Aarkus Therapeutics Launches with a Novel Modular Antibody Technology Platform
Jagath Reddy Junutula, PhD and Sachdev Sidhu, PhD have partnered to launch Aarkus Therapeutics. Dr. Junutula has over 20 years of oncology drug discovery and development experience, contributing to several INDs and IND-ready programs. His work has focused on discovery and development of biologics, including discovery and validation of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), engineering next-generation ADCs, and development of bi-specific T-cell engaging antibodies. Dr. Junutula will serve as the President & CEO of Aarkus Therapeutics.
Dr. Sidhu is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and the Donnelly Centre at the University of Toronto, and founder of the Toronto Recombinant Antibody Centre (TRAC) and the Centre for Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB). Dr. Sidhu's research is primarily focused on the field of protein engineering, and technologies that explore and shape protein and antibody structure and function, with the aim of crafting better therapies for cancer and other diseases. Dr. Sidhu has a wealth of experience in commercial antibody discovery.
Independent Board Member
Joining Dr. Junutula and Dr. Sidhu on the Board of Directors is Anula Jayasuriya, MD, PhD, MBA, who will serve as the Board Chair. Dr. Jayasuriya is a successful venture capitalist whose background combines deep business, scientific and medical knowledge with broad clinical, industry, entrepreneurial, and investment experience. Dr. Jayasuriya founded EXXclaim Capital, an early-stage venture fund focused on catalyzing innovation, entrepreneurship and investment in Women’s Health, and co-founded EILSF, the first Indian fund focused on healthcare. Dr. Jayasuriya stated, “I couldn’t be more excited about joining Aarkus Therapeutics because of its excellent team, distinguished advisors and their portfolio of technologies: a versatile next-gen antibody engineering platform capable of generating blocking antibodies, ADCs, T-cell engagers and more, all with the potential to improve and save the lives of cancer patients.”
Drs. Junutula, Sidhu and Jayasuriya are joined by several pre-eminent scientists, who will serve as members of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of Aarkus Therapeutics:
Greg Cosma, PhD
Dr. Cosma has had a 20+ year career as a trusted senior leader in the pharmaceutical industry, including as Vice-President of Genentech Research and Early Development. During his career in biopharma with companies including Pfizer, BMS and Genentech, Dr. Cosma successfully managed and oversaw the submission of over 100 INDs, and the approval of multiple drugs. Dr. Cosma stated, “I am thrilled to participate in the SAB of Aarkus, a company whose vision, passion and novel technology platforms I believe will catalyze transformational benefit to cancer patients.”
Henry Lowman, PhD
Dr. Lowman has over 30 years’ experience in biotechnology. His roles at Genentech included leading the antibody engineering department, and as R&D team-leader in several therapeutic antibody programs, including VEGF, IgE, and CD20. Dr. Lowman served at CytomX Therapeutics as Vice-President of research and as Chief Scientific Officer working on the Probody™ platform, and at Triphase Accelerator as Executive Director/Vice-President of R&D. In 2013, he was named one of the top 25 most influential individuals in the antibody field by Total Biopharma. He is an inventor on over 700 filed/issued patents. Dr. Lowman is an editorial board member for the antibody journal mAbs. “I am thrilled to join the scientific advisory board of Aarkus,” said Dr. Lowman. “This group of proven innovators will advance the next generation of ADCs and other therapeutic modalities, based on unique insights into the chemistry and biology of these agents.”
Stuart Lutzker, MD, PhD
Dr. Lutzker is an industry veteran with decades of oncology drug development and leadership experience. Most recently, Dr. Lutzker was Vice-President of Oncology Early Clinical Development at Genentech, where he led the early development of multiple now-approved oncology drugs including Kadcyla®, Polivy®, Venclexta®, Cotellic® and Tecentriq®. Prior to Genentech, Dr. Lutzker was a medical oncologist and cancer researcher at the NCI-Designated Cancer Institute of New Jersey, where he divided his time between patient care and laboratory-based cancer research. Dr. Lutzker has served as faculty for the ASCO/AACR Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop in Vail, CO. Dr. Lutzker shared, “I am incredibly excited to join the Aarkus SAB to provide early drug development advice, as Aarkus advances its unique ADC platform towards the clinic. The scientific experience of the co-founders in antibody engineering and ADC design is world-class, and together, Aarkus will build on the success of first- and second-generation ADC platforms and other antibody delivery platforms to further enhance patient benefit across solid and heme tumors.”
Paul Polakis, PhD
Dr. Polakis worked in many roles in the Department of Research at Genentech/Roche over nineteen years. He was a Staff Scientist and Director overseeing discovery research in molecular oncology, and translational research for the development of ADCs for cancer therapy. Prior to that, Dr. Polakis was Research Director at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where he supervised research on oncologic signaling pathways and small molecule drug discovery for cancer. Dr. Polakis has published over 120 peer-reviewed research articles and is an inventor on over 600 filed/issued patents. Dr. Polakis stated, “I am excited about Aarkus because I have worked directly with its scientific founders -- two of the world’s sharpest minds in the field of antibody-based technologies.”
Bruce D. Roth, PhD
Well known as the inventor of Lipitor®, for which he has received numerous awards, including the 2013 Perkin Medal, Dr. Roth has over 35 years of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical experience, including roles at Parke-Davis, Pfizer, and as SVP, Small Molecule Drug Discovery, at Genentech. Dr. Roth has been named an American Chemical Society (ACS) Hero of Chemistry and has been inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Division Hall of Fame. “I am excited to join the Aarkus SAB,” said Dr. Roth. “Having worked with the Aarkus leadership at Genentech, I know they are world-class experts in antibody engineering. I have observed first-hand their creativity, scientific excellence and track record of success.”
Puja Sapra, PhD
Dr. Sapra is Vice-President, Tumor Targeted Delivery, in Oncology Research and Development at AstraZeneca, leading the group responsible for tumor-targeting technology platforms, including ADCs, nanoparticles, radioimmunoconjugates and oncolytic viruses, from target conception to clinic. She previously served as Vice-President and Chief Scientific Officer at Pfizer Inc. and led Pharmacology groups at Enzon Pharmaceuticals and Immunomedics Inc. Dr. Sapra has contributed to two approved agents, Mylotarg® and Besponsa®. Dr. Sapra has authored over 50 scientific publications and book chapters and is an inventor/ co-inventor on over 25 patents. She serves as the Deputy Editor of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2017, Dr. Sapra was recognized as a Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Rising Star. Dr. Sapra stated, “Aarkus' innovative and disruptive protein-engineering platforms have the potential to bring transformative medicines to patients. I am thrilled to join the SAB and work alongside a world-class management, Board and team to advance innovative science and develop impactful therapeutics.”
For additional information, visit www.aarkustx.com.
Source: Aarkus Therapeutics