ResTORbio brings on Novartis researcher as clinical VP

A nurse holding the hands of an elderly patient
Boston-based resTORbio spun out from PureTech to develop two TORC1 assets for aging-related diseases. (Getty/Rawpixel)

ResTORbio has brought on Novartis cardiology researcher Kerry Russell to serve in the newly created role of VP of clinical development as the company aims to expand its pipeline in aging-related diseases.

Russell was previously a senior director and translational medicine expert in the cardiovascular division at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Prior to that, she was an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

Novartis helped spin out the company when it offloaded two small molecule assets to the PureTech subsidiary last year and it maintains a minority stake in resTORbio.

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Russell will be responsible for directing resTORbio’s overall development programs, including in respiratory tract infections and heart failure. The Boston-based company is focused on TORC1, rapamycin’s mTOR and other biological pathways that regulate aging.

“I am thrilled that someone of Kerry’s caliber has joined resTORbio to help us expand our clinical development capabilities,” Joan Mannick, co-founder and chief medical officer of resTORbio, said in a statement.

“Kerry not only brings extensive clinical development experience but also specialized expertise in cardiovascular medicine, which will be an important therapeutic area as we continue to uncover the potential benefits of TORC1 inhibition in heart failure and other diseases associated with the aging process,” Mannick added.

RELATED: Novartis offloads phase 2 mTORC1 programs to PureTech

The company’s lead candidate, RTB101, is an oral small molecule used alone or in combination with Novartis’ mTOR inhibitor Afinitor (everolimus) to inhibit TORC1, which has been observed to prolong lifespan while avoiding inhibition of TORC2, which can cause adverse events, the company said.

An ongoing phase 2b trial is evaluating RTB101 as an immunotherapy to decrease the incidence of respiratory tract infections in the elderly, with topline results expected later this year.

Last November, resTORbio announced it had raised $40 million in a series B financing round to help move its drug into phase 3 trials. That money brought the company’s total funding up to $65 million.

The company later went public in January, closing a $97.8 million IPO under the Nasdaq symbol TORC. By the end of the first quarter, resTORbio maintained $135 million in cash and cash equivalents, according to a spokesperson.

Note: This story was updated to include details on resTORbio's IPO and cash position.