"Elaine brings a wealth of experience and a track record of closing major financial transactions that will be of great value in her new role at SutroVax as we continue to grow and expand our activities both internally and in partnership with other industry leaders," said Grant Pickering, CEO of SutroVax.
Dr. Hirth co-founded and led Plexxikon, Inc. as its CEO as it built a novel, structure-guided drug discovery platform that advanced several new chemical entities into the clinic, including Zelboraf, which was FDA approved and led to the company's 2011 acquisition by Daiichi Sankyo for $935 million. Prior to Plexxikon, Dr. Hirth was President of SUGEN, Inc., where he was instrumental in building the company from its inception as well as advancing several kinase inhibitors through clinical trials, including Sutent, which was FDA approved and led to the company's 1999 acquisition by Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc. for $728 million. Prior to SUGEN, Dr. Hirth was Vice President of Research at Boehringer Mannheim where he successfully led the company's erythropoietin program to approval in 1989, which was sold under the name Recormon. Before moving into industry, Dr. Hirth was a research scientist with the Max Planck Institute following his post-doctoral work at University of California, San Diego and obtaining his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Heidelberg University, Germany.
"Drs. Almond and Hirth are truly giants in their fields of expertise. Dr. Hirth's ability to harness the potential from cutting-edge development platforms at emerging biotechnology organizations to deliver novel drugs to the market will be highly valuable to SutroVax, as we advance our lead program into the clinic," said Mr. Pickering. "Dr. Almond helmed both internal and external R&D at Sanofi-Pasteur, one of the world's leading vaccine companies, for over a decade. His insights will be fundamental to ensuring that we fully leverage our proprietary platform as we focus on creating and developing potential best-in-class vaccines."
Dr. Almond is Visiting Professor of Microbiology at the William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford and is an Oxford Martin Fellow with the Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines. Before that he was Vice President and Head of Discovery Research and External R&D at Sanofi Pasteur. His scientific contributions include the first demonstration that a single gene can determine the host range of influenza virus – a finding highly relevant to understanding evolution of new pandemic strains; completion of the genetic map of an avian influenza virus, and the first detailed description of the proteins of Influenza B virus. He has also made major contributions to our understanding of poliovirus and its vaccines. In 1985 as a young academic Dr. Almond won the Fleming Award for outstanding contribution to microbiological research by a young microbiologist in the UK, and the pace and extent of his contributions have not diminished. In his previous role at Sanofi Pasteur, he was responsible for the scientific rationale underpinning approximately 30 vaccine projects covering viruses, bacteria and eukaryotic parasites. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and in 1999 was awarded the Ivanovsky Medal for "Contributions to the Development of Virology" by The Scientific Council of Virology of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. He is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and has served on numerous scientific committees in the UK and beyond, including the governing body of the Medical Research Council.
"The SutroVax platform is the ideal technological approach to use for precision conjugations to deliver a new quality of vaccines, and it is being built to create an engine for multiple product opportunities," said Dr. Hirth.
"I am delighted to join SutroVax in their quest to develop new and improved vaccines using their exciting new technology," said Dr. Almond. "I am hugely impressed by their recognition that vaccine R&D includes building the ability to scale-up and industrialise as well as solving problems at the molecular level with their platform."
About Conjugate Vaccines
Conjugate vaccines comprise the largest segment of the vaccine industry, with annual sales approaching $10 billion across multiple licensed indications, including pneumococcus, meningitis, and H flu. By far the largest of those indications is the pneumococcus market, with annual sales of nearly $7 billion. Despite the successes to date, there are not only a significant number of additional bacterial strains that have yet to be incorporated into current conjugate vaccines, but also many infectious diseases that have yet to be addressed using this potent modality.
About Xpress CF
The Xpress CF platform allows for efficient conjugation of antigens to precise positions on carrier proteins via the incorporation of multiple non-native amino acid (nnAA) substitutions to permit click chemistry attachment. This precise and robust technique has been designed to produce homogeneous and consistent vaccines that have the potential to confer important immunological and clinical benefits relative to current conjugate vaccines. Pinpointing the placement of the antigen on the carrier has the potential to improve host immune responses by avoiding the discrete sites on the carrier responsible for T-cell help, which are often impinged by current conjugation methods. Furthermore, the precise optimization of antigen positioning on the carrier protein allows the attachment of multiple antigenic constructs to a single protein carrier, which will facilitate the production of broader spectrum vaccines. These improvements, along with our high-yield, streamlined and industrialized production process, have the potential to deliver best-in-class conjugate vaccines to the market with heightened immunity and broader protection.
SutroVax is an independent vaccine platform and development company whose mission is to deliver best-in-class conjugate vaccines and novel complex antigen-based vaccines to prevent deadly infectious diseases. The company is leveraging its exclusive license to Sutro Biopharma's Xpress CF platform to perform cell-free protein synthesis and site-specific conjugation for the field of vaccines. SutroVax is financed by an international syndicate of experienced, blue-chip venture capital and corporate venture investors. For more information, visit www.sutrovax.com.
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