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Immusoft names former Amgen biologics head as chief scientific officer

July 18, 2019
Life sciences

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Immusoft has named Robert Hayes as its chief scientific officer. Hayes, the former head of biologics at Amgen, joins the cell therapy startup as it works to move a treatment for mucopolysaccharidosis type I into clinical testing.

Seattle-based Immusoft hired Hayes from Phylogica, an Australian developer of oncology therapies designed to hit intracellular targets. Hayes spent two years working as CSO of Phylogica.

Prior to joining Phylogica, Hayes spent three years as head of biologics at Amgen. The role put Hayes in charge of a 160-person team that handled a range of early-stage activities involving biologics, including lead identification, optimization and the transition to upstream process development.

Hayes landed the Amgen role on the strength of his work at Johnson & Johnson and Xencor. During a decade at J&J, Hayes rose to the position of vice president of biologics. Hayes also served as venture leader at Centyrex, an internal venture J&J’s Janssen created to research alternative scaffold proteins. Earlier in his career, Hayes spent six years at Xencor, where he held the title of director of antibody engineering.

Immusoft think the experience Hayes gained at these companies will support its ambitions.

“We look forward to fully leveraging his broad biotech development and strategic expertise for ISP-001, and expansion of the platform to address a broader array of indications,” Immusoft CEO Sean Ainsworth said in a statement.

At Immusoft, Hayes will play a starring role in preclinical research activities and the advance of lead candidate ISP-001 into clinical testing. ISP-001 is based on Immusoft’s immune system programming technology, a platform that genetically modifies patients’ own B cells. The modifications performed by Immusoft are intended to turn the immune cells into biofactories that make therapeutic proteins when reintroduced into the patient, providing them with a long-lasting source of a key molecule.

Immusoft raised $20 million from investors including Breakout Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments at the start of the year to fund work on the platform and its lead candidate.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

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