French biotech Erytech Pharma (EPA:ERYP) said today that it named Alexander Scheer as chief scientific officer and Jean-Sébastien Cleiftie as chief business officer.
The Lyon, France-based company encapsulates enzymes inside red blood cells that deprive tumors of necessary nutrients to treat rare forms of cancers and orphan diseases. Erytech has an ongoing Phase I clinical trial of its encapsulated enzyme in the U.S. in adults with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia, as well as multiple ongoing clinical trials in Europe.
The EMA and the FDA have granted orphan drug designation for the company’s eryaspase treatment, which uses an encapsulated enzyme known as L-asparaginase to deplete asparagine from circulating blood plasma. Asparagine is a naturally occurring amino acid that’s essential for cancer cell survival and proliferation.
Prior to his appointment at Erytech, Scheer was the head of research at Pierre Fabre in France, working on oncology and central nervous system research. He has also worked as the director of the global research informatics & knowledge management R&D for neglected diseases at Merck Serono in Switzerland. In collaboration with the World Health Organization, he led Merck’s program to develop drugs for neglected diseases.
Cleiftie formerly served as associate VP for global business development & licensing at Sanofi in France, leading licensing transactions across therapeutic areas. He has also worked as a principal at Innoven Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in healthcare and IT in Europe and the U.S.
“We are delighted to welcome Alexander and Jean-Sébastien to the Erytech leadership team as they both bring invaluable experience from cross-functional areas of the life science industry,” chairman & CEO Gil Beyen said in prepared remarks. “Alexander brings a wealth of knowledge in leading global R&D and drug discovery across multiple disciplines and several therapeutic areas, while Jean-Sébastien’s deep expertise in biopharmaceutical business development and financial valuation will be instrumental to Erytech as we continue to diversify our programs and address unmet medical needs of patients.”
“Erytech’s ERYCAPS technology represents a novel approach to anti-cancer tumor starvation treatment,” Scheer said. “The company has demonstrated exceptional progress in preclinical and clinical development of multiple pipeline programs and I look forward to leading the development of these promising therapies.”
“I believe Erytech is very well positioned to be a successful biopharmaceutical company,” Cleiftie added. “I am eager to direct the strategic initiatives necessary for continued growth of the company and its operations as it enters the next phase of development.”