WALTHAM, Mass., April 10, 2019 /CNW/ -- Dragonfly Therapeutics, Inc. ("Dragonfly"), today announced the addition of two internationally-recognized researchers to its scientific leadership team. Nobel Prize winner Dr. James ("Jim") Allison, Ph.D., joins Dragonfly's Scientific Advisory Board. Leading clinician and immuno-oncology expert Dr. Padmanee ("Pam") Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., joins Dragonfly as founding Chair of its Clinical Advisory Board.
Dr. Allison joins Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, M.D., and an outstanding group of clinicians and scientists on Dragonfly's Scientific Advisory Board. Allison is professor and chair of the Department of Immunology and Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Sharma joins Dragonfly as the founding Chair of its Clinical Advisory Board to build the clinical team in advance of Dragonfly's first patient trials, later this year. Sharma is Professor in the Departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology, Scientific Director of the Immunotherapy Platform and holds the T.C. and Jeanette D. Hsu Endowed Chair in Cell Biology at MD Anderson.
Dr. Allison, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2018 for his groundbreaking work in cancer immunotherapy. Allison's research focuses on the mechanisms that govern T cell responses and applying that basic understanding to overcome cancer's evasion of attack by the immune system. His fundamental discoveries led him to pioneer immune checkpoint blockade as a cancer treatment, working with pharmaceutical companies to develop Yervoy. Dr. Allison's work has led to new treatments that have revolutionized cancer care for hundreds of thousands of patients, worldwide. He currently explores combinations of immunological therapies and targeted drugs to more effectively treat a variety of cancers, and continues basic research on immune stimulatory and inhibiting molecules.
"As we seek to use natural killer cells and other cells of the immune system to generate the next phase of immune-oncology drugs to eliminate cancer, Jim Allison's expertise in immunotherapy will be an invaluable guide," stated Dragonfly's co-founder and head of MIT's Koch Institute, Dr. Tyler Jacks. "Jim's foundational work in I/O and depth of understanding as a Nobel Prize-winning immunologist brings to Dragonfly's Scientific Advisory Board a track record of innovation and discovery that is inspiring and motivating for all."
Dr. Sharma is an internationally renowned physician-scientist, with expertise in both medical oncology and immunology. She designed and conducted the first pre-surgical trial, also known as a window-of-opportunity trial, with immune checkpoint therapy (anti-CTLA-4) in 2004, which allowed her to study the impact of immune checkpoint therapy on human tumors, with subsequent identification of the ICOS/ICOSL pathway as a novel target for cancer immunotherapy strategies. Her translational research work laid the foundation for the Immunotherapy Platform to be established at MD Anderson. Dr. Sharma is also the Co-Director of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MD Anderson. Recent awards include the 2016 Emil Frei III Award for Excellence in Translational Research and the 2018 Coley Award for Distinguished Research for Tumor Immunology.
"We are delighted to welcome leading clinician Dr. Pam Sharma to chair our Clinical Advisory Board as Dragonfly brings our first novel immuno-therapies to patients," said Dragonfly's co-founder and CEO Bill Haney. "Dr. Sharma's unique depth of scientific and clinical expertise in immuno-oncology as Scientific Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at MD Anderson will be critical as we chart the path for bringing our first drugs into clinical trials, this year."
About Dragonfly Therapeutics
Dragonfly Therapeutics develops drugs to stimulate immune responses against cancer. We are developing novel first-in-class therapeutics targeted at natural killer cells and other cells of the innate immune system. Our scientific founders are major figures in cancer biology and immunology and launched Dragonfly to harness the power of the immune system to provide breakthrough cancer treatments for patients.
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SOURCE Dragonfly Therapeutics, Inc.