Teon Therapeutics Names Serge Messerlian as CEO

Mar 8, 2022 | Featured Press, Press Releases

  • Recognized as a visionary industry leader with exceptional experience in buildingorganizations from product development to commercialization, and a strong focus on people, families, and communities affected by cancer
  • Joining team of highly prominent immuno-oncology G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR) drug design experts
  • Company announcing the first patient dosed in Phase 1/2 clinical trial of lead asset, TT-702

SAN FRANCISCO, Mar. 8, 2022 – Teon Therapeutics (Teon), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company targeting metabolic signaling pathways and pioneering the development of G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR) immuno-oncology therapies in difficult-to-treat cancers, today announced the appointment of Serge Messerlian as Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of directors. Mr. Messerlian has an impressive track record of success, leading organizations in complex, highly competitive US and global markets with experience across multiple scientific disciplines, therapeutic areas, stages of drug development and commercialization. Mr. Messerlian will assume the role from co-founder, acting CEO and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Lina Yao, MD, PhD, who remains as CSO. Dr. Yao will continue as a member of the board of directors.

Mr. Messerlian brings to the role significant experience in the industry, across a range of roles and therapeutic areas including hematology, oncology, immunology, and rare diseases. He joins Teon from Janssen Oncology US, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, where he served as President and set the strategic direction for the organization and its key brands across hematology and solid tumors including DARZALEX®, IMBRUVICA®, ERLEADA®, RYBREVANT® and platforms including cell therapies (CARVYKTI®) and bi-specifics. Previously he served in executive leadership roles as President of Actelion; Vice President, Global Portfolio Lead – Biosimilars at Baxalta; and Vice President, Global Portfolio Lead – Hematology at Baxter International. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Biotechnology and a Master of Science degree in Human Genetics, both from McGill University, and an MBA from the University of Toronto.

“Recruiting a world-class biopharma executive like Serge will transform the company as we transition our programs into clinical trials, with two oncology clinical drug candidates this year,” said Alan Colowick, MD, MPH, Executive Chairman of Teon. “We look forward to working with Serge to power us forward by leveraging his extensive experience in advancing drug development programs, building sustainable platforms and partnering strategies, and creating world-class organizations.”

“Throughout my career I have been committed to improving the lives of people impacted by serious diseases like cancer. Supported by the pioneering groundwork done by our founders, I am confident in the future opportunities of Teon’s proprietary scientific approach and the passion and expertise of the team,” said Mr. Messerlian. “Although GPCRs are the most intensively studied targets in many disease areas, their potential benefits for oncology are just beginning to be explored. Teon’s portfolio of small molecule candidates includes adenosine pathway inhibitors, as well as an oral immune checkpoint inhibitor that leverages novel GPCR biology and has us uniquely poised to bring more effective, first- or best-in-class oncology therapies to patients. I look forward to working with Lina and our remarkable scientific team, the board, and investors as we build the reputation and value of Teon.”

First Patient Dosed in TT-702 Phase 1 Clinical Trial
In addition, Teon is announcing its development partner, Cancer Research UK, has successfully dosed the first patient in their Phase 1/2 trial of Teon’s first-in-class, oral adenosine A2B receptor antagonist, TT-702, for the treatment of patients with a range of difficult-to-treat cancers. TT-702 is the first of Teon’s pipeline of oral, once-daily, GPCR small molecules targeting metabolic signaling pathways to enter the clinic. TT-702 is an adenosine receptor antagonist and specifically targets the A2B receptor, which is overexpressed on various types of tumor cells and immune cells. In the study, the first cohorts of patients with a range of advanced tumors will receive increasing doses of TT-702 to define the safety and tolerability of the drug and to determine the maximum dose of TT-702 that can safely be given to patients. Additional cohorts of patients will then be treated with TT-702 in combination with PD-1 immunotherapy or hormonal therapy to determine whether TT-702 can improve the effects of these therapies.

“We are delighted to be taking this new anti-cancer drug, TT-702, into clinical trials. The drug works by fighting cancer’s ‘cloaking’ strategy and exposing it to the immune system so it can be destroyed. We will be testing TT-702 in several different cancer types to determine the best dose that can safely be given to patients,” said Professor Johann De Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Targeting GPCR for Oncology – Tomorrow’s Treatments
With more than 700 approved drugs currently directed at them, GPCRs are the most commonly utilized target in today’s treatment paradigm, however, their potential in oncology and moreover, immuno-oncology, has yet to be leveraged. GPCRs control a broad range of cellular processes vital to the formation and progression of tumors. Small molecules are the most prevalent modulators of GPCR-targeted therapies. Insights into the roles of GPCRs in the tumor microenvironment and how they modulate both tumor-generating signal transduction pathways as well as interactions with immune system defense mechanisms may allow the pursuit of more novel GPCR-directed therapies.

About Teon Therapeutics
Teon Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients by developing a focused portfolio of oral, GPCR targeted small molecules that inhibit immunosuppressive and cancer-promoting signaling pathways in difficult-to-treat cancers. Teon’s rich pipeline includes adenosine pathway inhibitors as well as a small molecule immune checkpoint inhibitor. Teon initiated a Phase1/2 trial with its lead program, TT-702, an A2B receptor-specific antagonist, in 2021. The highly accomplished scientific leadership team are experts in adenosine and GPCR therapeutic design and development and were primary inventors of Lexiscan®, the only FDA-approved selective adenosine therapeutic. Teon completed its $30M Series A financing round in February 2021. For more information about Teon Therapeutics, please visit: www.teontherapeutics.com.

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Shani Lewis
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