HANGZHOU, China--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Qihan Biotech, a leader in applying genome editing technology to cell therapies and organ transplantation, today announced the expansion of its Scientific Advisory Board to include a total of 12 world-renowned experts in synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, transplantation immunology and cell therapy, as well as the formation of several Scientific Advisory Committees.
Qihan was founded in 2018 to develop novel cell and organ therapies using multiplexable genome editing and expertise in transplantation immunology. Co-founder Luhan Yang, Ph.D., a co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology, currently serves as Qihan’s Chief Executive Officer. Co-founder George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), currently serves as the Co-Chairman of Qihan’s Scientific Advisory Board. The company raised two rounds of financing to advance its cell therapy programs into preclinical research.
“As Qihan leverages its gene editing and transplantation immunology expertise to create enhanced allogeneic cell therapies, we saw the need to expand our Scientific Advisory Board and add experts in cell therapy, transplantation and the regulatory and commercial considerations of genome-edited treatments,” said Luhan Yang, Ph.D., CEO of Qihan Biotech. “We welcome these distinguished scientists and clinicians to our Scientific Advisory Board and look forward to integrating their knowledge and guidance.”
George Church, Co-founder of Qihan Biotech and Co-Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board, said, “We’re looking forward to leveraging the deep scientific expertise and insights this elite group brings to bear on the design and development of both immune-privileged, human stem cell-derived allogeneic cell therapies and xenogeneic organ products.”
The selected members and committees of Qihan Biotech’s Scientific Advisory Board are as follows:
Scientific Advisory Board Co-Chairs
George Church, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, a founding member of the Wyss Institute, and Director of PersonalGenomes.org, the world’s only open-access information on human genomic, environmental and trait data. Church is known for pioneering the fields of personal genomics and synthetic biology. He developed the first methods for the first genome sequence and has facilitated dramatic cost reductions since then, contributing to nearly all “next generation sequencing” methods and companies. His team invented CRISPR for human stem cell genome editing and other synthetic biology technologies and applications – including new ways to create organs for transplantation, gene therapies for aging reversal, and gene drives to eliminate Lyme disease and malaria. He is Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN Projects, as well as the NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science. He has co-authored more than 515 papers and 130 patent publications, and one book, “Regenesis.” His honors include the Franklin Bower Laureate for Achievement in Science, nomination to the TIME 100 and election to the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.
James F. Markmann, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery and Director of Clinical Operations at the Transplant Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Claude Welch Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He specializes in liver, kidney, pancreas and islet transplantation. He has published more than 300 scientific papers over the last 30 years, has held continuous NIH R01 funding for >20 years and is currently President of the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association. His current research interests include: 1) understanding the mechanism of action and therapeutic potential of regulatory B cells, 2) exploring the potential of ex vivo liver perfusion to improve marginal organ function, and 3) translational studies in xenotransplantation with the goal of clinical application.
Scientific Advisory Board Members, Committee on Cell Therapies
Dan Kaufman (Chair of Cell Therapy Committee), M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Division of Regenerative Medicine and Director of Cell Therapy at University of California San Diego (UCSD). His research focuses on use of human pluripotent stem cells to study basic mechanisms that regulate early human blood cell development and to derive therapeutic mature blood cell populations. The aim is to use human pluripotent stem cells as a resource to produce blood and immune cells for new clinical applications for treatment of relapsed/refractory cancers – both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.
Hiromitsu Nakauchi, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Genetics and the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine. His research focuses on translation of discoveries in stem cell biology, immunology, molecular biology and developmental engineering to create effective stem cell therapies. He earned his medical degree from Yokohama City University School of Medicine and a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine.
Scientific Advisory Board Members, Committee on Transplantation Immunology
Qizhi Tang, Ph.D., Professor of Surgery in Division of Transplant Surgery and Director of the Transplantation Research Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The major research focus in the Tang Lab is on regulatory T cell therapy for autoimmune diseases and transplantation. Since 2011, she has also been co-directing the regulatory T cell therapy program at UCSF, which has supported 10 early-phase clinical trials in type 1 diabetes, pemphigus, islet transplantation, kidney transplantation and liver transplantation. Another area of research in the Tang Lab is on optimizing islet transplantation to enable highly efficient immunosuppression-free replacement of pancreatic beta cells for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Dr. Tang received her Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She completed postdoctoral fellowships investigating mechanisms of immune tolerance at the University of Chicago and UCSF.
Philip O'Connell, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of the Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), Director of the Centre for Transplant and Renal Research at WIMR and formerly Director of Transplant Medicine and the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at Westmead Hospital. Internationally acknowledged as a pioneer in the fields of islet and kidney transplantation, Professor O’Connell has been instrumental in developing an effective procedure to transplant pancreatic islets into patients living with type 1 diabetes.
Jonathan Maltzman, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and Director of Basic Research, Nephrology. Dr. Maltzman is a transplant nephrologist and T cell immunologist. He is a previous recipient of the AST/ASN John Merrill Transplant Scholarship grant. In 2012, Dr. Maltzman was elected into the American Society of Clinical Investigation and was the recipient of the American Society of Transplantation (AST) Basic Science Career Development Award. He is highly accomplished in the field of transplantation immunity.
Scientific Advisory Board Members, Committee on Clinical Transplantation
Robert A. Montgomery, M.D., DPhil, FACS, Chairman and Professor of Surgery and the Director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute. For over a decade he served as the Chief of Transplant Surgery and the Director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Montgomery was part of the team that developed the laparoscopic procedure for live kidney donation, a procedure that has become the standard throughout the world. He is credited in the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records with the most kidney transplants performed in one day and is considered a world expert on kidney transplantation for highly sensitized and ABO incompatible patients. Dr. Montgomery has had clinical and basic science research supported by the NIH throughout his career. His academic interests include HLA sensitization, tolerance protocols including simultaneous solid organ and bone marrow transplantation, and xenotransplantation. He received his M.D. with Honors from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and his DPhil in molecular immunology from Balliol College, The University of Oxford, England.
Camillo Ricordi, M.D., Stacy Joy Goodman Professor of Surgery, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Microbiology and Immunology, Professor and Director of the Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center at the University of Miami, Florida. Dr. Ricordi has developed the method for large scale production of human pancreatic islets and led the team that performed the first series of successful clinical islet allotransplant to reverse diabetes. Besides human cell processing and transplantation, Dr. Ricordi’s research efforts are focused on cellular therapies, stem cell and regenerative medicine strategies to cure or prevent diabetes and autoimmune diseases and to prolong healthy lifespan. Dr. Ricordi has authored over 1,150 scientific publications, with over 45,700 citations (H-index: 99) and has been awarded 27 patents for his inventions.
Scientific Advisory Board Members, Committee on Regulatory and Development
Zengjun Xu, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. Zengjun Xu has worked in the Center of Drug Evaluation (CDE), Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), as a Chief Scientist for the past three years. Prior to this appointment, he had worked as a senior drug reviewer and evaluated applications of drug and biologic products for various therapeutic areas in the Office of New Drugs (OND) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (U.S. FDA/CDER) since 2006. With more than 20 years in this field, Dr. Xu is a well-known expert in drug regulation and development.
Xin Du, Ph.D., former CMC review expert of the FDA, CEO of Shenzhen Evergreen Therapeutics Co., Ltd., and Secretary General of Tongxieyi Regulation Club. He is known as the "cross-border regulatory expert between FDA and industry." Dr. Xin Du has extensive experience in biopharmaceuticals and small molecule products. During his studies in the United States, he completed the transition from agronomy to the field of medicine, and he has a unique combination of FDA and industry experience in drug registration and supervision.
About Qihan Biotech
Qihan Biotech is a biotechnology company applying genome-editing technology to develop novel cell therapies and organs for transplantation. The company’s mission is to use high-throughput, multiplexable genome editing in combination with expertise in transplantation immunology to create immunologically privileged allogeneic cells and xenogeneic organs for use as therapies to treat cancer, organ failure and other important medical conditions. With a mission to create a world in which cell and organ therapies are universally available to patients, Qihan Biotech has raised two rounds of financing and is advancing its cell therapy programs into IND enabling investigations. Qihan Biotech is headquartered in Hangzhou, China. For more information, please visit www.qihanbio.com.