HOUSTON, April 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today the appointment of David M. Spencer, Ph.D. to Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Spencer, a co-founder of Bellicum, joins the Company from Baylor College of Medicine where he was Vice Chairman of Pathology and Immunology. Dr. Spencer is the co-inventor of chemical induction of dimerization (CID), a technology used to control a wide range of biologic functions in cells, and applied in the Company's two lead product candidates.
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"We're pleased to have David join Bellicum and bring with him a singularly unique knowledge of the science behind our products," commented Tom Farrell, CEO of Bellicum Pharmaceuticals. "I look forward to his many contributions as we evaluate two new potentially breakthrough product candidates."
Dr. Spencer received The Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award from Baylor College of Medicine in 2007 for his work developing a novel immune therapy-based approach to treating cancer, which relies on a small-molecule, CID, to improve dendritic cell function. In one iteration, Dr. Spencer's team used CID technology, which he co-invented, to create a much more potent vaccine against poorly immunogenic self-peptides. Dr. Spencer also developed a series of state-of-the-art, non-immunogenic suicide genes for gene therapy, which utilize endogenous caspase family proteases and CID technology. These inducible caspases are likely to become increasingly important as a safety switch for retrovirus-based gene therapy and cellular therapies, in general. This technology is the basis of two Bellicum clinical programs, including CaspaCIDe for the management of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).
Phase 1 results from an ongoing clinical trial of CaspaCIDe were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in November of last year. The study reported that the "suicide gene" effectively caused the rapid and complete reversal of GVHD in acute leukemia patients who underwent stem cell transplant.
Dr. Spencer earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed his postdoctoral degree at Stanford University.
About Bellicum Pharmaceuticals
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is developing clinical applications of chemical induction of dimerization (CID), a drug-based remote control technology that extends the physician's reach beyond the point at which a treatment has been administered. Bellicum's mission is to leverage this smart technology to bring safe, effective, innovative cell therapies to market for patients with serious and life threatening diseases. The company's DeCIDe vaccines are designed to kill targeted cells by inducing a potent, durable, fully activated antigen-specific T cell immune response. Lead product BPX-101, an autologous DeCIDe vaccine, is in clinical development for patients with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). CaspaCIDe is a cell therapy safety switch, permitting the rapid elimination of cells in the event of toxicity. CaspaCIDe DLI is a donor lymphocyte infusion administered following a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, in which the safety switch may be activated to resolve graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). For more information, visit www.bellicum.com
SOURCE Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.