Abfero Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company developing best-in-class oral iron chelators for the treatment of diseases of iron-overload. Patients with systemic iron-overload due to transfusions or genetic conditions are at risk for severe organ damage and death. Retinal and brain iron accumulation are associated with a number of retinal and neurologic diseases leading to vision loss, dementia, and other debilitating symptoms. As the pioneer company focused exclusively on iron as a therapeutic target, our mission is to develop novel therapies for the treatment of iron-overload conditions.
Iron chelators are small molecules designed to recognize and bind iron and to remove it from the body. Abfero’s technology is based upon the discoveries of Professor Raymond Bergeron of the University of Florida, the world’s leader in the development of iron chelators. Abfero has an exclusive license to a large portfolio of chelators from the Bergeron laboratory.
Chelators can be designed to target iron removal from select organs. Abfero’s lead compound, SP-420, is one of a few existing orally active iron chelators. SP-420 has significant advantages over the three currently FDA approved iron chelators including:
• Efficacy – well-absorbed with high chelating efficiency (proportion of drug binding iron)
• High tissue exposure to heart, liver, and pancreas – key target organs for iron removal
• Ability to cross the blood-brain barrier – necessary for retinal and neurological applications
• Potentially fewer adverse effects – especially with a recently developed, patentable novel dosing regimen
• Ease of formulation with excellent activity in the absence of excipients or additives
Thomas X. Neenan, PhD, President and Member of the Board of Directors Dr. Neenan is an entrepreneur and scientist with extensive business experience. Prior to founding Abfero, he was a founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sideris Pharmaceuticals. Additionally, he has held executive roles at Sun BioPharma, GelTex Pharmaceuticals and Genzyme. Dr. Neenan holds a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and Mathematics from University College Dublin, Ireland, and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from Penn State University. After completing post-doctoral studies in chemistry at Harvard University, Dr. Neenan led a research group focused on inorganic materials chemistry at AT&T Bell Labs before joining the biotech industry.
Steven Burke, MD, Founder and Member of the Board of Directors
Dr. Burke is the Chief Medical Officer of Proteon Therapeutics. Previously Dr. Burke was Senior Vice President (VP) of Medical and Regulatory Affairs at Genzyme, VP of Clinical Research at GelTex, and Associate Director at Glaxo. He worked on 5 drugs that were approved by FDA (Tritec, Lotronex, Renagel, WelChol, Renvela). Dr. Burke was also responsible for the clinical development of the deferitrin iron chelator. He also was a founder of Sideris, filed the SP-420 IND, and designed the SP-420 clinical trials. Dr. Burke is a graduate of Harvard College and Weill Cornell Medical College and completed a medical residency and fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Michael Penington, PhD, Longwall Ventures, Member of the Board of Directors
Dr. Penington is a partner of Longwall Venture Partners, LLP, manager of the fund invested in Abfero. Dr. Pennington has worked as a Finance Director at one company and Chairman at another that was sold for $527M. Prior to becoming an investor in early stage technology businesses, Dr. Pennington spent 16 years at Morgan Stanley as an Investment Banker, in the later years advising private equity houses on leveraged buyouts, IPOs, and trade sales.
Thomas X. Neenan, PhD, President and Member of the Board of Directors
Dr. Neenan is an entrepreneur and scientist with extensive business experience. Prior to founding Abfero, he was a founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sideris Pharmaceuticals. Additionally, he has held executive roles at Sun BioPharma, GelTex Pharmaceuticals and Genzyme. Dr. Neenan holds a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and Mathematics from University College Dublin, Ireland, and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from Penn State University. After completing post-doctoral studies in chemistry at Harvard University, Dr. Neenan led a research group focused on inorganic materials chemistry at AT&T Bell Labs before joining the biotech industry.
Raymond J. Bergeron, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer
Prof. Bergeron is the inventor of Abfero’s iron chelator technology. He has published over 200 papers and holds over 120 patents. Six of Dr. Bergeron’s inventions have entered clinical trials. Dr. Bergeron’s research has been supported by National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and to date he has raised $130 million in grants for the University of Florida where he is the Emeritus Graduate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Duckworth Eminent Scholar of Drug Development. He was recently selected as a Founding Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Dr. Bergeron holds an AB from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a PhD from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Ajay Duggal, MB ChB, MRCP, Dip Pharm Med, Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
Dr. Duggal has 26 years of experience in the life sciences sector. Previous positions include VP and Global Therapy Head General Medicine at Takeda. Additional roles in Biotech and Pharma include leadership roles at Genzyme, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. More recently he has served as CMO for numerous biotechnology start-ups. Dr. Duggal qualified from Sheffield University Medical School and subsequently gained MRCP and the Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians.
Laura Asinas Blackburn, JD, Regulatory Affairs
Ms. Blackburn is a regulatory affairs professional with over 24 years of experience. She has led numerous investigational new drug and clinical trial applications and was involved with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval of Vyndaqel® (tafamidis) for the treatment of the rare neurologic disease, transthyretin familial amyloidosis polyneuropathy. Ms. Blackburn has extensive experience with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) international regulatory authorities. Previous roles included Director of Regulatory Affairs and Quality assurance at FoldRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. and, since that time, she has been working with many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies across multiple indications for 11 years as an independent regulatory affairs consultant. Ms. Blackburn received her BA degree from Wellesley College and her JD degree from the Western New England University School of Law.
Abdellah Sentissi, PhD, CMC and Pharmaceutical Development
Dr. Sentissi has 30 years of experience leading manufacturing and quality functions for biotechnology companies. During his career Dr. Sentissi led several products through scale-up, validation, and registration. Dr. Sentissi earned his Pharmacy degree from the School of Medicine and Pharmacy-University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from Northeastern University. He also holds multiple French National Certifications in Medical Pathology, Immunology, Hematology and Parasitology from the School of Medicine and Pharmacy-University Paul Sabatier and the School of Pharmacy of Montpellier, France.
Abfero’s advisors include some of the most influential figures in the field of iron-overload, retinal diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Robert Hromas, MD, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory board. Dr. Hromas serves as the Dean at the Long School of Medicine and the Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio. Dr. Hromas is a hematologist and was previously Chair of the Department of Medicine at University of Florida Health.
Prodip Bose, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Bose is an expert in traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI) and neurodegenerative diseases.
Maria-Domenica Cappellini, MD, PhD, Professor of Hematology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. Dr. Cappellini is a leading authority on transfusion-related iron-overload and iron chelation.
Josh Dunaief, MD, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Dunaief is an expert in retinal degeneration.
Maureen Maguire, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Maguire is the Director of the Center for Preventive Ophthalmology and Biostatistics, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania.
John Porter, MD, PhD, Professor of Hematology, University College London, London, UK. Dr. Porter is a leading authority on transfusion-related iron-overload, iron chelation, and hemoglobinopathies.
Magdy Selim, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Selim is an expert on intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and the National Principal Investigator on the National Institutes of Health-funded trial of deferoxamine iron chelator in the treatment of ICH.
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