Durham biotech firm forms advisory board

Durham biotech firm forms advisory board

DURHAM – Four new biotech executives have been appointed to the newly formed Scientific Advisory Board of Durham-based biotech company Xilis, the organization announced this week.

The inclusion of the four industry leaders is based on what Dr. Xiling Shen, the company’s co-founder and CEO, called it “a turning point in our growth.”

That’s because the company currently has clinical trials underway and what Dr. Shen referred to in a statement as “major pharma collaborations.”

“Currently, most oncology drugs fail in clinical trials, and the majority of patients are on drugs that have no long-term benefits,” Shen said. “We believe our technology has the potential to radically change the paradigm in cancer drug discovery for the pharmaceutical industry by testing their new drugs for MOS, predicting the likely patient response to drugs in the clinic and before launch determines which drugs work or don’t work in clinical trials.”

The company recently raised $89 million in funding during a Series A funding round, after initially raising $70 million through a $19 million extension.

“Big Pharma is committed to developing the next generation of cancer treatments, but one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is figuring out which new drugs have the highest potential to be effective,” said Dr. Mike Varney, the newly appointed Chair of Xilis Scientific Advisory Board, in a statement. “Xilis technology represents a quantum leap in redefining a more rational drug development paradigm with improved drug development economics.”

Durham Medtech Startup Xilis Raises $70M; Google Ventures, Duke Angels among the investors

Meet the new members of the Advisory Board

According to the company, the new members are:

Chair of the SAB, Mike Varney, PhD: Dr. Mike Varney is a former Executive Vice President and Head of Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED) and a member of the Roche Executive Committee. He is a pioneering drug discoverer and biotech leader with extensive expertise in various types of drug platforms, including cell therapies. Currently dr. Varney Advisor, Board Member and SAB Member for ERASCA, Pardes Biosciences, Interline, Affini-T and Atomwise.

James Allison, PhD: Dr. James Allison was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with Dr. Tasuku Honjo “for her discovery of cancer therapy by inhibiting negative immune regulation”. He is Regental Chair of Immunology, Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform and Director of the James P. Allison Institute at MD Anderson. dr Allison studies the regulation of T cell responses and develops strategies for cancer immunotherapy. His research led to the development of the first FDA-approved immune checkpoint blockade therapy.

Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD: Dr. Padmanee Sharma is Professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology, Scientific Director of the Immunotherapy Platform, and Director of Scientific Programs for the James P. Allison Institute at MD Anderson. Her research enables the development of novel immunotherapy strategies for the treatment of cancer patients.

David Tuveson, MD, PhD: Dr. Tuveson is Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center, Principal Scientist of the Lustgarten Foundation, Advisory Board Member of the National Cancer Institute, and Medical Associate at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He was the past president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). dr Tuveson’s work as director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is widely recognized as a leader in the field of precision medical models of pancreatic cancer.

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