Afraxis Appoints Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Corporate Development
David Campbell, Ph.D., will Head Development of Drugs for Central Nervous System Disorders Carmine Stengone will Lead Business Development Efforts
SAN DIEGO, March 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Afraxis, a San Diego-based biotechnology company developing drugs to treat central nervous system (CNS) disorders, today announced the appointment of David Campbell, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and Carmine Stengone as vice president, corporate development.
Dr. Campbell will head the company's efforts to discover and develop therapeutics for CNS diseases such as autism, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and Fragile X syndrome. Mr. Stengone will be responsible for the company's business development activities.
"The appointment of Dr. Campbell and Mr. Stengone represents a critical extension of our management team and provides an important foundation as we move several product candidates through the clinic to proof-of-concept," said Jay Lichter, Ph.D., president and CEO of Afraxis. "Dr. Campbell's experience in biotechnology and large pharmaceutical companies and Mr. Stengone's business savvy make them uniquely suited for achieving the objectives of Afraxis."
Afraxis is the first company developing disease-modifying drugs that target dendritic spine development, an underlying cause of many CNS disorders. Current therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, autism and Fragile X syndrome only address the symptoms. Research has demonstrated that many CNS disorders are associated with immature or defective dendritic spines on the receptive side of synapses in the brain.
Afraxis' lead compound is initially being developed for Fragile X syndrome, an orphan disease. The compound targets p21-activated kinase (PAK), an enzyme that regulates dendritic spine development. The compound has been shown to improve both synaptic development and behavioral abnormalities associated with Fragile X syndrome in an animal model and also has potential in schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.
Afraxis was co-founded in November, 2007, by Dr. Lichter and Nobel Laureate Susumu Tonegawa, Ph.D., director of the RIKEN-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Neural Circuit Genetics.
About the Appointees
David Campbell, Ph.D.
Prior to Afraxis, Dr. Campbell served as a member of the Phenomix Corporation executive team since 2003. Most recently he was an executive officer and senior vice president, discovery and development, with responsibility for all drug discovery and development through early clinical development to proof of concept in humans. Dr. Campbell was the senior vice president of chemical sciences at ActivX Biosciences from 2001 to 2003, where he directed the company's internal drug discovery programs as well as the development of ActivX's activity-based chemical probes. Dr. Campbell was director of discovery chemistry at Bayer Corporation where he directed the research efforts of the 41-scientist group discovering and optimizing drugs in the cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes therapeutic areas. Dr. Campbell began his career at Affymax Research Institute, a combinatorial chemistry company that was creating novel technologies and strategies to facilitate the identification and optimization of compounds for the treatment of cancer and immune-mediated diseases.
Dr. Campbell holds three sole-authored and fifteen jointly authored patents, and has co-authored 30 original papers. He conducted post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, after receiving a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University and a B.S. in chemistry from Harvey Mudd College.
Mr. Stengone has more than 10 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including positions in finance, strategic planning, business development, alliance management, market research and venture funding. Prior to joining Afraxis, he was with Phenomix Corporation from 2006 to 2010, where he was responsible for strategic collaborations and licensing agreements. He was also a member of the Phenomix executive management team as the senior director of business development. Mr. Stengone served as senior manager, business development and strategic marketing for Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2004 to 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Stengone held a variety of positions at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
Mr. Stengone received his MBA from Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He also holds a M.S. degree in organic chemistry from Duke University and a B.S. in chemistry from Wake Forest University.
Afraxis is developing treatments for diseases of the central nervous system, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, Fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. Recent scientific discoveries have linked these disorders to underlying defects in the development and function of specialized structures of the neural synapse, called dendritic spines. Afraxis is leveraging this discovery to develop drug treatments that control dendritic spine function. The company's lead program targets PAK, a protein that regulates the development and activity of dendritic spines, creating therapies that actually modify the disease rather than just treat symptoms. Modifying the disease produces beneficial changes at the cellular and behavioral level, creating new hope for patients and their families and their caregivers. For more information visit the Afraxis Web site: www.afraxis.com.