CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aura Biosciences, a biotechnology company developing a new class of therapies to target and selectively destroy cancer cells using viral nanoparticle conjugates, today announced that Cadmus Rich, M.D., has joined the company’s leadership team as Chief Medical Officer. In this role, he will oversee all clinical research and development activities.
“We welcome Cadmus to our team during a pivotal time at Aura,” said Elisabet de los Pinos, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Aura. “As Chief Medical Officer, Cadmus will play an instrumental role as we continue to advance our Phase 1b/2 clinical trial of light-activated AU-011, following release of positive interim safety data last month. We look forward to drawing on his extensive expertise leading product development and commercialization initiatives in ophthalmology.”
Dr. Rich joins the company from Inotek Pharmaceuticals, where he was Vice President, Medical Affairs and Clinical Development, responsible for development of therapies to treat glaucoma and other serious eye diseases. Prior to Inotek, Dr. Rich held key leadership roles at Alcon, most recently as a Therapeutic Unit Head leading the intraocular lenses team and prior to this, as Global Head of Pharmaceutical Clinical Trial Management. At Alcon, he managed many development programs and clinical trials; therapeutic and device submissions; and approvals for six drugs and five devices in a number of international markets. Before that, he established a new center of excellence in ophthalmology at Quintiles Transnational (now IQVIA), the world’s largest contract research organization.
Dr. Rich earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Case Western Reserve University; a Doctor of Medicine from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, Chapel Hill; and a Master of Business Administration from Regis University. He completed his ophthalmology residency at the UNC Department of Ophthalmology, Chapel Hill and additionally, is a Certified Physician Executive. He serves on the national board of directors of Prevent Blindness, a volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.
“I’m pleased to help lead the important work that Aura is advancing in ocular melanoma, which has no FDA-approved, targeted therapies,” said Dr. Rich. “In partnership with our global network of ocular oncology experts, we are striving to provide a novel option for early treatment intervention of this rare disease.”
Aura also announced today that Alison Lawton has resigned from her role as Chief Operating Officer to pursue other opportunities. She will remain an advisor to Aura.
About ocular melanoma
Ocular melanoma, also known as uveal or choroidal melanoma, is a rare and aggressive eye cancer. Ocular melanoma is the most common primary ocular tumor and develops in the uveal tract of the eye. No targeted therapies are available at present, and current radiotherapy treatments can be associated with severe visual loss and other long-term sequelae such as dry eye, glaucoma, cataracts and radiation retinopathy. The most common current treatment is plaque radiotherapy, which involves surgical placement of a radiation device against the exterior of the eye over the tumor. This technique can control the melanoma but can also lead to radiation-related cataract, retinopathy, optic nerve damage and loss of vision. The alternative is enucleation, or removal of the eye. Ocular melanoma metastasizes to the liver in about 40 percent of cases in the long-term (source: OMF), and only 10 to 15 percent of patients whose melanoma has metastasized survive beyond five years after diagnosis (source: ACS).
About light-activated AU-011
AU-011 is a first-in-class targeted therapy in development for the primary treatment of ocular melanoma. The therapy consists of viral nanoparticle conjugates that bind selectively to unique receptors on cancer cells in the eye and is derived from technology originally pioneered by Dr. John Schiller of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), recipient of the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Award. Upon activation with an ophthalmic laser, the drug rapidly and specifically destroys the membranes of tumor cells while sparing key eye structures, which may allow for the potential of preserving patients’ vision and reducing other long term complications of treatment. This therapy can be delivered in the ophthalmologist’s office and does not require a surgical procedure, enabling a less invasive, more convenient therapy for patients and physicians. AU-011 for ocular melanoma has been granted orphan drug and fast track designations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is currently in clinical development.
About Aura Biosciences
Aura Biosciences is developing a new class of therapies to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. Its lead program, AU-011 in ocular melanoma, is being developed under a CRADA with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit www.aurabiosciences.com.