Knopp Biosciences Announces Hiring of Suresh Khemani as VP of Commercial and Clinical Affairs
PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov 30, 2010 - Knopp Biosciences LLC ("the Company") announced today that Suresh Khemani has joined the Company as Vice President of Commercial and Clinical Affairs.
Mr. Khemani brings more than 25 years of global pharmaceutical experience to Knopp, a privately held drug discovery and development company based in Pittsburgh. He will create and manage Knopp's sales, marketing, and clinical affairs operations, including its U.S. promotional role under the Company's previously announced license agreement with Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB). Under that agreement, Knopp will provide medical science liaisons and a limited number of area business managers to support U.S. commercialization by Biogen Idec of KNS-760704 (dexpramipexole), should it receive approval for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
"Suresh brings great breadth and depth of experience to Knopp as we initiate our transition into a more broadly integrated biopharmaceutical company," said Michael Bozik, M.D., president and CEO of Knopp. "He will be a key contributor in developing as well as implementing growth strategies."
As a member of the Company's Executive Team, Mr. Khemani joins Dr. Bozik, to whom he will report; Evan Ingersoll, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer and Senior VP of Clinical Research and Business Operations; Valentin Gribkoff, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Senior VP of Discovery Research; Gregory Hebrank, M.D., MBA, Executive VP of Corporate Operations and Finance; and Thomas Petzinger Jr., Executive VP of Business Development and Public Affairs.
Mr. Khemani spent 16 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., where he held numerous domestic and international positions before becoming Director of Global Neuroscience Marketing. More recently he served as Executive Director of New Product Planning at Facet Biotech Inc. and its forerunner, PDL Biopharma Inc., and as Director of New Product Marketing at Chiron Corp. Besides neuroscience, the therapeutics areas in which he has held marketing leadership positions include oncology, immunology, and cardiovascular disease. He holds a degree in pharmacy from the University of Bombay.
About Knopp Biosciences LLC
Knopp Biosciences LLC, based in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, is a drug discovery and development company focused on delivering breakthrough treatments for unmet medical needs through innovation, experience, and partnership. The company's lead product candidate is KNS-760704, an orally bioavailable small molecule in development for the treatment of ALS under a license agreement with Biogen Idec. Knopp's leadership includes experienced neuroscience drug discovery and development executives formerly associated with major pharmaceutical companies. Knopp's financing has been led by Saturn Capital Inc. of Boston as placement agent and Saturn Partners II as lead funder. Funders also include co-founder LaunchCyte LLC, Innovation Works, and Kramer Capital Partners.
About KNS-760704 (dexpramipexole)
KNS-760704 is the chirally pure form of dexpramipexole, a low molecular weight benzothiazole shown to improve mitochondrial function and to confer significant cellular protection in neurons under stress. KNS-760704 is highly orally bioavailable, water soluble, renally excreted, and only moderately protein bound. KNS-760704 was originally identified as a candidate therapy for ALS by James Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., then of the University of Virginia. The compound has received orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission for the treatment of patients with ALS, as well as Fast Track designation from the FDA. In August 2010, Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) secured an exclusive, worldwide license agreement to develop and commercialize KNS-760704 for the treatment of ALS and potentially other indications.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and motor neuron disease, is a universally and rapidly fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive muscle weakness and wasting. ALS affects adults in the prime of life and creates a substantial burden for caregivers. U.S. prevalence is approximately 20,000 and the global incidence is approximately two per 100,000. Only one drug has been approved for the treatment of ALS. Life expectancy after symptom onset is usually three to five years.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements," including statements relating to Knopp's planned regulatory filings and clinical development programs for KNS-760704. All forward-looking statements are based on management's current assumptions and expectations and involve risks, uncertainties and other important factors, specifically including the uncertainties inherent in clinical trials and product development programs, the availability of funding to support continued research and studies, the availability or potential availability of alternative therapies or treatments, the availability of patent protection for the discoveries and strategic alliances, as well as additional factors that may cause Knopp's actual results to differ from our expectations. There can be no assurance that KNS-760704 will be successfully developed or manufactured or that final results of clinical studies will be supportive of regulatory approvals required to market the products. Knopp undertakes no obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Contact: Knopp Biosciences LLC
Tom Petzinger, 412-488-1776
Executive Vice President, Business Development and Public Affairs