Lyon, France, September 26, 2017 – Alma Bio Therapeutics SAS (Alma), a pioneer of a new class of curative therapies that harnesses the patient’s own immune system to treat autoimmune diseases, announces today that Dr. Pierre A. Morgon will join its board of directors. He will take an active role in Alma’s Series A financing, which will commence shortly.
Alma has developed a therapeutic entity aimed at treating the underlying cause of uncontrolled inflammation in autoimmune diseases. While its therapeutic entity, a DNA plasmid, has shown strong potential for treating many autoimmune diseases, the company is targeting Crohn’s disease, one of the two major types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), as its first clinical application. There are no available curative treatments for IBD, a chronic debilitating disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract.
“We are very pleased to welcome Pierre to our board of directors as we embark on the last stage of preclinical development, prior to commencing clinical studies,” said Binah Baum, CEO of Alma. “Alma is driven by a very strong need to address an acute problem among sufferers of IBD who do not respond to current treatments, as many as 40 percent. We are pioneering a novel therapeutic approach that goes beyond the current state-of-the-art. Thus, improving the industry’s understanding of our approach and explaining the solid science behind it are key. We look forward to drawing upon Pierre’s extensive experience and strong track record in the biopharma industry and in leading life sciences startups to support our business as we advance from preclinical to clinical studies. His skills in the field of immunology and vaccines will make an invaluable contribution to the scope and professional expertise of Alma’s board of directors.”
Since its founding in 2013, Alma has raised €2.5M from business angels and French investment bank Bpifrance to develop a novel treatment that is neither a gene therapy nor a DNA vaccine.
Its approach consists of delivering a plasmid, a small piece of DNA, into muscle, causing the body to produce minute amounts of Heat Shock Proteins (HSP), the body’s natural regulatory molecules. Using plasmids is important as it allows the body to produce the exact amount of HSP that is required to resolve the inflammation. The right amount of HSP is critical for maintaining a balanced immune response.
“I am excited to join Alma at this pivotal time in its development. The robust preclinical data assembled thus far presents a very compelling package,” said Dr. Morgon. “Alma is a game-changer. Early indicators show its solution has the potential to evolve into a platform that can address many autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. We will continue carrying out the rigorous studies necessary to enable the scientific community, regulatory authorities and investors to appreciate the true value and efficacy of Alma’s out-of-the-box approach aimed at curing millions of autoimmune disease patients.”
Dr. Morgon brings 30 years’ life sciences industry and top-level management experience to Alma. His six years’ boardroom experience includes serving as chairman of the board of Virometix and as non-executive director on the boards of Theradiag and Eurocine Vaccines. Dr. Morgon is also regional partner for Switzerland at Mérieux Développement. In 2015, he founded MRGN Advisors, an international healthcare management consultancy advising on portfolio strategy, commercial development, partnering and investment. Dr. Morgon holds a Doctorate of Pharmacy, a Master’s degree in Business Law and an MBA. He is also an alumnus of INSEAD and IMD executive programs.
About Alma Bio Therapeutics
Alma is advancing a new class of curative therapies using the patients’ own immune-regulating molecules to treat autoimmune diseases. It develops drugs based on the way the immune system distinguishes between healthy cells and rogue cells it is designed to eliminate. Alma restores the natural balance of the immune system by targeting the underlying cause of uncontrolled inflammation in autoimmune diseases. Its technological platform, which leverages original scientific discoveries by inventor and co-founder Irun Cohen, Prof. Emeritus at the Dept. of Immunology at Weizmann Institute of Science, has application for many autoimmune diseases. These include Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s that affects millions of people across the US and Europe, or rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus. Alma currently holds seven patents.
Founded in late 2013, Alma is led by a core team of highly experienced biopharma industry executives and regulatory specialists. The company is based in Lyon, a leading center for immunology and infectious diseases and is a member of the LyonBiopole competitiveness cluster.