Orlando, Fla., October 23, 2017 – CytoSen Therapeutics announced today the appointment of Jak Knowles, M.D. as CEO and five new members to the company’s scientific and medical advisory board. Drs. Michael Caligiuri, Zhijian “James” Chen, Todd Fehniger, Helen Heslop, and Jeffrey Miller will join Drs. Dean Lee and Stefan Ciurea on the board as medical and scientific advisors. CytoSen is advancing a cellular immunotherapy solution, based on natural killer (NK) cells of the innate immune system. CytoSen’s unique approach combines immunology and nanotechnology that may potentially enable future production of cell therapies closer to the point-of-care with turnkey reliability and application to a broad range of cancers.
“We were impressed with Jak’s diverse healthcare background and experience in growing early-stage biotech companies,” said Robert Igarashi, cofounder and president of CytoSen Therapuetics. “We also look forward to working with our new scientific advisors, who are scientific and clinical research leaders in understanding and activating natural killer cells to develop effective therapies against cancer. Their knowledge and expertise will be invaluable as we advance our NK cell therapy into the clinic.”
“CytoSen has the potential to create a transformational immunotherapy that could solve many of the issues seen in adoptive cell therapies,” said Dr. Knowles. “I am excited to lead an experienced team that has the opportunity to advance a clinic-ready NK cell therapy to address significant unmet medical need in hundreds of thousand of cancer patients. The decision to join CytoSen was attractive given their game-changing nanoparticle platform, and I am honored to work with the top clinicians and scientific experts in the field of NK cell therapy. Each of the members of our scientific and medical advisory board is expected to add significant value as we work towards being the world leader in developing NK cell therapies for cancer.”
Jak Knowles, M.D. has had a diverse career in healthcare spanning over a decade with the last five years focused in biotech venture capital and finance. Prior to joining CytoSen, Dr. Knowles served as managing director of CureDuchenne Ventures and vice president of Medical and Scientific Affairs for CureDuchenne. Prior to that, Dr. Knowles was as an investment professional in the Boston office of MPM Capital, where he worked within the BioVentures Asset Management team starting early-stage companies focused on developing curative therapeutics across a wide spectrum of indications. He has served on the board of directors for Myotherix, RASRx, and TRiNDS, and he helped found and launch Exonics Therapeutics, serving as president and interim CEO. Dr. Knowles achieved a M.D. from Stanford University, where he graduated with honors in biomedical research, and a B.S. in biology from Binghamton University.
Michael A. Caligiuri, M.D. is the director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of Ohio State’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. He has designed and conducted many clinical studies for leukemia and lymphoma patients and has more than 400 original publications, abstracts and review articles on immunology or leukemia. One of the research areas of Dr. Caligiuri’s laboratory is the development and normal role of the body’s large granular lymphocytes called natural killer cells so as to exploit their properties to develop effective therapies against cancer and immune deficiency.
Zhijian “James” Chen, Ph.D. is the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science, director of the Inflammation Research Center, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and an HHMI Investigator. Dr. Chen’s research into complex cellular biochemistry has led to the discovery of pathways and proteins that trigger immune and stress responses. His research led to several discoveries that have contributed to understanding innate immune sensing and signaling of cytosolic nucleic acids.
Todd A. Fehniger, M.D, Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, is a physician-scientist with interests that span basic, translational, and clinical aspects of immunology and oncology. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, his research program focuses on understanding basic mechanisms of natural killer (NK) cell development and function, translational approaches to elucidate new ways to enhance NK cell anti-tumor activity, and clinical studies applying advances in NK cell biology as novel immunotherapy strategies for patients with cancer, especially hematologic malignancies.
Helen Heslop, M.D., D.Sc., is professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, and the director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital. She is also associate director for Clinical Research at the Dan L Duncan Cancer Center. Dr. Heslop is a physician scientist engaged in translational research focusing on adoptive immunotherapy with gene-modified effector cells, to improve hemopoietic stem cell transplantation and cancer therapy. She has extensive experience in developing and conducting transplant studies and cell and gene therapy studies.
Jeffrey S. Miller, M.D., is a professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota and the deputy director of the University of Minnesota Masonic Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has more than 20 years of experience studying the biology of NK cells and other immune effector cells and their use in clinical immunotherapy. He has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, serves on the editorial board for Blood, and is a reviewer for a number of journals and NIH grants. In 2015, he was awarded an Outstanding Investigator Award by the National Cancer Institute.
About CytoSen Therapeutics, Inc.
CytoSen Therapeutics is a private biopharmaceutical company accelerating innovation in NK cell therapy by generating large numbers of highly-active natural killer (NK) cells with its particle-based “expansion and activation” platform technologies. Born from the intersection of cellular immunotherapy and nanotechnology, CytoSen’s NK cell therapy harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. CytoSen is presently headquartered in Orlando, Fla.