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Syntimmune appoints David De Graaf CEO

Friday, November 18, 2016

Syntimmune, a clinical-stage biotechnology company advancing novel treatments for IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases based on leading expertise in FcRn biology, has announced the expansion of its leadership team and Board of Directors. David de Graaf, Ph.D. has been appointed Syntimmune’s president and chief executive officer, and Burt Adelman, M.D. has been elected to the company’s board and named as senior advisor to the company.

Syntimmune continues to advance its lead clinical candidate, SYNT001, and anticipates commencing multiple phase Ib/IIa studies in different indications during the first half of 2017. SYNT001 is a biologic that precisely blocks FcRn-IgG interactions and is being developed for the treatment of IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases.

The company also announced today that the final $8 million tranche of its $26 million Series A financing was triggered through dose selection for its follow-on phase Ib/IIa studies. This brings to $28 million the total capital the company has raised to date.

“Syntimmune represents what I believe to be the best of innovation in the life sciences. The team led by Dr. Laurence Blumberg, business founder and chief operating officer, has clinically translated compelling science from the laboratory of Dr. Richard Blumberg, scientific founder of Syntimmune and professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. SYNT001 has met our targets for IgG lowering and impacting other aspects of FcRn function in its phase Ia trial. Because SYNT001 targets multiple aspects of FcRn-IgG biology involved in inflammation, this novel therapy holds outstanding promise. The Company now is rapidly advancing SYNT001 in clinical trials with the potential to show, in addition to important safety findings, confirmation of a differentiated MOA with anticipated applications in broad human disease areas,” stated Dr. De Graaf. “At each stage, the company has reached clear value inflection points, and I am thrilled to be a part of this team in growing Syntimmune and continuing this impressive record of accomplishment.”

“We have continued to execute and accomplish key goals for 2016. These include the closing of the second and final tranches of our Series A, which was co-led by Apple Tree Partners and Baxalta Ventures with participation by the Partners Innovation Fund and additional investors and the successful filing of our IND for SYNT001 and the progression of our first clinical trial of this promising candidate with breakthrough potential,” said Dr. Laurence Blumberg. “The expansion of our leadership team and Board, along with early clinical data, positions Syntimmune to achieve significant program milestones over the next 12-18 months, including commencement of multiple phase Ib/IIa studies of SYNT001 in the first half of next year.”

Dr. Laurence Blumberg added, “We are very excited to attract leaders such as Dr. David de Graaf and Dr. Burt Adelman to help the Company advance to the next stage of development.”

Dr. Adelman commented, “Syntimmune is making rapid progress in an area that has been a major focus for industry, advancing a promising agent that blocks FcRn-IgG interactions in order to meet the needs of broad patient populations across diverse therapeutic indications. I am delighted to work with the world-class team at Syntimmune to unlock the value of FcRn.”

David De Graaf, Ph.D., has served in leadership roles in biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms from the bench to the boardroom. Prior to joining Syntimmune, he was a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners. Previously, he was executive chairman and chief executive at Selventa, a firm he successfully rebranded and refocused, growing it to cumulative sales of $35 million. Before that, De Graaf served as vice president of biotherapeutics and integrative biology at Boehringer-Ingelheim, where he also served as interim head of U.S. research. Earlier, he held leadership positions at Pfizer (director of the Systems Biology, Biotherapeutics and BioInnovation Center, head of systems biology) and AstraZeneca (global head of strategic capabilities systems biology, associate director of the computational biology section) and at the MIT/Whitehead Center for Genome Research, where he was the Head of Target Validation. He holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, and is the inventor on several granted and pending patents.

For more than 20 years, Burt Adelman, M.D., has played prominent roles at some of the Boston area’s most successful biopharmaceutical companies. Most recently, Dr. Adelman served as executive vice president of research and development for Dyax Corp. (acquired by Shire for $6 billion in 2015). Previously, he held a number of executive leadership roles at Biogen, including executive vice president of research and development and executive vice president for portfolio strategy, leading development efforts for Angiomax (anticoagulation), Avonex (multiple sclerosis), Amevive (psoriasis) and Tysabri (multiple sclerosis). He serves on the board of directors of Catabasis Pharmaceuticals.

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