Pandion recruits Gilead alum Sundy as CMO

New Pandion Therapeutics Chief Medical Officer John Sundy, M.D., Ph.D., held several roles at Duke University before joining Gilead Sciences in 2014. (Pandion Therapeutics)

On the heels of an $80 million series B round, Pandion Therapeutics has nabbed itself a new chief medical officer. John Sundy, M.D., Ph.D., joins from Gilead Sciences, where he led clinical research in its inflammation and respiratory therapeutics unit.

Sundy arrives at Pandion as it moves its lead program, a treatment for ulcerative colitis, toward the clinic and preps a second one for IND-enabling studies. He got his industry start at Gilead in 2014 after holding several roles at Duke University, including as a professor of medicine.

“As a highly regarded drug developer and clinician, John’s experience in translational medicine will be instrumental to Pandion as we advance our lead clinical-stage program, PT101, a novel interleukin 2 (IL-2) mutein Fc fusion protein,” Pandion CEO Rahul Kakkar, M.D., said in a statement. “In addition, his depth of expertise in inflammation and immunology is a tremendous asset to Pandion as we build a robust and innovative pipeline focused on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

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The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech launched in 2018 with $58 million in series A funding, topping up its coffers in April this year with another $80 million. Along the way, it teamed up with Astellas on treatments for Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases in a pact that could total nearly $800 million.

Pandion’s pipeline is based on its modular drug design platform, which Kakkar likens to a quiver of arrows. The company can mix and match arrowheads, or immune effectors, that retrain the immune system with tethers that bind to proteins that are unique to the target organ. Its lead program, PT101, is a systemically active variant of IL-2 that boosts patients’ regulatory T cells, which help the body differentiate between self and non-self—crucial in fighting autoimmune disease. The company plans to start its first human trial in 2021.

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It’s also choosing between a trio of prospects for its second clinical program, Kakkar said: a systemically active PD-1 agonist, a bifunctional PD-1 agonist and a bifunctional IL-2 mutein. The latter two have the immune effector on one end with a tether on the other to make them tissue selective.

The company is working to expand its platform to other organs in the body, including the skin and kidneys. Because autoimmune disease can affect so many organs, Pandion will seek partners to realize the full potential of its approach.