Oncologie Expands and Strengthens Management Team with Key Appointments and Promotions

  • Appoints Matthew Osborne as Chief Financial Officer
  • Names Hagop Youssoufian, M.D., as Interim Chief Medical Officer
  • Hires Bill McDonald, Ph.D., as Vice President of CMC
  • Promotes Kerry Culm-Merdek, Ph.D., to Vice President of Clinical Development

WALTHAM, Mass., July 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Oncologie, Inc., a precision medicine company using an innovative RNA-based biomarker platform to develop novel, targeted oncology therapies, today announced an expansion of its management team with the appointments of Matthew Osborne as Chief Financial Officer, Hagop Youssoufian, M.D., as Interim Chief Medical Officer, Bill McDonald, Ph.D., as Vice President of Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC), as well as the promotion of Kerry Culm-Merdek, Ph.D., to Vice President of Clinical Development.

“We are pleased to expand Oncologie’s management team with the additions of Matt, Hagop and Bill, and the promotion of Kerry, and look forward to their contributions,” said Laura Benjamin, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Oncologie. “Their collective experience and leadership will be critical as we further develop and deploy our RNA-based biomarker platform to advance the state of the art of precision medicine to identify the right patients for our clinical stage programs, Navicixizumab and Bavituximab.”

Mr. Osborne brings to Oncologie more than 20 years of leadership, financial and industry experience, gleaned from years on Wall Street and through professional roles with small to large cap biotechnology companies. In these roles, he successfully led multiple equity financings, applying his expertise across disciplines spanning scientific, financial, strategic planning, investor relations and corporate communications functions. Before joining the company in 2020, Mr. Osborne served as Chief Financial Officer at Unum Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to joining Unum Therapeutics, Mr. Osborne served as Head of Corporate Affairs, Communications and Investor Relations at Voyager Therapeutics, Inc., and through similar roles at Shire, Plc (acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company in 2019), Synageva BioPharma Corp. (acquired by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2015) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. Mr. Osborne’s Wall Street experience includes serving as a sell-side analyst at Lazard Capital Markets and Leerink Swann (now SVB Leerink), where he covered small to large cap biotechnology companies, analyzed drug launches and launched several initial public offerings. He received a B.S. in Biology from Syracuse University and an M.B.A. from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.

Dr. Youssoufian is a physician-scientist with more than 25 years of experience in drug development working with seed-stage ventures to multi-national biotech and pharmaceutical corporations. After a successful academic career as a clinician, teacher and NIH-funded investigator, he held increasingly senior roles in clinical and translational science including Head of Experimental Medicine at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Distinguished Scientist at Sanofi Aventis, Chief Medical Officer at ImClone Systems Incorporated, President of Research and Development and Chief Medical Officer at Ziopharm Oncology, Inc., Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Chief Medical Officer at BIND Therapeutics, Inc. He supported or led the development and approval of a number of medicines including Sprycel, Taxotere, Erbitux, Cyramza, Lartruvo and Copiktra. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the recipient of many national and international awards, and the author of more than 100 publications. He received a B.S. in biology from Boston College and M.Sc./M.D. from University of Massachusetts Medical School, followed by fellowships at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

William “Bill” McDonald, Ph.D., brings more than 20 years of experience in process development and the manufacturing of antibodies, recombinant enzymes, antigens, antibody targets, viral vectors and vaccines. Prior to joining Oncologie, Bill served as Vice President, CMC at Contrafect Corporation where he was responsible for all CMC activities for Contrafect’s novel biologics platform of anti-microbial therapies. Previously, Bill served as Executive Director and Manufacturing Site Head at Celldex Therapeutics, Inc., where he oversaw the Fall River GMP manufacturing facility and was responsible for internal manufacturing of all early clinical stage biologics. Bill also held roles of increasing responsibility at Synageva BioPharma Corp. (acquired by Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2015), including Senior Director of Process Development. He also previously served as Head of Process Science at Pfizer, Inc., Director of Antigen Production at Genocea Biosciences Inc. and Director of Biochemistry at VaxInnate Corporation. Within the scope of technical operations, he has supported the development and manufacture of several approved biologics including Kanuma, Soliris and Strensiq. Bill received a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Florida and received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at Cornell University.

Kerry Culm-Merdek, Ph.D., brings over 15 years of clinical drug development expertise and experience in small molecule and therapeutic protein development in rare disease and oncology indications including her role as Head of Clinical Pharmacology and Quantitative Bioanalytics at ImmunoGen Inc., where she was responsible for clinical pharmacology strategy for global clinical and preclinical development of oncology therapies. Prior to joining ImmunoGen, Kerry spent 13 years at Sanofi Genzyme, most recently serving as a Global Project Head, where she led the therapy project teams for Fabry disease, Gaucher disease type 3 and multiple gangliosidosis/galatosialidosis indications. Kerry received a B.S. in Biochemical Pharmacology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Tufts University School of Medicine.

About Bavituximab

Bavituximab is an investigational chimeric monoclonal antibody that targets the activity of phosphatidylserine (PS). Bavituximab is believed to reverse PS-mediated immunosuppression by blocking the engagement of PS with its receptors, as well as by sending an alternate immune activating signal. PS-targeting antibodies have been shown to shift the functions of immune cells in tumors, resulting in multiple signs of immune activation and anti-tumor immune responses. This mechanism may play an important role in allowing other cancer therapies to more effectively attack tumors by reversing the immunosuppression that limits the impact of those treatments. Oncologie is conducting a Phase 2 trial of bavituximab plus pembrolizumab as a second-line treatment in patients with advanced gastric or gastroesophageal cancer. Using its biomarker platform, Oncologie is analyzing patient tissue samples from this on-going trial with results expected later this year to inform future clinical development for this program.

About Navicixizumab

Navicixizumab is an anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific antibody designed to inhibit both Delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4) in the Notch cancer stem cell pathway as well as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and thereby induce potent anti-tumor responses while mitigating certain angiogenic-related toxicities. In preclinical studies, navicixizumab demonstrated robust in vivo anti-tumor activity across a range of solid tumor xenografts, including colon, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancers, among others. In a Phase 1a trial of 66 patients with various types of refractory solid tumors, treatment with single agent navicixizumab generated an overall response in three of 12 (25%) patients with ovarian cancer. In a Phase 1b trial in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients who had failed more than two prior therapies including bevacizumab, treatment with navicixizumab plus paclitaxel generated an interim overall response in 10 of 30 (33%) patients. Treatment-related adverse events in the Phase 1b trial were manageable and included hypertension (58%), headache (29%), fatigue (26%) and pulmonary hypertension (18%). Using its RNA-based biomarker platform, Oncologie is analyzing patient tissue samples from all navicixizumab trials with results expected later this year to inform future clinical development with this program. The FDA granted Fast Track designation to navicixizumab for the treatment of high-grade ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer in patients who have received at least three prior therapies and/or prior treatment with bevacizumab.

About Oncologie’s RNA-based Biomarker Platform

Predictive biomarkers historically worked on single-driver mutations yet only approximately 10% of cancer patients have known driver mutations with available targeted therapies. Using its proprietary biomarker platform, Oncologie is advancing a new paradigm of precision oncology with an RNA-based approach to identify the dominant biology in the tumor microenvironment. This could improve clinical outcomes by matching patients to therapies with a mechanism of action that targets that specific biology and expand precision medicine to those therapies whose potential remains unrealized. Oncologie is further optimizing the biomarker platform’s tumor microenvironment panel through multiple research collaborations, including a collaboration with Moffitt Cancer Center.

About Oncologie, Inc.

Oncologie, Inc. aims to advance the state of the art of precision medicine to dramatically improve the lives of people with cancer. Leveraging a deep understanding of the evolving biology of cancer, Oncologie is developing unique RNA-based biomarker panels to match patients to novel, targeted therapies that modulate the body’s tumor immune system and angiogenesis pathways. Oncologie, Inc., based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Oncologie Shanghai Co., Ltd., based in Shanghai, China, are subsidiaries of Oncologie, Ltd., and are working with global partners to acquire and further develop innovative drugs for cancer patients around the world. For more information on Oncologie, Inc., please visit https://oncologie.com/.

Investor and Media Contact:

Ashley R. Robinson
LifeSci Partners, LLC

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