Vor Biopharma, an oncology company pioneering engineered hematopoietic stem cells (eHSCs) for the treatment of cancer, today announced it has appointed Christopher Slapak, MD, as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Slapak has more than 20 years of leadership experience in oncology drug development and previously led global clinical development for all early-stage oncology compounds for Eli Lilly and Company.
"As Vor rapidly advances to become a clinical-stage company, it is wonderful for Christopher to commit to this full-time role leading the development of our oncology therapeutics," said Robert Ang, MBBS, MBA, Vor’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Dr. Slapak has served as Vor’s Interim Chief Medical Officer since July 2019 as part of his work as an independent consultant advising on scientific and medical aspects of oncology drug development. For more than 20 years, he held leadership roles at Eli Lilly and Company, including positions as Distinguished Lilly Scholar and Vice President, Early Phase Research. He oversaw the global clinical development of all early-stage oncology compounds for Lilly and ImClone (which was acquired by Lilly in 2008), including the successful early-stage development of abemaciclib (Verzenio®).
Dr. Slapak received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency in internal medicine. After fellowship training in hematology and oncology at Tufts/New England Medical Center, Dr. Slapak was appointed Instructor and then Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. He is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology and currently has a joint appointment as Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
"Vor’s approach to engineering hematopoietic stem cells that are invulnerable to targeted therapies is a major innovation in stem cell transplantation," Dr. Slapak said. "Acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and our lead indication, constitutes a major unmet medical need – more than 20,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed annually and less than 30% survive five years after diagnosis. By rendering healthy blood and bone marrow cells invisible to CD33-targeted therapies, we hope to provide long-term remissions for these patients, ultimately improving and prolonging life."
About Vor Biopharma
Vor Biopharma aims to transform the lives of cancer patients by pioneering engineered hematopoietic stem cell (eHSC) therapies. By removing biologically redundant proteins from eHSCs, these cells become inherently invulnerable to complementary targeted therapies while tumor cells are left susceptible, thereby unleashing the potential of targeted therapies to benefit cancer patients in need.
Vor’s platform could be used to potentially change the treatment paradigm of both hematopoietic stem cell transplants and targeted therapies, such as antibody drug conjugates, bispecific antibodies and CAR-T cell treatments.
Vor is based in Cambridge, Mass. and has a broad intellectual property base, including in-licenses from Columbia University, where foundational work was conducted by inventor and Vor Scientific Board Chair Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil.
Vor’s lead product candidate, VOR33, consists of engineered hematopoietic stem cells (eHSCs) that lack the protein CD33. Once these cells are transplanted into a cancer patient, we believe that CD33 will become a far more cancer-specific target, potentially avoiding toxicity to the normal blood and bone marrow associated with CD33-targeted therapies. Vor aims to improve the therapeutic window and effectiveness of CD33-targeted therapies, thereby potentially broadening the clinical benefit to patients suffering from acute myeloid leukemia.