Plexxikon Announces Program Update and Management Changes
Company Files Investigational New Drug Application for PLX7486, Oral Inhibitor
Designed to Treat Certain Cancers
BERKELEY, Calif. -- May 31, 2013
Plexxikon Inc., a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group, has announced the
promotions of Gideon Bollag, Ph.D., to chief executive officer, Paul Lin,
M.D., M.B.A., to chief operating officer, Prabha Ibrahim, Ph.D., to senior
vice president of chemistry and nonclinical development, Chao Zhang, Ph.D., to
vice president of research and Joseph Young, M.B.A., to treasurer and senior
director of finance and corporate development. These management changes follow
the retirement from Plexxikon of K. Peter Hirth, Ph.D., Plexxikon’s former
chief executive officer, and Kathleen Sereda Glaub, M.B.A., former president.
Separately, Plexxikon announced that it has filed an investigational new drug
(IND) application for PLX7486, a selective, oral inhibitor that is designed to
inhibit proteins believed to promote certain cancers, particularly those
involving perineural invasion.
Dr. Hirth co-founded Plexxikon in 2000 and launched operations in May 2001
following the company’s initial venture funding; Ms. Glaub joined in 2001.
Together, they led the transformation of Plexxikon from an early-stage,
scaffold-based platform discovery organization to a profitable,
commercial-stage company with a diverse portfolio of clinical and pre-clinical
drug candidates in several therapeutic areas. Their leadership ultimately
paved the way for FDA approval of the company’s first product, Zelboraf^®, in
2011, as well as Daiichi Sankyo’s acquisition of the company in April 2011.
“Peter and Kathy were instrumental in building a culture of scientific rigor,
operational excellence and management transparency at Plexxikon that I intend
to continue under my leadership,” said Dr. Bollag, who joined Plexxikon in
June 2002. “The Plexxikon team will remain focused on strong science,
discovery and development initiatives in oncology and other therapeutic
indications that ensure optimal value creation, and help further expand our
deep pipeline and clinical portfolio.”
Dr. Bollag, most recently senior vice president of research, has more than 23
years of biotechnology drug discovery experience. He was instrumental in the
discovery and development of Zelboraf^®, a drug co-developed with Roche and
now approved in the U.S. and many other countries. Prior to Plexxikon, Dr.
Bollag held positions of increasing responsibility at Onyx Pharmaceuticals,
initially as one of the founding scientists and eventually senior director of
small molecule therapeutics. Dr. Bollag earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from
the University of California, Berkeley.
Plexxikon will continue to operate with a high degree of independence as a
member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group.
Investigational New Drug (IND) Application for PLX7486 Underscores Platform
Plexxikon recently filed its ninth investigational new drug (IND) application
for PLX7486, a selective, oral investigational agent designed to inhibit
proteins believed to promote certain cancers, particularly those involving
perineural invasion. Tumor cells invade the nerve sheath flanking some
cancers, providing an alternative route for metastatic spread and resulting in
pain. Perineural invasion is thought to be an indicator of aggressive tumor
behavior and has been shown to correlate with poor prognosis. Such invasive
cancers also make treatment or surgery much more difficult. Perineural
invasion is a prominent characteristic of most pancreatic cancers, and
multiple other tumor types. In preclinical models of both cancer and pain,
PLX7486 has been shown to have activity in inhibiting tumor growth and
“PLX7486 is Plexxikon’s ninth novel compound heading into the clinic,
demonstrating the strength of our platform and expertise of our team,” said
Dr. Bollag. “We are pursuing this drug candidate for a particularly
challenging unmet need in cancer treatment—perineural invasion. Our discovery
and development engine has enabled us to design a selective compound that may
have the potential to be a personalized medicine for those cancer patients
whose tumors infiltrate the nerves.”
A Phase 1 clinical trial is expected to start in the latter half of 2013.
Plexxikon is a leader in the structure-guided discovery and development of
novel small molecule pharmaceuticals to treat human disease. The company’s
lead drug Zelboraf^®, (vemurafenib/PLX4032) was approved by the FDA in 2011,
and is being co-promoted in the U.S. by Daiichi Sankyo Inc. and Genentech. The
company is developing a portfolio of clinical and preclinical stage compounds
to address significant unmet medical needs in oncology, as well as in several
other therapeutic indications. Plexxikon’s Scaffold-Based Drug Discovery^TM
platform integrates multiple state-of-the-art technologies, including
structural screening as a key component that provides a significant
competitive advantage over other drug discovery approaches. Plexxikon has been
a member of Daiichi Sankyo Group since April 2011.
Paul Lin, MD, MBA, +1 510-647-4063
Susan Kinkead, +1 415-751-3611
Jennifer Cook Williams, +1 360-668-3701
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