CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Torque, an immuno-oncology company developing Deep Primed™ cell therapeutics with pharmacologic control to drive a full immune response within the tumor microenvironment, announced today the appointment of John Hohneker, MD, to the Board of Directors and Marcela Maus, MD, PhD, to the Scientific Advisory Board.
"Torque is pioneering a new approach to cell-based therapy for cancer, creating immune cells that carry tightly controlled doses of immunomodulators to direct immune power deep in the tumor," said Bart Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Torque. "We are breaking new ground, and both John and Marcela bring significant experience and creativity to this effort. John brings expertise in clinical development for breakthrough medicines in immunology and oncology; and Marcela is a leading expert in CAR T cell therapy, now building out the Cell Therapy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. We are very excited to have these respected leaders join the Torque team."
Dr. Hohneker is CEO of Anokion. Previously, he was president of research and development at FORMA Therapeutics, where he led multiple programs into clinical trials. Dr. Hohneker also held several positions at Novartis, including senior vice president and global head of development for immunology and dermatology. At Novartis, Dr. Hohneker played a key role in the development, approval, and commercialization of products that include Cosentyx®, Xolair®, Ilaris®, Gleevec®, Tasigna®, Zometa®, Afinitor® and Exjade®. He received an MD from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at Rutgers Medical School. Dr. Hohneker completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine and his fellowship in Medical Oncology at the University of North Carolina Hospitals.
"Torque has a unique technology platform to create cellular drugs to control immune activation deep in tumors," said Dr. Hohneker. "Marrying the power of cytokines and TLR agonists with the trafficking and tumor-killing capability of T-cells is an exciting breakthrough that has enormous therapeutic potential."
Marcela Maus, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Cellular Immunotherapy, Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). She is a leader in the field of cancer immunology with particular expertise in T cell immunotherapies, and she is currently directing the expansion of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program at MGH.
"Both Torque and MGH are working on different components of cellular immunotherapy that are ultimately complementary," said Dr. Maus. "Torque's approach has the potential to unlock the power of immuno-modulators in a focused way, and I am very excited to be a part of this effort."
Dr. Maus' laboratory focuses on creating next-generation CAR T cells. Prior to her position at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Maus was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the Director of Translational Medicine and Early Clinical Development, Translational Research Program. Her postdoctoral laboratory and clinical research with Carl June and Michel Sadelain focused on the creation and clinical testing of novel T cell immunotherapies. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and completed fellowship training in Hematology and Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Maus completed undergraduate studies at MIT and her MD and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.
About Deep-Primed™ Immune Cell Therapeutics
Torque's Deep-Priming platform is based on 10 years of research and development focused on taking very potent immunomodulatory drugs—cytokines, antibodies, and small molecules—that have the ability to activate and protect T cells from the hostile tumor microenvironment. Administering these immunomodulators systemically to a patient can cause lethal toxicity by activating immune cells throughout the body. Deep-Primed™ therapeutics are designed to activate only the T cells that are targeting the tumor. This is achieved by anchoring the immunomodulators to the surface of the immune cell to act locally, in the microenvironment, overcoming the barriers to effective, durable, and safe cancer immunotherapy.
Torque is applying the Deep-Priming™ technology to primed T-cells that target multiple tumor-associated antigens. These Deep-Primed multi-target T-cells are designed to drive a powerful immune response with pharmacologic control against tumors with heterogeneous antigen expression. In hematologic cancers, this new class of immune therapeutics has the potential to improve on the initial success of single-target CAR-T therapeutics by preventing antigen escape. For solid tumors, Deep-Primed T-cells have the potential to enable efficacy against tumors with heterogeneous antigens that are protected by hostile microenvironments not readily addressable with the first generation of immune cell therapies.
About Torque (www.torquetx.com)
Torque is an immuno-oncology company developing Deep Primed™ cell therapeutics with pharmacologic control to drive a full immune response within the tumor microenvironment. Torque's lead product candidate is Deep IL-15, which is in pre-IND development for hematologic and solid tumors. The company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.