SEATTLE and SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Immune Design, a biotechnology company focused on the development of novel immune-based therapies for cancer and other chronic conditions, today announced the appointment of Jan Henrik ter Meulen, M.D., Dr. habil., DTM&H, as its Chief Scientific Officer.
A veteran vaccine researcher in pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic settings, Dr. ter Meulen brings more than two decades of immune-based research experience to Immune Design. He has previously led R&D efforts for multiple vaccine and antibody-based programs and directed research teams at Merck & Co., Crucell Holland and Etna Biotech, and at several academic institutions. In this new position, Dr ter Meulen will be responsible for Immune Design's research strategy, capabilities and discovery platforms.
"We are very pleased to welcome Jan to Immune Design," said Carlos Paya, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at Immune Design. "His extensive research experience will be invaluable as he assists us advancing our immunotherapy technology platforms, establishing research collaborations and leading our discovery strategy."
Dr. ter Meulen joins Immune Design from Merck Research Laboratories where he has served as Executive Director of Vaccine Research since 2008 and had operational responsibility for the entire vaccine discovery research pipeline of Merck & Co., headed the department of Vaccine Basic Research and contributed to the overall research strategy. Prior to his time at Merck, Dr. ter Meulen served as Executive Director Infectious Diseases at Crucell Holland and Chief Scientific Officer at Etna Biotech, a subsidiary of Crucell. At Crucell, Dr. ter Meulen was responsible for identification of vaccine disease targets, initial market analysis and management of external research collaborations. He also headed the monoclonal antibody group at Crucell, which discovered the first broadly neutralizing antibodies against influenza virus currently being widely used to design universal influenza vaccines.
Academically, Dr. ter Meulen conducted research in viral immunology at the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, and the Institute of Virology, Marburg, Germany. He has authored more than 70 scientific publications, contributed to several textbooks and was an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has served as reviewer of scientific programs for the European Community, the NIH and several other research agencies. Dr. ter Meulen holds an Adjunct Professorship in Virology at the Philipps-University Marburg.
"I believe that Immune Design's unique approach is very well positioned to play a prominent and potentially game-changing role in the introduction of novel immunotherapies, and holds significant promise for treatment of patients with cancer, allergy and chronic infectious disease," said Dr. ter Meulen. "I look forward to intensifying and broadening the company's R&D efforts and anticipate seeing initial proof-of-concept of its technologies in human trials soon."
Immune Design's immunotherapy approach is designed to both activate and deliver tumor antigens to dendritic cells in vivo to trigger specific, broad, and effective anti-tumor immune responses. The company's pipeline includes LV305 and G305 product candidates generated from two distinct technologies. Immune Design's proprietary lentiviral vector platform selectively targets dermal DCs in vivo to induce a powerful and durable pool of tumor specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). The company's synthetic TLR4 agonist, GLA, is a powerful inducer of innate immunity on its own and also triggers a potent and specific cellular and humoral anti-tumor immune response when it is combined with a tumor antigen. The LV305 and G305 product candidates will be individually tested in parallel in oncology indications and, upon demonstration of safety and immunogenicity, will then be tested in combination. These technologies may be applied in other allergy and infectious disease settings as well.
About Immune Design
Immune Design is a privately held clinical stage biotechnology company headquartered in Seattle, WA. Immune Design brings together some of the world's leaders in the field of molecular immunology to develop a synergistic platform of next-generation vaccines designed to treat cancer, infectious diseases, allergy, and autoimmune disorders. The company employs leading-edge technologies that target dendritic cells for more precise activation of the immune response. These include a novel lentiviral vector engineered to deliver antigen-encoding nucleic acids directly to dendritic cells in vivo and a TLR4 agonist that activates dendritic cells by up-regulating key molecules for efficient antigen presentation and produces Th1 cytokines to enhance the immune response. For more information, visit www.immunedesign.com.