MIAMI, FL--(Marketwire - September 14, 2010) -
Heat Biologics, a clinical-stage immunotherapy company, announced that a panel of internationally renowned researchers and clinicians will serve as its Scientific Advisory Board to guide development of its novel, off-the-shelf drugs to combat a wide range of diseases.
Chairing the Scientific Advisory Board is Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., inventor of Heat Biologics' proprietary technology, the HS-System, a live cell vaccine that stimulates the immune system to combat a variety of cancers, viral infections and other diseases. He is the Sylvester Distinguished Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Medicine and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Dr. Podack received his medical degree from the Johan Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt and his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the Georg-August-University of Gottingen. He studied immunology at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, Calif., where he received an Established Investigatorship from the American Heart Association. He discovered Perforin and is recognized as the father of the field of killer proteins of the immune system (pore forming proteins).
"This Scientific Advisory Board brings together exceptional expertise in the fields of lung cancer and of immunotherapy of cancer to advise Heat Biologics on current and future research and clinical testing of immunotherapy treatments," said Dr. Podack. "Dr. Daniel Von Hoff brings his vast knowledge and experience in translational research and treatment of cancer by chemotherapy and targeted therapy. This expertise is complemented by Dr. John Nemunaitis, the foremost expert in treating lung cancer with vaccines, a novel modality also exploited by Heat."
He continued: "With Dr. James Allison as our advisor, we have retained a world-class expert in immunotherapy for cancer, particularly melanoma. Finally, Dr. Justin Stebbing's special knowledge in heat shock protein-based therapy will bring cutting-edge expertise that is directly related to Heat's heat-shock-based cancer vaccines."
James Allison, Ph.D., is chair of the Immunology Program at the Sloan-Kettering Institute, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He is a leader in the field of immunology, particularly in developing ways to help the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. His research is focused on the mechanisms that regulate the immunological response of T lymphocytes, especially strategies to manipulate those responses in clinically relevant areas, including autoimmunity, allergies, vaccinations and tumor therapy.
Dr. Allison has shown that an immune-regulating molecule called cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) inhibits activated T cells in the immune system and prevents them from attacking the body's own tissues. In mouse models, he identified an antibody that blocks CTLA-4 and showed that it enhances the cancer-fighting activity of certain vaccines. He and his colleagues have now created antibodies to human CTLA-4 that are being studied in human clinical trials for the treatment of melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer.
John Nemunaitis, M.D., is an oncologist and executive medical director of the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers (MCCRC) in Dallas and founder and chief medical officer of Gradalis, Inc., a molecular product discovery company. He has been exploring novel targeted therapies for treating cancer patients for more than 20 years. He received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from Case Western Reserve University, completed his residency at Boston City Hospital and performed his Hematology and Oncology fellowship at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Dr. Nemunaitis established the clinical research program for Texas Oncology Physicians Association and a not-for-profit translational research program (the MCCRC). He is a committee member of the Western Institutional Review Board.
Dr. Nemunaitis has authored more than 270 peer-reviewed publications and 39 book chapters. He has instituted study establishment of more than 350 trials, overseen FDA-sponsored experimental treatment of nearly 4,000 cancer patients, carried out 14 government regulatory presentations for biotechnology product development and holds eight molecular and vaccine Investigational New Drug Applications. His research focus is clinically oriented and involves determination of molecular signals to optimize targeted therapy, development of RNAi-based therapeutics and cancer vaccine approaches.
Justin Stebbing, M.D., M.A., FRCP, FRCPath, Ph.D., is a professor of cancer medicine and medical oncology at Imperial College in London and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath). He earned his medical degree from Trinity College and completed his junior doctor posts in Oxford, England, a residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and additional training in oncology at The Royal Marsden in London. He has extensively investigated and trialed the interplay between the immune system and cancer. Specifically, he examined the role of heat shock proteins in viral infections and tumorigenesis in the development of vaccines that are currently in clinical trials for both infections and cancer.
Prof. Stebbing has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers in leading journals and has authored more than 100 book chapters focused mainly on early- and late-stage trials of new drugs, mechanisms of disease and prognostic indicators. He is on the editorial board of a number of world-leading journals, such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and aims to develop therapeutic vaccines that cross medical boundaries.
Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., is physician-in-chief and director of translational research at TGen (Translational Genomics Research Institute) in Phoenix, chief scientific officer for Scottsdale Healthcare's Clinical Research Institute and scientific medical officer for US Oncology. He also holds an appointment as clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. His major interest is in the development of new anticancer agents, and he was involved in the beginning of the development of many agents that are now in routing use. He is currently concentrating on the development of molecularly targeted therapies, particularly for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Von Hoff, who has published more than 559 papers, 134 book chapters and 1,000 abstracts, was appointed to President Bush's National Cancer Advisory Board in 2004. He is past president of the American Association for Cancer Research, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member and past board member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is a founder of ILEX™ Oncology, Inc., founder and editor emeritus of Investigational New Drugs: The Journal of New Anticancer Agents, editor-in-chief of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and cofounder of the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop.
"We are excited to have a world-class Scientific Advisory Board that includes some of the most respected clinical researchers in the fields of immunology, cancer and infectious disease," said Heat President Taffy Williams, Ph.D. "Each has been recognized worldwide for excellence in their respective fields of research and can contribute to the advancement of Heat Biologics' drug development from both a scientific and a clinical perspective."
Heat Biologics was launched in 2008 by Seed-One Ventures to develop off-the-shelf immunotherapies to combat a wide range of cancers and other disorders. Its HS-System is a unique shotgun approach that enables the body to induce and maintain an immune response against multiple tumor antigens, unleashing a powerful, multipronged attack that targets and destroys tumors and other diseases. Heat's HS-L1 therapeutic vaccine for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is currently in Phase I/II clinical trials involving 36 patients. Results are expected in early 2011. In addition to cancer, the HS-System is currently in advanced primate studies to test its utility in viral applications.
About Heat Biologics
Heat Biologics (www.heatbio.com) is a clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on developing novel, off-the-shelf drugs that modulate the immune system to combat a wide range of cancers and viral infections, including HIV, Hepatitis C and influenza. Less invasive than personalized (autologous) immunotherapies, which require treatment of the patient's own cancer or blood, Heat's proprietary off-the-shelf (allogeneic) HS-System exploits the natural ability of diseased cells to activate the immune system and amplifies the body's natural defenses. The company is currently in Phase I/II clinical trials with its first product, a drug to treat Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), and has a robust pipeline of products in various stages of preclinical testing.