NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Quentis Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company pursuing first-in-class endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response-targeted therapies to address serious diseases such as cancer, announced today the appointment of Jeanne Magram, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer. New York City-based Quentis launched in February 2017 with the completion of a $48 million Series A financing which was co-led by founding investor Versant Ventures and Polaris Partners and the affiliated LS Polaris Innovation Fund. The company is utilizing the proceeds to advance its lead immuno-oncology program, a small molecule IRE1α inhibitor, into the clinic in 2019, develop a pipeline of preclinical programs, and expand its team with key hires, such as industry veteran Magram.
“Jeanne is a welcome addition to Quentis given her experience and accomplishments across multiple therapeutic areas and modalities,” said Michael Aberman, M.D., president and CEO of Quentis Therapeutics. “This hire is an important step toward building a world-class team devoted to better understanding the role of the ER stress response in various diseases in order to discover and develop new medicines to help patients in need. This is also a homecoming for Jeanne as she rejoins the growing New York biotech ecosystem.”
Dr. Magram brings over 20 years of drug discovery and development experience to Quentis. Prior to joining Quentis, Dr. Magram was the founding Chief Scientific Officer of Northern Biologics, a Toronto Canada based biotechnology company. Prior to Northern Biologics, she served as the Site Head for Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), New York, a model partnership between Pfizer and academic medical centers designed to accelerate the translation of innovative discoveries into differentiated new medicines to treat diseases of pressing unmet medical need. Previously, Dr. Magram was Vice President, Immunology & Inflammation Research at Boehringer Ingelheim, overseeing a department committed to drug discovery to address unmet medical needs in autoimmune disease. In this role, she delivered several candidates into clinical testing. Prior to Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr. Magram was an Associate Director of G Protein-Coupled Receptor (GPCR) Drug Discovery at OSI Pharmaceuticals after OSI’s acquisition of Cadus Pharmaceuticals’ Drug Discovery programs. She also previously spent over five years at Hoffmann-La Roche focused on using model systems to understand the pathophysiology of disease and to identify new therapies.
Dr. Magram completed her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate J. Michael Bishop, M.D. at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and obtained her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Franklin Costantini, Ph.D. in the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
“I am excited to join Michael and the Quentis team, particularly at this time of growth and scale-up for the company,” said Dr. Magram. “With its focus on ER stress response-related drug discovery and development, Quentis is pioneering truly cutting-edge science and biology. I was attracted by the opportunity to join Quentis at this still-early stage of the company and build on its strong scientific foundation while guiding its future scientific direction as we explore applications in immuno-oncology and beyond.”
About the Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Response and Quentis’ Lead Program
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a structure within cells responsible for multiple functions, including serving as a sensor of cellular stress. Many diseases, including cancer, can cause persistent ER stress, triggering aberrant responses that disrupt normal cellular functions.
Quentis’ lead program is an inhibitor of IRE1α, a central enzyme in the ER stress response signaling pathway that activates the normally dormant XBP1 protein. Persistent IRE1α-XBP1 signaling in innate immune cells in the tumor microenvironment has been shown to disrupt the immune system’s ability to fight cancer in several ways:
- Disabling dendritic cells’ ability to activate cancer-fighting T cells through inhibition of antigen presentation
- Driving formation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which suppress T cell function
- Causing macrophages (a type of white blood cell) to promote tumor cell metastases
- Increasing regulatory T cells that suppress the immune system
With anti-cancer immunity blocked, cancer can more easily grow and spread throughout the body.
Quentis has developed potent and selective small molecule inhibitors of IRE1α that suppress XBP1 activity in the tumor microenvironment and awaken the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.
About Quentis Therapeutics
Quentis Therapeutics is a preclinical stage biotechnology company that is pursuing first-in-class endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response-targeted therapies to address serious diseases such as cancer. Based on our deep expertise in ER stress biology and the tumor microenvironment, we are pioneering the use of ER stress response modulators to boost the immune system’s ability to fight cancer to help more cancer patients benefit from immunotherapy. Our lead program is a first-in-class, small molecule, IRE1α inhibitor. We are pursuing multiple additional ER stress pathway targets in the tumor micro-environment, as well as in other diseases where ER stress plays an important role. Privately held, Quentis is headquartered in New York City. To learn more, please visit www.quentistx.com and follow us on Twitter at @QuentisTx.