Malmöbaserade Cyxone är i full färd med att förbereda sina läkemedelskandidater för nästa steg i den kliniska utvecklingsprocessen. Parallellt satsar man nu på att skruva upp såväl affärsutvecklingsaktiviteter som investerarkontakter och har rekryterat Tara Heitner som ny vd. BioStock träffade Tara för att höra om hennes ambitioner för bolaget och hur hon ser på Cyxones framtidsutsikter.

Bioteknikbolaget Cyxone utvecklar immunmodulerande läkemedel mot autoimmuna sjukdomar. Bolagets portfölj innehåller två läkemedelskandidater i klinisk utveckling; T20K mot multipel skleros (MS) och Rabeximod mot ledgångsreumatism (RA).

Pipeline i klinisk utveckling

Båda kandidaterna förbereds just nu inför nästa kliniska seg.

För first-in-class-kandidaten Rabeximod väntar en fas IIb-studie som enligt tidsplanen ska inledas under första kvartalet 2021. För närvarande tillverkas ny substans, som sedan ska formuleras till kapslar innan formella ansökningar om kliniska studier kan skickas in till berörda myndigheter. De etiska kommittéerna i flera av de tänkta testländerna har redan givit sitt godkännande för studiestart.

Läkemedelskandidaten T20K står inför en fas Ib-studie som kommer att inledas så snart man har tagit fram en oral beredningsform för kandidaten samt genomfört regulatoriskt nödvändiga prekliniska toxikologistudier. Läs mer om T20K-projektet här.

Stabila finanser inför framtiden

Cyxone har stabila finanser och följer en planenlig utveckling. För första kvartalet redovisade bolaget en förlust om -10,2 Mkr och ett kassaflöde om -9,9 Mkr medan kassan på balansdagen uppgick till 51,8 Mkr. Läs BioStocks artikel om Cyxones Q1-rapport här.

Tara Heitner blir ny vd

Nu har Cyxone dessutom rekryterat Tara Heitner som ny vd för bolaget, med tillträde den 1 juni. Tara har bred erfarenhet från life science-sektorn efter ett flertal ledande positioner och styrelseuppdrag för såväl amerikanska och europeiska som asiatiska bolag i sektorn.

Tara Heitner är disputerad kemist vid McGill University i Kanada och har en MBA från Danmarks Tekniska Universitet. Hennes vetenskapliga bakgrund tillsammans med hennes breda erfarenhet av affärsutveckling och förhandlingar tillför ett stort värde till Cyxone enligt styrelseordförande Bert Junno, som kommenterar i pressmeddelande:

– Vi är väldigt nöjda med att rekrytera Tara Heitner. Hennes kombinerade erfarenhet från läkemedels- och biotechindustrin samt erkänt goda ledarskaps-, kommunikations- och förhandlingsförmåga är värdefulla för Cyxone. Tara har ett starkt affärsmässigt fokus och har flertalet gånger bidragit till värdehöjande förhandlingar inom investeringar och strategiska samarbeten i sina tidigare roller. Styrelsen ser fram emot att fortsätta utveckla Cyxone tillsammans med Tara.

BioStock fick möjlighet att ställa några frågor till Cyxones nyutsedda vd.

Tara Heitner, vd Cyxone

Tara, can you briefly tell us about yourself and your professional background?

– I have always enjoyed science and the link to medical research to find better and safer therapies. I am Canadian and completed my studies in Canada but have not lived in Canada since I left after completing my PhD at McGill University. My family still lives in Montreal so I visit often. I worked for many years in USA both in San Francisco where I completed a postdoctoral fellowship and worked in big pharma and in Boston where I worked for an MIT spinout. In these roles I was a scientist working directly with technology development. Since moving to Denmark in 2005 I completed an MBA. I have worked for Danish biotech companies but I also founded a consultancy firm which has had clients around the globe where I have filled business development, strategy and market analysis roles as well as executive leadership positions.

– More recently I have also been CEO of university spinouts from Lund in Sweden and Aarhus Denmark working in the areas of diabetes and autoimmune disease respectively. I have worked across therapeutic areas and modalities. The key is to understand the unique attributes and challenges for each program, build a strong multidisciplinary team with the skills to move the program and have the funding to execute efficiently keeping the patient needs in focus at all times. It is very exciting for me to work for a more advanced pipeline company like Cyxone with potential to grow and deliver novel solutions to patients.

You have received much credit for your negotiation and business development skills. Could you tell us about any specific events where these came in play?

– I have worked in early stage companies and in clinical stage companies prior to Cyxone. The early stage companies had great technologies and great potential but owing to their early stage there was a leap of faith required to attract investors and partners. Despite this I was able to translate the excitement and value of these programs to potential partners and investors and help them to make that leap required to close the deal. Success is often based on ability to communicate excellent & novel science, the value of a solid scientific team behind the work combined with an executive team with a reputation to execute and a passion for the project.

What was it about Cyxone that persuaded you to join the company?

– Cyxone is addressing important unmet medical needs with novel approaches. I have some experience in working with underserved autoimmune diseases. But on a personal level I also know people who struggle every day to get control of their pain from RA with inadequate remedies that come with many unacceptable side effects. It is important to deliver efficacy and safe tolerable therapies and that is what Cyxone is striving to accomplish. I was also attracted by the small but professional elite team of pharmaceutical savvy experts who understand the risks and the rewards of our business.

What are the most important learnings that you take with you from your previous positions in the sector and how will they benefit Cyxone?

– I have learned that a clear understanding of the market needs, the unmet medical needs and the competitive landscape is essential for developing a product tailored not to the market today but to the market 5 to ten years from now. An understanding of the market is best gained by primary research with patients, physicians and other pharmaceutical companies in the field as well as payers and insurance companies. Internal knowledge and expertise in the company of the medical and market aspects can also give a company an important edge.

What new perspective will you bring to Cyxone, and how will that affect the course of the company?

– I am very internationally minded and my network spans several continents. I aim to exploit the many strong resources available in Sweden and Scandinavia but I will also look beyond for opportunities to partner or collaborate and for markets for our products. Cyxone has always been a globally minded company and this will become even more apparent as we progress.

What do you envision for Cyxone in the long run?

– I expect the company to grow and increase in value by expanding the team and the pipeline to address unmet medical needs and to deliver drugs with good efficacy and a high safety profile in several autoimmune diseases including RA and MS and beyond autoimmunity.

Finally, where do you think Cyxone will be in a year from now?

– Cyxone will have grown in value and in number of employees. We will be busy managing clinical trials and actively seeking partners for our programs as well as scouting for new opportunities.

 

Innehållet i Biostocks nyheter och analyser är oberoende men Biostocks verksamhet är i viss mån finansierad av bolag i branschen. Detta inlägg avser ett bolag som BioStock erhållit finansiering från.

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