Barcelona, Spain, October 18, 2017 – AELIX Therapeutics, a drug development company specialized in the discovery and development of immunotherapies for HIV infection, today announces the appointment of Dr. Thomas Hecht as chairman of its board of directors.
Dr. Hecht joins the company at the same time as the first patient is enrolled in the company’s phase I clinical trial for the assessment of its proprietary HTI vaccine. As chairman of the board of directors Dr. Hecht will support the company in establishing proof-of-concept for the HTI vaccine as well as completing the assembly of an experienced management team.
Dr. Hecht brings extensive expertise in leading value creation processes for stakeholders as well as deal-making with large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. In his new position he will also use his experience as chairman of a number of boards; he currently serves as chairman of the supervisory board at Affimed, chairman of the board of directors at Cell Medica Ltd. and Vaximm AG. He was also, amongst others, chairman of the supervisory council at SuppreMol GmbH, the board of directors at ESBATech AG and Delenex AG, and served on the board of directors at Humabs BioMed SA.
Dr. Hecht held various positions at Amgen between 1989 and 2002, including head of medical affairs and vice president marketing at Amgen Europe. He is currently head of Hecht Healthcare Consulting in Küssnacht, Switzerland, a biopharmaceutical consulting company.
“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Hecht. His extensive experience in managing biotech companies and his broad network of contacts in the pharmaceutical industry will be of great value to the future of AELIX,” said Dr. Karen Wagner, YSIOS Capital, member of the board and outgoing chair.
“AELIX Therapeutics has reached a crucial milestone by enrolling the first patient in the Phase I clinical trial. I’m thrilled to join the company at this exciting time,” said Dr. Thomas Hecht. “After decades of work to develop an HIV vaccine, I hope to contribute with my experience in building a strong player that I believe has good chances to be amongst the very few which could eventually succeed.”
At the beginning of September, AELIX Therapeutics announced the enrollment of the first patient in its phase I randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled safety, tolerability and immunogenicity study of its HTI vaccine, with results expected in 2018.
Further trial details can be found at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03204617
According to WHO estimates, about 36.7 million people are living with HIV and in 2016 more than one million people died of HIV-related causes.
About the HTI immunogen
The HTI immunogen was designed by Dr. Christian Brander, chief scientific officer of AELIX Therapeutics and head of the IrsiCaixa Host Genetics and Cellular Immunity group, and colleagues. It is based on the observation that T-cell responses to certain regions of HIV are enriched in individuals with a non-progressor clinical phenotype. The HTI immunogen combines these regions in a vaccine immunogen. The HTI sequence design is driven by functional immune data from close to 1,000 individuals from four different cohorts on three continents (Mothe et al. 2011). It does not rely solely on sequence conservation, density of HLA binding motifs or gene expression levels and kinetics. The predictive power of HTI directed T-cell responses on in vivo virus control has been validated in unrelated cohorts and through sub-studies in samples from earlier vaccine trials, including the STEP trial. Preclinical data shows that immunization with HTI in mice and macaques elicits strong and broad T-cell responses (Mothe et al. 2015).
About AELIX Therapeutics
AELIX Therapeutics is a biotechnology company based in Barcelona, Spain. It is focused on the development of a therapeutic HIV vaccine to be included in a cure/eradication strategy. AELIX Therapeutics is a spin-off of HIVACAT, the Catalan public-private consortium conducting cutting-edge research in this field. AELIX holds a worldwide, exclusive license for the development and commercialization of the HTI immunogen. The company was incorporated in November 2015 and completed an €11.5M ($12.5M) Series A funding shortly thereafter. AELIX launched a Phase I trial in September 2017.