What You Need to Know About Silarus Therapeutics
December 2, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Silarus Therapeutics is developing therapeutics that target erythroferrone for the treatment of iron deficiency and iron overload disorders. A recently-discovered hormone, erythroferrone regulates the iron supply needed for red blood cell production. Iron deficiency, otherwise called anemia, results in blood that does not contain the normal amount of red blood cells or lacks the correct amount of hemoglobin. Iron overload is the opposite. Disorders in which too much iron builds up in the body cause organ poisoning or failure.
Silarus was based on intellectual property in-licensed from Tomas Ganz, professor of medicine in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Elizabeta Nemeth, associate professor of medicine, division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, both at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine.
Launched as a collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline , Silarus Therapeutics is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon to provide operational support, a fully equipped research-and-development facility and an experienced leadership team.
Unlike some of the newer companies developed as part of the Avalon-GSK partnership, Silarus is further along. “This molecule could take care of a very large portion of the population that is healthy, but anemic,” Jay Lichter, Silarus’s chief executive officer in an exclusive interview with BioSpace . “For people who are marginally anemic, they’ll take iron and in most cases they’ll be fine, but in the anemia population there are individuals where dietary iron won’t help, but who are less anemic than someone who takes a powerful drug like Procrit. So our potential audience is a big swath of the market.”
Jay Lichter—president and chief executive officer of COI Pharmaceuticals, and as such, is the chief executive officer of the biotech companies under its umbrella. He is also the managing director of Avalon Ventures, and has led investments in Carolus, Otonomy , Sova and Zacharon Pharmaceuticals. He is the inventor on over 260 patent and patent applications for six Avalon portfolio companies, including 78 issued patents. Lichter has been involved in licensing or merger and acquisition deals valued in excess of $1 billion.
Marc Nasoff—chief scientific officer. Nasoff is also the chief scientific officer of COI Pharmaceuticals. He was recently the director of biologics at GNF, a subsidiary of Novartis Pharma , where he worked closely with Novartis Biologics on developing human therapeutic antibodies.
Tomas Ganz—scientific founder. He is a professor in the department of medicine and the pathology and laboratory medicines department at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine. He received his PhD in Applied Physics from Caltech, and M.D. from UCLA.
Elizabeta Nemeth—scientific founder. She is an associate professor of medicine, division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine. Nemeth is also co-founder of Intrinsic LifeSciences, The BioIron Company, an independent life sciences company that is developing innovative in vitro diagnostic devices for genetic and acquired iron disorders.
Tighe Reardon—chief financial officer, as well as the chief financial officer of Adrenergics. Also the chief financial officer of COI Pharmaceuticals, Reardon has over 15 years of senior finance and technical tax experience ranging from startups to large public companies. Prior to joining COI, Reardon was the senior vice president of tax and treasury at DJO Global, a multinational medical device company owned by Blackstone (BX).
Sanford Madigon—chief business officer. He has over 18 years of industry experience and is also the senior vice president, business development at COI Pharmaceuticals. He is also the president and chief operating officer of Sova Pharmaceuticals, an Avalon Ventures portfolio company. Prior to Sova, Madigon was co-founder and chief executive officer of Strategic Enzyme Applications, a San Diego-based clean technology company established, in part, as a strategic relationship with Monsanto.
Justin Chapman—director of biology. Chapman has more than 20 years of experience in medical research and drug discovery, including 12 in large pharma. He also serves as associate director, biology for COI Pharmaceuticals and Sova Pharmaceuticals, another Avalon Ventures portfolio company.
Silarus was launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GSK. It received $10 million in a Series A financing round and research and development support from Avalon and GSK.
The company is close to having a lead molecule and backup candidates. “We’re very excited about it,” Lichter told BioSpace. “The clinical path is very straightforward for measuring iron with a $2 test. Our experience is you can get a result in a day or two if it’s really not working. We’re very, very close to our lead candidate right now and we’re very excited about it. We think it’s going to be a winner and hopefully in the next two years or so it’ll be in the GSK pipeline and generating clinical data.”
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