New York City-based Rgenix Inc, a developer of first-in-class small molecule and antibody cancer therapeutics, has named Dr. Robert Wasserman as its new chief medical officer. Recently, Wasserman was chief medical officer at Toronto-based Northern Biologics, a developer of first-in-class immuno-oncology products. Rgenix’s backers include Lepu Medical, Oceanpine Capital, WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, Novo Holdings A/S, Sofinnova Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments LLC and the Partnership Fund for New York City.
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rgenix, Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing first-in-class small molecule and antibody cancer therapeutics, announced today that Robert Wasserman, MD, has joined the Rgenix management team as its new Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Wasserman takes on his new role after a 20-year career that includes senior positions at large pharma companies including Roche, Novartis and Merck.
In his new role, Dr. Wasserman will have oversight of clinical development for Rgenix’s two lead clinical programs, RGX-104 and RGX-202. In particular, he will oversee the imminent launch of a Phase 1b/2 trial of Rgenix’s lead therapy, RGX-104, a first-in-class oral LXR agonist that has demonstrated anti-tumor activity as a single agent and in combination with other therapies – including chemotherapy and checkpoint blockade – in patients with refractory cancers.
For the Phase 1b/2 trial, RGX-104 will be tested in combination with the standard-of-care regimen consisting of chemotherapy (carboplatin/pemetrexed) plus the checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy pembrolizumab as a first-line treatment in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients whose tumors lack expression of the PD-L1 protein (<1% expression). NSCLC patients whose tumors lack PD-L1 expression have significantly lower response rates to standard-of-care in the first line setting, and thus represent a patient population of high unmet need. Resistance to standard-of-care immunotherapy has been associated with the presence of high levels of immunosuppressive myeloid cells known as MDSCs. RGX-104 has demonstrated broad-spectrum depletion of MDSCs in refractory cancer patients – including NSCLC patients – and therefore represents a novel approach to overcome drug resistance. As part of the Phase 1b/2 trial, RGX-104 will also be tested in patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC/HG-NET) in combination with docetaxel chemotherapy as a second line treatment.
“Bob’s vast experience in oncology and clinical research is a perfect fit for Rgenix given our expanding clinical programs and pending milestones,” said Masoud Tavazoie, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Rgenix. “As we prepare to launch Phase 1b/2 studies for our first-in-class compounds RGX-104 and RGX-202, we are eager to leverage his knowledge and expertise to help expand our efforts for patients with cancers considered to have high unmet need.”
“I look forward to working with the team at Rgenix to develop novel treatments for these patients by applying the company’s unique platform technology and methodology to discover drivers of cancer growth. With its roots in strong science and its dedication to a novel approach, Rgenix’s reputation as a premier innovator in the oncology space is growing and I’m excited to be a part of such a dynamic effort at this key stage for the company,” said Dr. Wasserman.
Dr. Wasserman started his career in the industry working with major pharmaceutical companies. His last large pharma appointment was at Roche, where he ended a six-year period at the company as the Chairman of the Clinical Biomarker Leadership Team and where he also served for a time as the Global Head of Oncology Translational Medicine (Early Clinical Development) for Roche Pharma Research/Early Development. Prior to Roche, he was the Deputy Global Head of Oncology Biomarkers at Novartis and, before that at Merck.
His most recent biotech role was as the Chief Medical Officer at Northern Biologics, a Canadian company developing first-in-class immuno-oncology products. He currently maintains a position as an Advisory Board Member of Sectoral Asset Management out of Montreal.
Dr. Wasserman earned his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed his pediatric residency and pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship training at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, at the University of Pennsylvania and then was on faculty as an Assistant Professor.
Rgenix, Inc., is a privately-held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel cancer drugs that target key pathways in cancer progression. The company is pursuing several first-in-class drug candidates to treat cancers of high unmet need. Rgenix identifies novel cancer targets using a microRNA based target discovery platform originally developed by Rgenix’s scientific co-founders at The Rockefeller University and now exclusively licensed to Rgenix. The company brings together distinguished scientific founders, a seasoned Board, and a leadership team comprised of experienced drug developers. The company is funded by leading biotechnology investors, including Novo Holdings A/S, Sofinnova Partners, Lepu Holdings Limited, Oceanpine Capital, WuXi PharmaTech Healthcare Fund I, LP, Alexandria Venture Investments, LLC, and the Partnership Fund for New York City. For more information, please visit www.rgenix.com.
RGX-104 is an investigational orally-administered potent small molecule agonist of the Liver X Receptor (LXR) that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial. Activation of the LXR-ApoE pathway by RGX-104 stimulates the innate immune response in cancer via depletion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells and activation of dendritic cells, leading to stimulation of T cells and anti-tumor immunity. LXR activation also blocks the ability of tumors to recruit blood vessels. These combined effects result in suppression of tumor growth and metastasis in a broad array of animal tumor models. The LXR-ApoE pathway was originally identified as a cancer target using a novel microRNA-based discovery platform developed by Rgenix’s scientific co-founders at The Rockefeller University.
Rgenix is conducting a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of RGX-104 in patients with lung cancer —for more information about the clinical trial, please visit: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02922764.
RGX-202 is an investigational orally-administered small molecule inhibitor of the SLC6a8/CKB pathway that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1a clinical trial. RGX-202 induces apoptosis (cell death) of gastrointestinal cancer cells that over-express the CKB protein (CKB+). Blockade of the SLC6a8 pathway by RGX-202 starves cancer cells of the metabolite phosphocreatine which is required for cancer cell survival in CKB+ tumors. Pre-clinical research demonstrates that RGX-202 is active both as a single agent as well as in combination with standard-of-care therapies in several gastrointestinal cancer models, including KRAS mutant tumor models.
A phase 1a study of RGX-202 in patients with gastrointestinal cancers, including colorectal and gastric cancer, is in progress. For more information about our clinical trial visit: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03597581