Expanded Financial and Management Resources Targeted to Advance the Company’s Next-Generation Highly Selective HDAC Therapeutics to IND
Boston, Massachusetts, January 8, 2010 -- Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that it has closed on a $2 million investment from a new undisclosed private investor to bring its total financing to $9.25 million. This new investment will convert to stock in the next substantial round of preferred equity financing. The Company also announced two additions to the senior management team. Simon S. Jones, Ph.D., was appointed Vice President, Biology and Preclinical Development and John H. van Duzer, Ph.D., was appointed Vice President, Chemistry and Manufacturing. Acetylon is applying its scientific expertise to the development of small molecule HDAC inhibitors that build upon the proven therapeutic potential of HDAC inhibition with enhanced target selectivity. The Company believes that its highly selective HDAC inhibitors may accomplish enhanced clinical utility by reducing or eliminating the debilitating and sometimes life-threatening side effects associated with the current first-generation of non-selective HDAC inhibitors. The first indications targeted for Acetylon’s next-generation HDAC6 inhibitors are multiple myeloma and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
“We are very pleased to receive the additional funding and excited to benefit from the extensive industry experience that Simon and John bring to Acetylon, as we focus on the selection of our first HDAC6 inhibitor drug candidate for preclinical studies and ultimately an IND filing,” commented Walter Ogier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Acetylon Pharmaceuticals. “The funding provides us the opportunity to engage in additional supportive work this year directed towards our drug development goals in multiple myeloma. Simon and John will also be applying our drug discovery platform to the creation of additional isoform-selective HDAC inhibitor drug candidates for the treatment of autoimmune, neurodegenerative and other major diseases.”
Dr Simon Jones joins Acetylon from EPIX Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he was Vice President of Biology and ADMET. Prior to EPIX, Dr. Jones held senior level positions in drug discovery and preclinical development for leading biotechnology companies including Director of Preclinical Development at ArQule Inc., Senior Director of Drug Discovery at Curis Inc., and Senior Director of Molecular Therapeutics and Cellular Biology at Creative BioMolecules Inc. Earlier in his career, Dr. Jones held multiple positions of increasing responsibility in the Department of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Genetics Institute/Wyeth, now part of Pfizer. Dr. Jones is an author of dozens of peer-reviewed publications and multiple US patents. He maintains active membership in the American Society of Hematology, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the Drug Information Association and The Society for Biomolecular Screening. He received his B.Sc. Honors Degree in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry from Kings College, University of London, U.K., where he also engaged in post-doctoral research.
Dr. John van Duzer joins Acetylon from Mersana Therapeutics, Inc. where he was Vice President of Manufacturing and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Prior to Mersana, Dr. van Duzer held multiple positions in chemistry and manufacturing at ActivBiotics Corporation, advancing to the position of Vice President, Manufacturing. Before ActivBiotics, he was Director of Chemistry at Inotek Corporation and earlier, Dr. van Duzer advanced through multiple positions in the Arthritis Chemistry Research Group at Ciba-Geigy Corporation and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. van Duzer is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and an author of over 20 issued US drug patents. He received his B.A. with honors in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Yale University.
Histone deacetylases are significant drug targets because they comprise a family of 18 different cellular enzymes which affect the physical configuration and biological function of large protein networks present in most living cells. They have been shown to have therapeutic potential in a number of important diseases, as reflected in FDA approval of two HDAC inhibitor drugs over the past three years. However, a critical issue in the development of HDAC inhibitors as widely prescribed pharmaceuticals is the typical non-specific (off-target) inhibition of those multiple different HDAC enzyme isoforms which regulate nuclear gene expression. Non-specific HDAC inhibition can lead to the toxic dysfunction of critical biological processes within normal cells of the body resulting in a long list of gastrointestinal, hematologic, cardiovascular and other side effects including profound fatigue.
Acetylon’s lead HDAC6 inhibitor program is focused on enhancing drug potency and reducing or eliminating side effects common to HDAC inhibition through highly selective targeting of the HDAC6 enzyme. Inhibition of HDAC6 versus other isoforms uniquely preserves normal gene expression in cells, thereby minimizing patient toxicity. At the same time, HDAC6 inhibition severely disrupts diseased cells’ ability a) to produce normal proteins, through disruption of the HSP-90 protein chaperone system, and b) to dispose of damaged misfolded proteins through modification of microtubules and disruption of the aggresome protein disposal pathway. Since metabolically active cancer and autoimmune cells produce large amounts of misfolded proteins, inhibition of HDAC6 results in further increased generation and accumulation of protein “trash”, triggering self-destruction of diseased cells via programmed cell death and leading to regression of disease.
Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is applying its unique capabilities to discover and develop next-generation, highly selective small molecule drugs to realize the therapeutic potential of HDAC inhibition to treat cancer, autoimmune and other diseases, while reducing the side effects common to this class of drugs. The Company is based on technology initially developed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at Harvard University. Acetylon’s technologies were initially discovered and developed by scientific founders: Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; James M. Bradner, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Ralph Mazitschek, Ph.D., Instructor at Harvard Medical School and the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital; and by Stuart Schreiber, Ph.D., Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Walter C. Ogier
President and Chief Executive Officer
MacDougall Biomedical Communications