BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OcuTerra Therapeutics, Inc. (“OcuTerra”), a clinical stage ophthalmology drug development company focused on treating diabetic retinopathy earlier to preserve vision and avoid intravitreal injections, today announced the appointment of Brent Saunders, Robert Ruffolo, Ph.D., and Robin Steele to its Board of Directors. Brent Saunders will serve as Chairman and William H. Koster, Ph.D, will remain on the Board as Vice Chair.
“The appointment of Brent as our Chairman and the addition of Bob and Robin to our Board underscores the momentum and growth of OcuTerra. A recognized biotech visionary and innovator, Brent has been instrumental in leading some of the most well-known companies to success,” said Kerrie Brady, Chief Executive Officer of OcuTerra. “In addition, we believe that’s Bob’s deep experience leading drug research and development which includes multiple new drug approvals coupled with Robin’s proven legal and financial acumen will be invaluable in helping us realize the full potential of OTT166 eye drops and reach our goal to be the first to provide diabetic retinopathy patients with moderate to severe disease a therapeutic alternative to active surveillance which is the current standard of care.”
“OcuTerra’s OTT166 is a highly differentiated product addressing one of the most pressing needs in retinal diseases – the lack of non-invasive therapies that enable earlier treatment,” said Brent Saunders. “I look forward to working closely with the OcuTerra team on advancing OTT166 as a potential novel and non-invasive treatment for diabetic retinopathy, which is becoming an increasingly common retinal disease with the global epidemic of diabetes.”
Mr. Saunders has over 25 years of experience in leadership roles at several prominent global pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. He currently serves as CEO, President and Chairman of Vesper Healthcare Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition corporation. Previously, he served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Allergan until its acquisition by AbbVie in May 2020. Prior to this, Mr. Saunders served as Chief Executive Officer of Forest Laboratories Inc., a role he held until the company’s merger with Actavis in 2014. Following the merger with Actavis, Mr. Saunders was named Chief Executive Officer of the combined business and in 2015, he led Actavis’ acquisition by Allergan. From March 2010 until August 2013, Mr. Saunders served as Chief Executive Officer of Bausch + Lomb Incorporated (NYSE: BHC), a leading global eye health company, until its acquisition by Valeant in 2013. Mr. Saunders holds a B.A. degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a J.D. degree from the Temple University School of Law, and an MBA from the Temple University School of Business.
Dr. Ruffolo currently serves as a director on a number of clinical stage biotech companies. He is also the President of Ruffolo Consulting LLC, a pharmaceutical consulting company that he established in 2008. Previously, Dr. Ruffolo served as the President of Research & Development and corporate Senior Vice President of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Pfizer in 2009) from 2000 to 2008. Prior to joining Wyeth, Dr. Ruffolo was a Senior Vice President in Research & Development at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals (now GlaxoSmithKline) for 17 years. Before joining SmithKline Beecham, Dr. Ruffolo spent 6 years at Lilly Research Laboratories where he was Chairman of the Cardiovascular Research Committee. During his long career in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Ruffolo oversaw the discovery and development of multiple marketed products. Dr. Ruffolo holds a B.S. degree in Pharmacy, and a Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology, both from The Ohio State University.
Ms. Steele has extensive experience in conventional debt and equity financings, as well as other financing related transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, product in/out-licenses and divestitures, collaborative agreements, and spin-offs. Ms. Steele previously served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of InterMune, Inc., a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, until 2014. Prior to her tenure with InterMune, Ms. Steele served as Vice President of Legal Affairs for North America for Elan Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded pharmaceutical company. Ms. Steele received an LL.M in Taxation from New York University School of Law and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
OTT166 is a novel small molecule selective integrin inhibitor that OcuTerra has purpose engineered to have the required physicochemical characteristics to be able to reach the retina from eye drop application. It is designed to be administered by the patient at home and thus has the potential to dramatically change the treatment paradigm, by enabling earlier non-invasive treatment to preserve vision and prevent progression, thereby delaying or completely eliminating the need for intravitreal injections.
About OcuTerra Therapeutics
OcuTerra Therapeutics, Inc., formerly known as SciFluor Life Sciences, Inc., is an ophthalmology drug development company, based in Boston, MA, focused on treating eye diseases with innovative new products. The Company is advancing OTT166 into mid-stage clinical development for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, a chronic, progressive disease affecting the back of the eye that affects about 30% of diabetics and is becoming increasingly prevalent with the global epidemic of diabetes.