- Genetic medicine executive brings deep sector expertise to synthetic rescue leader
- Pioneering platform charting world-first druggable target opportunities for diseases with a genetic component
- Adrestia building a synthetic rescue ‘atlas’ of the human genome
- Emerging pipeline of first-in-class therapies initially focused on neurologic, neuromuscular and cardiomyopathic diseases
CAMBRIDGE, England–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 3, 2022–
Adrestia Therapeutics, a leader in synthetic rescue therapies for genetic diseases, today announced the appointment of life sciences executive Robert Johnson as Chief Executive Officer. Johnson joins the company following executive positions at Boston-based gene therapy company Affinia Therapeutics, which he co-founded, and a career in biotech and pharmaceutical management consulting. Johnson will lead Adrestia in the next phase of its development, leveraging its leading synthetic rescue platform to advance a portfolio of first-in-class therapeutics into clinical studies.
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Robert Johnson, CEO, Adrestia Therapeutics (Photo: Business Wire)
“Rob joins Adrestia at a pivotal moment, as the company is delivering robust validation of its platform through its collaboration with GSK and is now advancing a portfolio of its own first-in-class programs towards IND,” said Joanna Green, of Ahren Innovation Capital, which co-led Adrestia’s Series A with GSK. “His strategic insights will be invaluable as Adrestia consolidates its position as a leading innovator in synthetic rescue, opening new therapeutic possibilities for intractable genetic diseases.”
Despite advances in genetic technologies, many genes known to directly cause disease remain undruggable. Synthetic rescue offers a fresh approach: rather than targeting the causative mutation, a synthetic rescue drug modulates a related pathway, correcting the effects of the disease mutation and ‘rescuing’ cells from disease. The concept is enabled by a deep understanding of genetic networks and its therapeutic potential is illustrated in families where a member born with a disease-causing mutation is protected from disease due to a second ‘rescue’ mutation. Synthetic rescue presents new opportunities for drug development across all diseases that have a genetic component, including prevalent conditions like heart failure, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
“Physicians have long known that the severity of a genetic disease can be modulated by other genetic factors. The challenge has always been – how do we identify those factors, and use that knowledge to help patients? Dramatic advances in functional genomics, cell and molecular biology and bioinformatics have set the stage for Adrestia’s platform to methodically identify these precious insights,” said Johnson. “I look forward to working with the Adrestia team to advance our pipeline into the clinic and apply synthetic rescue to benefit people living with one of the thousands of serious genetic conditions.”
Adrestia’s pioneering platform systematically mines the entire human genome for synthetic rescue targets using proprietary precision disease models. The platform builds on decades of research from the laboratory of Adrestia’s founder, Professor Steve Jackson, and is already delivering novel validated targets to inform a synthetic rescue ‘atlas’ of the genome. Jackson is a pioneer in the related field of synthetic lethality for the treatment of cancers, notably co-originating olaparib, the first of a family of synthetic lethal drugs that has enhanced and extended the lives of thousands of cancer patients worldwide.
“Rob’s leadership will be invaluable as Adrestia shifts from discovery to executing on a long-term portfolio strategy. Our rigorous drug development platform benefits from eight years of focused research into synthetic rescue and leverages a range of research tools validated over decades in synthetic lethality,” said Jackson. “Our tools and know-how are exploiting the vast wealth of human genomics data available today to rapidly characterize the most compelling synthetic rescue targets for intractable diseases and build a pipeline with exciting potential for patients”.
Robert Johnson was previously co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Affinia Therapeutics, a Boston-based gene therapy company engineering next-generation AAV capsids. Affinia’s Series A was backed by noted life sciences investors NEA, Atlas and F-Prime, and was followed by a $1.6 billion strategic alliance with Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Prior to Affinia, in 2009 Johnson co-founded Alacrita, a biotech and pharmaceutical strategy consulting firm. Over a decade of his leadership, he managed and led hundreds of consulting assignments. While working at Alacrita, Johnson also founded Foothold America, a fast-growing facilitator of market entry into the U.S. for the life sciences and other industries. He began his career at Onyvax, a 3i and SR One portfolio company developing allogeneic whole cell cancer vaccines, where he concluded his tenure as Head of Business Development.
About Adrestia’s synthetic rescue platform
Adrestia has developed a leading synthetic rescue drug development platform, which has already identified completely new approaches to treating intractable genetic diseases. The platform includes multiple components, each designed to yield new insights into how every gene in the human genome modifies a particular disease’s cellular phenotype. These insights are married with human genetic datasets to provide robust validation of new druggable targets and build an ever-growing synthetic rescue ‘atlas’ of the human genome.
This scalable platform builds on decades of research by Professor Steve Jackson’s laboratory into the related concept of synthetic lethality for the treatment of cancer. The Jackson Laboratory’s work has yielded a wealth of techniques, tools and know-how, now translated into Adrestia’s synthetic rescue platform.
Adrestia is a leader in synthetic rescue therapies for genetic diseases. As many directly causative mutations are not druggable, synthetic rescue embraces the much broader target set within related pathways to correct the effects of the causative mutations and ‘rescue’ health. Adrestia is creating a synthetic rescue ‘atlas’ of the human genome and advancing a portfolio of first-in-class therapies, initially for neurological, neuromuscular and cardiomyopathic diseases. Adrestia’s platform and in-house programs are complemented by a target discovery alliance with GSK and a Huntington’s disease collaboration with noted researchers including Dr. Sarah Tabrizi at University College London.
Adrestia was co-founded by Professor Steve Jackson and the deep technology investment fund Ahren Innovation Capital, which co-led Adrestia’s Series A financing along with GSK. Jackson co-originated the first synthetic lethality drug, olaparib, which was the first drug approved to treat cancers caused by inherited mutations. For further information, please visit: www.adrestia.com.
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