Orpheris Appoints Neil Warma to Board of Directors
Former President and CEO of Opexa Therapeutics Brings Strong Biotech Leadership and Neurology Expertise
REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Dec. 4, 2017 – Orpheris Inc., a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing dendrimer technology to treat neuroinflammatory orphan diseases that result in death or severe disabilities, today announced the appointment of Neil K. Warma to the Company's board of directors.
"We are pleased to welcome someone of Neil's talent to the board," said Jeffrey L. Cleland, Ph.D., Orpheris' co-founder and executive chair. "Neil joins at a critical time for the Company, as Orpheris moves forward with the development of its lead drug candidate, OP-101, for the treatment of patients with childhood cerebral andrenoleukodystrophy (ccALD). We are excited to leverage Neil's vast experience leading biopharmaceutical companies, his significant connections in the investment community and his deep personal relationships in the drug development industry."
"I am excited to join the Orpheris board at this important time, not only for the Company, but for patients with ccALD and their families as well," stated Mr. Warma. "I find the Company's technology, which is focused on modifying activated microglia to treat neuroinflammatory disease, to be very compelling and differentiated. We have recently received orphan drug status and encouraging FDA feedback for the lead drug candidate, which gives us hope for patients with these serious unmet medical needs. I look forward to supporting the team, as we look to initiate clinical trials in 2018."
Warma has over 25 years' experience as a senior executive in the life sciences and biopharmaceutical industries. Most recently, Warma was the president, chief executive officer and director of Opexa Therapeutics, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of personalized immunotherapies. Prior to joining Opexa, Warma served as president, chief executive officer and director of Viron Therapeutics, a privately-held clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a novel class of protein therapeutics. Previously, Warma held several senior management positions at Novartis Pharmaceuticals at its corporate headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, in international policy and advocacy and in global marketing. Warma obtained an honors degree specializing in neuroscience from the University of Toronto and an International M.B.A. from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.
Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, is a deadly genetic disease that affects 1 in 18,000 people. It most severely affects boys and men. The cerebral form of the disease, ccALD, appears in childhood, generally between the ages of four and ten years old. This is the most common form of ALD, representing about 45% of all ALD cases. It is characterized by a severe loss in brain function and eventual death in most cases. Currently, the standard of care for preadolescent patients in the early stages of ccALD pathology is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Orpheris believes that OP-101 will be effective in increasing survival and reducing the loss of neurological function in ccALD patients not eligible for bone marrow transplant.
Orpheris' lead product, OP-101, is a new chemical entity containing an approved anti-inflammatory drug that is effective at reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. OP-101 is selectively targeted to activated microglia and astrocytes in the brain and releases the drug upon internalization. OP-101 consists of a hydroxyl poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimer conjugated to an anti-inflammatory drug with a disulfide bond that is designed to be cleaved only under intracellular conditions. In clinical studies, the free drug is administered IV to ccALD patients before and after bone marrow transplant resulting in increased survival with minimal impact on progressive loss of neurological function. By directly targeting the drug to activated microglia in the brain, Orpheris believes that OP-101 will be effective in increasing survival and reducing the loss of neurological function in ccALD patients not eligible for bone marrow transplant.
Orpheris is focused on the treatment of neuroinflammatory orphan diseases that result in death or severe disabilities, including childhood cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (ccALD), Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington's disease, Rett syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. Orpheris' patented hydroxyl dendrimer technology selectively targets activated microglia implicated in a number of brain diseases. Controlling neuroinflammation through targeting activated microglia with OP-101 is a potent weapon against CNS disorders. OP-101 is the company's first potential drug candidate utilizing hydroxyl dendrimer technology to deliver therapeutic doses of an anti-inflammatory drug across the blood brain barrier to reduce neuroinflammation.