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She is CombiGene’s new CSO

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She is CombiGene’s new CSO

31 May, 2024

CombiGene’s former Director Preclinical Development Annika Ericsson has taken over the role of the company’s Chief Scientific Officer. BioStock contacted Ericsson to learn more about her near-term priorities and long-term goals.
We know that CG01 has great potential thanks to the out-licensing to Spark. I also see enormous potential in our pain project, which shows impressive preclinical data, says Annika Ericsson.

CombiGene’s primary focus is the development of the pain programme COZY, which is being co-developed with Danish Zyneyro. The goal of the project, which consists of a peptide treatment (COZY01) and a gene therapy treatment (COZY02), is to develop an effective treatment for severe chronic nerve pain.

Major shareholder sees high potential

The pipeline also includes the gene therapy project CG01, which is being developed for the treatment of severe drug-resistant focal epilepsy. The project has previously been out-licensed to the American company Spark Therapeutics.

In January 2024, CombiGene regained the global rights to CG01 after the collaboration agreement was terminated due to a strategic audit of Spark’s pipeline. However, the new major shareholder Orphazyme has high expectations that CombiGene will succeed in finding a new licensee who can take the project all the way to product launch. Read more here.

New Chief Scientific Officer

Annika Ericsson, CSO CombiGene

While the development of the COZY project progresses and the selection process for potential licensee for CG01 is ongoing, CombiGene’s Head of Research, Karin Agerman, has decided to move on to a new position outside the company. The company’s former Director Preclinical Development, Annika Ericsson, will take over the role in August.

Annika has worked in the company since 2018, bringing extensive experience in gene therapy development during the preclinical phase and in project management. She started by running the preclinical testing of CG01 and has since been the project manager for the discontinued lipodystrophy project CGT2, and most recently COZY02.

BioStock reached out to Ericsson for a comment.

Annika, could you begin by sharing a bit about your professional background?

– I have a PhD in medical biochemistry from Karolinska Institutet, with a thesis that focused on enzyme and gene therapy for acute intermittent porphyria. After my PhD, I have completed postdoctoral studies at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. I also have 20 years of experience in the biotech industry, from laboratory work to developing and upscaling production processes for protein drugs. In addition, I have worked as a project manager for preclinical studies in various lysosomal diseases.

– As Director Preclinical Development at CombiGene, I have driven the preclinical testing of CG01 and been the project manager for CGT2, and now COZY02, our latest gene therapy project in severe chronic pain.

What experiences do you bring from your previous role as project manager for several of Combigene’s projects?

– Leading several of the company’s gene therapy projects has been both exciting and educational. I have gained valuable experience working with academia and CRO companies, acting as  the “spider in the web” to coordinate the projects. Keeping timelines and budgets has made me solution-oriented and determined. I have also realized the importance of clear communication to keep projects on track. All these experiences are truly beneficial in my new role.

What will be the biggest difference between the two roles?

– Now I need to take a holistic approach to all projects. Previously, my focus was more detailed on a single project, but now I must adopt a helicopter view. In addition, I will need to focus on CombiGene’s further development by identifying and running new, exciting gene therapy projects.

What do you see as the future of the company’s projects?

– We know that CG01 has great potential thanks to the out-licensing to Spark Therapeutics. I also see enormous potential in our pain project, which shows impressive preclinical data. The fact that we now have evidence of our target protein’s presence in human tissues further supports that project. I am particularly passionate about COZY02, which has shown long-term effects in pain models for up to a year. Imagine how fantastic it would be to be able to offer a treatment that can completely block pain signals in the nervous system and give the patient total pain relief for a long time. That would be a dream scenario.

Finally, what are your goals for the coming years?

– CombiGene needs to bring in new and exciting gene therapy projects and there will be a strong focus on that. Our team has an impressive capacity to drive projects forward with high competence in drug development and gene therapy, enabling us to take on almost any project. My goal is to actively advance our ongoing pain projects to license them out to a larger player. If we succeed with a new licensing agreement for CG01, I see that as a bonus.

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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