Spinifex Pharmaceuticals has announced that it has appointed Dr Ronald Marcus as Chief Medical Officer. Dr Marcus will be responsible for driving the development of Spinifex’s lead candidate EMA401 and the Company’s pre-clinical pipeline. He takes up his position immediately.
EMA401 is a novel angiotensin II type 2 (AT2) receptor antagonist being developed as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for chronic pain without CNS side-effects. Current treatments for chronic pain do not relieve pain in all individuals and so drugs targeting a new approach to pain treatment are needed.
Dr Marcus has more than 20 years’ pharmaceutical clinical development experience. He joins Spinifex after a successful career at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), having held a number of senior leadership positions within BMS’s Neuroscience division.
Dr Marcus was most recently Executive Director, Neuroscience Global Clinical Research at BMS. In this role he was Early Development Team Leader for neuropathic pain, schizophrenia and migraine compounds and Life-Cycle Management (LCM) Team Leader for Abilify. He has extensive experience in early and late drug development process and possesses both breadth and depth in all of the key functional areas of exploratory and late development, disease biology and regulatory affairs.
Dr Marcus has been recognized within industry for his excellence in overall drug development, innovative strategic leadership and executional excellence while spearheading an industry leading life cycle management program for Abilify. In addition to the approval of over 20 NDAs and sNDAs globally for Abilify, Dr Marcus also led the successful development of Serzone, an antidepressant.
Dr Marcus received a BA in Psychology from University of Virginia. He earned his medical degree from SUNY Buffalo and completed his Psychiatry residency and NIMH research fellowship at Cornell University, New York Hospital-Westchester Division. He has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications.
Spinifex’s CEO Tom McCarthy said: “Recruiting someone of Ron’s calibre as Chief Medical officer is an important development for Spinifex as we build our clinical development and senior management team. Ron’s appointment, plus the recent expansion of our Scientific Advisory Board with internationally renowned experts in chronic pain, is a strong recognition of our high quality science and the potential for EMA401 to become a new chronic pain treatment. Following our recent $45 million fundraising, we are making excellent progress in preparing for further Phase 2 clinical trials of EMA401 in a range of chronic pain indications.”
Dr Marcus added: “The treatment of chronic pain remains a high unmet need, as current therapies have limited efficacy or potentially serious side-effects. Spinifex has done an excellent job so far in developing a potentially new treatment for chronic pain and importantly without CNS side-effects. I am very pleased to be joining the Company during its next development phase and leading its clinical programs.”
Positive results of Spinifex’s Phase 2 clinical trial of EMA401 in postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a painful condition that develops in some patients following herpes zoster (shingles), have been published in The Lancet.
Spinifex is planning a Phase 2b study with EMA401 in PHN, and investigating it in neuropathic and inflammatory pain conditions such as osteoarthritis, chemotherapy induced neuropathy and peripheral diabetic neuropathy.
The Company also intends to conduct further pre-clinical research on AT2 receptor antagonists in pain, including the company’s follow on candidate program.