LAUSANNE, Switzerland and CAMBRIDGE, MA., December 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
Appoints CNS specialist and establishes US presence with new office in Cambridge, MA
Asceneuron, an emerging leader in the development of innovative small molecules for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, announced today the appointment of Thomas C. Wessel, MD, PhD, as Chief Medical Officer. Tom has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry and will be responsible for progressing the development of Asceneuron's lead program ASN120290 and a pipeline of novel small molecules through the clinic. Tom will be based at Asceneuron's new offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he will lead all regulatory and clinical development activities as part of the company's further expansion in the United States.
Tom joins Asceneuron from Boston-based Flex Pharma, Inc. (FLKS), where he was Chief Medical Officer. Tom is a board-certified neurologist with extensive drug development experience, including being the medical lead for three CNS products approved in the United States: Razadyne®, Lunesta® and Ampyra®. Prior to Flex Pharma, Tom was the Chief Medical Officer at Acorda Therapeutics, Senior Vice President of Clinical Research at Sepracor, and worked on several CNS projects at Janssen Pharmaceutica in Europe and the United States. Tom received his MD from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and his PhD in experimental neurobiology at the Max-Planck-Institute for Psychiatry in Martinsried, Germany. He completed his residency in neurology at New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Cornell University Medical Center) where he remained on the faculty for several years as an Instructor and Assistant Professor before joining the industry.
Dirk Beher, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Asceneuron, commented:
"Our tau approach has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and we are very happy to add Tom with his high caliber experience to our team. His expertise and outstanding track record in CNS drug development will help Asceneuron progress its orally-bioavailable tau modifiers through clinical development in Europe, Canada and the United States. We very much look forward to working with Tom to address the high unmet medical need in tau-related dementias and related diseases."
Tom Wessel, newly appointed Chief Medical Officer of Asceneuron, added:
"Asceneuron is a leader in the development of therapies focusing on the tau protein and is at a very promising stage of growth. The team at Asceneuron has recently generated very compelling data which promise to lead to novel treatments for CNS diseases involving tau pathologies including progressive supranuclear palsy, frontotemporal dementias, and Alzheimer's disease. I am delighted to be working with a highly experienced team and a strong board at Asceneuron as we bring our first-in-class small-molecule therapeutics to patients."
Asceneuron announced last month it had commenced a new clinical trial of its lead program, ASN120290. The study aims to quantify target engagement of ASN120290 in the human brain using positron emission tomography (PET) to help guide dose selection for a planned clinical efficacy trial in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rapidly progressing rare neurodegenerative disorder. ASN120290 has the potential to become a first-in-class treatment for PSP, and other tau-related dementias.
Asceneuron is an emerging, clinical stage biotech company excelling in the development of orally bioavailable therapeutics for debilitating neurodegenerative disorders with high unmet medical need, such as orphan tauopathies, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The lead program ASN120290, an O-GlcNAcase inhibitor, is being developed for the orphan tauopathy progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Asceneuron has completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase I study to assess the safety and tolerability of single and multiple doses of orally administered ASN120290. Asceneuron is a privately held company financed by a strong syndicate of investors consisting of Sofinnova Partners, M Ventures, SR One, Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC, Inc. (JJDC) and Kurma Partners. For more information, please visit www.asceneuron.com.
Asceneuron's lead program ASN120290, an O-GlcNAcase inhibitor, is being developed for the orphan tauopathy progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and was recently granted Orphan Drug Designation by the US FDA for the treatment of PSP. ASN120290 has recently completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase I study to assess its safety and tolerability of single and multiple doses in healthy young and elderly volunteers. Data from that study were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Chicago July 22-26, 2018.
About Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)
PSP, also known as Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder. PSP is often misdiagnosed because it is relatively rare and certain symptoms are similar to Parkinson's disease. However, PSP is much more common than previously believed. Its prevalence is about three to six people per 100,000 individuals. Symptoms generally appear in the 60s-70s but can affect people from the age of 40 onwards. There are currently no treatments available to cure this disease.