SAN DIEGO, July 8, 2018 — Polaris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a subsidiary of Polaris Group), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel drugs for cancer, announced that James Allison, Ph.D. and Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D. have joined its Scientific Advisory Board.
As one of the world’s most renowned scientists, Dr. Allison’s fundamental research on the mechanisms governing T cell responses inspired the development of an antibody against CTLA-4 that became ipilimumab, the first drug ever shown to increase survival for patients with metastatic melanoma and received approval from the FDA in 2011. Dr. Allison is a member of both the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine of the USA, and has received numerous prestigious awards. His current work seeks to improve immune checkpoint blockade therapies and identify new targets to unleash the immune system in order to eradicate cancer. Dr. Allison is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology and the Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform, and a Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he also holds the Vivian Smith Distinguished Chair in Immunology.
As a trained medical oncologist and immunologist, Dr. Sharma focuses her research work on investigating mechanisms and pathways within the immune system that are responsible for tumor rejection and clinical benefit. She is the Principal Investigator of multiple immunotherapy clinical trials and conducts translational laboratory studies related to these trials. Her studies enable development of novel immunotherapy strategies for the treatment of cancer patients. Dr. Sharma is a Professor in the Departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology, the Scientific Director for the Immunotherapy Platform, and also the Co-Director of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to help develop further the unique arginine inhibition mechanism of ADI‑PEG 20, as well as other agents in their portfolio,” said Dr. Allison. “Arginine is a key regulator of various cellular processes. Combining arginine deprivation with immunotherapies, as well as cytotoxic agents, adds another mechanism of attack to our anti-cancer armamentarium.”
“I am delighted to join the Scientific Advisory Board of Polaris. Their lead compound, ADI‑PEG 20 has already demonstrated efficacy and safety across a variety of cancer types. Combining ADI‑PEG 20 with immunotherapies is an opportunity to enhance the benefit already seen with immuno-oncology agents,” said Dr. Sharma. “As an immunologist and oncologist, I am extremely interested in combination therapy with ADI‑PEG 20 plus immune checkpoint therapy as a potential strategy to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients.”
“Drs. Allison and Sharma are world leaders in the development of immune-oncology agents,” said John Bomalaski, Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs at Polaris. “They bring a wealth of expertise. We are extremely pleased to be working with them.”
About ADI‑PEG 20
ADI‑PEG 20 is a biologic being developed by Polaris Group to treat cancers carrying a major metabolic defect that renders them unable to internally synthesize arginine. Because arginine is essential for protein synthesis and survival of cells, these cancer cells become dependent upon the external supply of arginine to survive and grow. ADI‑PEG 20 is designed to deplete the external supply of arginine, causing arginine-dependent cancer cells to die while leaving the patient’s normal cells unharmed. Multiple cancers have been reported to have a high degree of arginine-dependency and can potentially be treated with ADI‑PEG 20.
About Polaris Group
Polaris Group specializes in the research and development of protein drugs to treat cancer and other debilitating diseases. In addition to the ADI‑PEG 20 program, Polaris Group is developing other therapeutic agents including a small molecule drug program that utilizes a rational structure-based approach to design novel compounds that inhibit the biological function of cancer-related protein targets.