BERKELEY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Plexxikon Inc., a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group, has announced the promotions of Gideon Bollag, Ph.D., to chief executive officer, Paul Lin, M.D., M.B.A., to chief operating officer, Prabha Ibrahim, Ph.D., to senior vice president of chemistry and nonclinical development, Chao Zhang, Ph.D., to vice president of research and Joseph Young, M.B.A., to treasurer and senior director of finance and corporate development. These management changes follow the retirement from Plexxikon of K. Peter Hirth, Ph.D., Plexxikon’s former chief executive officer, and Kathleen Sereda Glaub, M.B.A., former president.
Separately, Plexxikon announced that it has filed an investigational new drug (IND) application for PLX7486, a selective, oral inhibitor that is designed to inhibit proteins believed to promote certain cancers, particularly those involving perineural invasion.
Dr. Hirth co-founded Plexxikon in 2000 and launched operations in May 2001 following the company’s initial venture funding; Ms. Glaub joined in 2001. Together, they led the transformation of Plexxikon from an early-stage, scaffold-based platform discovery organization to a profitable, commercial-stage company with a diverse portfolio of clinical and pre-clinical drug candidates in several therapeutic areas. Their leadership ultimately paved the way for FDA approval of the company’s first product, Zelboraf®, in 2011, as well as Daiichi Sankyo’s acquisition of the company in April 2011.
“Peter and Kathy were instrumental in building a culture of scientific rigor, operational excellence and management transparency at Plexxikon that I intend to continue under my leadership,” said Dr. Bollag, who joined Plexxikon in June 2002. “The Plexxikon team will remain focused on strong science, discovery and development initiatives in oncology and other therapeutic indications that ensure optimal value creation, and help further expand our deep pipeline and clinical portfolio.”
Dr. Bollag, most recently senior vice president of research, has more than 23 years of biotechnology drug discovery experience. He was instrumental in the discovery and development of Zelboraf®, a drug co-developed with Roche and now approved in the U.S. and many other countries. Prior to Plexxikon, Dr. Bollag held positions of increasing responsibility at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, initially as one of the founding scientists and eventually senior director of small molecule therapeutics. Dr. Bollag earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.
Plexxikon will continue to operate with a high degree of independence as a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group.
Investigational New Drug (IND) Application for PLX7486 Underscores Platform Strength
Plexxikon recently filed its ninth investigational new drug (IND) application for PLX7486, a selective, oral investigational agent designed to inhibit proteins believed to promote certain cancers, particularly those involving perineural invasion. Tumor cells invade the nerve sheath flanking some cancers, providing an alternative route for metastatic spread and resulting in pain. Perineural invasion is thought to be an indicator of aggressive tumor behavior and has been shown to correlate with poor prognosis. Such invasive cancers also make treatment or surgery much more difficult. Perineural invasion is a prominent characteristic of most pancreatic cancers, and multiple other tumor types. In preclinical models of both cancer and pain, PLX7486 has been shown to have activity in inhibiting tumor growth and reducing pain.
“PLX7486 is Plexxikon’s ninth novel compound heading into the clinic, demonstrating the strength of our platform and expertise of our team,” said Dr. Bollag. “We are pursuing this drug candidate for a particularly challenging unmet need in cancer treatment—perineural invasion. Our discovery and development engine has enabled us to design a selective compound that may have the potential to be a personalized medicine for those cancer patients whose tumors infiltrate the nerves.”
A Phase 1 clinical trial is expected to start in the latter half of 2013.
Plexxikon is a leader in the structure-guided discovery and development of novel small molecule pharmaceuticals to treat human disease. The company’s lead drug Zelboraf®, (vemurafenib/PLX4032) was approved by the FDA in 2011, and is being co-promoted in the U.S. by Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Genentech. The company is developing a portfolio of clinical and preclinical stage compounds to address significant unmet medical needs in oncology, as well as in several other therapeutic indications. Plexxikon’s Scaffold-Based Drug DiscoveryTM platform integrates multiple state-of-the-art technologies, including structural screening as a key component that provides a significant competitive advantage over other drug discovery approaches. Plexxikon has been a member of Daiichi Sankyo Group since April 2011.