ZWI Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development of protein therapeutics using proprietary new polymers, announces a Series A financing, the appointment of pharmaceutical industry veterans Drs. Larry Miller and Ron Cohen as Independent Directors to the company’s Board of Directors, and Dr. Ed Mascioli as Chief Executive Officer and Board Director.
“After closing our Series A $10 million financing from Co-win Ventures and Sherpa Healthcare Partners, engaging such high caliber executives in our company is a testimony to the confidence successful entrepreneurs see in the ZWI technology. Ed Mascioli’s significant experience leading multiple biotech companies is important in our Company’s growth” said Dr. Shaoyi Jiang, the Robert Langer ’70 Family and Friends Professor at Cornell University, ZWI Board member, and co-founder. “As board members, Ron and Larry collectively bring decades of successful pharmaceutical industry experience to ZWI. We will utilize their extensive expertise as ZWI advances its pipeline of wholly-owned and differentiated candidates that aim to tackle immunogenicity of protein therapeutics – a major challenge in biologics development” said Dr. Mascioli. ZWI created new polymers, based on polycarboxybetaine, with several advantages over polyethylene glycol (PEG), including reduced immunogenicity and preserved pharmacokinetics, and can be used on many protein therapeutics, lipid nanoparticles, and hydrogels. These novel polymers are supported by dozens of issued and pending patents and over 300 publications.
ZWI’s lead program, ZWI-001 (uricase-polycarboxybetaine conjugate), has demonstrated preclinical proof of concept and is currently in development to treat hyperuricemia in severe gout. ZWI has gained meaningful guidance on CMC, non-clinical, and clinical plans from the FDA via an INTERACT meeting and is progressing toward filing an IND.
About ZWI Therapeutics, Inc.
ZWI, founded in 2020 by Drs. Bob Langer and Shaoyi Jiang, is a biotechnology company using a novel, patented polymer, polycarboxybetaine, to develop protein-polymer conjugates with potentially superior safety and efficacy over currently marketed therapeutics conjugated with polyethylene glycol (PEG). I n preclinical animal models, polycarboxybetaine conjugates have demonstrated consistently low or no immunogenicity and excellent pharmacokinetics compared to PEG conjugates. These attributes are expected to translate to enhanced clinical durability and safety compared to pegylated drugs. The ZWI platform polymer technology is also broadly useful in the development of nanoparticles and hydrogels, the latter especially for cellular therapies. ZWI will out-license its technology to pharmaceutical companies for specific development programs. ZWI is headquartered in Waltham, MA, USA. For more information about ZWI platforms and pipeline, please visit www.zwitx.com, follow up on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/zwitx or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gout is diagnosed in 3.9% of the U.S. population- up to 13 million patients – and is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. Gout is a serious, lifelong disease that needs ongoing treatment and requires changes in lifestyle habits to achieve control. If poorly treated, advanced gout can lead to the same level of work loss, physical disability, and diminished quality of life as is seen in advanced rheumatoid arthritis. Gouty arthritis is caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints that causes severe pain, disfigurement and mobility restrictions. Uric acid crystals can also deposit in other tissues throughout the body, such as the kidney, which can lead to kidney stones, the skin (deposits called tophi) and even in vasculature walls. Beyond pain and disability, deposition of uric acid crystals triggers the inflammatory cascade and contributes to well-known comorbidities, including thromboses, stroke, and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). Control of uric acid levels is the key to controlling gout and the inflammatory sequelae. Approximately 5-10% of patients, estimated at 250,000-400,000 people in the US, treated with oral urate lowering therapies do not respond adequately, and are termed refractory gout. Only one product is currently approved to treat refractory gout: KRYSTEXXA® (pegloticase, pegylated uricase). Refractory gout is an area of significant unmet medical need in a large market.
Ron Cohen, M.D. is President, CEO, and founder of Acorda Therapeutics, Inc., a public biotechnology company developing therapies for disorders of the nervous system. Dr. Cohen previously was an officer of Advanced Tissue Sciences, Inc., a biotechnology company engaged in the growth of human organ tissues for transplantation uses. Dr. Cohen serves on the Boards of ZWI Therapeutics and of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). He is past Chair of the Board of BIO’s Emerging Companies Section, and of the New York Biotechnology Association (NYBA). He is a recipient of the NY CEO Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the New York Metropolitan Region. He was named Neuroinvestment’s CEO of the Year and is an inductee of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association’s “Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame”. Dr. Cohen has been recognized by the NYBA as the “The Cures Start Here” Business Leader of the Year, by the Westchester County Association as its Leadership Award recipient, by Life Science Leader Magazine as True Life Science Leader of the Year, by PR Week/MM&M as one of the Health Influencer 50, by Scientific American as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Biotech, and by PharmaVOICE Magazine as one of the 100 Most Inspirational People in the Biopharmaceutical Industry. Dr. Cohen received his B.A. degree from Princeton University, and his M.D. from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.
Larry Miller, M.D. currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair of Apnimed, a private biotechnology company which he co-founded in 2017 to develop therapeutics to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Since 1991, Dr. Miller has founded or co-founded 10 life sciences/healthcare companies including Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, HPR, Avicenna, PharMetrics, ImpactRx, Serenex, Optio Research, Tetraphase, and Activate, and has served as CEO or Board member or both in each case. Two of these companies completed public offerings and seven were acquired. Dr. Miller also co-founded the Mediphase funds, where he led investments in both private and public life sciences/healthcare companies, having served previously in a similar role at Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management. Dr. Miller received an A.B. from Harvard College, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and completed clinical training in internal medicine and pulmonary disease at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is Board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, and Clinical Pharmacology.
Ed Mascioli, M.D. has been CEO of multiple private biotech companies, successfully selling two. Prior to his role as CEO, Dr Mascioli was a Venture Partner at SV Life Sciences. Previously, Dr. Mascioli was at Pfizer where he established a new unit in rare, orphan, and genetic diseases with assets aggregated from both external to and within Pfizer in hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, hereditary emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and mucopolysaccharidoses. Dr. Mascioli was also at MPM Capital, a leading healthcare venture capital firm with over $2.5B assets under management, where he led 10 financings totaling $299M, including new equity investments, bridge loans, and equity re-financings. Dr. Mascioli participated in the raising of two venture funds totaling $1.4B. As the investor representative, Dr. Mascioli has served as a Director on the Boards of Arriva Pharmaceuticals, Elixir Pharmaceuticals, Mindset BioPharmaceuticals, and Oxagen, Ltd., and as an Observer on the Boards of CGI Pharmaceuticals, Radius Health, and Peptimmune. Dr. Mascioli started his career on the faculty of Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and on the staff of the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Dr. Mascioli holds an M.S. from MIT, an M.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a B.A., cum laude, from Brandeis University.
Co-win Ventures was founded in 2009 and is a top-tier China headquartered venture capital firm with a global vision to invest in high-tech and healthcare industries. With over USD 950 million under management to date, it has invested in more than 130 private companies with about half of them already exited through IPOs and M&A. Co-win has won multiple national and world-renowned venture capital awards. With professional teams based in China and the US, Co-Win becomes seeks to become a long-term partner for portfolio start-ups, assisting in building their companies, integrating industrial resources, and navigating with strategic insights.
Sherpa Healthcare Partners was founded in 2018 by financiers who previously worked together in one of China’s leading venture capital firms where they built and led its professional medical investment team, including setting up and leading investments in a dedicated healthcare fund. The founders have been teamed together in close co-operation, built on shared values, mutual trust, and complementary capabilities. Sherpa has now become an influential healthcare VC firm in the industry.