Modifi Bio Announces Scientific Advisory Board

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Modifi Biosciences, a leader in DNA modification as a novel approach to target cancer, today announced its Scientific Advisory Board, with the appointments of Joseph Costello, PhD; Vishwas Paralkar, PhD; Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD; Peter Glazer, MD, PhD; Jann Sarkaria, MD; Roger Stupp, MD; Michael Dillon, PhD; and Patricia LoRusso, DO.

Ranjit Bindra, MD, PhD, co-founder of Modifi Bio commented, “We have made great progress at Modifi Bio with our novel cancer therapeutics platform. Our lead molecules demonstrate robust anti-tumor activity in glioma, and many other cancers outside of the brain which harbor intrinsic DNA repair defects. Our Scientific Advisory Board members bring a wealth of expertise in medical oncology, drug development, and early phase clinical trials, which will be critical as we move closer towards the clinic.”

Dr. Costello is currently a professor of Neurosurgery at UCSF and holds the Karen Osney Brownstein Endowed Chair in Neuro-oncology. He is also the Director of the NIH-supported Training Program in Translational Brain Tumor Research at UCSF, and recently served as the Director of the UCSF-based NIH Roadmap Epigenome Mapping Center. His laboratory is composed of molecular and computational biologists working alongside clinician-scientists. Dr. Costello’s research aims to understand the full evolutionary history of human brain tumors, from the first mutation and epimutation through clonal selection and tumor recurrence, using next-generation sequencing to discover patterns and interdependencies of genetic mutations, epigenetic alternations, and gene expression. His most current project incorporates MRI-guided tumor biopsies and treatment data with longitudinal genomics to allow the reconstruction of tumor evolution in the context of the human tumor in vivo. He is also an Associate Member of the British Columbia Genome Sciences Centre.

Dr. Paralkar has more than 23 years of executive experience in addition to extensive drug discovery and research experience and is currently the Chief Scientific Officer at Cybrexa Therapeutics. Dr. Paralkar previously served as Chief Scientific Officer of Karos Pharmaceuticals where he was the company’s first employee and served as the CSO until its acquisition in August of 2017. Prior to joining Karos in 2010, Dr. Paralkar was a Senior Director at Pfizer, which he joined in 1995. Before that, he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. He is a very experienced drug developer responsible for submitting 8 INDs (including both small and large molecules) as well as one drug approval.

Dr. Ahluwalia is the Deputy Director, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chief of Solid Tumor Medical Oncology at the Miami Cancer Institute. Previously at the Cleveland Clinic, he was the Dean and Diane Miller Family Endowed Chair in Neuro-Oncology and the head of operations in the Rose Ella Burkhardt Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center (BBTC). He also served as a professor in the Department of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. His research focuses on the development of new therapies for patients with brain tumors and brain metastases. He is an internationally recognized clinical investigator with deep ties in both the established and start-up pharmaceutical community, both of which have led to his role as principal investigator on many multi-site national and international studies involving many solid tumor types. His research has been presented nationally and internationally and has resulted in over 200 manuscripts, editorials, and book chapters.

Dr. Glazer is currently the Hunter Professor and Chairman of the Department of Therapeutic Radiology and Professor of Genetics at Yale. Dr. Glazer’s lab’s main focus has been elucidating the regulation of DNA repair in cancer and developing novel agents to exploit DNA repair for cancer therapy. He is credited with making the seminal observation that tumor hypoxia promotes genetic instability, and he has systematically dissected the mechanism for this effect, revealing that DNA repair is dysregulated in hypoxic cancer cells. Dr. Glazer has also pioneered the use of triplex-forming oligonucleotides for targeted gene editing, with recent work demonstrating successful gene editing in a living animal by simple intravenous administration of oligonucleotide-containing nanoparticles, providing a potentially safer and simpler alternative to CRISPR. He served as Chairperson of the Radiation Therapeutics and Biology Study Section for NIH, as well as on councils and program committees for several national societies. He has also led the Yale Cancer Center’s Radiobiology & Radiotherapy research program for more than 20 years.

Dr. Sarkaria is a Professor of Radiation Oncology at Mayo Clinic. He conducts translational neuro-oncology research focused on developing novel therapeutic strategies for people with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and brain metastases. Specifically, his lab’s focus includes understanding the basis of resistance to chemotherapy and radiation, identifying methods to overcome therapy resistance, integration of novel signal transduction inhibitors into conventional therapies for newly diagnosed or recurrent GBM, and use of next-generation sequencing and proteomics to guide individualized therapy for patients with GBM. Another major focus of Dr. Sarkaria’s laboratory is examining the blood-brain barrier and defining which drugs have adequate penetration into brain tumors and testing novel delivery methods to enhance drug accumulation within brain tumors. Dr. Sarkaria was a Research Fellow in the Radiotherapy Research Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research and a Resident in Radiation Oncology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Dr. Dillon served as Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research, at IDEAYA Biosciences, where he helped build IDEAYA into a clinical stage, synthetic lethality-focused precision medicine company with a robust pipeline of potential first-in-class and/or best-in-class therapeutics. From 2008 to 2016, Dr. Dillon was with the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) where he served in various leadership roles, including Global Discovery Chemistry Head, Oncology and New Therapeutic Modalities, Head of Chemical Sciences and Executive Director Oncology Chemistry. In his global role he contributed across the portfolio where a number of compounds advanced into the clinic. Prior to NIBR, Dr. Dillon worked at Roche and Syntex (acquired by Roche), where he led multiple programs including first-in-class P2X3 antagonist Gefapixant, now being developed by Merck.

Dr. Stupp is the Paul C. Bucy Professor of Neurological Surgery and Professor of Neurology and Medicine (Hematology/Oncology) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. In the brain tumor field, he is best known for his contributions of temozolomide and radiation in the first line treatment of brain tumors (the “stupp protocol”) and establishing MGMT as a predictive marker for benefit from alkylating agent chemotherapy. Two novel treatments that are based on Dr. Stupp’s research received FDA approval and are today standard of care for patients suffering from glioblastoma. He is also the Chief of Neuro-Oncology in the Department of Neurology, and Co-Director of the Northwestern Medicine Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Stupp has been the lead investigator for numerous clinical trials from first-in-human Phase 1 to pivotal Phase 3 registration studies.

Dr. LoRusso brings more than 25 years of expertise in medical oncology, drug development, and early phase clinical trials. Currently Dr. LoRusso is the Associate Director for Experimental Therapeutics at Yale University and the Principal Investigator of the National Cancer Institute/Clinical Trials Evaluation Program (NCI/CTEP) Early Therapeutics UM1 Grant for Yale University. Prior to this, Dr. LoRusso served in numerous leadership roles at Wayne State University’s Barbara Karmanos Cancer Institute, most recently as director of the Phase I Clinical Trials Program and of the Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and on the Board of Scientific Council for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Intramural Program. Previously Dr. LoRusso was co-chair of the NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) Investigational Drug Steering Committee. She has also served on the education and scientific committees of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the scientific committee of the AACR, and as a parent member of the NCI’s Quick Trials Clinical Subcommittee.

About Modifi Bio

Based in New Haven, CT, Modifi Bio is a leader in direct DNA modification developing novel therapeutics by uniquely targeting tumor-associated DNA repair defects. Aiming to improve the standard of cancer therapy and patient care, the Modifi Bio team includes world-renowned scientists, clinicians and experienced biotech entrepreneurs with deep expertise in synthetic chemistry, DNA repair, and translational research in oncology. The company has offices and laboratories at the Elm City Bioscience Center, a newly renovated 110,000 square-foot facility within walking distance of Yale that supports emerging New Haven biotechnology companies.