COPENHAGEN and OSLO, September 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Affitech A/S, (Nasdaq OMX: AFFI), the antibody medicines company, today announced that it has appointed two experienced biotech executives to head its management team. Dr Robert Burns, previously CEO of Celldex Therapeutics Inc., has today assumed overall responsibility for Affitech as its new Chief Executive Officer. Dr Alexander Duncan, previously SVP Biopharmaceuticals for Astra Zeneca - Medimmune, also joins Affitech today as Senior Vice President of Research and Development. Dr Robert Burns takes over the Affitech CEO role from Dr Achim Kaufhold who, having successfully completed the recent combination of Affitech and Pharmexa, is leaving the Company. Dr Martin Welschof, Managing Director of Affitech Research AS, Oslo, continues in post.
Robert Burns is an experienced biotech business executive. He joins Affitech following the successful merger of Celldex Therapeutics and NASDAQ-listed Avant Immunotherapeutics. Prior to Celldex, Robert was Director of Technology Licensing at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, where he was played key leadership roles in the spin-out of 3 successful companies, Piramed in the UK, Lymphatix in Finland and Recepta, an antibody therapeutics business, in Brazil. Prior to that he was Commercial Director at both Oxford Glycosciences and British Biotech. Robert is also non-executive Chairman of Haemostatix, an early stage company specialising in blood clotting products. Robert holds a BSc in Chemistry and a PhD in oligosaccharide analysis from The University of Birmingham.
Alexander Duncan is a leading antibody research scientist and business leader. At Astra Zeneca he was a member of AZ Discovery senior management team and SVP Biopharmaceuticals. He led the Cambridge UK Discovery site, previously Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT), through its integration with Medimmune. Prior to its acquisition by Astra Zeneca, Alex was SVP Drug Discovery at CAT, where he built a recognised world class antibody discovery capability. In addition to playing a major role in the creation of the CAT-AZ alliance, he led CAT discovery collaborations with Wyeth, Merck, Human Genome Sciences, Elan, Pfizer, Immunex and others. Alex gained his PhD in Dr Sir Greg Winter's laboratory at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge and held post-doctoral positions at the University of California San Diego.
Commenting on these management changes, Dr Keith McCullagh, Affitech's Chairman, said: "I am delighted to welcome Robert Burns and Alex Duncan to Affitech. They bring exceptional experience in structuring biotech alliances and the discovery and development of competitive human antibody medicines. I am confident that under their business and scientific leadership the recently listed Affitech will emerge as an exciting new international competitor in the rapidly growing pharmaceutical sector of human antibody medicines."
"I would also like to thank Dr Achim Kaufhold for his dedication and commitment to the success of Affitech over the last year and wish him every success as he returns to Switzerland to pursue other opportunities.
Dr Robert Burns, Affitech's new CEO, commented: "Alex and I are both excited to be joining the Affitech team at this transformational point. The Company has developed powerful antibody selection technology that has already shown success in generating potential human antibody drugs against previously challenging new disease targets. I think Affitech has a strong competitive advantage in the antibody field and I look forward to building the business into an internationally successful biopharmaceutical company."
The management changes announced today take place with immediate effect.
Affitech A/S is a human antibody medicines company based on modern phage display technology coupled with powerful antibody screening and selection systems. In particular the Company has developed specialized expertise (i) to identify and engineer successful new proprietary human antibodies with improved properties over commercially marketed antibody drugs; and (ii) to isolate effective new antibody medicines that interact with and inhibit the function of certain cell surface receptors. The Company's rapidly emerging product pipeline is based on products in the fields of cancer, immunology and angiogenesis. Following its reverse acquisition of Pharmexa A/S, completed in June 2009, the newly Copenhagen OMX-listed company aims to raise further equity investment to fund clinical development of these and other candidates. For further information see http://www.affitech.com.