Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Appoints Richard A. Heyman CEO

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Aragon Pharmaceuticals today announced the appointment of company co-founder Richard A. Heyman, Ph.D., to the role of Chief Executive Officer. Additionally, esteemed scientists Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., an expert in the area of hormone research and transcriptional regulation, and David J. Mangelsdorf, Ph.D., an authority on nuclear receptors and endocrine signaling, were added to the company's scientific advisory board.

"As one of the founders, and now CEO of Aragon, I am very pleased with the team that we have built, the investors that we have assembled and the rapid progress the company has made since its founding a little more than a year ago," said Dr. Heyman. "Dr. Evans and Dr. Mangelsdorf bring tremendous scientific expertise and insight that will be integral to our ongoing discovery and development of novel therapies that circumvent the challenge of drug resistance in hormone refractory cancers, including our clinical candidate, ARN-509."

Aragon's lead compound, ARN-509, was designed for the treatment of castration resistant prostate cancer and works through a novel mechanism by binding to the androgen receptor on tumor cells, inhibiting the receptor's ability to bind to DNA. This prevents the expression of genes that drive tumor growth in prostate cancer. Aragon is also developing selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs) and selective androgen receptor degraders (SARDs) for the treatment of cancers that have grown resistant to currently available anti-hormonal therapies. SERDs and SARDs not only bind to and block the hormone receptors that drive tumor growth, but induce a conformational change in these proteins that results in their degradation. Hormone refractory cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers, are responsible for more than 90,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

About Richard A. Heyman

Richard A. Heyman, Ph.D., has 20 years of drug discovery experience in the biotech sector and, most recently, co-founded Aragon Pharmaceuticals in 2009. Previously, he was Chief Scientific Officer at Kalypsys Inc. where he conducted drug discovery in therapeutic areas including metabolic diseases, pain and inflammation. In 1999, Dr. Heyman co-founded and served as Chief Scientific Officer of X-Ceptor Therapeutics, a company that developed compounds targeting nuclear receptors for the treatment of metabolic diseases, X-Ceptor was acquired by Exelixis in 2004. Prior to X-Ceptor, Dr. Heyman was Vice President of Research at Ligand Pharmaceuticals and was project leader for multiple discovery programs including the successful identification and development of PanretinĀ® and TargretinĀ®, retinoids approved by the FDA for the treatment of cancer. He was a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow and Staff Scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Dr. Heyman received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Connecticut.

About Ronald M. Evans

Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., is Professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory and March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Dr. Evans is an authority on the role of hormones in health and disease and is responsible for the discovery of a large family of receptors that respond to steroid hormones and are targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer, osteoporosis, asthma and other significant diseases. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University after receiving his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from University of California Los Angeles, where he also received his B.A. in bacteriology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He has received a variety of awards and honors, including the 2004 Lasker Medical Research Award in Basic Research.

About David J. Mangelsdorf

David J. Mangelsdorf, Ph.D., has been at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, where he has been Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology since 1993. He holds the Beatrice and Miguel Elias Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science. Dr. Mangelsdorf's research is focused on the mechanism of action of nuclear receptors and the characterization of their ligand activities. His work has led to the therapeutic targeting of nuclear receptors for diseases such as atherosclerosis, cholestasis, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. He has been involved in the start-up of several biotech companies, including Ligand Pharmaceuticals and X-Ceptor Therapeutics. Dr. Mangelsdorf completed postdoctoral studies at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences after receiving his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

About Aragon Pharmaceuticals

Aragon Pharmaceuticals is a privately held small-molecule drug discovery company identifying breakthrough medicines for the treatment of hormonally driven cancers. These cancers are traditionally treated with anti-hormonal therapies but often become resistant, and follow-on therapies are largely ineffective. The company's lead compound, ARN-509, is being developed to treat patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer. Aragon has built a research and development team with deep expertise in nuclear receptor biology, medicinal chemistry and drug discovery to identify and develop selective androgen receptor degraders for prostate cancer and selective estrogen receptor degraders for estrogen sensitive breast cancer. For more information, visit

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SOURCE Aragon Pharmaceuticals

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