CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--X4 Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing novel CXCR4 inhibitor drugs to improve immune cell trafficking and increase the ability for T-cells to track and destroy cancer, today announced the appointment of John K. Celebi as Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Celebi brings to X4 over 20 years of experience building innovative entrepreneurial biotechnology companies. As X4’s Chief Operating Officer, he will lead the company’s business development, operations and corporate development efforts.
“John has a tremendous knowledge-base for evolving an emerging biotech company across the range of critical business capabilities, including operations, business development and commercial planning,” said Paula Ragan, PhD, President and CEO of X4. “His experience will be essential to achieving X4’s mission of developing novel CXCR4 therapies that have the potential to make a significant impact in the cancer treatment landscape, and we look forward to tapping into his business-building expertise as we continue to pursue the development of X4P-001 and our portfolio of CXCR4 inhibitors.”
Mr. Celebi most recently served as Chief Business Officer of Igenica Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on immunotherapies and other cancer medicines, where he was responsible for the company’s corporate and business development functions, as well as operations. Prior to Igenica, Mr. Celebi held leadership roles of increasing responsibility at ArQule, a publicly traded biotechnology company focused on the advancement of differentiated small molecule kinase inhibitors for cancer patients, including Vice President, Business Development, New Product Planning and Alliance Management. From 2001 to 2003, he was Director of Business Development at Cyclis Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by ArQule. Throughout his career, he has built a proven track record spanning executive management, corporate development, leadership team development, commercial planning, corporate governance and operations. In particular, Mr. Celebi has extensive transactional expertise for public and private biotechnology companies, including strategic alliances, R&D collaborations, joint ventures, strategic M&A and equity financings. Mr. Celebi holds a BS in Biophysics from the University of California, San Diego, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
“X4 is an exciting company with innovative technology for enhancing the adaptive immune response coupled with a clinical-stage program that has the potential to improve treatment outcomes for diseases, including cancer, with limited treatment options,” said Mr. Celebi. “X4’s novel approach leverages transformational advances in cancer drug development, therapeutically unleashing the immune system to treat cancer. I am thrilled to join X4 and its effort to bring innovative CXCR4 cancer therapies to improve the lives of cancer patients.”
Ms. Alison Lawton, who has served in an interim role as X4 Pharmaceuticals's Chief Operating Officer on a consulting basis since the company's inception, will remain a strategic advisor to the company as a member of X4's Corporate Advisory Board.
X4P-001 is an oral, small molecule inhibitor of CXCR4, or C-X-C receptor type 4, the receptor for the chemokine CXCL12 (also known as stromal derived factor-1, or SDF-1). Recent studies demonstrate that CXCR4/CXCL12 is a primary receptor-ligand pair that cancer cells and surrounding stromal cells express and use to block normal immune function and promote angiogenesis through the trafficking of T-effector and T-regulatory cells, as well as myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), in the tumor microenvironment.1, 2 Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated X4P-001 activity alone and in combination with approved cancer therapies resulted in an increased tumor-specific immune response and significant inhibition of tumor growth. X4P-001 has been tested in over 70 subjects in four clinical trials in healthy volunteers and HIV-infected patients to date and was shown to be safe and well tolerated.
About X4 Pharmaceuticals
X4 Pharmaceuticals is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics designed to improve immune cell trafficking and increase the ability for T-cells to track and destroy cancer cells. The Company’s oral small molecule drug candidates inhibit the CXCR4 receptor, a pathway which has been shown to play a central role in promoting the immunosuppressive and pro-angiogenic microenvironment of many cancers. X4P-001, the Company’s lead program, is currently in Phase 1/2 development for patients with advanced clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Their second drug program, X4P-002, is currently in pre-clinical development being optimized for the treatment of brain cancer. X4 was founded and is led by a team with deep product development and commercialization expertise, including several former members of the Genzyme leadership team, and is located in Cambridge, MA.
1 Feig C., et. al., “Targeting CXCL12 from FAP-expressing carcinoma-associated fibroblasts synergizes with anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer,” PNAS, Oct. 31, 2013.
2 Guo F., et. al., “CXCL12/CXCR4: a symbiotic bridge linking cancer cells and their stromal neighbors to oncogenic communication networks,” Oncogene, May 11, 2015.