Sanofi diabetes VP jumps to NYC metabolic disease startup Applied Therapeutics

Empty boardroom
Applied Therapeutics launched a first-in-human trial for its lead candidate in Type 2 diabetes complications in February. (Getty/Chris Ryan)

Sanofi VP and Senior Medical Officer Riccardo Perfetti, M.D., Ph.D., has made the jump to Applied Therapeutics, a New York-based early-stage biotech focused on metabolic diseases.

Perfetti, an endocrinologist, will serve as chief medical officer as Applied Therapeutics looks to move its small-molecule assets into clinical testing, including treatments for diabetic retinopathy and cardiomyopathy, chronic heart failure and acute heart attacks, and peripheral neuropathy.

The company is also collaborating with Emory University to develop a therapy for galactosemia, a rare, potentially fatal genetic disease that affects the body’s ability to metabolize galactose sugars, which are found in milk and dairy products and produced by human cells at low levels.

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In February (PDF), Applied Therapeutics launched a first-in-human phase 1 trial for its lead candidate in complications from Type 2 diabetes, evaluating safety and tolerability compared to placebo, as well as a biomarker for patient response.

The company licensed its technology earlier this year from Columbia University’s Donald Landry, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the department of medicine, which targets enzymes implicated in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

At Sanofi, Perfetti headed up global medical affairs for the diabetes and cardiovascular business unit, and chaired the R&D Diabetes Clinical Review and Clinical Study Review committees during his decadelong tenure. He also served as a member of the companywide senior leadership group.

Perfetti helped oversee a major shift in Sanofi’s approach to gathering data on its long-acting insulin Toujeo, including three real-world, randomized followup studies.

In an interview with FiercePharma, Perfetti said that "data provided by randomized controlled studies need to be complemented by the real experience of the physicians and patients,” while keeping in mind real-world studies’ limitations as the approach is applied to other medicines in the French drugmaker’s portfolio.

RELATED: Sanofi plots real-world data push as Toujeo slashes hypoglycemia risks in seniors

Before that, he helped lead diabetes, obesity, metabolism and endocrinology work at Amgen and was responsible for transitioning preclinical assets into first-in-human studies. Perfetti also spent 20 years in academia at UCLA and the National Institutes of Health, including as director of the Diabetes Research Laboratory and director of the Outpatient Diabetes Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

In addition, Applied Therapeutics added Donald D'Amico, M.D., chairman of ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College and ophthalmologist-in-chief at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Eric Kanter, M.D., partner at Retina-Vitreous Consultants, to its scientific advisory board to help develop its diabetic retinopathy program.

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