PRINCETON, N.J. and SAN DIEGO, Jan. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Tragara Pharmaceuticals Inc. today announced the appointment of Scott Megaffin as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors effective immediately. Megaffin brings extensive leadership experience in clinical stage companies in oncology, specialty and critical care. He replaces Tom Estok, who will remain active with the company as an advisor and continue in his role on the Board of Directors.
The addition of Megaffin comes at the time of a strategic pivot for the company that includes a change of name to Adastra Pharmaceuticals Inc. As part of this strategy, Adastra has expanded its operations beyond San Diego with the opening of an office in Princeton, N.J. This is consistent with the Adastra strategy to grow and attract new pharmaceutical talent in the New Jersey area. Adastra, which is derived from the Latin phrase "to the stars," is a name that reflects the boundless motivation and dedication of each team member to the development of best-in-class therapeutics for patients with cancer.
"Scott has the right experience to drive forward all of the Adastra strategic imperatives and continued program advancement of TG02," said Dennis Podlesak, Adastra Chairman and Partner of Domain Associates. "The Board would like to acknowledge and thank Tom for his vision and dedication in getting us to this point. We have advanced TG02 in clinical studies in collaboration with healthcare providers in the United States and Europe for adult patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Furthermore, we have prepared for the start of an exploratory study in pediatric patients with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Between now and the first quarter of next year, Adastra will have a series of clinical milestones and data read-outs that we expect will enable the company to explore multiple development and business paths forward."
Prior to joining the company, Megaffin was President of Churchill Pharmaceuticals LLC, where he successfully marshalled the company through a transaction that resulted in the sale of company assets before an FDA approval, while simultaneously preparing the company for its own possible commercialization activities. Before this, he held numerous global strategic and operational positions of increasing responsibility with Onconova Therapeutics Inc., Cephalon Inc., Adolor Corp., Yamounchi and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. He has led six global product launches and clinical development programs in a variety of therapeutic categories, including oncology, hematology, virology, critical care, anti-infectives, pain and inflammation. Megaffin earned a B.S. in Biology from Pittsburg State University.
TG02 is a highly differentiated orally delivered inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) with high penetration of the blood brain barrier, overcoming a major challenge in GBM drug development. TG02 exerts inhibitory effects on RNA Polymerase II phosphorylation, leading to depletion of the key cancer cell survival protein, Myc, thus committing cancer cells to apoptosis. TG02 has demonstrated broad anti-tumor activity across cell lines and shows a positive synergistic effect when added to standard of care treatments for GBM. Currently, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) are enrolling patients in trials of TG02 in GBM. In addition, Adastra will initiate a study of TG02 in DIPG in the second quarter of this year.
Megaffin added, "I am very happy to take on this role at Adastra during this transformational year for the company. The TG02 trials in GBM are progressing nicely, and we are entering into the start of the DIPG study in the pediatric patient population. When evaluating the opportunity to join the company, I reviewed the data in hand for TG02 and became excited by its potential for the benefit of patients. GBM and DIPG are both devastating brain cancers and represent high unmet treatment needs. TG02 presents Adastra with regulatory opportunities of rapid advancement into registrational studies in the near future. We look forward to reporting our progress in 2019 as we focus sharply on clinical programs as well as exploring possible pipeline expansion opportunities."
About Adastra Pharmaceuticals
Adastra Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a private company committed to providing responsible solutions to advance patient care in oncology. The company is currently developing its lead compound, TG02, for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). Adastra holds worldwide rights to TG02 excluding China and Russia and patent protection through 2034 with extensions. In addition to developing TG02, Adastra will continue to identify, license and develop new products that offer enhanced options for patients that may be underserved by existing therapies. Adastra operations are located in Princeton, N.J., and San Diego. To learn more, visit www.adastrarx.com.
Editor's Note: Photograph of Scott Megaffin Available on Request
SOURCE Adastra Pharmaceuticals