CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Quartet Medicine, a biotechnology company focused on the development of novel treatments for pain and inflammation, today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Gerhard Koenig, Ph.D., as Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Koenig brings over 17 years of senior scientific leadership experience, and has been appointed to Quartet’s Board of Directors.
“We are very excited to have Gerhard join Quartet as we continue to make important progress with our first-in-class therapy for chronic pain and inflammation,” said Bruce Booth, Partner at Atlas Venture and Chairman of Quartet’s Board of Directors. “Gerhard’s long track record of scientific leadership, spanning discovery stage programs through pivotal clinical studies, will serve Quartet well as we continue to advance our lead program in partnership with Merck.”
In January 2016, Quartet announced a transformative partnership with Merck around its therapeutic discovery program focused on the de novo tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) synthesis pathway. The research and development funding provided by Merck is being used to advance Quartet’s lead program through Phase 2a clinical proof-of-concept for the treatment of pain. Since its inception in Atlas Venture’s company-creating seed program in late 2013, Quartet has worked closely with scientific founders Clifford Woolf, M.D., Ph.D. of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Kai Johnsson, Ph.D., of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), to advance its R&D pipeline.
“I am excited to be joining and leading the strong Quartet team to advance the urgently needed innovation in pain management into clinical development together with our partner Merck.” said Dr. Koenig. “In light of the enormous unmet medical need in chronic pain management, I’m energized at the opportunity to help advance this novel and potentially high impact therapeutic approach. With intriguing human genetics, a translatable biomarker, a committed pharma partner, and an experienced team all in place, Quartet has the key ingredients to succeed.”
Dr. Koenig most recently served as Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President, Research, at FORUM Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company focused on the development and delivery of innovative medicines to treat serious brain diseases. Dr. Koenig joined as the company’s fourth employee, and during his 13-year tenure he championed and led FORUM’s overall strategic scientific direction. Dr. Koenig built a highly productive research group which introduced multiple programs into clinical development, and contributed key mechanistic findings on clinical stage programs. Prior to joining FORUM, Dr. Koenig served as Vice President at F prime Capital (formerly known as Fidelity Biosciences), which was the lead investor in FORUM. Before that, Dr. Koenig was Director and Head of the Neurodegeneration Department at Bayer AG. Dr. Koenig holds a Master of Science degree with honors in neurobiology and neurosciences, and a Ph.D. in biology summa cum laude, with a major in genetics and molecular neurobiology, both from Heidelberg University.
About Tetrahydrobiopterin and its Link to Chronic Pain and Inflammation
The de novo tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) synthesis pathway has been implicated in a range of chronic human pain and inflammatory conditions. Nerve injury or inflammation increases cellular levels of BH4, an important cofactor for several classes of enzymes, resulting in neuronal hypersensitivity and chronic immune cell activation. Multiple human genetic studies have linked a haplotype in the gene encoding GTP cyclohydrolase I, a BH4 synthetic enzyme, to a reduced risk of developing chronic pain after nerve injury or chronic disease. Pharmacological modulation of either GTP cyclohydrolase I or sepiapterin reductase, another enzyme in the BH4 synthesis pathway, safely restores BH4 to normal levels leading to an improvement of pain symptoms in preclinical models.
Quartet is using translational BH4-based biomarker tools, along with preclinical disease models, to select the ideal early clinical proof-of-concept indications for a modulator of the BH4 synthesis pathway. In addition, the company is enabling a translational biomarker strategy for clearly establishing human target engagement early in phase 1 clinical trials. This dual indication discovery and translational biomarker-based approach will help de-risk Quartet’s lead program as it advances through early clinical development.
About Quartet Medicine
Quartet Medicine is a private biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing novel treatments for chronic pain and inflammation. Human genetics and preclinical target validation data point to increased tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) as a critical mediator of peripheral nerve dysfunction and immune cell regulation. Quartet is capitalizing on these insights by safely restoring BH4 homeostasis in neuronal and inflammatory cells. Quartet was founded by scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland in conjunction with Atlas Venture. Quartet’s Series A investors include Atlas Venture, Novartis Venture Funds, Partners Innovation Fund, Pfizer Venture Investments, Remeditex Ventures, and two undisclosed Shanghai-based strategic investors. The company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has research efforts underway with collaborators around the world. For more information, visit www.quartetmedicine.com.