HAMILTON, Bermuda and NEW YORK, Nov. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- SELLAS Life Sciences Group (SELLAS or the Company), a late-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel cancer immunotherapies for a broad range of cancer indications, announced today the addition of three international experts in the field of immuno-oncology research to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), namely: Dr. Jeffrey Weber, Dr. Alexander Eggermont and Dr. Javier Pinilla-Ibarz.
"The newly appointed members of our Scientific Advisory Board bring vast knowledge and expertise to our research of clinical and translational science as we develop immunologic approaches against cancer. This experience will be invaluable to SELLAS as we advance our late-stage cancer immunotherapy program targeting the Wilms Tumor-1 oncogene, which is widely expressed in human malignancies," said Dr. Angelos Stergiou, CEO of SELLAS.
Dr. Nicholas Sarlis, Chief Medical Officer of SELLAS, added: "The international scope and depth of expertise of the new members complements our existing group of advisors and supports the rapid advancement of our galinpepimut-S clinical development and regulatory program, first in acute myeloid leukemia and subsequently, in mesothelioma and other cancers."
Dr. Jeffrey Weber, a specialist in cancer immunotherapy, is currently deputy director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center and the co-director of the Melanoma Research Program at the New York University (NYU)-Langone Cancer Center. Dr. Weber is principal investigator on several ongoing studies funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as well as industry, including trials in clinical drug development, vaccines, and studies on autoimmunity and melanoma. He earned his PhD in molecular biology from Rockefeller University (NY) in 1979 and his MD from New York University in 1980. Dr. Weber sat on the NCI's Clinical Oncology Study section as well as the boards of the Melanoma Research Foundation and the Melanoma Therapeutics Foundation, and served as a chair of the Veterans Administration's clinical oncology study section. He has published more than 150 articles in the top peer-reviewed journals in his field.
"Through my years of working in cancer immunotherapy, I have witnessed great advances in the field, and I believe SELLAS is on the verge of such an advance. I have been impressed with the significant potential of the Company's lead product, galinpepimut-S, to successfully treat hematological and solid malignancies through a unique approach of peptide-based immunization against the WT1 oncoprotein," stated Dr. Weber. "I am excited to join the other scientists on the Company's SAB and offer the insights that I have in the area of oncoimmunology research and development."
Alexander M.M. Eggermont is currently the Director General of Institut Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus Grand Paris, Villejuif, France, as well as Professor of Oncology at the University Paris-Sud. He is the past Professor of Surgical Oncology and current Professor of International Networking in Cancer Research at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam. He holds the honorary Chair of Surgical Oncology at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Prof. Eggermont is a past President of the European Cancer Organisation and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and past Chair of the EORTC Melanoma Group. He is the current President of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences, the chairman of Cancer Core Europe and Chair of the International Jury for Comprehensive Cancer Centre Program in Germany, as well as board member of the European Society for Medical Oncology. He obtained his MD at the University of Amsterdam and PhD in tumor immunology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, both in the Netherlands, and was a Fellow of the NCI Surgery Branch in Bethesda, MD, USA. He has published more than 800 peer reviewed publications.
Dr. Javier Pinilla-Ibarz has a long track record of successfully applying immunology clinical and translational approaches to the treatment of leukemias and myelodysplastic syndromes. He is currently an associate member of the malignant hematology and immunology program and Director of Immunotherapy for Malignant Hematology at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, as well as an associate professor in the Department of Oncologic Sciences, University of South Florida College of Medicine, both in Tampa, FL. Dr. Pinilla-Ibarz received his MD and then PhD degrees from the University of Zaragoza, Spain. He then completed a research fellowship in Immunology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, as well as a Hematology and Oncology training at the same Institution. Dr. Pinilla-Ibarz has published more than 100 articles in the top peer-reviewed journals in his field.
The appointment of these SAB members follows the recent strengthening of SELLAS' management team with the addition of several industry experts in finance, clinical and commercial development.
About SELLAS' WT1 Immunotherapeutic Anti-cancer Treatment, Galinpepimut-S
SELLAS' WT1 immunotherapeutic anti-cancer treatment (generically designated as galinpepimut-S) is a late clinical-stage cancer immunotherapy being developed to target hematologic cancers and solid tumors, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), mesothelioma (MPM), multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and multiple other cancers. The WT1 antigen is a transcription factor that is not generally expressed in normal adult cells, but appears in a large number of cancers, as well as in certain cancer stem cells. WT1 has been ranked by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as the Number 1 target for cancer immunotherapy. While WT1 has not been druggable by traditional approaches, it can be targeted by the immune system. Specifically, a number of different peptide sequences from the WT1 antigen have been identified as immunogenic and capable of stimulating cytotoxic T-cells that can target and kill WT1-expressing cancer cells. Studies also have shown that WT1 does not provoke tolerization and that patients' T-cells can remain reactive to the antigen over time.
Galinpepimut-S, originally developed by MSK and licensed to SELLAS, comprises four modified heteroclitic peptide chains that induce a strong innate immune response (CD4+/CD8+ T-cells) against the WT1 antigen. Galinpepimut-S is administered in combination with an adjuvant and an immune modulator to improve the immune response to the target. Based on its mechanism and the accumulating evidence of activity in mid-stage trials, galinpepimut-S may have the potential to complement currently available therapies by destroying residual tumor cells of cancers in remission and providing ongoing immune surveillance for recurrent tumors. Overall, SELLAS' galinpepimut-S could target over 20 cancers that over-express WT1, many of which are associated with relapse rates of up to 80% or more, as seen in patients with AML and MPM.
About SELLAS Life Sciences Group
SELLAS Life Sciences is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel cancer immunotherapies and therapeutics for a broad range of cancer indications. The Company's lead product candidate, Galinpepimut-S, is a cancer immunotherapeutic agent licensed from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that targets a broad spectrum of hematologic cancers and solid tumor indications. Galinpepimut-S is poised to enter pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials in patients with AML and Mesothelioma in the first and second half of 2017, respectively. SELLAS recently received orphan drug designations by the US FDA, as well as the EMA, for galinpepimut-S in AML and MPM; as well as Fast Track Designation for AML and MPM by the US FDA.
Galinpepimut-S also is in various development phases in multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer, and soon in other indications as monotherapy or in combination with other immuno-oncology agents.
SELLAS was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda, with additional offices in New York.
SOURCE SELLAS Life Sciences Group