CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Torque, an immuno-oncology company developing first-in-class Deep Primed™ T Cell Therapeutics to direct immune power deep within the tumor microenvironment, announced today the appointment of Karsten Sauer, PhD, as Vice President, Immunology; Tap Maniar, MD, as Vice President, Clinical Development; and Eden Fucci as Vice President, Biologics Manufacturing.
"We are excited and honored to have these exceptional research and development leaders join our team," said Bart Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Torque. "Over a distinguished 22-year career, Karsten has led discovery and development efforts on immunotherapeutics at Pfizer, Scripps, and Novartis, including immune system regulation and activation. Tap has led innovative cellular therapy and immunotherapy clinical programs at Atara and Amgen, including a first-in-class bispecific antibody that was approved by the FDA in just 75 days. Eden has strong experience in a broad range of biologics manufacturing programs at Syngaeva, Alexion, Aldeyra, and Aeglea involving complex enzyme manufacturing processes. This group will play a critical leadership role as we advance our pipeline and initiate the first Deep IL-15 clinical trial later this year."
Dr. Sauer is a renowned immunologist with more than 20 years of experience leading drug discovery and development efforts at major institutions in industry and academic research. Prior to joining Torque, he was Director of Cancer Immunology at Pfizer, where he developed a portfolio of cancer immuno-therapeutics. He has an adjunct appointment at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, where he identified important functions for soluble inositol phosphate molecules in hematopoiesis and immune system as well as mechanisms through which oncogenic kinases can become drug-resistant. Before joining Scripps, Dr. Sauer was a Principal Investigator at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, where he used genetic, functional genomic, and chemogenomic approaches to identify novel therapeutic targets for immune disorders. Dr. Sauer has a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Tübingen.
Dr. Maniar brings a wide range of cellular and immunotherapy clinical development experience to Torque. Previously, he was Senior Director of Clinical Development at Atara Biotherapeutics, where he led clinical development of several allogeneic T cell therapy programs for oncology and autoimmune diseases. Prior to Atara, Dr. Maniar held several leadership positions at Amgen, including Global Development Lead for blinatumomab (Blincyto), a first-in-class bi-specific T-cell engager that received FDA breakthrough designation and was approved for relapsed/refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia. Dr. Maniar completed his Oncology and Hematology Fellowship as well as Internal Medicine Residency and received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Fucci joins Torque from Aeglea Biotherapeutics where, as Senior Director of CMC, he led process development, manufacturing, and supply chain for clinical studies. Prior to that, he was Senior Director of Drug Product Manufacturing and Supply Chain at Aldeyra Therapeutics, and he also held manufacturing and supply chain management positions at Alexion, Synageva, Eli Lilly, and Imclone. Mr. Fucci has an MS in Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship from The Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Biology from Pennsylvania State University.
About Deep-Primed™ Immune Cell Therapeutics
Torque's Deep-Priming platform uses advanced cell process engineering to:
- prime and activate T cells to target multiple tumor antigens and
- tether immune-stimulatory drugs to the surface of these multi-target T cells to direct immune activation in the tumor microenvironment
- using a proprietary technology platform, without genetic engineering, for a high margin of safety.
Deep-Primed T cells both target multiple tumor antigens and pharmacologically activate an immune response with anchored cytokines. This process does not require genetic engineering of the T cells and so preserves the natural T cell receptor for delivering a regulated immune response, with the potential for a high margin of safety. In addition to antigen priming, immunomodulators are tethered to the surface of Deep-Primed T cells—initially IL-15 and IL-12 cytokines, and TLR agonists—that activate both innate and adaptive immunity. Administering these immunomodulators systemically to a patient can cause lethal toxicity by activating immune cells throughout the body. By loading precise doses of cytokines onto the surface of T cells, Deep Priming focuses the immune response to target the tumor, without systemic exposure.
In hematologic cancers, this new class of immune cell therapeutics has the potential to improve on the initial success of single-target CAR T therapeutics with expanded efficacy and also move cell therapy treatment out of the hospital with a high margin of safety. For solid tumors, Deep-Primed T cells have the potential to enable efficacy against tumors with heterogeneous antigens protected by hostile microenvironments, which are 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™ T cell therapeutics to direct immune power deep 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.