What You Need to Know About Neon Therapeutics
January 9, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Neon Therapeutics, founded in 2015 by Third Rock Ventures, wants to leverage neoantigen biology, a new component of immuno-oncology.
Neoantigens are immune targets generated by mutations inherent in tumors. As such, neoantigen targets are inherently tumor-specific, should not be subject to central tolerance and are thought to be far more immunogenic than tumor-associated antigen targets.
“At Neon Therapeutics, we are committed to advancing the field of cancer immunotherapy by taking full advantage of neoantigen biology to bring cancer treatment to patients in need,” said the company’s interim chief executive officer, Cary Pfeffer, in September 2016, in a statement.
Hugh O’Dowd—chief executive officer. O’Dowd joined Neon in 2016, replacing Cary Pfeffer. Prior to joining, he had spent 20 years in various leadership roles at Novartis Oncology , including chief commercial officer and head of global strategy.
Robert Ang—chief business officer. Before joining Neon, Ang was senior vice president of business development at Bavarian Nordic . Before that, he headed business development for Cadence Pharmaceuticals.
Ed Fritsch—chief technology officer. For the last three years, Fritsch was a member of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Daniella Beckman—chief financial officer. Before Neon, Beckman was the chief financial officer of Idenix Pharmaceuticals until the company was acquired by Merck in 2014.
Kelledy Manson—vice president, product development. Most recently, Manson was vice president of alliance and program management at Epizyme .
Bob Tepper—interim chief scientific officer. Tepper is a co-founder of Third Rock Ventures. He has previously served as interim chief scientific officer of Constellation Pharmaceuticals and Jounce Therapeutics.
Barbara Weber—interim chief medical officer. Before joining Neon, Weber spent six years at Novartis as senior vice president and global head of oncology translational medicine. Prior to Novartis, she was vice president of several groups at GlaxoSmithKline , including Global Biomarkers, Oncology Discovery and Translational Medicine, and Cancer Metabolism Drug Discovery.
Neon launched in October 2015 with a $55 million Series A financing from Third Rock, Clal Biotechnology Industries and Access Industries.
The company’s lead program is NEO-PV-91, which is in Phase Ib clinical trials for smoking-associated non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer and melanoma in the active disease setting, in combination with nivolumab. About 10 sites in the U.S. will be recruiting for the study.
The company’s personalized autologous T-cell therapy, NEO-PTC-01, is in development by way of a collaboration with the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and is planned to begin clinical trials in 2017.
Neon’s third program covering shared neoantigen targets recently completed a target discovery process and has entered biochemical and biological validation. The company expects the first fully validated targets to emerge by the end of 2017.
When asked about market competition, Neon mentioned three companies, Gritstone Oncology, Caperna, a subsidiary of Moderna, and BioNTech.
Dollars and Deals
Neon has a clinical collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb . BMS is providing nivolumab, an anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, for Neon’s first clinical trial. Neon also has a research collaboration agreement with the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) to develop its first personalized T-cell therapy.
What to Look For
The company indicated to BioSpace that, “Neon Therapeutics is focused on building value as an independent enterprise, and driving research and development of multiple programs aggressively through clinical proof of concept.”
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