide sequences from the WT1 antigen have been identified as immunogenic and capable of stimulating cytotoxic T-cells that can target and kill WT1-expressing cancer cells. Studies also have shown that WT1 does not provoke tolerization and that patients' T-cells can remain reactive to the antigen over time. Galinpepimut-S, originally developed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and licensed to SELLAS, comprises four modified heteroclitic peptide chains that induce a strong innate immune response (CD4+/CD8+ T-cells) against the WT1 antigen. Galinpepimut-S is administered in combination with an adjuvant and an immune modulator to improve the immune response to the target. Based on its mechanism and the accumulating evidence of activity in mid-stage trials, galinpepimut-S may have the potential to complement currently available therapies by destroying residual tumor cells of cancers in remission and providing ongoing immune surveillance for recurrent tumors. Overall, SELLAS' galinpepimut-S could target over 20 cancers that over-express WT1, many of which are associated with relapse rates of up to 80% or more, as seen in patients with AML and MPM.
About SELLAS Life Sciences Group
SELLAS Life Sciences is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel cancer immunotherapies and therapeutics for a broad range of cancer indications. The Company's lead product candidate, galinpepimut-S, is a cancer immunotherapeutic agent licensed from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that targets a broad spectrum of hematologic cancers and solid tumor indications. Galinpepimut-S is poised to enter pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials in patients with AML and MPM in the first and second half of 2017, respectively. SELLAS recently received orphan drug designations by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the European Medicines Agency, for galinpepimut-S in AML and MPM; as well as fast track designation for AML and MPM by the FDA. Galinpepimut-S also is in various development phases in multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and soon in other indications as monotherapy or in combination with other immuno-oncology agents. SELLAS was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, with additional offices in New York, NY.
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SOURCE SELLAS Life Sciences Group