Agenovir Corporation, a company using computationally engineered nuclease technology to develop novel antiviral therapeutics, today announced that it appointed Dirk Thye, M.D., as chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors.
“Dirk is an incredibly experienced executive with a deep background in both founding and building successful companies,” said Stephen Quake, D.Phil., founder of Agenovir, co-president of Chan Zuckerberg Biohub and professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Stanford University. “His proven track record for driving important therapeutics through development into commercialization coupled with his business acumen make him the right person to and advance our innovative pipeline and grow the organization.”
Dirk Thye, M.D., brings approximately 20 years of drug development executive experience to Agenovir. Most recently, he served as chief medical officer of Cidara, Inc., building and managing all aspects of drug development including the filing of several Investigational New Drug (IND) applications and advancement of two programs into Phase 2 clinical trials. In addition, he was instrumental in helping the company raise approximately $150 million over a one year period through multiple private financings and an initial public offering. Previously, he co-founded Cerexa and served as president for the last several years of his tenure, following the acquisition by Forest Laboratories. While at Cerexa, he led the development of ceftaroline (Teflaro®) from pre-IND to New Drug Application filing, FDA Advisory Committee and approval, and played a key role in the evaluation and acquisition of avibactam, a beta-lactamase inhibitor, from Novexel, leading the joint development committee on behalf of Forest Laboratories in partnership with AstraZeneca. Avibactam in combination with ceftazidime (Avycaz®) was approved by the FDA in February 2015. Prior to Cerexa, Dr. Thye was a founder and senior vice president of clinical development for Peninsula Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2005), a company that developed doripenem (Doribax®) for severe bacterial infections in hospitalized patients. Dr. Thye has participated as a member of the board of directors or scientific advisory board member for several companies in the anti-infective area. He received his B.A. in Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley, his M.D. from UCLA, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Stanford University.
“After raising $10.6 million from Data Collective, Celgene Corporation, Lightspeed Venture Partners and several additional investors, we are expanding our scientific team, broadening our technology portfolio, and aggressively advancing our lead drug candidate, with the intention to select our first development candidate to treat latent human papilloma virus (HPV) in the second quarter of 2017,” said Dr. Thye, president and CEO of Agenovir. “In parallel with our internal development efforts, we are initiating discussions with potential development and commercialization partners to extend the reach of our technology into additional disease targets and therapeutic areas.”
Agenovir is designing and developing therapeutics for the treatment of latent viral reservoirs. The company is using CRISPR/Cas9 and other targeted nuclease technology licensed from the laboratory of Stephen Quake at Stanford University designed and engineered to disrupt intracellular viral DNA. By interfering at the level of DNA, it may be possible to treat and eliminate persistent viral reservoirs for which there are no current therapeutic alternatives. As a proof of concept, the company has generated data for several viruses that demonstrate infection-specific cell death following delivery of nucleases to human cells. The company’s first development candidate will focus on the treatment of HPV, a virus that is known to be the underlying cause of cervical, anal and other cancers. There are almost 80 million people infected with HPV today. HPV is the underlying cause of more than 39,000 cancers each year, primarily cervical and anal cancers. New therapies with novel mechanisms of actions are needed to address this growing medical need.