Cambridge, UK, June 28, 2018 (Newswire.com) - Morphogen-IX, a preclinical biotechnology company focused on the development of bone morphogenetic proteins for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), today announced the appointment of Professor Nick Morrell as CEO. Morrell co-founded the company in 2015 based on research from his lab at the University of Cambridge. The company also announced the first meeting of its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), in San Diego, CA, to discuss the development programme for a clinical candidate and plans for Phase 1/2 trials.
The SAB comprises leading international experts in the field of PAH research, experimental medicine and clinical trials:
Ardeschir Ghofrani, MD, is Professor of Pulmonary Vascular Research at Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany and Head of the Pulmonary Hypertension Division at the University Hospital in Giessen.
He leads a translational research group on development of new therapeutics for cardiopulmonary disease. He has participated in the development of several therapeutics for PAH, including prostanoids, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, endothelin receptor antagonists, tyrosine kinase inhibitors and stimulators of the soluble guanylate cyclase.
Nazzareno Galie, MD, is Professor of Cardiology at the Medical Faculty in the University of Bologna, Italy, and heads the Pulmonary Hypertension Centre at the Institute of Cardiology. He is the lead author on the European Society of Cardiology/European Respiratory Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hypertension, and lead investigator for many of the Phase 3 trials that led to licensing of existing PAH therapies.
Marc Humbert, MD PhD, is Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the South Paris University (Université Paris-Saclay) in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France. In addition, he is the Director of the French Reference Centre for Pulmonary Hypertension and Director of the INSERM Unit "Pulmonary Hypertension: Pathophysiology and Innovative Therapies".He has published more than 700 peer-reviewed articles, mostly in the field of pulmonary hypertension.
Roham Zamanian, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Adult Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Stanford University School of Medicine. The Program evaluates and treats approximately 600-700 PH patients annually. He is extensively engaged in clinical translational research and has implemented several proof-of-concept and phase I and II clinical trials of novel therapeutics developed at Stanford University.
Anton vonk Noordegraaf, MD PhD, is Professor and Chair of the division of Pulmonary Sciences at the Free University Amsterdam, a tertiary referral centre for PAH in The Netherlands. He has published over 300 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His research is focused on the mechanisms and treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, right ventricular failure, pulmonary haemodynamics, and clinical studies in the field of pulmonary hypertension.
Martin Wilkins, MD, is Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Imperial College London. He is Head of the Department of Medicine and Director of the National Institute of Health Research/Wellcome Trust Imperial Clinical Research Facility, which is based at Hammersmith Hospital. For the past 25 years he has led a bench-to-bedside programme investigating the molecular basis of PAH and evaluating new treatments.
Mark Toshner, MD, is currently a University Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and his group is interested in translational and experimental research in PAH and other forms of pulmonary hypertension. He is the Chief-Investigator of the Transform-UK trial, the first investigator-led multicentre trial to involve all 7 specialist pulmonary hypertension centres in the UK.
Morphogen-IX Executive Chairman, Dr David Grainger, said “We are delighted to have appointed Nick Morrell as CEO and such a distinguished group of clinical scientists to our SAB. They have all made major contributions to the understanding of this disease and have improved the lives of patients with this deadly condition. Their expertise and advice will help guide us as we move towards an exciting phase of clinical development.”
Notes for editors
About Morphogen-IX Ltd.Morphogen-IX has developed protein-engineered forms of bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), conferring potent endothelial protection, whilst lacking the bone forming properties of the native protein. BMP9 has shown strong preclinical efficacy in the reversal of PAH, and is based on targeting the central pathway underlying PAH identified in human genetic studies. The approach was developed in the laboratory of Professor Nick Morrell at the University of Cambridge with co-founders Dr Wei Li and Dr Paul Upton. The company, founded in 2015, is backed by investment from Medicxi, Cambridge Innovation Capital and Cambridge Enterprise.
For more details go to morphogen-ix.com
About Pulmonary arterial hypertension.PAH is a rare disease characterized by narrowing and obliteration of small pulmonary arteries, resulting in a severe elevation of pulmonary artery pressure and ultimately right heart failure. Patients typically present with progressive breathlessness on exertion. The mortality remains high despite currently licensed therapies that target vasoconstriction. Approximately 25% of patients with idiopathic and familial PAH carry mutations in components of the BMP9 signaling pathway.