CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- DART Therapeutics, LLC, an innovative, new-model biotechnology firm focused on developing therapies for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), announced today the appointment of its executive team. Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Eugene W. Williams transitions to a full-time role as CEO, and Ernest D. Bush Ph.D. joins as Chief Scientific Officer. DART also adds Dr. Elliot Goldstein as Chief Medical Officer and Cabot Brown as Chief Financial Officer, both on a part-time basis. Each will apply more than 25 years of executive-level experience in his respective field to expedite development of a therapy for DMD.
DART was co-founded in 2010 by two leading patient foundations in DMD, Charley's Fund and the Nash Avery Foundation, along with Executive Chairman Gene Williams. It has derived funding to date exclusively from these foundations. As a patient-funded biotechnology firm, DART reflects a new model for research and drug development centered on the needs of families affected by DMD and potentially transportable to other pediatric rare diseases. While DART is patient-funded and founded, it benefits from professional staff and business processes like any other well-managed biotech. In its first two years, DART acquired a promising clinical stage anti-fibrotic drug candidate and spun out a special-purpose entity, Halo Therapeutics, focused on its development. DART also conducted research on a biomarker that may be a valuable new tool to track muscle health and which may enable lower costs and faster drug development timeframes. Additionally, DART structured numerous partnerships between patient foundations and investor capital to expedite promising programs in DMD.
DMD is a progressive and fatal neuromuscular disorder affecting approximately 1 in 3,500 boys worldwide. There is currently no effective treatment. DMD is caused by a genetic mutation that renders boys unable to make functional dystrophin, a critical protein for muscle development. Young men with the disease shows signs of physical impairment as early as age three, lose the ability to walk in their teens, and die of cardiac or respiratory failure in their late twenties or early thirties.
"DMD, like other rare diseases, has seen tremendous advances in promising science recently, much of it catalyzed and supported by the highly committed patient foundation community," said Gene Williams, CEO of DART Therapeutics. "Families affected by this devastating condition deserve the highest commitment and creativity that industry professionals can offer in terms of more efficient and effective drug development, innovative business models and deal-making. DART is designed to combine the commitment and capability of both patient foundations and industry professionals and apply it to our shared mission of speeding the timeframe to making DMD a chronic manageable disease. Our unique model allows us to structure deals which can attract investment capital, but also to invest in areas which benefit the entire community, and to pursue programs with primarily a therapeutic return - all of which contribute to our mission."
"Our goal is to significantly improve the lives of children with DMD in this generation and future generations," said Benjamin Seckler, M.D., president of Charley's Fund and father of Charley, age 11. "We created DART to make DMD research and drug development faster, more effective and less expensive. We believe DART will contribute to a portfolio of promising therapies more rapidly than we would have experienced without the commitment of its highly skilled and focused team."
DART's expanded leadership team is composed of seasoned industry professionals who bring an impressive breadth of experience to the mission of accelerating treatment for DMD.
Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gene Williams has more than 25 years of experience as a senior manager at major biotech firms, including Genzyme, an innovator and pioneer in pediatric rare diseases, as well as Founder/Executive Chairman of numerous entrepreneurial life sciences ventures. He brings experience and accomplishment in pediatric rare diseases, global development, business development, portfolio management and entrepreneurship.
DART's Chief Scientific Officer Ernie Bush has more than 30 years of experience in biomedical R&D for major pharmaceutical companies, including Hoffman La-Roche, where he was responsible for the preclinical safety department at Nutley, NJ, as well as the non-clinical assessment of in-licensing candidates.
Dr. Elliot Goldstein, who will serve as Chief Medical Officer, brings more than 25 years of executive-level pharmaceutical and biotechnology expertise to DART with senior management roles at Sandoz, Novartis, SB (now GSK) and Maxygen.
As a co-founder of several advisory and investment banking firms, including Carabiner, LLC, Seven Hills Group and Brown, McMillan & Co, Chief Financial Officer Cabot Brown has spent more than 25 years working as an advisor to and investor in numerous companies across many segments of the healthcare industry.
"DART's progress in just two years is very encouraging," said Tom Wicka, founder of the Nash Avery Foundation and father of Nash, age 12. "It also validates the power of the model - a partnership between patient foundations and industry professionals. We are committed to accelerating the momentum with an expanded team and scope."
For more information, please visit www.dartrx.com.
Shanti Skiffington, principal
Samvega Public Relations
SOURCE DART Therapeutics, LLC