Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., is an immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer.
Tizona develops next-generation immunotherapies
The successful development of immunotherapies represents one of the most important and exciting breakthroughs in cancer. Recent approvals of checkpoint inhibitors provide evidence that the immune system is capable of recognizing cancerous cells and eradicating them. These checkpoint inhibitors can achieve complete, durable remissions and help patients live longer. Yet, despite this progress, existing immunotherapies are effective in a relatively small number of patients and types of cancer.
Tizona’s therapies are designed to modulate the activity of immunosuppressive cells by targeting the cell types and biological mechanisms responsible for immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment:
Immune suppressive cells, including regulatory T cells (Tregs), myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), and tolerogenic dendritic cells (DCs)
Inhibitory / suppressive cytokines and metabolic pathways
The ATP-adenosine pathway regulates immune activity in the tumor microenvironment (TME) by controlling the inflammatory and suppressive activities of immune cells. High concentrations of extracellular ATP increase inflammatory activities of dendritic and myeloid-derived cells responsible for innate immunity and immune cell priming necessary for adaptive immunity. Inversely, high concentrations of extracellular adenosine increase the suppressive activities of nearly all immune cells in the microenvironment, including T cells, dendritic cells, macrophages, myeloid-derived suppressor cells and natural killer cells.
CD39 – A Metabolic Immune Switch
CD39 is the enzyme responsible for the initial steps in conversion of extracellular ATP to adenosine in the TME. CD39 expression is found on both tumor cells and tumor infiltrating leukocytes as immune evasion strategies and in response to hypoxia. Large and hypoxic tumors frequently become immune suppressive due to the breakdown of excessive ATP released from dying tumor cells to immune suppressive adenosine by CD39. CD39 expression in the TME, therefore, acts as a switch: low ATP and high adenosine lead to immune suppression when CD39 activity is present and high extracellular ATP and low extracellular adenosine lead to immune activation when CD39 is inhibited.
Tizona Therapeutics is advancing an anti-CD39 antibody that inhibits the breakdown of ATP by CD39. The company is on track to file an Investigational New Drug application for the CD39 program in late 2018.
Tizona’s expert team of scientific advisors, board of directors and accomplished team position the company to become a leader in next generation immuno-oncology development.
Luke Evnin, Ph.D.
Dr. Luke Evnin is currently Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors for Tizona Therapeutics and Co-Founder and Managing...
Interim President and Vice President, Program Management & Operations
Christine O’Brien is Interim President and Vice President of Program Management and Operations for Tizona Therapeutics, where she is...
Courtney Beers, Ph.D.
Vice President, Immunology
Courtney is the Vice President of Cancer Immunotherapy for Tizona. She is leading discovery and development work on Tizona’s...
John Corbin, Ph.D.
Vice President, Antibody Development
John joined Tizona as Vice President of Antibody Development in 2016. In his role, he is responsible for antibody...
Svetlana Lucas, Ph.D.
Vice President, Business Development
Svetlana joined Tizona Therapeutics as Vice President of Business Development in July of 2015. In her role, she is...
Dr. Luke Evnin is currently Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors for Tizona Therapeutics and Co-Founder and Managing Director at MPM. He co-founded MPM with Ansbert Gadicke, M.D., in 1997 and opened the San Francisco office in 1999. The MPM team they have led has been the inspiration and driving force behind building companies such as BioMarin (BMRN), CoStim Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Novartis:NVS), Epizyme (EPZM), Idenix (acquired by Merck:MRK), Pacira (PCRX), Pharmasset (acquired by Gilead:GILD) and Radius (RDUS). MPM believes that these companies are among the biggest successes in biotech history – companies that ultimately resulted in helping thousands of patients live longer and with vastly improved lives. He was the lead investor and has served on the boards of several of MPM’s most successful investments including CoStim Pharmaceuticals, Idun Pharmaceuticals, and Pacira (PCRX).
Prior to co-founding MPM, he honed his skills as a venture capitalist beginning in 1990 at Accel Partners where he focused on emerging healthcare companies. His passion for drug discovery began in college where he received his A.B. in molecular biology from Princeton University. He advanced his technical training and launched his interest in curing disease with his doctoral study in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco. His passion for discovering and pushing forward groundbreaking drug discovery companies inspires his work and that of his team.
Luke has devoted significant efforts since 2000 to working with the Scleroderma Research Foundation, serving as Chairman since 2002. He also devotes energy to the External Advisory Board at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Quantitative Genomics at Princeton, serves on the External Advisory Boards for QB3 at UCSF, and the Boston University Scleroderma Center of Research Translation.
In recognition of MPM’s novel work to finance and build companies which may have a significant impact on cancer care and cures globally, Luke and Ansbert are recipients of the 2017 Global Oncology Visionary Award.
Interim President and Vice President, Program Management & Operations
Christine O’Brien is Interim President and Vice President of Program Management and Operations for Tizona Therapeutics, where she is responsible for ensuring the successful execution and advancement of Tizona’s product portfolio, including project planning, operations and budget oversight, and management of external resources, alliances and contracts.
Prior to joining Tizona in 2015, Christine held the dual roles of Senior Director of Strategic Operations and Chief of Staff to the President, and Product Team Leader for Kyprolis® at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, an Amgen subsidiary. In the strategic operations role, she was accountable for building and managing effective operations of the Onyx leadership team, product governance, and leading strategic initiatives to advance the subsidiary’s multiple myeloma portfolio. As Product Team Leader, she was responsible for leading the Global Product Team to deliver on all aspects of the Kyprolis global product strategy, including key regulatory filings, lifecycle management and new investments, data review and publications, and partnerships and external collaborations. Prior to joining Onyx, Christine was the Transition Program Manager at Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), leading the cross-functional transition teams and delivery of effective change and engagement strategy following Amgen’s acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX). From 2003-2013, Christine held positions of increasing responsibility at Amgen in pipeline and portfolio management and new product development, where she was accountable for large, complex cross-functional initiatives to improve Amgen’s drug development process and pipeline planning & execution. Christine began her career as an organizational and human performance consultant, holding positions at Scientific Commercialization, LLC and Accenture, LLP.
Christine has a Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations and Psychology from The Pennsylvania State University.
Courtney Beers, Ph.D.
Vice President, Immunology
Courtney is the Vice President of Cancer Immunotherapy for Tizona. She is leading discovery and development work on Tizona’s immuno-oncology and autoimmunity programs.
Most recently, Courtney was the Head of Cancer Immunotherapy at Oncothyreon, where she spearheaded several novel immune modulatory biologic programs. Prior to that, Courtney held roles of increasing responsibility at Amgen and Immunex in the Therapeutic Innovation Unit, as well as the Oncology Discovery Research. Her immuno-oncology research resulted in multiple discovery programs that are key pillars in Amgen’s current immunotherapy strategy and product pipeline. During her tenure at Amgen, Dr. Beers was the Global Research Lead for Imlygic® (talimogene laherparepvec), the first oncolytic viral immunotherapy to win FDA approval. She also led Amgen’s GITR agonist program from inception to phase 1 clinical trials.
Courtney earned her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Washington under Dr. Alexander Rudensky, the world leader in understanding the development and immune suppressive functions of regulatory T cells.
John Corbin, Ph.D.
Vice President, Antibody Development
John joined Tizona as Vice President of Antibody Development in 2016. In his role, he is responsible for antibody discovery and engineering.
Prior to joining Tizona, John was at Gilead Sciences, where he oversaw antibody discovery and engineering. In addition, John was a project team leader for several therapeutics antibody programs ranging from early stage through Investigational New Drug-enabling development. Previously, he held several positions of increasing responsibility at XOMA LLC. At XOMA, he was responsible for all aspects of biomolecular interaction analysis required for the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies. He also led XOMA’s insulin receptor antagonist program (XOMA 358) from inception through lead selection.
John received his Ph.D. in Biology from University of California at Santa Cruz and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. John has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has U.S. patent and U.S. applications relating to therapeutic antibodies.
Svetlana Lucas, Ph.D.
Vice President, Business Development
Svetlana joined Tizona Therapeutics as Vice President of Business Development in July of 2015. In her role, she is responsible for the company’s business development strategy and transactions.
Prior to Tizona, Svetlana was Executive Director, Head of Oncology & Inflammation External R&D at Amgen, where she oversaw business development activities, including Amgen’s strategic cancer immunotherapy research collaboration and licensing agreement with Kite Pharma, and collaborated with Amgen Ventures on several investments in oncology and inflammation. Svetlana joined Amgen following the acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. During her time at Onyx, she spearheaded the company’s oncology partnering strategy and was instrumental in search, evaluation and due diligence of new opportunities. Prior to Onyx, she held positions of increasing responsibility in strategy, business development and strategic marketing at Amgen, as well as several medium size biotech companies in the Bay Area. She began her career as a strategy consultant in the Life Sciences practice of McKinsey & Company.
Svetlana received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry from Caltech, where she worked with Ray Deshaies, founder of Proteolix and Cleave Biosciences, on the cell cycle regulation and ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in human cells.
Luke Evnin, Ph.D.
Tizona Chairman and Co-Founder and Managing Director of MPM Capital
Prior to co-founding MPM in 1997, Luke Evnin was employed by the venture capital firm Accel Partners. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California – San Francisco. He has devoted significant efforts since 2000 to working with the Scleroderma Research Foundation, serving as Chairman since 2002. Dr. Evnin also devotes energy to the External Advisory Board at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Quantitative Genomics at Princeton, the External Advisory Boards for QB3, the Mission Bay Capital Fund at UCSF, and the Boston University Scleroderma CORT.
Pablo Cagnoni joined Rubius Therapeutics as Chief Executive Officer in June 2018. Over the course of Pablo’s career as an oncologist and pharmaceutical executive, he has been committed to advancing the development of breakthrough treatments for people with cancer and other diseases. He has played a key role in the development, approval and commercialization of more than 20 life-changing treatments, including Afinitor®, Kyprolis® and Tarceva®.
Pablo most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Tizona Therapeutics. Prior to Tizona, he served as President of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, where he had global strategic oversight and accountability of the business from early product development to commercialization of the Onyx portfolio. At the time of his departure, Onyx was on track to deliver yearly revenues in excess of $1B and had more than 800 employees. Pablo joined Onyx in March 2013, as Executive Vice President, Global Research and Development and Technical Operations, and was named President in October 2013, when Onyx became an Amgen subsidiary. Previously, he was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Clinical Development at Novartis Oncology, where he was responsible for all clinical development, clinical operations, clinical pharmacology, and correlative sciences activities for the oncology development pipeline. From 2007 to 2009, Pablo was Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Allos Therapeutics (acquired by Spectrum Pharmaceuticals) and, prior to that, Chief Medical Officer of OSI Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Astellas).
Earlier in his career, he served as Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado Bone Marrow Transplant Program, where he cared for patients undergoing stem cell transplants. Pablo earned his medical degree from University Buenos Aires School of Medicine, and he completed his fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York and a fellowship in Stem Cell Transplantation at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. In addition to Tizona Therapeutics, Pablo serves on the board of directors of CRISPR Therapeutics and Tango Therapeutics. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Bay Area Discovery Museum.
Shelley Chu, M.D., Ph.D.
Partner at Abingworth
Shelley joined Abingworth in 2015 and invests across a broad range of therapeutic areas and stages of development, from start-ups to late-stage. She has over 15 years of operating and investment experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, including most recently Gilead where she led R&D Strategy and Business Development in Oncology, Immunotherapy and Hepatitis B. Previously Shelley invested and co-founded biotechnology companies at Frazier Healthcare Ventures. Earlier in her career she was an investment professional at Flagship Ventures and a management consultant to healthcare and biotech companies at McKinsey.
Shelley holds an MD and PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from UCSF, and received her BA in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. She is a first author of publications in Science and other prominent journals and a Co-Chair of the Princeton Alumni School Committee.
George Golumbeski, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President of Business Development, Celgene Corporation
Trained as a research scientist (PhD in Genetics), George has become an industry leader in pharmaceutical / biotechnology business development. In his nearly 25-year career in this sector, George has held senior positions in R&D and Business Development. He has worked on many medications that have reached the market and are benefiting patients worldwide. Furthermore, he is known globally within the Biotechnology industry for his interest in leading-edge science, and his constructiveness / creativity in forging inter-company collaborations. The impact of George’s work in fostering innovation among biotech companies was recognized in 2014, when Fierce Biotech named George one of the 20 most influential people in the Biotechnology industry.
George is currently Executive Vice President of Business Development for Celgene Corporation, where he and his team are responsible for the full array of worldwide business development activities (evaluation of opportunities, structuring & negotiating collaborations, M & A, and Alliance Management). During George’s tenure, Celgene has become a clear “Partner of Choice” within the Biotechnology industry (based on 2013 & 2015 data from Boston Consulting Group). Finally, George serves on Celgene’s Executive Committee, and he is recognized as one of the major innovators behind Celgene’s well-regarded collaboration strategy and tactics.
George earned a BA in Biology from the University of Virginia and a PhD in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. George currently serves on the Board of Directors of Enanta Pharmaceuticals (Watertown, MA), Acceleron Pharma (Cambridge, MA) and of the National Audubon Society.
Daniel J. Hicklin, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Potenza Therapeutics
Daniel Hicklin co-founded Potenza in 2014, and is the company’s President and CEO. He has served as a Managing Director at the life sciences venture capital investment firm MPM Capital since 2014 and is also a board member of Tizona Therapeutics and Harpoon Therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Hicklin served as President and Chief Scientific Officer of CoStim Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Novartis in 2014. From 2007 to 2013, he held several positions at Merck Research Laboratories and the former Schering-Plough Research Institute, most recently leading Biologics Strategy for Oncology and overseeing immuno-oncology discovery research at Merck Research Laboratories in Boston. Dr. Hicklin began his career at ImClone Systems where he held several positions of increasing responsibility from 1987 – 2007, most recently serving as Vice President of Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. Hicklin’s team at ImClone supported the development and FDA approval of the cancer treatment ERBITUX® (Cetuximab) and built a diversified portfolio of antibody therapeutics including Cyramza® (ramucirumab), necitumumab, and other cancer therapies that were acquired by Eli Lilly in 2008. Dr. Hicklin has co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on numerous issued and pending patents. Dr. Hicklin received his Master’s and PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from New York Medical College and earned his BS from the University of Iowa.
Nina Kjellson joined Cannan’s healthcare team from InterWest Partners where she has been investing in healthcare start-ups since 2002. She focuses primarily on investments in biopharmaceuticals and digital health. Nina is co-founder and co-chair of ConsumerMed.org, a forum to address the convergence of health care and consumer innovation and serves as a mentor to Blueprint Health, a digital health incubator and Springboard Life Sciences, an accelerator for healthcare companies driven by women entrepreneurs. Investment themes include innovative therapeutics for serious and underserved conditions, IT-enabled transformation of healthcare delivery and patient/consumer engagement.
Current investments include Cidara (CDTX), Eiger Biopharmaceuticals, Lycera, Ocera (OCRX), Paratek (PRTK), and WellTok.
Previous investments include Labrys Biologics (acquired by Teva), Alt12 (acquired by Honest Company), Trius Therapeutics (TSRX; acquired by Cubist), CNS Therapeutics (acquired by Covidien), NovaCardia (acquired by Merck), and Aspreva (ASPV; acquired by Galenica)
Prior to InterWest, Nina was an investment manager at Bay City Capital, a life sciences merchant bank, and a research associate at Oracle Partners, a health care-focused hedge fund. Nina began her career conducting health policy and survey research with the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Nina received a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University (1997).
She serves on the California Leadership Council for the Nature Conservancy and has been nominated to join the board of the California Family Health Council.
Ana Anderson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Associate Scientist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and core faculty member of the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases. Scientific Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
She obtained her B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology in 1993 from the University of Miami, where she graduated summa cum laude. She obtained her Ph.D. in Immunology from Harvard University in 1999. During her Ph.D. she was awarded a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Dr. Anderson works in the field of cancer immunology, specifically on the role of co-inhibitory receptors in regulation of the anti-tumor T cell response. Her laboratory identified the inhibitory molecule Tim-3 as a key regulator of T cell dysfunction in cancer. Prior to working in the field of cancer immunology, Dr. Anderson worked in the field of autoimmunity.
Dr. Anderson has published over 44 original papers, 12 reviews, and 5 book chapters. Her work on T cell cross-reactivity in autoimmunity was selected by Nature Immunology as a ‘Classic Paper in Autoimmunity’. She has also had several papers selected as either ‘must-read’ or ‘recommended’ by the Faculty of 1000.
Dr. Anderson is on the editorial board for OncoImmunology, Cellular Immunology, and Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. She served on the scientific advisory board for CoStim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by Novartis and currently serves on the scientific advisory boards for Potenza Therapeutics, Idera Pharmaceuticals, and Tizona Therapeutics.
Charles G. Drake, M.D., Ph.D.
Co-Director Prostate Cancer Multi-Disciplinary Clinic, Professor, Oncology, Immunology and Urology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Scientific Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
Dr. Drake has published extensively, has won numerous awards and honors for his research and scholarship, and holds several patents. He is a diplomate of Medical Oncology with the American Board of Medical Examiners and a member of the American Association of Immunology, the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. His areas of expertise include immunotherapy and the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the prostate, kidney, bladder and testes.
Dr. Drake graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering and M.S. in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ. He then received a Ph.D. in immunology from the National Jewish Center for Immunology, and in 1997 completed an M.D. at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He conducted an internal medicine residency on the Osler Service at Johns Hopkins, and in 2002 he completed a fellowship in medical oncology, also at Johns Hopkins. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty as an assistant professor in 2002.
Co-Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, Samuel L. Wasserstrom Professor, Department of Neurology, Associate Member, Broad Institute; Director, Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School. Scientific Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
Dr. Kuchroo currently holds a title of Professor of Neurology at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Immunologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. Dr. Kuchroo has published over 340 original papers and numerous review articles. Dr. Kuchroo’s major research interests are studying the autoimmune diseases, particularly the role of co-stimulation (Cell; 80: 707-18,1995), genetic basis of EAE and type 1 diabetes (Nature Genetics, 21: 158-161, 1999) and cell surface molecules and regulatory factors (Nature 2002. 415:536-41; Nature Immunol. 2003 4:1102-10. ) that contribute to susceptibility and resistance to autoimmune diseases. Dr. Kuchroo’s laboratory has made several transgenic mice that serve as animal models for human disease (Proceedings National Academy of Sciences USA, 97: 3412-3417, 2000; J Exp Med. 2003; 5;197:1073-81 ). Dr. Kuchroo is on the Editorial Boards of the journals: Journal of Experimental Medicine, International Immunology, Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, Cellular Immunology and an ad hoc reviewer for a number of Immunology related journals. He was a permanent member of the grants review board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, New York and scientific review board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York. Dr. Kuchroo is also an ad hoc reviewer for the research grants for various study sections at the National Institutes of Health. Based on his contributions, Dr. Kuchroo was awarded the Javits Neuroscience Award by the National Institutes of Health in 2002 and Ranbaxy Prize, 2011. Dr. Kuchroo is the first incumbent of the Samuel L. Wasserstrom Chair in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kuchroo is an inventor on 25 patents and has been a founder of five different start-up biotech companies. Dr. Kuchroo is on the scientific advisory boards of Pfizer, Glaxo Smith Klein and Novartis.
Dr. Vijay K. Kuchroo obtained a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the School of Veterinary Medicine, Hisar, India. He obtained a Ph.D. in Pathology from the department of veterinary pathology at the University of Queensland, Brisbane (Australia). Dr. Kuchroo received the Fred Z. Eager Research prize and medal for his Ph.D. research work at the University of Queensland. He served as Fogarty International Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda for a year before joining the Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School as a Research Fellow in the fall of 1986. Dr. Kuchroo joined the Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1992.
Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D.
Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine; Director of the Cancer Immunology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. Scientific Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
Dr. Pardoll attended Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his M.D., Ph.D., in 1982, and completed his medical residency and Oncology Fellowship in 1985. He then worked for three years at the National Institutes of Health as a Medical Staff Fellow. Dr. Pardoll joined the departments of oncology and medicine in 1988.
Dr. Pardoll has published over 300 papers as well as over 20 book chapters on the subject of T cell immunology and cancer vaccines. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Cell, and has served as a member of scientific advisory boards for the Cancer Research Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Human Gene Therapy Gene Institute, Biologic Resources Branch of the National Cancer Institute, Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Center, Cerus Corporation, Global Medical Products Corporation, Genencor Corporation, CellGenesys Corporation, Mojave Therapeutics, the American Association of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research.
Dr. Pardoll has made a number of basic advances in cellular immunology, including the discovery of gamma – delta T cells, NKT cells and interferon-producing killer dendritic cells. Over the past two decades, Dr. Pardoll has studied molecular aspects of dendritic cell biology and immune regulation, particularly related to mechanisms by which cancer cells evade elimination by the immune system.
He is an inventor of a number of immunotherapies, including GVAX cancer vaccines and Listeria monocytogenes based cancer vaccines. Dr. Pardoll’s basic immunology discoveries include the identification of gd-T cells, NKT cells and IKDC. He elucidated the role of Stat3 signaling in tumor immune evasion and in Th17 development, leading to the discovery that Stat3-driven Th17 responses promote carcinogenesis. Dr. Pardoll discovered one of the two ligands for the PD-1 inhibitory receptor and leads the Hopkins cancer immunology program that developed PD-1 pathway-targeted antibodies, demonstrating their clinical activity in multiple cancer types.
His more than 300 articles cover cancer vaccines, gene therapies, cancer prevention technologies, recombinant immune modulatory agents for specific pathways that regulate immunity to cancer and infectious diseases.
George Plitas, M.D.
Assistant Attending in the Department of Surgery at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. Scientific Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
Dr. Plitas holds the Jeanne A. Petrek Junior Faculty Chair and is a surgical oncologist specializing in the care of breast cancer patients, as well as pursuing translational tumor immunology research in the laboratory of Dr. Alexander Rudensky, Chair of the Sloan Kettering Institute’s Immunology Program. Dr. Plitas’ research focuses on the role of regulatory T cells in the development and progression of breast cancer.
He earned is M.D. degree from New York University in 2002, and completed a General Surgery residency in 2010. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Immunology and a Surgical Oncology Clinical fellowship at MSKCC.
Dario Vignali, Ph.D.
Vice Chair and Professor of Immunology, Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), Hillman Cancer Center. Scientific Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
Dr. Vignali’s labs focus on analysis of immune cell function in mouse model systems and disease models of cancer and autoimmune disease, and on inhibitory immune pathways in human cancers. Dr. Vignali’s research findings have been published in some of immunology’s leading journals, and he has been awarded five patents worldwide with several more awaiting approval. He also is a current member of the scientific advisory boards at two biopharmaceutical companies.
Since 1993, Dr. Vignali worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as vice-chair of its immunology department since 2008. He taught in the Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center since 1996.
He received his undergraduate education at North East London Polytechnic, now East London University, and completed his doctoral studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at the University of London. Dr. Vignali completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one at the Institute for Immunology and Genetics at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, and the second in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University.
Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D.
Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation, Chief, Melanoma & Immunotherapeutics Service, Associate Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, Associate Member, Ludwig Cancer Research, Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Scientific Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member of Tizona Therapeutics.
Dr. Wolchok is Chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service and holds The Lloyd J. Old Chair in Clinical Investigation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) with an expertise in the treatment of metastatic melanoma. His additional appointments include: Head of the Swim Across America – Ludwig Collaborative Laboratory; Associate Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy (LCCI). He has helped establish MSKCC as a leader in the discovery and treatment of cancers with novel immunotherapies.
Dr. Wolchok was instrumental in the clinical development leading to the approval of ipilimumab for advanced melanoma. He is principal investigator of numerous ongoing clinical trials at MSKCC in the area of immunotherapy. He supervises an R01-funded basic science laboratory which is focused on investigating novel immunotherapeutic agents in pre-clinical mouse models. In 2011, he established the Immunotherapeutics Clinical Core, a specialized phase 1-2 outpatient unit at MSKCC that is focused on the conduct of novel immunotherapy trials, with a specific emphasis on pharmacodynamic biomarker identification. This group treats patients with a broad spectrum of malignancies.
ADCC-enhancement for innovative cancer therapy, produced via ProBioGen’s accelerated CMC development path.
Berlin, Germany, and South San Francisco, CA, USA
ProBioGen AG and Tizona Therapeutics, Inc...
ProBioGen signs Second Contract Development Agreement with Tizona Therapeutics for Immuno-Oncology Antibody Project
Berlin, Germany, and South San Francisco, CA, USA
ProBioGen AG, a premier service & technology provider for complex therapeutic glycoproteins, today announced that it has signed a second clinical immuno-oncology development and manufacturing agreement with Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held immunology company, harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement, ProBioGen is developing a stable cell line, followed by process development and GMP clinical manufacturing for Tizona’s lead antibody drug candidate.
“Tizona Therapeutics selected ProBioGen based on its excellent CHO.Right® development and manufacturing platform,” said Christine O’Brien, Vice President of Program Management at Tizona Therapeutics. “ProBioGen’s collaborative approach, high standard for delivering quality product and timely execution of our project again make them an ideal partner for Tizona.”
Dr. Volker Sandig, ProBioGen’s Chief Scientific Officer added, “ProBioGen’s and Tizona’s teams worktogether really well and ProBioGen is committed to delivering a quality product candidate within best-in- class development timelines to support potential clinical trials for Tizona Therapeutics.”
August 30, 2016
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc. Appoints George Golumbeski, Ph.D., to its Board of Directors
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., August 30, 2016 – Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, today announced that George Golumbeski, Ph.D., has joined the company’s board of directors. Dr. Golumbeski brings more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in R&D and business development in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry to Tizona. “George’s extensive experience in bringing numerous medicines to patients and in forging creative and effective collaborations within the biotech and pharmaceutical industry makes him an ideal addition to the Tizona board of directors,” said Pablo J. Cagnoni, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tizona. “George’s addition to our board provides us with a critical strategic perspective as we continue to build Tizona.” “Tizona is taking multiple approaches to target the mechanisms responsible for immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment,” said Dr. Golumbeski. “I am pleased to join the board of directors to work alongside Tizona’s strong team of scientific founders and advisory board members to realize the company’s goal of bringing next generation immuno-therapies to patients." Dr. Golumbeski currently serves as Executive Vice President of Business Development for Celgene Corporation, where he is responsible for worldwide business development activities, including evaluation of opportunities, structuring and negotiating collaborations, mergers and acquisitions, and alliance management. Prior to Celgene, he was Chief Executive Officer at Nabriva Therapeutics AG, where from 2008-2009, he led the company’s transition toward a development company. From 2002 to 2008, Dr. Golumbeski was Vice President, Business Development, Licensing and Strategy at Novartis-Oncology, a business unit within Novartis, where he was a member of the Executive Committee, which was responsible for the overall results of the business unit franchise. Dr. Golumbeski has also held several business and corporate development positions of increasing responsibility at Elan Pharmaceuticals, EMD Pharmaceuticals and Schwarz Pharma. Dr. Golumbeski earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Acceleron Pharma and of the National Audubon Society. About Tizona Therapeutics, Inc. Tizona Therapeutics, Inc. Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., is a privately held immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders. A healthy immune system integrates information from pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cells that regulate the immune system’s function. In cancer, tumor cells evade recognition by controlling cells that suppress the proper function of the immune system. In autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks “self” tissues in the body due to insufficient regulation. Tizona’s therapies are designed to regulate these suppressive cells, thereby either activating the body’s ability to fight cancer or preventing the immune system from attacking healthy tissues in autoimmune diseases. For more information, visit www.tizonatx.com. Media Contact: Lori Melançon, Communications Consultant, Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., 1-650-383-0800.
March 8, 2016
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., Completes $43 Million Series B Financing
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., Completes $43 Million Series B Financing
Proceeds will be Used to Advance Company’s Immunotherapy Programs
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO Calif., March 8, 2016 -- Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, today announced the closing of a $43 million Series B financing. Proceeds will be used to advance the company’s immunotherapy programs. These programs include its lead drug candidate, an anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody for the treatment of cancer, which is expected to enter the clinic in 2017. To date, the company has raised more than $70 million through its Series A and B financing rounds to fund its diversified pipeline.
The Series B financing was co-led by Abingworth and Canaan Partners with investments from Lightstone Ventures and existing Series A investors, including MPM Capital, Amgen Ventures, Astellas Venture Management and InterWest Partners. As part of the financing, Shelley Chu, M.D., Ph.D., Partner of Abingworth, Nina Kjellson, Partner of Canaan Partners, and Jean George, General Partner of Lightstone Ventures, have joined Tizona’s Board of Directors.
“We expect Tizona’s anti-CCR4 antibody to play an important role in inducing antitumor activity by depleting regulatory T cells (Tregs), a type of cell crucial to establishing and maintaining an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, ” said Pablo J. Cagnoni, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Tizona. “We have an opportunity to contribute a potentially valuable new addition to the group of novel immunotherapies that is changing standards of care in cancer treatment. With support from this investor group, along with our renowned scientific founders and accomplished team, Tizona is well-positioned to be a leader in the development of next generation immunotherapies.”
Tizona was co-founded by the world’s preeminent scientific leaders in translational research and immunotherapy development – Charles G. Drake, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Oncology, Immunology and Urology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; Vijay K. Kuchroo, D.V.M., Ph.D., Director, Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School; Wayne A. Marasco, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Cancer Immunology and Virology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine; Dario Vignali, Ph.D., Vice Chair and Professor of Immunology, Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program and Co-Director of the Tumor Microenvironment Center, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; and Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation, Chief, Melanoma & Immunotherapeutics Service, Associate Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In addition, Ana Anderson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Core faculty member of the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, is a scientific advisor to the company.
In addition to the anti-CCR4 antibody program, proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Tizona’s pipeline, including the company’s IL-35 programs. IL-35 is a recently discovered immunosuppressive cytokine, predominantly expressed by Tregs. IL-35 is involved in suppression of anti-tumor immunity through its modulation of effector T cells, as well as myeloid cells. Blocking IL-35’s activity may reverse immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment and lead to a robust and effective anti-tumor immune response. Given IL-35’s potent suppressive properties, targeting this pathway also holds significant promise as a potential first-in-class treatment for autoimmune diseases.
About Tizona Therapeutics, Inc.
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., is a privately held immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders. A healthy immune system integrates information from pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cells that regulate the immune system’s function. In cancer, tumor cells evade recognition by controlling cells that suppress the proper function of the immune system. In autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks “self” tissues in the body due to insufficient regulation. Tizona’s therapies are designed to regulate these suppressive cells, thereby either activating the body’s ability to fight cancer or preventing the immune system from attacking healthy tissues in autoimmune diseases. Tizona’s lead drug candidate, an anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody, is expected to enter the clinic in 2017. For more information, visit www.tizonatx.com.
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc.
October 1, 2015
ProBioGen Inks Another Commercial GlymaxX® License and Contract Manufacturing Service Agreement on Immuno-Oncology Antibody
ADCC-enhancement for innovative cancer therapy, produced via ProBioGen’s accelerated CMC development path.
Berlin, Germany, and South San Francisco, CA, USA
ProBioGen AG and Tizona Therapeutics, Inc. have signed a commercial license and service agreement for cell line and process development. Under the Agreement ProBioGen will develop Tizona’s immuno-oncology antibody up to GMP manufacturing, applying ProBioGen’s proprietary GlymaxX® cell line to boost the antibody’s ADCC anti-tumor activity. The program will follow ProBioGen’s integrated and accelerated development path which allows selecting superior, stable producer clones with robust and excellent process features in a significantly reduced time, facilitating the earlier onset of clinical trials. Manufacturing of clinical study material will be conducted at ProBioGen’s new facility which will house two additional 1,000L single-use bioreactors in its GMP suites.
Volker Sandig, ProBioGen’s CSO commented “We were impressed by the scientific approach and quality of work which Tizona has invested into this product candidate already, and we are looking forward to combining our expertise with that of Tizona for this very promising product candidate.”
René Brecht, VP Process Science and Manufacturing at ProBioGen added “Our accelerated CMC development path allows us to choose clones with optimal product and manufacturing characteristics right from the beginning, resulting in simplified scale-up and reduced time lines.”
Tizona’s COO, Jeremy Bender, commented: We were seeking a high quality service provider with a proven track record and a robust ADCC enhancement technology for our project, and ProBioGen’s package of technical and scientific expertise, timelines, financial terms and, importantly, people behind it, were a compelling combination.”
May 21, 2015
MPM Capital announces the appointment of former President of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Pablo J. Cagnoni, M.D. as Managing Director (MD)
MPM Capital announces the appointment of former President of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Pablo J. Cagnoni, M.D. as Managing Director (MD). In addition to serving as an MPM MD, Dr. Cagnoni is a co-founder of Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., an MPM-founded cancer immunotherapy company, and has taken on the role of President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Pablo brings tremendous operating and clinical development expertise to MPM Capital and its portfolio of investee companies developing breakthrough products”
Over of the course of his career as an oncologist and pharmaceutical executive, Dr. Cagnoni has been committed to advancing the development of breakthrough treatments for patients with cancer and other debilitating diseases. He has played a key role in the development, approval and/or commercialization of several life-changing medicines, including Afinitor®, Blinctyo®, Exjade®, Folotyn®, Glivec®, Jakavi®, Kyprolis®, Signifor®, Tarceva® and Tasigna®, among them.
“Pablo brings tremendous operating and clinical development expertise to MPM Capital and its portfolio of investee companies developing breakthrough products,” said Luke Evnin, MPM Capital Managing Director and co-founder. “We feel honored and gratified that Pablo chose MPM and our portfolio company Tizona as the best platform for him to continue his significant contributions to the development of innovative oncology medicines.”
“MPM’s world-class team has already demonstrated great success in the area of immuno-oncology with investments such as CoStim. I am confident that Tizona, with its distinguished scientific advisory board and scientifically-renowned co-founders, is poised to develop equally innovative breakthrough therapies,” said Dr. Cagnoni.
As President of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Dr. Cagnoni had global strategic oversight and accountability of the business from early product development to commercialization. At the time of his departure, Onyx was on track to deliver yearly revenues in excess of $1B and had over 800 employees. Dr. Cagnoni joined Onyx in March 2013 as Executive Vice President, Global Research and Development and Technical Operations, and was named President in October 2013, when Onyx became an Amgen subsidiary. Previously, he was Senior Vice President and Global Head of Clinical Development at Novartis Oncology, where he was responsible for all clinical development, clinical operations, clinical pharmacology and correlative sciences activities for the oncology development pipeline. From 2007 to 2009, Dr. Cagnoni was Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Allos Therapeutics, and prior to that Chief Medical Officer of OSI Pharmaceuticals. Earlier in his career, he served as Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado Bone Marrow Transplant Program where he cared for patients undergoing stem cell transplant.
Dr. Cagnoni earned his medical degree from University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine, and he completed his fellowship in Hematology and Oncology in Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York and a fellowship in Stem Cell Transplantation at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
About MPM Capital — MPM Capital (http://www.mpmcapital.com) is a global leader in early-stage life sciences venture investing with a track record of success in building world-class companies around transformational treatments and cures. With its deep experience, dedicated team of operating executives and distinguished MSAB, MPM Capital is powering medical breakthroughs that change lives.
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Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., an immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, is seeking for an outstandin...
Head of Clinical Operations
This position is responsible for the strategy and execution of clinical operations to support of Tizona’s clinical programs. This role is accountable for the operational oversight and execution of all clinical trials including overseeing external partners such as CROs and clinical vendors to deliver on-time and on-budget. This role is responsible for ensuring operational excellence through developing and implementing processes, tools, and systems within Clinical Operations. This position is required to interact effectively in a cross-functional manner. In addition, the role will require partnering closely with Program Management to develop and manage the annual budgets and meeting deliverables required for successful clinical development program execution. Thus, the role will require an understanding of the execution plans for clinical development including study designs and key study results such as the safety profile of investigational products, and an understanding of relevant oncology indications and key competitor data.
Essential/Primary Duties, Functions and Responsibilities:
Facilitate team alignment to achieve clinical development goals as well as meeting corporate objectives;
Support protocol(s) from start to final clinical study report including: budgets, negotiation, payments, supervision of external organizations, site interaction, monitoring, data management, biostats, IRB interaction, central lab function, medical writing, pharmacovigilance, document prep (Investigator Brochures, FDA Briefing Documents, internal or external presentations;
Contributes expertise in working with CROs and clinical study site personnel to ensure adherence to protocol, GCP, quality data and adherence to study timelines;
Lead and manage staff and consultants in the design and implementation of Clinical Development Strategy and Operations initiatives and programs;
Provide technical expertise for the development of clinical documents
Establish and maintain productive working relationships within Tizona’s team, external partners including CROs, project leadership, finance and other relevant functions to optimize cross-functional communication; Recognize, leverage and connect interdependencies.
Partner with Program Management to assess resources for current programs and establish a systematic scalable approach for future program and portfolio enhancement;
Collaborate with Program Management to plan the annual budget, quarterly forecasts, and to manage the monthly functional budget variance evaluations;
Participate in the identification and communication of business risks and mitigation strategies;
Lead Clinical Operational excellence activities including identification of continuous process and system improvement opportunities, leading ongoing needs assessments, and ensuring prioritization of activities;
Development, tracking, execution and reporting of goals and objectives;
Lead the development of assigned SOPs;
Maintain awareness of major advances in oncology relevant to our compounds
Understand and utilizes competitive intelligences
Travel up to 20% may be required.
Other Duties as assigned.
Requirements Work Experience:
10 years of relevant work experience with at least 7 years at biotech or pharmaceutical companies within Clinical Operations or related functions – preferably direct experience in >1 functional area.
Will be responsible for managing direct reports and consultants as needed
Functional/Technical Knowledge & Skills:
In-depth knowledge of functional deliverables (across the Clinical Operations functions including Clinical Monitoring, Data Management, Clinical Science and Medical Writing) and a thorough understanding of the processes and resources required for accomplishing departmental objectives;
Creative and innovative approaches for optimizing clinical operations and the skills and experience necessary to efficiently and effectively implement new approaches for achieving Tizona’s goals;
Innovative and proactive approach to identifying potential issues and actions;
Excellent strategic skills with the ability to influence decisions at a senior level, both internally and externally, and to communicate complex clinical issues in a scientifically sound and understandable way;
Experienced in resource planning, planning and tracking to budget and timelines;
Ability to successfully manage and prioritize multiple projects and demands simultaneously and to rapidly adjust to changing priorities and work effectively under pressure;
Ability to think ahead and plan both short term and long-term goals for the company. Ability to anticipate and solve practical problems and/or resolving issues;
An understanding of clinical research methodology including the design and implementation of Phase 1 to 3 trials, process of data analyses, and regulatory submissions;
Demonstrated ability to understand, evaluate, interpret and synthesize data;
Extensive working knowledge of GCP, US IND and ICH regulations as they apply to Clinical Development activities and deliverables;
Technical expertise to make a major impact; credibility required to influence; demonstrated ability to engender trust in others, to share knowledge and to involve others;
Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including formal presentation skills are required;
Ability to relate and work with a wide range of people to achieve results;
Passionate about helping others achieve their maximum potential;
Strong time management and organizational skills.
BS/BA required; MS or higher degree in health-related field preferred.
Scientist or Senior Scientist, Protein Sciences (depending on experience level)
Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., an immunology company harnessing the power of the immune system to develop treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, is seeking for an outstanding Scientist or Senior Scientist (depending on experience level). This primarily is lab position with great career advancement potential. The main function of this role is to perform and oversee molecular cloning, transient transfection in mammalian cell lines protein characterization and protein purification as part of recombinant protein production. This position requires hands-on lab work and managerial responsibilities.
Design and generate recombinant protein and antibody expression constructs for mammalian expression systems
Maintain adherent and suspension mammalian cell lines (CHO, HEK293)
Seed and transfect cells in variety of cell culture flasks
Maintain proper reagent inventories, data, and reports; present both internally and externally when required
Maintain an accurate and up-to-date laboratory record, capable of following and/or developing SOPs
Coordinate protein production activities to meet research program goals.
Manage activities of Protein Sciences function
Attendance at research project team meetings and presentation of results
Technical Skills and Knowledge:Must-have:
Proficient with molecular techniques: site-directed mutagenesis, PCR, TA cloning, and LIC method (In-Fusion cloning), restriction digests, and electrophoresis
Proficient with cellular techniques: aseptic maintenance of cell lines, transient transfection, establishing stable cell lines, cell viability assessment
Proficient in protein characterization techniques: SDS-PAGE, Western Blot
Experience in protein purification including antibody purification by affinity resin and novel antigens
Experience in the design of expression constructs for novel antigens.
Demonstrated ability to troubleshoot
Flexible and capable of multitasking
Experience with scientific software, such as VectorNTI, Sequencher, DNAStar
2-5 years industry experience with >2 years of practical hands-on experience in molecular techniques, cell culture, transient transfection of mammalian cells protein characterization and protein purification
Management experience is desirable
Demonstrated professionalism in past positions
Knowledge in antibody-based drug discovery desirable
High proficiency with Office software (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)