SELLAS Life Sciences Expands Board of Directors as It Advances Late-Stage Clinical Programs in Oncology and CNS Diseases

Gregory Raskin, MD, Vice President, Technology Development at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Luis Palacios, Founder and CEO of Elystone Capital, Have Been Elected to the SELLAS Board

Sep 22, 2015, 08:00 ET from SELLAS Life Sciences Group

ZUG, Switzerland, Sept. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- SELLAS Life Sciences Group (SELLAS), a development-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative products to treat cancers and central nervous system (CNS) diseases, today announced the elections of Gregory Raskin, MD, Vice President, Technology Development at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK); and Luis Palacios, Founder and CEO of Elystone Capital, to the Company's Board of Directors.

SELLAS is expanding its Board as a result of recent promising clinical results from its two lead programs, and in anticipation of key near-term developments at the Company.

  • The Company's WT1 cancer vaccine has shown increased survival compared to historical controls in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML); and has also shown encouraging early data in mesothelioma. SELLAS will initiate further studies across at least two more cancer indications by Q4 2015 and Q1 2016, and plans to start a Phase 3 clinical study in early 2016.
  • A key subset of patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Parkinson's disease showed improvements in motor functioning when treated with the Company's proprietary high-dose formulation of Zolpidem. The company anticipates beginning a pivotal trial in one of these indications in the first half of 2016.
  • SELLAS also plans to initiate a Phase 1 trial in 2016 for its TR1 therapeutic. This drug consists of a full-length p21 tumor suppressor protein attached to a proprietary transporter protein. The drug's mechanism of action is to activate apoptosis and inhibit tumor proliferation.

"We are delighted to welcome to our Board two individuals with compelling backgrounds and strong expertise within the financial sector, each of whom also possesses unique, cross-disciplinary perspectives on successful business building and management of growth as well as drug development and biotechnology knowledge," said Dr. Angelos M. Stergiou, MD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SELLAS. "Dr. Gregory Raskin has broad experience as a life sciences investor in both the public and private markets; he currently leads the division responsible for technology development and new ventures at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Luis Palacios has extensive finance and banking background, with experience crossing multiple industries as he held senior positions, amongst others, at Morgan Stanley. We think they will have critical insights and wisdom to contribute as SELLAS further accelerates its lead development programs."

"The WT1 vaccine is poised to enter the final stages of clinical testing in Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and is also being advanced in several other important indications as well," stated Dr. Raskin. "I am very pleased that these crucial studies will be guided by the accomplished team at SELLAS in cooperation with the physicians and scientists at MSK. I also look forward to the progress of the other key pipeline programs at the Company."

Mr. Palacios commented: "SELLAS' lead product candidates – the WT1 vaccine, TR1, and high-dose Zolpidem – have the potential to exert a profound impact on the lives of patients with cancer and CNS diseases. I am delighted to bring my financial and banking experience to the table to help the Company as it further advances these promising programs."

Dr. Gregory Raskin

Dr. Raskin is Vice President, Technology Development at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), where he leads technology transfer, commercialization, and business development at the world's oldest and largest private cancer center. Prior to joining MSK in 2012, he was a Vice President at AllianceBernstein LP, where he led healthcare and life sciences investing for the firm's $200 million venture capital fund. Dr. Raskin's previous experience includes serving as a biotech analyst at Baker Brothers Investments and as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he worked mainly with pharmaceutical and biotech companies. He received both his bachelor's degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and his medical degree from Yale University. Dr. Raskin also was a resident physician in the internal medicine department of New York University Medical Center.

Luis Palacios

Mr. Palacios is Chief Executive Officer of Elystone Capital SA, a boutique wealth management firm that he founded in 2002. Previously, he was a private banker at Bank Morgan Stanley AG, establishing the firm's wealth management practice in Geneva. Prior to this, he was a private banker at Hentsch & Cie. Luis Palacios received his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the Universidad Catolica Argentina, Buenos Aires and his MBA degree from INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.

About SELLAS Life Sciences Group

SELLAS Life Sciences is a development-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative products to treat cancer and central nervous system (CNS) diseases. SELLAS has two Phase 2b- and 3-ready products poised to enter trials in Europe and the US in 2016, across multiple indications in cancer and CNS diseases, as well as an earlier-stage highly innovative cancer therapeutic.

SELLAS' WT1 vaccine, licensed from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, is a cancer immunotherapeutic agent targeting a broad spectrum of hematologic cancers and solid tumor indications. The WT1 vaccine has demonstrated promising clinical results in an ongoing Phase 2 trial in acute myeloid leukemia (AML): patients treated with the drug have yet to reach median survival, having surpassed 52 months. Based on these findings, the Company plans to start a Phase 3 clinical study in early 2016. SELLAS is also advancing a proprietary formulation of high-dose Zolpidem under the 505(b)(2) pathway to treat basal ganglia disorders, including Parkinson's disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), which is the lead orphan indication. Zolpidem's mechanism of action and therapeutic effects in CNS-related diseases, including PSP and Parkinson's, have been demonstrated in several studies; SELLAS expects to initiate a Phase 2b/3 study of high-dose Zolpidem for PSP in 1H 2016. A third program is focused on SELLAS' TR1 product candidate, a novel fusion protein that supplies the normal wild type p53/p21 protein to cancer cells to trigger innate cell death mechanisms (apoptosis). The Company is advancing its TR1 program toward IND-enabling studies, with the goal of commencing Phase 1 testing in 2016 and reporting initial data in 2017.

SELLAS was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland. With most of the Company's management team based in the US, SELLAS is in the process of establishing a second base in New York City in late 2015.

Contact:

For Investors: 
Ami Bavishi, Burns McClellan, +1 (212) 213-0006, abavishi@burnsmc.com

For Media:
David Moser, J.D., +1 (813) 864-2571, Dmoser@sellaslife.com 
Justin Jackson, Burns McClellan, +1 (212) 213-0006, jjackson@burnsmc.com

SOURCE SELLAS Life Sciences Group