Yumanity Therapeutics Appoints Neuroscience Drug Development Veteran, Ajay Verma, M.D., Ph.D., ...
BOSTON, April 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Yumanity Therapeutics (NASDAQ: YMTX), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative, disease-modifying therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, today announced the appointment of Ajay Verma, M.D., Ph.D., as Executive Vice President, Head of Research & Development. Dr. Verma brings more than 25 years of experience developing biotherapeutics in the field of neuroscience.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Ajay Verma in the newly-created role of Head of R&D at Yumanity Therapeutics,” said Richard Peters, M.D., Ph.D., President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Yumanity Therapeutics. “As a clinically trained neurologist, Ajay brings world-class expertise in neurology and neurodegenerative diseases. His appointment will help accelerate the drug development path of our core programs from bench to bedside, as we pursue our goal of delivering one new program to the clinic every year. Additionally, his expertise in translational medicine will also allow us to continue our innovative approach to drug discovery by examining novel and creative ways to develop drugs to treat neurodegeneration.”
Dr. Ajay Verma is a seasoned executive with a productive career spanning biopharma, academia and government. He was most recently the Executive Vice President of Research and Experimental Medicine at Codiak Biosciences where he advanced the company’s novel precision exosome platform. Before this role, he was Chief Medical Officer at United Neuroscience focusing on vaccines for neurological disorders. Prior to that, Dr. Verma was the Vice President of Neurology Drug Discovery and Development at Biogen, where he helped drive neurology therapeutic programs and novel imaging and biomarker strategies. Prior to Biogen, Dr. Verma held leadership positions at Merck & Co. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals and was a U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and Professor of Neurology at the U.S. military’s medical school, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He was also a staff neurologist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dr. Verma received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.
“I am very impressed with the amount of progress the Company has made in identifying novel, unbiased targets for neurodegenerative disease drug development and in advancing the first pipeline asset into clinical development,” said Dr. Verma. “As a member of the Yumanity executive team, I am honored to help build on this momentum as we approach a number of significant upcoming milestones in our YTX-7739 clinical development program in patients with Parkinson’s disease. It is also thrilling to see the second program, YTX-9184, which is expected to advance to the clinic for the treatment of dementia with Lewy bodies later this year. It is a great opportunity to be joining the accomplished team at Yumanity and I look forward to making an impactful contribution as we continue to execute and accelerate our pipeline for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.”
Inducement Equity Awards
In connection with Dr. Verma’s acceptance of employment with the company, effective on the first day of Dr. Verma’s employment, Dr. Verma will be granted (i) an option to purchase 84,000 shares of common stock which will vest over four years, with 25 percent of the shares vesting on the first anniversary of Dr. Verma’s new hire date and the remainder vesting in equal monthly installments over the following three years, and (ii) an option to purchase 20,000 shares of common stock which will vest upon the company’s achievement of certain research and development milestones. Each of the options will have an exercise price equal to the closing price of the Yumanity Therapeutic’s common stock on the grant date and will have a ten year term and be subject to the terms and conditions of the stock option agreements pursuant to which the options will be granted.
These equity awards will be granted without stockholder approval as inducements material to Dr. Verma’s entering into employment with Yumanity in accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4).
YTX-7739 is Yumanity Therapeutics’ proprietary lead small molecule investigational therapy designed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and inhibit the activity of a novel target, stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD). SCD appears to play an important and previously unrecognized role in mitigating neurotoxicity arising from the effects of pathogenic alpha-synuclein protein aggregation and accumulation, which ultimately results in the death of neurons and the subsequent dysregulation of movement and cognition that afflicts patients living with these diseases. Through inhibition of SCD, YTX-7739 modulates an upstream process in the alpha-synuclein pathological cascade and has been shown to rescue or prevent toxicity in cellular and preclinical models. The company is assessing the potential utility of YTX-7739 as a disease modifying therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
SCD is an enzyme that catalyzes fatty acid desaturation, the products of which are incorporated into phospholipids, triglycerides, or cholesterol esters. These lipid-related molecules regulate multiple diverse cellular properties and processes, including membrane structure and function, vesicle trafficking, intracellular signaling and inflammation. SCD expression is regulated by a transcription factor known as SREBF1, which has been identified in human genome-wide association studies as a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. In preclinical models, SCD inhibition appears to normalize the dynamic interaction of pathological alpha-synuclein with membranes, which improves neuronal function and reduces toxicity, leading to enhanced neuronal survival. Alpha-synuclein-dependent disruption of membrane-related biological pathways, such as vesicle trafficking, is closely linked to the formation of Lewy body protein/membrane aggregations, a hallmark pathological feature of Parkinson’s disease.
About Yumanity Therapeutics
Yumanity Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to accelerating the revolution in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases through its scientific foundation and drug discovery platform. The Company’s most advanced product candidate, YTX-7739, is currently in Phase 1 clinical development for Parkinson’s disease. Yumanity’s drug discovery platform is designed to enable the Company to rapidly screen for potential disease-modifying therapies by overcoming toxicity of misfolded proteins in neurogenerative diseases. Yumanity’s pipeline consists of additional programs focused on Lewy body dementia, multi-system atrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD), and Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, please visit www.yumanity.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may be identified by words and phrases such as “aims,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “could,” “designed to,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “goal,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” “possible,” “potential,” “seeks,” “will,” and variations of these words and phrases or similar expressions that are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding the potential therapeutic benefits of our prospective product candidates and results of preclinical studies, including YTX-7739, and the design, commencement, enrollment, and timing of ongoing or planned clinical trials, clinical trial results, product approvals and regulatory pathways, and the anticipated benefits of our drug discovery platform. Any such statements in this press release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Results in preclinical or early-stage clinical trials may not be indicative of results from later stage or larger scale clinical trials and do not ensure regulatory approval. You should not place undue reliance on these statements, or the scientific data presented.
Any forward-looking statements in this press release are based on Yumanity Therapeutics’ current expectations, estimates and projections about our industry as well as management’s current beliefs and expectations of future events only as of today and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from those set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risk that any one or more of our product candidates will not be successfully developed or commercialized, the risk of cessation or delay of any ongoing or planned clinical trials of Yumanity Therapeutics or our collaborators, the risk that Yumanity Therapeutics may not successfully recruit or enroll a sufficient number of patients for our clinical trials, the risk that Yumanity Therapeutics may not realize the intended benefits of its drug discovery platform, the risk that our product candidates will not have the safety or efficacy profile that we anticipate, the risk that prior results, such as signals of safety, activity or durability of effect, observed from preclinical or clinical trials, will not be replicated or will not continue in ongoing or future studies or trials involving Yumanity Therapeutics’ product candidates, the risk that we will be unable to obtain and maintain regulatory approval for our product candidates, the risk that the size and growth potential of the market for our product candidates will not materialize as expected, risks associated with our dependence on third-party suppliers and manufacturers, risks regarding the accuracy of our estimates of expenses and future revenue, risks relating to our capital requirements and needs for additional financing, risks relating to clinical trial and business interruptions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak or similar public health crises, including that such interruptions may materially delay our enrollment and development timelines and/or increase our development costs or that data collection efforts may be impaired or otherwise impacted by such crises, and risks relating to our ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for our product candidates. For a discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, and other important factors, any of which could cause Yumanity Therapeutics’ actual results to differ materially and adversely from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Yumanity Therapeutics’ most recent Annual or Quarterly Report, and other important factors in Yumanity Therapeutics’ subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yumanity Therapeutics explicitly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except to the extent required by law.
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