SAN DIEGO, Feb. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Tocagen Inc., a clinical-stage cancer-selective immunotherapy company, today announced that Paul Schimmel, Ph.D., Hahn professor of molecular biology and chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute, has been appointed to the board of directors.
Dr. Schimmel co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and currently serves as a member of the company's board of directors. In addition to Alnylam, Dr. Schimmel co-founded and served as a founding director of Cubist Pharmaceuticals, acquired by Merck and Co.; Alkermes; Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, acquired by GlaxoSmithKline; as well as aTyr Pharma, Abide Pharmaceuticals, RepliGen Corporation and Momenta Pharmaceuticals.
"Paul has a unique combination of deep scientific expertise as well as an impressive track record founding and leading life science companies, of which six have become publicly traded," said Faheem Hasnain, chairman of the board of directors of Tocagen and president and chief executive officer of Receptos, Inc. "His experience and success developing new treatments for unmet medical needs and his corporate board and business acumen will be invaluable in providing pipeline and strategic direction as Tocagen advances into late-stage trials."
Added Dr. Schimmel, "In order to make true breakthroughs in the fight against cancer, especially difficult-to-treat cancers such as glioblastoma, we need to explore unique technological approaches. Tocagen's cancer-selective immunotherapy platform technologies and lead product candidate represent a new approach to treating cancer, and I look forward to working with Tocagen to advance the company and their potentially disruptive technology."
Dr. Schimmel is an author or coauthor of more than 450 scientific papers, co-author of a three-volume textbook on biophysical chemistry, and has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field. Prior to joining The Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Schimmel was the MacArthur professor of biophysics and biochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also served as chairman for the division of biological chemistry at the American Chemical Society and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Schimmel obtained a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan University. He conducted his post-doctoral work at Stanford University.
About Toca 511 & Toca FC
Toca 511 & Toca FC, the company's lead investigational combination product candidate, is being evaluated in four clinical trials in patients with recurrent high grade glioma, including glioblastoma. Toca 511 & Toca FC is designed to have a dual mechanism of action. Toca 511, a retroviral replicating vector, delivers a prodrug-activating gene selectively to cancer cells. Then the prodrug-activating enzyme produced in the cancer cell activates orally administered Toca FC, an extended-release formulation of 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC), into a powerful antimetabolite, 5-FU, selectively in the cancer cell. In animal models, the production of 5-FU locally kills dividing tumor cells during each 5-FC cycle, which leads to durable and selective anticancer immune responses. Data from ongoing clinical trials show encouraging evidence for increased survival compared to historical controls, safety and tolerability, antitumor activity and evidence to support the proposed mechanism of action. Based on these data the company is now planning to commence late-stage clinical trials in patients with high grade glioma.
About Tocagen Inc.
Tocagen is a biopharmaceutical company pursuing the discovery, development and commercialization of cancer-selective immunotherapeutic products. These products leverage a novel retroviral replicating vector gene therapy platform that selectively infects cancer cells. Tocagen's lead program is entering late-stage clinical development for patients with recurrent brain cancer. These therapies are designed to help patients fight their cancer by locally activating their immune system selectively against their tumor, with subsequent systemic benefit.
Tocagen has received grant support from leading brain cancer foundations, including Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), Musella Foundation and Voices Against Brain Cancer (VABC). For more information about Tocagen or Toca 511 & Toca FC please visit www.tocagen.com or www.clinicaltrials.gov using the identifier NCT01470794, NCT01156584 or NCT01985256.