SAN DIEGO, Sept. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- aTyr Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: LIFE), today announced that David J. King, PhD, has joined the company as Senior Vice President, Research. Dr. King will lead aTyr's research and preclinical efforts to advance its Physiocrine biology and support the clinical development of meaningful medicines that target immune and tissue homeostatic pathways for patients with various severe and rare diseases.
"Dr. King is uniquely qualified to help us execute on our mission to bring Physiocrine-based therapeutic candidates to patients with severe and rare diseases," said John Mendlein, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of aTyr Pharma. "Few scientists in the industry possess David's experience in the successful development of biologic based drugs. He is a seasoned executive-scientist and a veteran of several successful biotech companies, where he has played a key role in developing multiple innovative and clinically meaningful commercial products in immunology and oncology, including Opdivo® (PD-1 pathway), Cimzia® (TNF pathway) and Mylotarg®. We believe David will play a critical role in further elucidating the therapeutic applications of Physiocrine biology as we continue to advance our broader pipeline."
"aTyr's identification of novel immune and fibrotic pathways represents an entirely new set of therapeutic intervention points, including agonists, such as our lead candidate Resolaris™, or potentially novel antagonists to other Physiocrine pathways," said Dr. King. "This promising organization is led by a highly talented and passionate team dedicated to a common mission of developing innovative medicines for severely afflicted patients. I am excited to support the development of the rapidly-progressing Resolaris program in rare myopathies with an immune component and the iMod.Fc program in pulmonary diseases with an immune and/or fibrotic component. aTyr represents a unique opportunity to bring forward the potential of Physiocrine pathways to new therapies in a broad range of severe diseases for patients that currently have limited treatment options."
Dr. King's industry experience is highlighted by his tenures at Medarex, Inc. (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2009) and Celltech Therapeutics Ltd. (acquired by UCB in 2004). At Medarex, he led programs to identify therapeutic antibodies and played a key role in programs targeting novel biologics (including PD-1), and at Celltech, he directed the protein biochemistry and antibody engineering activities that led to the discovery and development of Cimzia. After Medarex, Dr. King served as Chief Scientific Officer at AnaptysBio, Inc. where he led research that developed a novel technology for generating antibody therapeutics, which was successfully used to generate innovative clinical candidates for a number of pharmaceutical partnerships and for internal development. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Research at Tunitas Therapeutics, where he led the company's research and preclinical activities. Dr. King received his B.S. from the University of Warwick and his Ph.D. from the University of Surrey, both in the United Kingdom, and was a Glaxo Group Research postdoctoral fellow.
In connection with Dr. King's appointment, the Company granted Dr. King an option to purchase 145,000 shares of the Company's Common Stock with an exercise price of $3.29 per share, the closing price per share of the Company's common stock as reported by NASDAQ on September 21, 2016, the effective date of the grant and the start date of Dr. King's employment. The option is a non-qualified stock option and vests over a period of four years, with 25% vesting on the one year anniversary of the grant date and the remaining 75% vesting on a monthly basis over three years, subject to Dr. King's continuous employment through each vesting date. This award was granted as an inducement material to Dr. King's entering into employment with the Company in accordance with NASDAQ Listing Rule 5635(c)(4).
Physiocrines comprise naturally occurring proteins that aTyr believes promote homeostasis, a fundamental process of restoring stressed or diseased tissue to a healthier state. Physiocrines are extracellular signaling regions of tRNA synthetases, an ancient family of enzymes that catalyze a key step in protein synthesis. aTyr is currently focused on Physiocrines that act as endogenous modulators of the immune system. Physiocrines offer the opportunity for modulating biological pathways through newly discovered, naturally occurring mechanisms, many of which may provide advantages over other types of immune-modulatory therapeutics, including the potential for improved patient outcomes and reduced side effect profiles.
About aTyr Pharma
aTyr Pharma is engaged in the discovery and clinical development of innovative medicines for patients suffering from severe rare diseases using its knowledge of Physiocrine biology, a newly discovered set of physiological modulators. The Company's lead candidate, Resolaris™, is a potential first-in-class intravenous protein therapeutic for the treatment of rare myopathies with an immune component. Resolaris is currently in a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial in adult patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD); a Phase 1b/2 trial in adult patients with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2B (LGMD2B or dysferlinopathies) or FSHD; and a Phase 1b/2 trial in patients with an early onset form of FSHD. aTyr has built an intellectual property estate, to protect its pipeline, comprising over 80 issued or allowed patents and over 230 pending patent applications that are owned or exclusively licensed by aTyr, including over 300 potential Physiocrine-based protein compositions. aTyr's key programs are currently focused on severe, rare diseases characterized by immune dysregulation for which there are currently limited or no treatment options. For more information, please visit http://www.atyrpharma.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Litigation Reform Act. Forward-looking statements are usually identified by the use of words such as "anticipates," "believes," "estimates," "expects," "intends," "may," "plans," "projects," "seeks," "should," "will," and variations of such words or similar expressions. We intend these forward-looking statements to be covered by such safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements and are making this statement for purposes of complying with those safe harbor provisions. These forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the potential of Resolaris or iMod.Fc, the ability of the Company to undertake certain development activities (such as clinical trial enrollment and the conduct of clinical trials) and accomplish certain development goals, and the timing of initiation of additional clinical trials and of reporting results from our clinical trials reflect our current views about our plans, intentions, expectations, strategies and prospects, which are based on the information currently available to us and on assumptions we have made. Although we believe that our plans, intentions, expectations, strategies and prospects as reflected in or suggested by those forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that the plans, intentions, expectations or strategies will be attained or achieved. Furthermore, actual results may differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements and will be affected by a variety of risks and factors that are beyond our control including, without limitation, risks associated with the discovery, development and regulation of our Physiocrine-based product candidates, as well as those set forth in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015 and in our subsequent SEC filings. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Sr. Director, Investor Relations
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SOURCE aTyr Pharma, Inc.