NeuroPhage Appoints Industry Veteran Franz Hefti, PhD, President/COO
Dr. Hefti to Lead All Clinical Development Efforts and Strategic Initiatives
Cambridge, MA, November 4, 2014 – NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a pioneering drug development company focused on diseases of protein misfolding, today announced the appointment of Dr. Franz Hefti, PhD, to President and Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Hefti has extensive experience in drug development for neurodegenerative diseases, recently serving as Chief Scientific Officer at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, now a subsidiary of Eli Lilly, and formerly serving as the Executive Vice President of Drug Development at Rinat Neuroscience, which was acquired by Pfizer. His immediate focus will be to support the current clinical development programs focused on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, broaden the Company’s therapeutic focus to include orphan disease indications, and enhance NeuroPhage’s in-house development capabilities
“Dr. Hefti brings to NeuroPhage vast experience in the research, development, and business of neurodegenerative therapeutics as well as in the use of PET imaging agents to demonstrate target engagement and efficacy in clinical trials. Dr. Hefti’s expertise will prove invaluable to NeuroPhage as we advance NPT088 into clinical studies in late 2015,” said Jonathan Solomon, CEO at NeuroPhage.
“NeuroPhage’s general amyloid interaction motif (GAIM) technology has the potential to target multiple misfolded proteins simultaneously, which could truly revolutionize the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other protein misfolding diseases,” commented Dr. Hefti. “I look forward being a part of NeuroPhage’s innovative team and bringing these candidates to patients in need.”
Dr. Hefti has twenty years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and over a decade in academia. He serves on the boards of directors of several biotechnology companies pursuing novel therapies in neurodegenerative diseases, and has served as Chairman of NeuroPhage’s Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Hefti was Chief Scientific Officer at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which developed the first diagnostic imaging agent for Alzheimer’s disease. He also led drug development efforts at Rinat Neuroscience Corporation as Executive Vice President of Drug Development. Prior to Rinat, Dr. Hefti was Senior Vice President of Neuroscience Research at Merck and Co., where he coordinated the company’s neuroscience research worldwide. He served as site head for the neuroscience research centers in the UK and US and moved small molecule drug candidates for multiple drug targets into development. Dr. Hefti was also Director of the Neuroscience Research Department at Genentech and previously spent more than a decade in academia as a Professor at the University of Southern California and Associate Professor at the University of Miami, where he carried out seminal research on therapeutic applications of neurotrophic factors. He has published over 250 papers on neurotrophic factors and topics in neuropharmacology, as well as a textbook, Drug Discovery for Nervous System Diseases (John Wiley and Sons). Dr. Hefti received a PhD from the University of Zurich and did his postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Max Planck Institute in Munich.
NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals is advancing fusion-protein drug candidates for misfolded protein diseases. NeuroPhage’s technology is based on a General Amyloid Interaction Motif (GAIM) technology that simultaneously targets multiple misfolded proteins central to these diseases. NeuroPhage’s drug candidates recognize both early amyloid assemblies and pre-existing protein aggregates to maximize potential therapeutic effect. NeuroPhage is initially developing candidates to treat neurodegenerative diseases and several rare systemic amyloidosis diseases.