Augustine Therapeutics, a biotech company developing novel therapies for neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders, appoints Gerhard Koenig as Chairman of the Board. The company also expands the Scientific Advisory Board with clinical experts to support broader therapeutic applications, exploring the potential of novel HDAC6 inhibitors in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), and now also in other indications such as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Gerhard Koenig, Chairman of the Board: "HDAC6 inhibition holds tremendous potential across a range of diseases, but previous chemotypes have exhibited many limitations. Augustine has developed unique, highly selective, and potent HDAC6 inhibitors with favorable drug-like properties, and I am excited to join their Board of Directors to support the team's efforts to advance these differentiated molecules into clinical testing in the near future."
Gerhard Koenig, PhD is a senior R&D leader with more than 28 years of experience in drug development. He co-founded US start-up Arkuda Therapeutics in early 2018, where he has since served as President & CEO and helped raise over USD 110 million in Series A & B financing rounds to develop therapies for neurological diseases. He also serves as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Atlas Venture, a Boston-based VC fund. Prior to his current positions, Gerhard served as CEO of Quartet Medicine, CSO and Senior Vice President of FORUM Pharmaceuticals, Vice President of Scientific Programs and Evaluation at Fidelity Biosciences Group (now F’ Prime Capital), and held multiple positions at pharmaceutical company Bayer. Gerhard received his PhD and MS degrees in molecular and cellular neurobiology with a minor in biochemistry, graduating summa cum laude from the University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Sylvain Celanire, CEO: “We’re extremely pleased to welcome Gerhard onboard as Chairman. His scientific background, drug development expertise, and network will be vitally important in helping us progress through our current discovery stage and into the clinic.”
The company also announced the formation of a Clinical Advisory Board, as the company prepares to move its pipeline into the clinic.
Encouraged by strong preclinical evidence for the treatment of axonal degeneration induced by chemotherapies (CIPN) and breakthrough discoveries on the therapeutic use of HDAC6 inhibitors in ALS (also known as motor neuron disease) the company has decided to expand its focus to include these applications in addition to CMT.
The Advisory Board is consequently being bolstered, with Scientific Founders Prof Ludo Van Den Bosch and Prof Joris de Wit (both VIB-KU Leuven, Belgium) joined by:
Davide Pareyson, MD
Dr Pareyson, is a Clinical Neurologist working at the Fondazione IRCCS Instituto Neurologico C. Besta, Milan, Italy, where he is currently Head of the Functional Department of Rare Neurological Diseases and Chief of the Simple Dept. Unit of “Rare Neurological Diseases of Adulthood”. He is actively working on the development of clinical outcome measures for hereditary neuropathies and other rare diseases, including CMT.
Jonathan Baets, MD, PhD
Dr Baets is Professor at Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium, and medical director of the Neuromuscular Reference Center. His clinical research expertise encompasses various aspects of neuromuscular disorders, most notably Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, gene identification studies, genotype-phenotype correlation studies, muscle- and nerve histopathology, and biomarker design.
Tom Lloyd, MD, PhD
Dr Lloyd is Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. He specializes in neuromuscular disorders in adults, with a particular interest in neurogenetics and motor neuron diseases including ALS, motor neuropathies, and muscle diseases. His research interests include understanding the mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration.
Philip Van Damme, MD, PhD
Dr Van Damme is currently leading the Neuromuscular Reference Center at the University Hospital in Leuven, Belgium and is a professor at the Department of Neuroscience at KU Leuven. He is also heading the chair of the European Academy of Neurology guideline panel on ALS. He is actively involved in clinical research, as well as investigating genetic modifiers of ALS and on disease pathways in pluripotent stem cell models.
Guido Cavaletti MD, PhD
Dr Cavaletti is Professor of Human Anatomy, School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca, and Head of the outpatient clinic at the Department of Neurology, S. Gerardo University Hospital, Monza, Italy. He served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Peripheral Nerve Society and as President of the Italian Peripheral Neuropathy Association.
Rainer Freynhagen, MD
Dr Freynhagen is Professor and Chief Physician at the Hospital Benedictus, Tutzing, Germany, and specialist in pain management, anesthesiology, intensive and palliative care, and sports medicine. He has developed amongst others pain DETECT, a screening tool used worldwide to discriminate between neuropathic and non-neuropathic pain.
Hans Wildiers, MD
Dr Wildiers is a medical oncologist dedicated to breast cancer clinical research at the University Hospital Leuven, Belgium. He has been the coordinator of several academic studies in the field of breast cancer and geriatric oncology. He has also chaired the elderly task force cancer of the European Organization of Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).
Dr Nicholas Carruthers, PhD, former VP Global Head Chemistry for Neuroscience - Janssen Pharmaceutica, will also join the Advisory Board to provide his extensive expertise in advancing small molecule drug candidates from preclinical discovery stage to clinical development.
Ludo Van Den Bosch, Scientific Founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board: “We have strengthened the Scientific Advisory Board significantly with these additional members, who are all global leaders in their field: US and European experts and clinical investigators with extensive experience in evaluating small-molecule therapies in CMT, CIPN, and ALS clinical trials. We’re looking forward to working together as Augustine Therapeutics transitions from the discovery stage into the clinic, where we are confident we have a solution that will help a huge number of underserved patients.”