REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jasper Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on hematopoietic cell transplant therapies, today announced the appointment of Kevin N. Heller, M.D., as Executive Vice President, Research & Development. In this newly created role, Dr. Heller will lead the Company’s clinical and research functions and oversee clinical development, clinical strategy and operations, medical affairs and early research and development activities.
“As a physician-scientist with more than 20 years of experience in oncology research in academia and industry, Kevin will be an important addition to our growing executive team and will help us achieve our mission of developing more effective and safer therapies that will allow more patients to benefit from curative stem cell transplants and gene therapies,“ said Bill Lis, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Jasper Therapeutics. “With our lead investigational product, JSP191, in development for multiple indications, we look forward to Kevin’s contributions to growing our clinical function and helping us advance our pipeline.”
Dr. Heller’s biopharma industry experience spans all stages of oncology drug development from discovery (academia) and pre-IND through commercialization and business development. Before joining Jasper, Dr. Heller was Chief Medical Officer at NextCure, Inc. Prior to that, he was Vice President, Head of Antibody Clinical Development at Incyte, overseeing immunotherapy clinical development strategies for multiple antibody programs. He joined Incyte from AstraZeneca, where he was Senior Medical Director, overseeing global medicines development in oncology. Dr. Heller began working in the biopharma industry at Bristol Myers Squibb, where he held positions of increasing responsibility and leadership, most recently serving as Global Lead Oncology, Search, Evaluation and Diligence, where he was responsible for leading a team matrix across disciplines during due diligence and preparing recommendations for possible acquisitions. During his tenure at Bristol Myers Squibb, he led early development programs and was responsible for managing first-in-human clinical trials. Dr. Heller has been an Adjunct Professor at Yale University School of Medicine since October 2018.
“Having dedicated my entire career to developing new medicines for children and adults with cancer, I am excited to join Jasper and contribute my knowledge and experience at this important time in the company’s trajectory, as it continues to evaluate JSP191 in patients undergoing stem cell transplants and is developing new programs for gene therapy and stem cell transplants,” said Dr. Heller. “Jasper is one of the most exciting companies working in this space because of its uniquely targeted approach to improving conditioning agents. I’m eager to help the team bring JSP191 to patients so we can cure far more people with stem cell transplants and gene therapy.”
Dr. Heller earned a B.S. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University and an M.D. from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences before training in pediatrics and then pediatric hematology/oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Following his fellowship, Dr. Heller joined the faculty of the Rockefeller University as Instructor and subsequently Chief Clinical Scholar of Clinical Investigation in the laboratory of immunologist Dr. Ralph Steinman. During that time, he served as principal investigator on clinical trials.
JSP191 (formerly AMG 191) is a first-in-class humanized monoclonal antibody in clinical development as a conditioning agent that clears hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow. JSP191 binds to human CD117, a receptor for stem cell factor (SCF) that is expressed on the surface of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. The interaction of SCF and CD117 is required for stem cells to survive. JSP191 blocks SCF from binding to CD117 and disrupts critical survival signals, causing the stem cells to undergo cell death and creating an empty space in the bone marrow for donor or gene-corrected transplanted stem cells to engraft.
Preclinical studies have shown that JSP191 as a single agent safely depletes normal and diseased hematopoietic stem cells, including in an animal model of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). This creates the space needed for transplanted normal donor or gene-corrected hematopoietic stem cells to successfully engraft in the host bone marrow. To date, JSP191 has been evaluated in more than 80 healthy volunteers and patients. It is currently being evaluated as a sole conditioning agent in a Phase 1/2 dose-escalation and expansion trial to achieve donor stem cell engraftment in patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplant for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which is curable only by this type of treatment. JSP191 is also being evaluated in a Phase 1 study in patients with MDS or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are receiving hematopoietic cell transplant. For more information about the design of these clinical trials, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02963064 and NCT04429191). IND-enabling studies are planned to advance JSP191 as a conditioning agent for patients with other rare and ultra-rare monogenic disorders and autoimmune diseases.
About Jasper Therapeutics
Jasper Therapeutics is a biotechnology company focused on hematopoietic cell transplant therapies. The company’s lead compound, JSP191, is in clinical development as a conditioning antibody that clears hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow in patients undergoing a hematopoietic cell transplant. This first-in-class conditioning antibody is designed to enable safer and more effective curative hematopoietic cell transplants and gene therapies. For more information, please visit us at https://jaspertherapeutics.com.