Torque Appoints James Mullen as Chairman of Board of Directors, Maykin Ho, PhD, as Strategic Advisor to the Board of Directors, and Mario Sznol, MD, to Scientific Advisory Board
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Torque, an immuno-oncology company developing Deep Primed™ T Cells to direct immune power deep within the tumor microenvironment, announced today the appointment of James Mullen as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Maykin Ho, PhD, as Strategic Advisor to the Board of Directors, and Mario Sznol, MD, to the Scientific Advisory Board.
“We are delighted to welcome Jim Mullen, Maykin Ho, and Mario Sznol to help guide Torque as we build out our product pipeline and initiate our first clinical trials for Deep Primed T cells targeting both solid and hematologic tumors,” said Bart Henderson, Chief Executive Officer of Torque. “We are working at the intersection of cell therapy and cytokine therapy—a unique and leading edge of immunotherapy—and we intend to rely heavily on this group of pioneering leaders who are each highly successful in their respective fields: Jim has broad and diverse experience building global manufacturing, R&D, and commercial organizations; Maykin led the biotechnology financial analysis field for more than 20 years, including as a senior advisor to Goldman Sachs; and Mario Sznol is a world-recognized leader in oncology and immunotherapy clinical development.”
Mr. Mullen has more than 30 years of experience building leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical organizations in all aspects of marketing, manufacturing and finance, most recently as Chief Executive Officer of Patheon N.V., a leading global provider of pharmaceutical development and manufacturing services, until its acquisition by Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2017. Prior to leading Patheon, Mr. Mullen was Chief Executive Officer and President at Biogen, where he had previously held the positions of Chief Operating Officer; Vice President, International; and Vice President, Operations. Before joining Biogen, Mr. Mullen held several manufacturing and engineering positions at SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline plc). Mr. Mullen holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Villanova University.
“Torque’s Deep Priming technology engine is built on a strong foundation of biology and is moving several products into the clinic rapidly,” said Mr. Mullen. “These products are a new class of immunotherapy with broad potential for treating a significant number of oncology indications by integrating the immune power of cytokines with multi-target, antigen primed T cells. I am very excited to join the Torque team to help build a great company that has the potential for making a dramatic impact on the treatment of cancer.”
Dr. Ho is a retired Partner of Goldman Sachs & Co. where she spent 23 years, most recently as an Advisory Director for Global Healthcare Investment Banking. Previously, she was the lead biotechnology analyst and co-head of U.S. Healthcare for Global Investment Research. Dr. Ho was ranked the First or Second Team in Biotechnology by Institutional Investor and Greenwich Associates for more than 10 years. She has also received numerous awards from The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Dr. Ho held senior management positions in research, marketing, and business development at Dupont-Merck Pharmaceuticals and Dupont De Nemours & Company. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School after earning a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Ho is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
“I am excited about the potential for Torque’s technology, because it builds upon well-understood immunology and the early success with checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T cells,” said Dr. Ho. “Torque is evaluating a powerful combination of two approaches to direct a regulated immune response at the tumor site. First, priming natural T cells without genetic engineering should allow retention of the full immune signaling power of T cell receptors. Second, designing tethered cytokines to drive cell function in a targeted manner.”
Dr. Sznol is a Professor of Internal Medicine, Leader of the Disease-Aligned Research Team, and co-Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program of the Yale Cancer Center. Previously, he served as Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Vion Pharmaceuticals. Before joining Vion, Dr. Sznol was Head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s Biologics Evaluation Section, Investigational Drug Branch, Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. During his professional career, Dr. Sznol has focused on clinical development of cytokines, vaccines, antibodies, and bacterial products for treatment of cancer. He received a BA from Rice University and an MD from the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Sznol completed his fellowship in Medical Oncology, Department of Neoplastic Diseases, at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and his residency in Internal Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“There is a compelling need for cell therapies that target solid as well as hematologic tumors and that overcome the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment in a controlled manner,” said Dr. Sznol. “The Deep-Priming technology has to potential to drive cytokine activation locally in the tumor microenvironment, which has been a goal for decades but is not possible with conventional approaches. I am excited to advise the Torque team on the development of this unique technology.”
About Deep-Primed™ Immune Cell Therapeutics
Torque’s Deep-Priming platform uses advanced cell process engineering to:
- prime and activate T cells to target multiple tumor antigens, and
- tether immune-stimulatory drugs to the surface of these multi-target T cells to direct immune activation in the tumor microenvironment
Deep-Primed T cells both target multiple tumor antigens and pharmacologically activate an immune response with anchored cytokines. This process does not require genetic engineering of the T cells and so preserves the natural T cell receptor for delivering a regulated immune response, with the potential for a high margin of safety. In addition to antigen priming, a focused set of immunomodulators are tethered to the surface of Deep-Primed T cells—initially IL-15 and IL-12 cytokines, and TLR agonists—that activate and focus both innate and adaptive immunity. Administering these immunomodulators systemically to a patient can cause lethal toxicity by activating immune cells throughout the body. By loading precise doses of cytokines onto the surface of T cells, Deep Priming focuses the immune response to target the tumor, without systemic exposure.
In hematologic cancers, this new class of immune therapeutics has the potential to improve on the initial success of single-target CAR T therapeutics with expanded efficacy and also move cell therapy treatment out of the hospital with a high margin of safety. For solid tumors, Deep-Primed T cells have the potential to enable efficacy against tumors with heterogeneous antigens protected by hostile microenvironments, which are not readily addressable with the first generation of immune cell therapies.
About Torque (www.torquetx.com)
Torque is an immuno-oncology company developing Deep Primed™ T cells to direct immune power deep within the tumor microenvironment. Torque’s lead product candidate is Deep IL-15, which is in pre-IND development for hematologic and solid tumors. The company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.