Oncternal Therapeutics Announces Formation of Cell Therapy Scientific Advisory Board

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Oncternal Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ONCT), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel oncology therapies, today announced the establishment of its Cell Therapy Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The Cell Therapy SAB is comprised of industry and academic leaders in the cell therapy field, covering important areas of expertise including cutting edge research, preclinical development, manufacturing, and clinical development.

The Cell Therapy SAB will play an important role in advising and guiding the company’s efforts to develop safe and effective cell therapies targeting receptor-tyrosine kinase-like Orphan Receptor 1 (ROR1), leveraging our deep expertise on ROR1 and the single chain variable fragment (scFv) of our ROR1 antibodies, including cirmtuzumab. ROR1 is highly expressed by many solid tumors as well as hematological malignancies and confers both an aggressive phenotype and survival advantage to the tumor cells. Cirmtuzumab binding to ROR1 on leukemia and lymphoma cells decreases tumor cell proliferation and survival by blocking Wnt5a-induced activation, while it does not bind to normal adult tissues. Cirmtuzumab has also demonstrated encouraging safety and efficacy results in its ongoing Phase 1/2 study in combination with ibrutinib for the treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) as well as in a Phase 1b study in combination with paclitaxel for the treatment of patients with Her2-negative breast cancer.

“We are pleased to welcome our newly appointed scientific advisors, whose deep expertise in cell therapy research and development will help us bring safe and effective ROR1 targeted cell therapies to patients faster,” said James Breitmeyer, M.D., Ph.D., Oncternal’s President and CEO. “We believe that ROR1 is an ideal target for next generation cell therapies due to its proven role in tumor progression and its wide expression in many cancer types with significant unmet needs.”

The members of the Oncternal Cell Therapy SAB include:

Michael Wang, MD, EndowedProfessor in the department of Lymphoma & Myeloma at MD Anderson
Dr. Wang has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and has presented his work at meetings nationally and internationally. He is the Director of the Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL) Program of Excellence and Co-Director of the B-Cell Lymphoma Moon Shot Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Wang Laboratory at MD Anderson research program aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying therapeutic resistance in B-cell lymphoma and to translate these findings to the clinic to improve patient outcomes. Dr. Wang obtained his M.D. from Shandong Medical University and M.S. from Beijing University Medical School, and completed his clinical training as a resident at Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk, Conn., and as a Fellow in Oncology and in Hematology at MD Anderson.

Angela Shen, MD, MBA, Clinical and Translational Market Sector Leader Mass General Brigham
Dr. Shen has unique, deep knowledge of the cell and gene therapy landscape having provided clinical, regulatory, and strategic leadership for autologous and allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies, NK cell therapies, and other novel cell therapy programs across industry. Dr. Shen currently hold a position at Mass General Brigham (formerly known as Partners HealthCare), an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and serves a part-time CMO at Walking Fish Therapeutics, Inc. Previously, she held Chief Medical Officer (CMO) positions at multiple biotech companies, including Arcellx, NKarta, Arvinas, and acting CMO of Tizona. Dr. Shen led the clinical team at Novartis responsible for designing and launching the industry’s first multi-site, registration CAR-T cell therapy trial supporting the approval of Kymriah® (CTL019, CART-19). She received a BS through Rensselaer’s accelerated biomedical program, and holds an MD from Albany Medical College in New York and MBA from New York University Stern School of Business.

Marcela V. Maus, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Director of Cellular Immunotherapy, Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital
Dr. Maus is a translational physician-scientist in the field of cancer immunology. Her laboratory focuses on the design, generation, and use of innovative forms of immune cell engineering, including chimeric antigen receptors and investigates basic mechanisms of human immunology to design and test novel immune-based therapeutic interventions in vitro, in mouse models, and in patients. Dr. Maus received her S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Maus trained in internal medicine at University of Pennsylvania and in hematology and medical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and is board-certified in these three disciplines. Her laboratory research training was focused on gene and cell therapies, and occurred in the laboratories of Dr. Katherine High, Dr. Michel Sadelain, and Dr. Carl June.

Sadik Kassim, PhD, Chief Technology Officer at Vor Biopharma
Dr. Kassim is a cell and gene therapy bioprocessing and translational research expert. Dr. Kassim served as Executive Director at Kite Pharma where he led the development of manufacturing processes for autologous CAR-T and TCR-based cell therapies. He and his team at Kite led the BLA and MAA filing efforts for Kite’s X-19 product, which is a CD19 CAR-T therapy for Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Before Kite, Dr. Kassim served as Chief Scientific Officer at Mustang Bio, where he was the first employee and oversaw the foundational build-out of the company’s preclinical and manufacturing activities. Earlier in his career, Dr. Kassim was Head of Early Analytical Development for Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapies Unit, where he and his team contributed to the BLA and MAA filings for Kymriah. Dr. Kassim earned his BS in cell and molecular biology from Tulane University and received his PhD in microbiology and immunology from Louisiana State University. After receiving his PhD, he was a research fellow in the lab of Dr. James Wilson at the University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program.

About Oncternal Therapeutics

Oncternal Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel oncology therapies for the treatment of cancers with critical unmet medical need. Oncternal focuses drug development on promising yet untapped biological pathways implicated in cancer generation or progression. The clinical pipeline includes cirmtuzumab, an investigational monoclonal antibody designed to inhibit the ROR1 pathway, a type I tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor, that is being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in combination with ibrutinib for the treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and in an investigator-sponsored, Phase 1b clinical trial in combination with paclitaxel for the treatment of women with HER2-negative metastatic or locally advanced, unresectable breast cancer, as well as a Phase 2 clinical trial of cirmtuzumab in combination with venetoclax, a Bcl-2 inhibitor, in patients with relapsed/refractory CLL. Oncternal is also developing a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy that targets ROR1, which is currently in preclinical development as a potential treatment for hematologic cancers and solid tumors. The clinical pipeline also includes TK216, an investigational targeted small-molecule inhibitor of the ETS family of oncoproteins, that is being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for patients with Ewing sarcoma alone and in combination with vincristine chemotherapy. More information is available at https://oncternal.com.

Contact Information:

Richard Vincent
Chief Financial Officer

Corey Davis
LifeSci Advisors

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