Persomed, a consortium dedicated to the development of personalized cancer vaccines, announced the appointment of Kristof Vercruysse as CEO. Kristof brings almost 20 years of biotech industry knowledge and business development skills to Persomed. In this new role, his contribution will be crucial for the transition of the consortium into a new company. He has been charged with the necessary strategic planning and implementation to scaleup development of multiple safe, effective and affordable personalized cancer treatments and bring these to market.
“I would like to thank the Persomed partners for their full support and trust to lead this new company. I am delighted to be part of this truly innovative personalized approach in the quest to cure colon cancer, advance our pipeline into other cancers, and realize our vision of bringing safer and more effective cancer therapies to patients,” said Kristof Vercruysse.
Initially, the ICON Persomed consortium is developing a personalized colon cancer vaccine that employs each patients’ own immune system. Leveraging its consortium roots, the Persomed venture plans to initiate a growth strategy to extend its personalized treatment portfolio beyond colon cancer. Implementing this strategic plan could potentially require attracting additional funds, possibly with new investors. As a result, Persomed's team of multidisciplinary specialists will be expanded in order to increase the pace and reach of vaccine development efforts.
“Kristof has experience in several areas overlapping with the clinical goals of the Persomed and possesses a profile complimentary to the partners already dedicated to the project,” said Cedric Bogaert, CEO of myNEO. “The future plans of the Persomed venture are ambitious, so it’s of great value to have the commitment and experience of Kristof to coordinate and manage the multidisciplinary challenges characteristic with such growth.”
VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): “Great to see a VUB-Alumnus joining a spin-off of his own alma mater! We are delighted that Kristof will guide us through the next stage of Persomed development, helping us in structuring and laying a strong foundation of the new company.”
“In Kristof, we found a CEO with the required experience and background, and someone who personally fits with the four founding partners,” explains Bart Van Acker, CEO of QbD. “We worked hard to bring Persomed to where we are right now. Nevertheless, we have reached the point where we need someone who is committed to take us to the next level. I’m confident Kristof is the right person for the job, and we’ll be able to achieve our ultimate goal of bringing a personalized vaccine to the patient in 2024!”
Jan Schrooten, CEO of Antleron: “We are very pleased to have Kristof on board as CEO. The entire consortium is confident that Kristof’s strategic and operational skills and experience will enable us to translate the advanced technology and in-depth expertise of the four partner organizations into the Persomed venture, and as such to pave the way toward targeted and affordable personalized cancer treatments.”
Kristof Vercruysse has built an impressive track record of almost twenty years in the biotech industry, most recently as Chief Development and Chief Medical Officer of TargED Biopharmaceuticals (previously called IOVA). He is Director of Early Development and Project Manager at the CRO Sourcia and before that Director of Clinical Operations at Ablynx. His initial industry career started in clinical research roles at PRA International, Organon and Nycomed. Kristof Vercruysse holds a Master of Biomedical Science from VUB.
The Persomed consortium (involving myNEO, QbD, Antleron and VUB) was established to develop a cost and time efficient personalized colon cancer vaccine that can be deployed on a large scale. By identifying and isolating patient-specific epitopes, mutations found on their cancer cells, the Persomed venture is developing tailored treatments that activate the immune system specifically against these cancer proteins.
The analysis of the tumour will be performed for each patient separately by myNEO and the selected patient-specific epitopes formulated into a vaccine by the LMCT lab of the VUB. This will involve reprogramming the patient’s blood cells in the laboratory into powerful immune-activating dendritic cells that will then be administered back to the patient. The immune-activating dendritic cells, created on the basis of the individual genetic mutations, will in turn stimulate the immune system just like a regular vaccine.
In addition, the Persomed venture will put particular focus in further developing and refining dendritic cell therapy into an effective, safe and affordable vaccine produced via a standardised method for each individual patient. This is where the joint expertise of QbD and Antleron will be used to develop a scalable and cost-efficient manufacturing process. This will allow Persomed to expand this standardised vaccine manufacturing method towards use in other solid cancers. The consortium has received a government VLAIO grant of more than €2.1 million and the goal is to have a fully operational vaccine by 2024.