Compugen Ltd. has announced the establishment of operations in South San Francisco, California for the development of oncology and immunology monoclonal antibody (mAb) drug candidates against Compugen-discovered targets.
The mission for Compugen Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Compugen Ltd., is to translate the growing portfolio of novel mAb targets being discovered and validated by the parent company into promising mAb drug candidates for licensing and partnering.
Compugen Ltd. has also announced the appointment, effective April 1, of Mary Haak-Frendscho, Ph.D., as Executive Chairperson of Compugen Inc., and John J. Hunter, Ph.D., as Compugen Inc.'s Vice President of Antibody R&D and Site Head.
The new South San Francisco Compugen Inc. operations will be located in recently secured purpose-built facilities with relevant laboratory equipment.
By locating its mAb operation in the birthplace of biotech, the Company gains access to some of the best biologics talent in the industry and supportive infrastructure.
Furthermore, with these new capabilities, Compugen anticipates that it will significantly increase the number of mAb product candidates developed against novel Compugen-discovered targets by performing key activities more effectively and efficiently in-house compared with solely using third parties as previously intended.
Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, President and CEO of Compugen Ltd., said, "We are extremely pleased to be establishing these new operations under the direction and expertise of Dr. Haak-Frendscho and Dr. Hunter, two prominent figures in the mAb biotechnology industry. We are at a pivotal moment where Compugen's unique Monoclonal Antibody Targets Discovery Platform is delivering high quality, novel mAb targets that enable the development of new drug candidates to address unmet medical needs. We enthusiastically look forward to leveraging the commercial potential of these pioneering and industry leading predictive discovery capabilities by licensing out - at significantly greater values – the differentiated mAb product candidates against these novel targets, rather than the targets."
Dr. Mary Haak-Frendscho added, "Dr. Hunter and I are delighted to establish and lead Compugen's subsidiary for the development of therapeutic mAb candidates. Given Compugen's cutting edge science and growing portfolio of exciting mAb targets, we look forward to working closely with Compugen's scientists and management team in Israel to ensure the development of differentiated therapeutic mAb products."
In her role as Executive Chairperson of Compugen Inc., Dr. Haak-Frendscho will be responsible for overseeing the establishment and development of Compugen Inc.'s mAb operations.
Dr. Haak-Frendscho has more than 20 years of industry experience, most recently as founding President and Chief Scientific Officer at Takeda San Francisco, Inc., the antibody IND engine for Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, she held senior scientific and management positions at Genentech, Abgenix and XOMA.
John J. Hunter, Ph.D., brings to Compugen Inc. over 15 years of scientific expertise in mAb research, genomics and translational medicine.
As Vice President Antibody Research and Development and Compugen Inc. Site Head, he will lead the therapeutic mAb generation and preclinical development of mAb therapeutics against Compugen-discovered targets.
Prior to joining Compugen, Dr. Hunter served as a Senior Director at XOMA, managing strategic and functional activities related to building a robust preclinical mAb pipeline. He began his industry career at Millenium Pharmaceuticals, where he specialized in oncology therapeutics research.
Today's announcement follows the Company's December 2011 announcement that it intends to significantly broaden and accelerate its mAb activities, which together with therapeutic proteins, represent the focus areas for the Company in the fields of oncology and immunology.
At that time, and in partial support of its mAb operations expansion, the Company also announced an $8 million research funding agreement signed with Baize Investments (Israel) Ltd., a private corporation investing in innovative medical technologies.