Utrecht, The Netherlands, March 25, 2019 – InteRNA Technologies announced today the appointment of Andrea van Elsas, Ph.D., as a new member of the Company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Dr. van Elsas is an immuno-oncology expert with over 20 years of experience in advancing highly innovative oncology assets and currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer of Aduro Biotech. In his role on the SAB, Dr. van Elsas will support InteRNA’s pipeline development efforts and in particular the positioning and strategy for lead program INT-1B3 advancing into clinical development. Dr. van Elsas will succeed Allan Balmain, Ph.D., F.R.S., who has stepped down from his position on the board.
“Andrea has always worked at the heart of cancer therapy drug discovery efforts and his outstanding track record in identifying and developing innovative therapeutics will be a great benefit to us,” said Dr. Roel Schaapveld, CEO of InteRNA. “With his added oversight, we aim to further advance GLP toxicology studies and move towards the clinical evaluation of our promising lead candidate, INT-1B3, in the immuno-oncology field. We also would like to thank Allan for sharing his knowledge and providing significant contributions to our R&D programs over the years.”
“InteRNA has developed a uniquely positioned RNA therapy attacking cancer from multiple angles, with the potential of inducing durable immunity as a single agent and in combination therapy,” said Dr. van Elsas. “I am impressed by the team’s profound work on defining the mode-of-action and selecting an optimized delivery technology for INT-1B3 and am thrilled to contribute to the advancement of this novel therapeutic strategy.”
Prior to his position as CSO of Aduro Biotech, Dr. van Elsas was CSO of Aduro Biotech Europe from 2015 to 2017. He joined Aduro following the 2015 acquisition of BioNovion, a company he co-founded and served as CSO, that was focused on the development of innovative therapeutic antibodies in the field of immuno-oncology. In addition, Dr. van Elsas supports Gilde Healthcare as an Operational Partner in the evaluation of investment opportunities and has been acting as VP of Research for Gilde's portfolio company, AM Pharma, since 2011. From 1999 to 2011, he held various positions of increasing responsibilities at Organon (acquired by Schering-Plough Corporation and later by Merck) in Oss, The Netherlands, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. As Organon’s Director of Tumor Immunology he oversaw the immuno-oncology portfolio and led the anti-PD1 program that later became known as pembrolizumab. As a post-doc he worked in the lab of Nobel Laureate Jim Allison at the University of California, Berkeley and is a co-inventor on the original anti-CTLA4 patents that formed the basis for the development of ipilimumab (YervoyTM), the first checkpoint inhibitor approved for the treatment of melanoma. Dr. van Elsas holds a Ph.D. in Immunology and Oncology from the University of Leiden.
INT-1B3’s unique MoA addresses multiple hallmarks of cancer simultaneously. It directly targets tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment by specific modulation of multiple pathway components (such as CDK4/6, CyclinD1, MCL1, MPP2, STMN1, CD39/73, EZH2, TIM3, TGFb2 and HMGB1) resulting in tumor cell cycle arrest and induction of apoptosis as well as downregulation of the adenosine-A2A receptor pathway and immunosuppressive FoxP3/Lag3 Tregs. In parallel, the immune system is activated and long-term immunity is triggered by recruitment of CD8+ Teffs leading to decreased metastases development and improved animal survival over anti-PD1 treatment. The created CD8+ T cell immune response activity is also transferrable to naive mice via adoptive T cell transfer.