Inositec has named former Roche and Novartis staffer Frits van Alphen, M.D., as its CMO. Van Alphen joins Inositec as the biotech gears up to move its lead vascular calcification candidate into the clinic next year.
Zurich, Switzerland-based Inositec hired van Alphen away from Roche, where he led the operational excellence team. Earlier in his career, van Alphen worked as CMO of Vifor Pharma and headed up European medical affairs at Novartis. The Novartis role also gave van Alphen responsibility for leading the company’s clinical operations team in the Netherlands. Van Alphen will now use this experience to guide Inositec into and through the clinic.
Inositec spun out of ETH Zurich late in 2015 to develop drugs based on inositol hexaphosphate. The biotech has a platform capable of replacing phosphate groups on the molecule with a view to giving them druglike properties. Inositec sees the small molecules treating a range of conditions. Vascular calcification is top of its hit list.
The small molecules advancing down the pipeline at Inositec are designed to inhibit pathological crystallization in soft tissues and thereby prevent the stiffening and blockage of arteries. If the R&D strategy goes according to plan, the drugs will have these effects regardless of the root cause of the vascular calcification, making them suitable for use in all calcification-dependent cardiovascular diseases.
Inositec is some way from clinically validating its belief in this mechanism. But with van Alphen in the CMO seat, it has taken another step toward generating supportive data.
“Dr. van Alphen is a key addition to Inositec’s team as we enter IND/CTA-enabling studies with our lead program in the vascular calcification space and fine-tune our clinical strategy in view of first-in-human studies in 2019,” Inositec CEO Mattias Ivarsson, Ph.D., said in a statement.