Mahkam Zanganeh, Robert Duggan and Manmeet Soni from Pharmacyclics and Chaim Hurvitz, former president of Teva International Group, join the board
Their expertise will help develop GNS561 for 2017 phase 1b/2a in liver cancer
Marseille, February 24, 2016 – Genoscience Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering and developing cancer treatment drugs, today announces the arrival of four new members to its board of directors. Dr Mahkam Zanganeh, Robert Duggan and Manmeet Soni, respectively the former chief operating officer, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of Pharmacyclics, are joining the board along with Chaim Hurvitz, who has worked in many management roles for Teva International Group. The new members will support the strategic and financial development of Genoscience, alongside existing board members – Antoine Béret, Jean-Marc Feryn, Vincent Fert and Chalom Sayada. Their arrival is accompanied by an increase in capital, the terms of which have not been disclosed.
The four new members are all recognized biotechnology entrepreneurs. While at Pharmacyclics Pharmaceuticals, in less than seven years, Mahkam Zanganeh and Robert Duggan developed and brought to the market Imbruvica, a first-in-class compound treating patients with Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (WM). In May 2015, Abbvie acquired Pharmacyclics for $21Bn (€18.9Bn), one of the biggest buyouts for a biotechnology company to date.
Genoscience Pharma's most advanced compound, GNS561, is in preclinical development for the treatment of liver cancer. It is a small active molecule that works against a new target. It is unique as it targets not only hepatic cancerous cells, but also the progenitors of the cancerous hepatocyte stem cells. GNS561 begins its regulatory process with the aim of starting the first-in-man phase 1b/2a trials in 2017. Preclinical studies have demonstrated GN561’s potential to become a major therapeutic breakthrough in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.
"I am delighted to welcome this high caliber team to our board of directors. Robert Duggan and Mahkam Zanganeh's experience in the development of anti-tumor molecules will be a credit to our company," said Prof. Philippe Halfon, president and founder of Genoscience Pharma. "It is an honor and a true mark of recognition to be joined by such a team, who participate very selectively in high potential projects. Their scientific expertise in pharmaceutical development will undoubtedly help us achieve our objectives and get to phase 2 quickly."
"The next challenge in oncology is to cure cancer patients by targeting the seed of the disease; cancer stem cells which cause cancer to recur," said Dr. Mahkam Zanganeh. "The strategy proposed by Genoscience Pharma is unique and will allow us to make a decisive step forward in curing cancer."
About cancer stem cells
Since 2012, Genoscience has been involved in an ambitious program to discover and develop compounds that target cancer stem cells. These stem cells, which are ultra-resistant to traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, form a minority subpopulation of the cells in a tumor and are responsible for tumor growth and metastases. They renew themselves indefinitely, differentiating themselves to form and maintain the tumor tissue. These cells do not respond to conventional chemotherapy that targets the majority of differentiated tumor cells. This explains the indefinite development of tumors as well as metastases and relapses. Consequently, eradicating cancer stem cells is essential in order to achieve lasting clinical remission and to improve the prognosis of cancer patients.
Genoscience is one of the pioneers in this emerging domain of cancer biology, which aims to revolutionize the traditional approach to treating cancer. Genoscience's main candidate, GNS561, is also under evaluation for treating other cancers (kidney and colorectal), which could respond to its first-in-class action mechanism.
About liver cancer
Liver cancer (or HCC - hepatocellular carcinoma) is the third most common cause of death by cancer in the world. The medical needs for treating it are considerable and not yet resolved. The only existing chemotherapy treatment for HCC is sorafenib, which slightly increases survival rates, but has many adverse effects.
About Genoscience Pharma
Genoscience Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of cancer treatment drugs. After developing and licensing two compounds to combat hepatitis C, Genoscience Pharma is now focusing on developing a new family of compounds targeting cancer stem cells, to offer an alternative to existing cancer treatments. Genoscience Pharma uses an original action method based on proprietary molecules and on the scientific expertise of its management team (managers, drug developers and international venture capitalists who are experienced in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry). Founded by Dr. Philippe Halfon in 2001 and based in Marseille, France, the company has ten employees.
About the new members of Genoscience board of directors
Robert Duggan is the founder and principal of a venture capital and securities investment firm, Robert W. Duggan & Associates. He has served as an adviser, investor and director of numerous small and large businesses with an emphasis on computer technologies, medical products, consumer retail goods and outdoor media communication. Three of his venture capital companies have become publicly traded securities on either the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ. Two additional ventures have been sold to Fortune 500 companies.
His most recent position was chief executive officer at Pharmacyclics Inc., from 2009 until 2015. Mr. Duggan also served as chief executive officer of Computer Motion, Inc. from 1997-2003.Duggan studied economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and business management at UCLA. In 2015, Mr Duggan was recognized as one of the top 20 most influential executives in the biopharmaceutical field. In 2002, he received the 'Legion d'honneur' from the French President.
Chaim Hurvitz established CH-health, a private venture capital firm. He currently serves as the CEO, a position he has held since May 2011. Mr. Hurvitz was a member of Teva’s board of directors from 2010 to July 2014. He has been the chairman of Galmed Pharmaceuticals’ board of directors since 2011 and a member in UroGen Pharma Ltd.
Previously, he was a member of the senior management team of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., serving as the president of Teva International Group from 2002 until 2010, as president and CEO of Teva Pharmaceuticals Europe from 1992 to 1999 and as vice president — Israeli pharmaceutical sales from 1999 until 2002.
He is a member of the presidency board of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, , chairing its pharmaceutical branch. Mr. Hurvitz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and economics from Tel Aviv University, which was awarded in 1985.
Manmeet Soni is the former Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer at Pharmacyclics, Inc. where he worked from 2012 to 2015 in various roles in finance, accounting, business development, human resources and commercial operations. He played a vital role in Pharmacyclics' $21 billion (€18.9Bn) acquisition by Abbvie. Previously, he worked at ZELTIQ Aesthetics Inc. where he served as controller, senior director of finance responsible for accounting, SEC and treasury functions. Prior to ZELTIQ, he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the Life Science and Venture Capital Group providing audit and advisory services to various public and privately held companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. He graduated from Hansraj College at Delhi University in India. He is a certified public accountant, licensed in the state of California and a chartered accountant from India.
Dr. Mahkam Zanganeh, D.D.S., MBA., was the chief operating officer of Pharmacyclics, Inc. from 2012 to 2015. She also served as the company’s chief of staff and chief business officer from August 2008 to July 2012. Prior to joining Pharmacyclics, from 2007 to 2008, Dr. Zanganeh served as president director general for the French government initiative bio-cluster project, establishing regional alliances and developing small life science businesses. From 2003 to 2008 Dr. Zanganeh also served as vice president of business development for Robert W. Duggan & Associates. Between 1998 and 2002 she worked for Computer Motion Inc., the world initiator of medical robotics, as the president director general for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and, from 2002 to 2003, as worldwide vice president of training and education. Dr. Zanganeh received a DDS degree from Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, France and an MBA from Schiller International University in France. In 2013, she was recognized as among the top 10 biotech executive women of the year and was nominated as the entrepreneur of the year in Northern California by EY.
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