Kojin Therapeutics likes to do things differently: Its platform is looking to—for the first time—drug the ferroptosis-sensitive cell state and treat a host of diseases, and, now, an all-woman leadership team will help make that happen.
The small, early-stage biotech has hired Luba Greenwood, a board member of the company, as its new chief executive. She joins co-founder Vasanthi Viswanathan and Chief Scientific Officer Kay Ahn for the women-led executive team. Biotech has a major gender gap when it comes to women leaders, so seeing this team led by women is a rare and nice surprise.
Greenwood comes with a strong pedigree, having previously held roles at Roche, Google and Pfizer. She most recently served as a managing partner at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s venture fund, Binney Street Capital, a venture arm she founded to further Dana-Farber’s mission of developing treatments for incurable cancers.
Now at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Kojin, she’ll be working in a more raw science capacity, dealing with an early-stage startup targeting new research based on cell state and ferroptosis biology.
The research field of ferroptosis has been growing over the years but remains embryonic, with the term itself only coined back in 2012. This unique modality of cell death, driven by iron-dependent phospholipid peroxidation, is regulated by multiple cellular metabolic pathways in addition to various signaling pathways relevant to disease.
A number of organ injuries and degenerative pathologies are driven by ferroptosis, while therapy-resistant cancer cells, particularly those in the mesenchymal state and prone to metastasis, are very susceptible to ferroptosis.
While the biotech is keeping mum on specific targets for now, recent research suggest this platform could be used against drug-resistant cancers, ischemic organ injuries and other degenerative diseases linked to extensive lipid peroxidation.
Kojin got off a $60 million series A in the summer, and, now, with Greenwood at the helm, the ship can move into deeper waters.
“From the outset, Kojin’s differentiated platform and modality stood apart, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this revolutionary science and the impact it will have on drug discovery,” she said.