CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Artax Biopharma, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on transforming autoimmune disease treatment, announces their expanded management team, being led by newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joseph Lobacki. Comprised of immunology industry leaders and scientists, the team represents deep expertise in drug discovery, development and collaborations from some of the world's most prestigious institutions.
Artax Biopharma is poised to enter clinical trials with the small molecule AX-158, a novel approach to treat multiple autoimmune diseases without causing the immune suppression commonly associated with current autoimmune disease therapies.
Joseph Lobacki assumes the helm of Artax Biopharma after more than three decades of leadership including research, development, and commercial experience in executive roles across large and small biopharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi Genzyme, Medivation, Verastem, and Micromet. The former CEO, Damia Tormo, will continue as a member of the Board of Directors and we thank Dr. Tormo for his years of work in founding and building Artax.
"We are thrilled to have such a strategic and experienced leader as Joseph Lobacki steering Artax from our new US headquarters at this seminal time," stated Artax Biopharma's Executive Chairman of the Board Alan Walts, Ph.D. "His deep experience will prove invaluable as Artax's first oral agent to treat autoimmune disease prepares to enter the clinic."
The Artax Biopharma management team includes Joseph Lobacki, CEO; Chris VanDeusen, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer (CSO); Richard P. Polisson, M.D., MHSc, Chief Medical Officer (CMO); Karen LaRochelle, MBA, Chief Business Officer (CBO), and Andres Gagete, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, (COO).
"I am excited to lead these incredibly talented and experienced professionals in our Cambridge location as we fulfill the Artax mission to make our treatments available as quickly as possible to patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases. This team possesses the critical knowledge and experience to progress our novel immunomodulator into clinical development and to drive this important mission forward," added Mr. Lobacki.
Prior to Artax, Mr. Lobacki most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for Verastem, Inc.; Chief Operating Officer of Finch Therapeutics Group, and Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Council Member of Medivation, where he led a period of strong revenue growth for prostate cancer treatment Xtandi®. Mr. Lobacki also held previous roles as Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Micromet, Inc., and Senior Vice President and General Manager at Genzyme Corporation. Mr. Lobacki served as a director of Celator Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals) and is currently on the Boards of Sutro Biopharma and Artax Biopharma.
As CSO, Dr. VanDeusen will lead Artax's scientific, research and translational areas. Dr. VanDeusen brings more than 15 years of biopharmaceutical experience and extensive expertise in drug discovery and development. He is also an inventor and key contributor to multiple preclinical development compounds. Previously, Dr. VanDeusen headed the chemistry division and was a global project team leader within Tissue Protection and Repair at Sanofi Genzyme.
Dr. Polisson, in his role as Artax's CMO, will direct the company's clinical development strategy. With 30 years of clinical and translational research experience, Dr. Polisson joins Artax from the Sanofi Genzyme Research and Development Center where he was Senior Vice President and Translational Medicine Head directing discovery and translational medicine efforts across multiple therapeutic areas. Previously, Dr. Polisson served as Associate Professor of Medicine, Arthritis Unit Clinical Director at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
As Chief Business Officer, Karen LaRochelle, MBA will lead all partner- and investor-related interactions. With more than 25 years of biopharmaceutical strategy and collaborations experience, her expertise in mergers & acquisitions includes a deep history transacting for biotech companies, with several transactions exceeding $1 billion. Prior to Artax, Ms. LaRochelle was Chief Business Officer of PsiOxus Therapeutics. Previously in her career, Ms. LaRochelle spent nearly 20 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb focused on strategy and transactions.
Dr. Gagete, as Artax's COO, is currently coordinating research & development and operations for Artax. Dr. Gagete has more than a decade of experience in the biotech and academic sectors and was previously the Innovation Director for Bioncotech Therapeutics.
About Immunomodulation A healthy immune system eliminates harmful foreign pathogens, while being tolerant of self-tissues and organs. When the immune system malfunctions, cells (T Cells) attack self-tissues and organs, causing autoimmune disease. Current autoimmune disease therapies suppress the immune system, helping to minimize these self-attacks, but also raise susceptibility to harmful foreign pathogens. Immunomodulation, the process in which the immune system reduces self-attacks while properly reacting to fight foreign pathogens, holds great potential for autoimmune disease.
About Artax-158 AX-158 is a first-in-class, oral small molecule, preclinical immunomodulating agent in development for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. AX-158 employs a novel mechanism of action that selectively modulates, or adjusts, T cell responses that play a critical role in immune system function. By selectively inhibiting Nck, a protein, AX-158 selectively modulates self-directed T Cell activation which is a cause of autoimmune disease. Importantly, AX-158 is not immunosuppressive and does not impact the immune system's ability to mount a strong response to foreign pathogens and infections. Further, AX-158's ability to modulate T cell responses allows the possibility to broadly target several autoimmune diseases, therefore potentially transforming autoimmune disease treatment.
About Artax Biopharma Artax Biopharma is a biotechnology company transforming autoimmune disease treatment. Artax is a life science industry leader in autoimmune disease immunomodulation science, developing an innovative small molecule approach to treat autoimmune disease that modulates the immune system to both treat autoimmune disease and allow the body to fight foreign pathogens. The company is examining a first-in-class oral immunomodulating agent as a new way to treat multiple autoimmune diseases without causing the immune suppression commonly associated with currently available autoimmune disease therapies. For more information, please visit www.artaxbiopharma.com.