Senti hires Iglesias, of Abraxane fame, to lead push into clinic

Senti Biosciences has named Jose Iglesias as its chief medical officer. Iglesias joins Senti after a spell as a consultant but is perhaps best known for his work on Abraxane at Abraxis and Celgene. 

South San Francisco-based Senti is working on genetic circuits designed to provide greater control over the effects of cell and gene therapies. Senti thinks the resulting therapies may be able to sense and adapt to their environment, for example by responding to chemokines to localize their effects in the tumor microenvironment.

With the first candidate based on the approach nearing the clinic, Senti has gone looking for a CMO capable of guiding its development programs. The search led Senti to Iglesias.

Iglesias has held a series of short positions in recent years, with his nine months at Apex Oncology Consulting preceded by similar-length spells at Boston Biomedical and CRO ResearchPoint Global.

Earlier in his career, Iglesias spent four years at Abraxis, sticking around for a further two years after its acquisition by Celgene. As Abraxis’ CMO and Celgene’s vice president of clinical development, Iglesias worked on phase 3 trials of Abraxane in metastatic cancers of the pancreas, lung, skin and breast. The trials led to FDA approvals that ultimately turned Abraxane into a blockbuster cancer drug. 

Senti CEO Tim Lu sees Iglesias’ background, which includes 10 years at Eli Lilly, as a good fit for his company’s nascent pipeline. 

“He brings a wealth of experience in oncology clinical development to Senti in that he has designed and implemented clinical trials of novel cancer therapies across all development phases. This expertise will be critical as we advance our SENTI-101 program into the clinic later this year, in addition to our upcoming pipeline programs,” Lu said in a statement.

Senti plans to file an IND to test SENTI-101 in humans in the second half of the year. According to Senti, the drug “uses tumor-homing allogeneic cells as a drug delivery vehicle to achieve localized, combinatorial expression of two cytokines, IL-12 and IL-21.” Through the cytokines, Senti hopes to trigger an immune response against solid tumors.