HOUSTON, June 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 7 Hills Pharma, a privately-held immunotherapy company focused on development of novel tumor-targeting cell adhesion agents, announced today the formation of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Joseph Bailes, M.D., former president of American Society of Clinical Oncology, and co-founders Peter Vanderslice, Ph.D., and Darren Woodside, Ph.D., will be joined by several immuno-oncology thought leaders: Willem Overwijk, Ph.D. and Adi Diab, M.D., at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Jason Luke, M.D., at University of Chicago; Daniel Von Hoff, M.D., at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Arizona; and Robert Kramer, Ph.D., former head of Oncology Discovery Research at both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
“We are extremely pleased to collaborate with these preeminent thought-leaders in the industry who are experienced drug developers,” said Upendra Marathi, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of 7 Hills. “We are in a unique position to advance our promising integrin activators in oncology; facilitated by the guidance of our pedigreed scientific advisory board, and supported by over $6 million in NIH grants and seed capital. We are well underway with plans to develop our lead activator 7HP349 and related compounds for the treatment of drug resistant tumors.”
7 Hills’ immuno-oncology program is focused on the development of integrin activators that promote cell adhesion to potentially improve the effectiveness of, and reverse resistance to, immuno-oncology drugs. The company’s lead product candidate, 7HP349, is designed to enhance the steps necessary for a productive immune response, including T-cell priming and trafficking, as well as tumor infiltration and killing. In a preclinical study, 7HP349 was shown to have increased tumor infiltration of cytolytic T cells, and in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor, it synergistically increased tumor-free survival compared to treatment with the checkpoint inhibitor alone.
“While immune checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab and nivolumab have substantial activity in a number of cancers, usually only a subset of patients benefit from these therapies,” said Daniel Von Hoff, M.D., a 7 Hills SAB member and physician in chief, distinguished professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute. “With rising use, the incidence of patients with refractory or resistant tumors is increasing. Development work to augment the activity of the immune checkpoint inhibitors is urgently needed.”
Scientific Advisory Board
Joseph Bailes, M.D., former president of American Society of Clinical Oncology, is a medical oncologist with substantial experience in legislation, public policy and advocacy, as well as the business aspects of the practice of oncology and medicine. Dr. Bailes has been a partner of Texas Oncology, P.A., the largest oncology practice group in the country, since 1986.
Daniel Von Hoff, M.D., is the physician in chief and distinguished professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Dr. Von Hoff’s clinical trial work has led to the approval of 3 of the 4 drugs approved by the FDA for treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Dr. Von Hoff received the 2010 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his outstanding contributions to cancer research leading to significant improvement in patient care, and was appointed to President Bush’s National Cancer Advisory Board in 2004-2010.
Peter Vanderslice, Ph.D., is a co-founder, investor, and an inventor of 7HP technology. Dr. Vanderslice is an experienced pharmaceutical executive that has successfully led interdisciplinary teams in progressing small molecule drugs targeting cell adhesion from the laboratory into the clinic. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications focusing on the biological function and therapeutic targeting of cell adhesion molecules.
Darren Woodside, Ph.D., is a co-founder, investor, and an inventor of 7HP technology. Dr. Woodside is an immunologist that helped define the roles integrins play is lymphocyte activation and an experienced pharmaceutical executive and immunologist. He has published numerous manuscripts and reviews on integrin function in the immune system, has served on a number of Editorial Review Boards, including Nature Journal Genes and Immunity, as well as multiple review panels for the NIH.
Willem Overwijk, Ph.D., is a tenured associate professor in the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Overwijk’s group focuses on the interaction between the immune system and cancer, and translating these findings into novel cancer immunotherapies, in particular cancer vaccines. He has served on the Board of Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer.
Jason Luke, M.D., FACP, is a medical oncologist at the University of Chicago focused on immunotherapy drug development for melanoma and advanced solid tumors. Dr. Luke's research focuses on translational therapeutic approaches via tissue and blood based biomarker analysis using bioinfomatic and large scale analytic approaches. Dr. Luke has received several awards for his research, including a Department of Defense Career Development Award, a Young Investigator Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO, an ASCO Merit Award, and others
Adi Diab, M.D., is a medical oncologist and clinical investigator at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center who has extensive experience in immunology in general and tumor immunology specifically. Dr. Diab has authored or co-authored over thirty scientific publications and abstracts and serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Immunotherapy and the Journal of the American Society of Hematology.
Robert Kramer, Ph.D., is the former head of Oncology Discovery Research at both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. He has been responsible for enabling the transition of 35 drugs from discovery into the clinic. Rob championed immunotherapy at Bristol-Myers Squibb, resulting in the acquisition of Medarex, Inc. in 2009 and its portfolio of immune therapeutics that included Ipilimumab and Nivolumab.
For complete biographies, please visit the company’s website at: http://www.7hillspharma.com/management.html.
7 Hills’ lead agent, 7HP349, is a next-generation integrin activator that has been shown in preclinical models to increase T cell adhesion by 100-fold while maintaining their ability to move and migrate. 7HP349 is a small molecule that promotes immune cell adhesion by turning on a switch that is typically dormant in tumoricidal cells in patients with non-immunogenic cancers. In doing so, 7HP349 is expected to increase trafficking, infiltration and killing of cytolytic T cells to facilitate a productive immune response against a variety of solid tumors.
About 7 Hills Pharma
7 Hills Pharma is focused on the development of novel, cost efficient and accessible immunomodulatory agents that leverage well-known integrin biology to drive and enhance essential steps in the immune cycle. The company’s lead programs are designed to improve the effectiveness of immuno-oncology therapies, including checkpoint inhibitors and cellular therapies, and cord blood transplantation in the treatment of cancers and genetic diseases. For more information, visit www.7hillspharma.com.