It’s about time—protein degradation player Arvinas created a new chief medical officer position and is filling it with Bristol-Myers veteran and Tesaro alum Ronald Peck, M.D.
Peck’s appointment comes nearly a year after the New Haven, Connecticut-based biotech pulled off an upsized $120 million IPO to drive its programs through the IND stage and into the clinic. Arvinas has since started a phase 1 study of its lead drug, ARV-110, in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. It is ushering its breast cancer med, ARV-471, through IND-enabling studies, with eyes on a phase 1 trial before the end of the year.
“Dr. Peck arrives at the right time for our company, as we advance ARV-110 through a Phase 1 clinical trial and expect to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of ARV-471 in the third quarter of 2019,” said Arvinas President and CEO John Houston, Ph.D., in a statement. “Ron is a highly accomplished clinician with a strong track record of successful drug development, leading novel oncology programs from the earliest phases through to registration. His experience is strongly aligned with our goals at this pivotal time for the company.”
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Peck started his biopharma career at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Early on, he worked on the antipsychotic Abilify before moving to oncology. He ended his tenure as a vice president and the global development lead for the checkpoint inhibitor Yervoy.
He moved on to Kolltan Pharma, where he oversaw the clinical development of antibodies targeting receptor tyrosine kinases. As Tesaro’s SVP of clinical research, Peck headed the clinical development efforts for the company’s pipeline, including the PARP inhibitor Zejula, which scored FDA approval for recurrent ovarian cancer in 2017.
Now, Peck will supervise the development of Arvinas’ pipeline, which is based on its PROTACs (proteolysis targeting chimeras) platform. PROTACs work by activating the body’s protein disposal system. They recruit an enzyme to tag target proteins for ubiquitination and degradation.
Ubiquitination is a process in which a damaged or unneeded protein is tagged with the protein ubiquitin and then sent to a protein complex called a proteasome, where it is broken down. Arvinas hopes that, by degrading proteins rather than just blocking them, its drugs will surmount challenges that come with small-molecule protein inhibitors.
Though its internal pipeline focuses on cancer, Arvinas has a multiyear partnership with Pfizer that centers on developing PROTACs for multiple disease areas. The duo did not divulge which indications they’re after, but protein degradation could have applications in central nervous system disorders and rare diseases.
“Arvinas is leading the industry with its new and exciting technology platform of PROTAC targeted protein degraders,” Peck said in the statement. “The company has tremendous momentum. With one clinical program, which also received Fast Track designation from FDA, and another program entering the clinic soon, I anticipate Arvinas will be the first company in the field to have clinical data with a targeted protein degrader. I am excited to be joining Arvinas, and look forward to pursuing the development of PROTAC® protein degraders to benefit patients and address unmet medical needs in oncology and in other devastating and life-threatening diseases.”