Xenotransplantation firm eGenesis hires Wes Westlin as R&D head

CRISPR Nanoparticle
eGenesis aims to make pig organs suitable for human transplantation using gene-editing CRISPR technology. (MIT News)

eGenesis is bringing on William “Wes” Westlin, Ph.D., to help head up its xenotransplantation R&D as executive vice president.

Previously, Westlin served as a senior VP of preclinical research and early development at Nimbus Therapeutics, a position he also held at Celgene and Avila Therapeutics, working on first-in-human programs and clinical proof-of-concept studies. He also helped establish partnerships with big pharma companies such as Sanofi, Gilead and Clovis Oncology.

In March 2017, eGenesis raised $38 million to help make pig organs suitable for human transplantation using gene-editing CRISPR technology, to help with the persistently unmet demand for organs from human donors.

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The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company hopes to use CRISPR-Cas9 against the potentially harmful virus genes in pig organs that can cause immunological incompatibility.

RELATED: eGenesis gains $38M to use CRISPR to help tame pig organs for transplants

“Wes joins eGenesis at a critical time as we continue to build our R&D efforts and advance our preclinical research in xenotransplantation,” said Luhan Yang, Ph.D., eGenesis co-founder and chief scientific officer. “We are delighted to welcome Wes to our growing team, as we work to broaden our development expertise and accelerate our scientific efforts to meet milestones over the next few years.”

Prior to his time at Avila, Westlin served as a senior VP for preclinical research at Praecis Pharmaceuticals, covering its oncology, immunology, inflammation biology and Alzheimer’s disease programs. Before that, he held positions at Monsanto/Searle and Pharmacia.

RELATED: What's next after CRISPR clears hurdle in quest to transplant pig organs into humans?

“eGenesis is uniquely positioned within the industry to transform the field of xenotransplantation through the use of its novel multiplexed gene editing platform to address the issues of cross-species viral transmission and molecular incompatibilities in xenotransplantation,” Westlin said. “I’m excited to join this team to be part of the mission to address the shortage of transplantable organs for patients and their families.”