David Apelian to steer TCR play at Pitt spinout; Third Rock scoops Illumina exec as CEO of cancer detection upstart
→ Weeks after revealing that he’s leaving Eiger BioPharmaceuticals to join a private biotech, David Apelian has finally surfaced as CEO of BlueSphere Bio. Seeded by UPMC Enterprises to advance personalized treatments developed at the University of Pittsburgh, the company is “destined to be a leader in the exciting field of T-cell therapy for cancer.” Co-founders Mark and Warren Shlomchik — Pitt professors who happen to be brothers — provided the foundational TCXpress platform, the latest in a wave of new tech promising to harness patients’ own T cells targeting neoantigens. With $10 million in Series A money, the company expects to enter the clinic in about two years, Apelian told BioCentury.
→ Axon Neuroscience, the Alzheimer’s biotech focused on tau, has promoted general counsel Michal Fresser to CEO. As the head of both the diagnostic and immunotherapy divisions, Fresser will lead the company in seizing a moment where the dominance of the amyloid theory seems to have subsided after numerous failures and alternative targets such as tau are coming under the spotlight. He takes over from Roman Sivak, who will retain the title of managing director and dedicate his time to clinical trials and R&D. The company, which is based in Cyprus and Slovakia, is finalizing a Phase II study for its vaccine.
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