SAN DIEGO, March 2, 2020 – Primmune Therapeutics today announced that it has raised $7 million in seed financing to support the development of novel orally-administered, small molecule toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonists for long-term systemic activation of innate immunity. Investors in the seed financing were CAM Capital, Charlie McDermott, BioBrit and BioRock Ventures.
In conjunction with the financing, Scott Morenstein, Managing Director at CAM Capital will join the board of directors. Ezra Cohen, M.D., Chief, Division of Hematology-Oncology and Associate Director, Translational Science, Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego and Isan Chen, M.D., Chief Medical and Development Officer at Mirati Therapeutics will join the company’s clinical advisory board.
“The recent advances in cancer immunotherapy have resulted in medicines that have had profound benefit for cancer patients; yet, a majority of those patients do not respond or relapse. There is a strong rationale for combining agents that activate systemic innate immunity, like a TLR7 agonist, with drugs that engage systemic adaptive immunity, like checkpoint inhibitors, to potentially address patients who have an inadequate response to approved treatments,” said Charlie McDermott, Chief Executive Officer of Primmune Therapeutics. “We are pleased to have secured financial support from our investors and local biotech executives who are committed to supporting the advancement of our small molecule TLR7 agonists into human studies in oncology and virology.”
Primmune is being led by an experienced and dedicated team, which includes:
• Charlie McDermott, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
• James Appleman, Ph.D., Co-founder, Board Member, SVP, R&D and Chief Scientific Officer
• Paulo Rangel, President, Co-founder, Board Member, Chief Business Officer
• Stephen Webber, Ph.D., Co-founder and SVP Medicinal Chemistry
• Todd Harris, Ph.D., Board Member, CEO of Tyra Biosciences
Mr. McDermott is Chairman, President & CEO of Primmune. He brings more than 25 years of experience in the life sciences industry and has held roles of increasing responsibility in drug discovery, regulatory affairs, corporate development, commercial planning, and executive management. Most recently, Mr. McDermott was President, Chief Business Officer, and a member of the board of directors of Impact Biomedicines, Inc. While at Impact, Mr. McDermott raised more than $110 million in venture and non-dilutive royalty financing to fully fund the development and commercialization of fedratinib (INREBIC) for the treatment of adult patients with intermediate-2 or high-risk primary or secondary (post-polycythemia vera or post-essential thrombocythemia) myelofibrosis (MF). Impact was acquired by Celgene in 2018 for $1.1 billion upfront and up to $7 billion overall, if all contingent payments are realized. Prior to joining Impact, Mr. McDermott was President and Chief Business Officer of Kala Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he helped lead the transformation of Kala from a private pre-clinical stage company to a pre-commercial stage public company. To this end, Mr. McDermott helped raise approximately $190 million via private equity, debt, and an initial public offering. In August of 2018, Kala received NDA approval for Inveltys™, an internally developed drug for ocular indications. Before joining Kala, Mr. McDermott worked at Allergan as Vice President, Global Business Development for the Eye Care and Drug Delivery business units. At Allergan, Mr. McDermott led efforts to license and acquire a variety of technologies and therapeutics including Lastacaft™, Acuvail™, Restasis® MultiDose™, Latisse™, and Abicipar. Before joining Allergan, Mr. McDermott held positions as Associate Director of Business Development at deCODE genetics and before that, in drug discovery and regulatory affairs at Pfizer/Agouron. Mr. McDermott has an M.A. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from University of California, Santa Barbara, an MBA from the University of San Diego and a B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Dr. Appleman is SVP, R&D and CSO, Co-founder, Director of Primmune. Dr. Appleman brings nearly 30 years of experience in building successful drug discovery organizations while having served as an advisor to biotech, hi-tech, and diagnostic firms. Dr. Appleman is a Co-founder of eFFECTOR Therapeutics where he established both the technology base and bioinformatics infrastructure to support eFFECTOR’s unique programs targeting dysregulated mRNA translation. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Research and Chief Scientific Officer at Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he played a pivotal role in the business process culminating in the acquisition of Anadys for $230M (256% premium to market cap) by Roche. Additionally, he led the invention, characterization and clinical development of the Anadys’ internally discovered drug candidates setrobuvir and ANA773, a novel oral TLR7 agonist for the treatment of cancer and hepatic viral diseases. Prior to joining Anadys, Dr. Appleman held positions at Gensia, Inc. and its subsidiary Metabasis Therapeutics and was a faculty member at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Oklahoma State University and completed his postdoctoral training at Dartmouth Medical School.
Mr. Rangel is Chief Business Officer, Co-founder, Director of Primmune. He brings 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and related industries in both small and large companies. Before Primmune, Mr. Rangel was President & CEO and Co-founder of Evince Biosciences, a precursor to Primmune Therapeutics. Before Evince, Mr. Rangel was a Partner at ProPharma Partners International, an international consulting group where he focused on working with biopharmaceutical and medical device companies on worldwide in- and out- licensing, valuations, business plans and market research. Before ProPharma, Mr. Rangel was Head of Global Business Development at Besins Healthcare, a global pharmaceutical company with products targeted at women’s and men’s health. Mr. Rangel was a founder of, and key executive in, two medical device start-ups, Lasercure Sciences and 5i Sciences (now Sommetrics). In those positions, he managed the financing, clinical studies and collaborations, and was responsible for all intellectual property. Mr. Rangel has filled key roles in a number of other biotechnology companies and worked at Amgen and Hybritech/Lilly early on in his career. Mr. Rangel received a B.A. in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego and an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Dr. Webber is Co-founder and SVP of Medicinal Chemistry at Primmune. He brings 33 years of experience in drug discovery in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Prior to Primmune, Dr. Webber was Executive Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Polaris Pharmaceuticals where he was responsible for the discovery and synthesis of small molecules against various oncology targets using structure-based drug design. Before joining Polaris, Dr. Webber was a Co-founder and Director of Medicinal Chemistry at eFFECTOR Therapeutics, a company devoted to the discovery and development of translation regulators for cancer. He is a Co-inventor of tomivosertib, an orally active MNK1/2 inhibitor. Previously, Dr. Webber led discovery chemistry efforts at Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he served at various senior levels until the company was acquired by Roche. His contributions include the discovery of anti-HCV clinical candidates setrobuvir, a non-nucleoside NS5B inhibitor and ANA-773, a second generation orally active TLR-7 agonist prodrug demonstrating antiviral and anticancer activity. Dr. Webber’s career extends back to the inception of Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he helped pioneer protein crystal structure- and computer-based drug design. Dr. Webber discovered and invented several PARP inhibitors, including Rucaparib (marketed as Rubraca®), a FDA approved medicine to treat ovarian cancer in patients with the BRCA, or BRCA-like mutations. Dr. Webber also discovered and co-invented several clinical candidates including nolatrexed dihydrochloride (Thymitaq®). He also made significant contributions to the rhinovirus protease project leading to the advancement of ruprintrivir as a clinical candidate. Dr. Webber received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.S. from Philadelphia University.
About Primmune Therapeutics
Primmune Therapeutics is harnessing the power of the innate immune system to develop small molecule, orally administered toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonists as immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and viral diseases.