Semafore Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics targeting the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases, announced today that its board of directors has named Michael D. Becker as the company’s acting chief executive officer.
Mr. Becker continues as CEO of MD Becker Partners LLC, a boutique management and strategy consulting firm focusing on both public and private companies in emerging growth industries, such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices. MD Becker Partners has been retained by Semafore Pharmaceuticals to develop and implement a strategic plan for the company. Prior to founding MD Becker Partners, Mr. Becker was president and chief executive officer of several publicly-traded biotechnology companies focused in the field of oncology.
Joseph Garlich, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Semafore Pharmaceuticals said, “We are extremely pleased to have Michael Becker and his firm’s hands-on executive experience at this point of Semafore Pharmaceutical’s evolution. Recent deal terms highlight the drug industry’s enthusiasm for the PI3K target in oncology and we are in the final dose cohort of single agent Phase 1 trials in both solid tumors and hematological malignancies with our lead clinical candidate, SF1126, in this area. Michael brings us exactly the kind of industry expertise we need and we’re making him acting CEO during this key period so that he can have the maximum effect on our business.”
Semafore Pharmaceuticals’ lead product candidate, SF1126, inhibits both the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), two key members of the PI3K signaling pathway that is vital to several essential biological processes, such as cell proliferation and survival. PI3K is commonly altered in human cancers, making inhibition of the target attractive for cancer therapy. In view of the fact that mTOR can be activated in a PI3K-independent manner, dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitors, such as SF1126, are expected to offer a therapeutic advantage.
As a prodrug that is administered in an inactive form, SF1126 is also unique among clinical stage, dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitors. Once administered, SF1126 targets specific transmembrane cell adhesion proteins known as integrins that are expressed in new tumor vasculature and within the tumor compartment. Because of the targeted design of SF1126 there is a markedly lower chance of inhibiting PI3K and mTOR in healthy, non-cancerous cells which reduces the potential for side-effects.
Data from an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial of SF1126 in patients with solid tumors recently presented at the 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting demonstrated selective inhibition of the PI3K pathway in tumor tissue but not in normal skin tissue. Notably, there were no clinically significant changes in glucose or insulin levels reported at biologically active doses. Upon completion of single agent Phase 1 trials, Semafore Pharmaceuticals expects to initiate combination trials in the near future.
About Semafore Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Semafore Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biotechnology company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics targeting the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. Semafore Pharmaceuticals has successfully discovered and developed a portfolio of proprietary, unpartnered drug candidates. The company’s lead clinical product candidate, SF1126, is unique among clinical stage, dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitors as it is a prodrug designed to selectively inhibit PI3K by targeting integrins expressed on the surface of new tumor vasculature and within the tumor compartment. The company’s preclinical pipeline includes SF2626, which has demonstrated the ability to inhibit both PI3K and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK), the key component of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway. For more information see the company’s web site at www.semaforepharma.com.
About MD Becker Partners LLC
MD Becker Partners is a boutique management and strategy consulting firm focusing on both public and private companies in emerging growth industries, such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices. The firm integrates the three independent disciplines of investor relations, strategic advisory and operational improvement and applies them to carefully conceived and expertly enacted strategies that help companies increase visibility, unlock stakeholder value and access resources to grow their business. For more information, visit the website: http://www.mdbpartners.com.