CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Verastem, Inc., (NASDAQ:VSTM) focused on discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by the targeted killing of cancer stem cells, announced that Jose Baselga, M.D., Ph.D., has been named Senior Medical Advisor to the company.
“Research to develop new therapies targeting cancer stem cells is very exciting,” said Jose Baselga, M.D., Ph.D., Verastem Senior Medical Advisor and Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “The clinical deployment of these agents represents a potential new tool for physicians to use in the treatment of patients with aggressive and therapy-resistant cancers.”
“Clinical testing of agents that target cancer stem cells requires a particular focus on the underlying biology that drives tumor progression and metastasis,” said Dr. Joanna Horobin, Verastem Chief Medical Officer. “Jose is one of the most innovative translational researchers in oncology. His influence on our development plans, particularly as we plan to move our dual mTORC1/2 and PI3K inhibitor, VS-5584, into the clinic around year end, will be tremendously helpful.”
Dr. Baselga’s research includes the development of novel molecular-targeted agents for cancer therapies, with a special emphasis on breast cancer and therapeutic approaches to targeting the PI3K pathway. His research in preclinical and early clinical development of therapies has helped develop a number of new targeted cancer-fighting agents. Dr. Baselga has led a number of neo-adjuvant and other clinical trials in breast cancer and has been at the forefront of designing biomarker-based early and translational clinical trials.
“Jose brings a tremendous wealth of experience and insight to the clinical development programs at Verastem,” said Robert Forrester, Verastem President and Chief Executive Officer. “His contributions in guiding our development plans across our programs will be of great value as we progress through both early and late-stage trials with our compounds targeting cancer stem cells.”
“We will continue to seek out the best employees, advisors and key opinion leaders,” said Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D. Verastem Executive Chairman. “Our mission is to develop new medicines to enable physicians to take control of cancer progression and to help patients achieve durable clinical responses.”
Dr. Baselga is Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and was Chief and Bruce A. Chabner Chair of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Associate Director of the MGH Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2011, Dr. Baselga was also appointed Associate Director of Clinical Services at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Dr. Baselga was chairman of the Medical Oncology Service and director of the Division of Medical Oncology, Hematology and Radiation Oncology at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain. Dr. Baselga was previously the president of the European Society of Medical Oncology, served on the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and is currently a member of the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and was the Chairman of the 2013 AACR annual meeting.
Dr. Baselga received his medical degree from the Universidad Autonoma of Barcelona in 1982. He did his Internal Medicine Residency at both Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain and the State University of New York in the US. He completed a fellowship in Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Baselga has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and over 400 abstracts and book chapters in his career.
VS-6063 (defactinib) is an oral compound designed to target cancer stem cells through the potent inhibition of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Cancer stem cells are an underlying cause of tumor resistance to chemotherapy, recurrence and ultimate disease progression. Research by Robert Weinberg, Ph.D., scientific cofounder and chair of Verastem’s Scientific Advisory Board, and Verastem has demonstrated that the FAK pathway is critical for the growth and survival of cancer stem cells. VS-6063 is currently being studied in the registration-directed COMMAND trial in mesothelioma, a Phase 1/1b study in ovarian cancer, a Phase 1 study in Japan and a Phase 2 trial in KRAS-mutated non-small cell lung cancer. VS-6063 has been granted orphan drug designation in the U.S. and E.U. for use in mesothelioma.
VS-5584 is an oral compound that has demonstrated potent and highly selective activity against class 1 PI3K enzymes and dual inhibitory actions against mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways. In preclinical studies, VS-5584 has been shown to reduce the percentage of cancer stem cells and induce tumor regression in taxane-resistant models. Verastem expects to initiate a Phase 1 dose escalation trial in patients with advanced solid tumors and lymphomas around year end 2013.
About Verastem, Inc.
Verastem, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSTM) is discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by the targeted killing of cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are an underlying cause of tumor recurrence and metastasis. Verastem is developing small molecule inhibitors of signaling pathways that are critical to cancer stem cell survival and proliferation: FAK, PI3K/mTOR and Wnt. For more information, please visit www.verastem.com.
This press release includes forward-looking statements about the Company’s strategy, future plans and prospects, including statements regarding the development of the Company’s compounds, including VS-6063, or defactinib, VS-4718, VS-5584, and the Company’s FAK, mTOR/PI3K and diagnostic programs generally, the timeline for clinical development and regulatory approval of the Company’s compounds, the expected timing for the reporting of data from ongoing trials, and the structure of the Company’s planned or pending clinical trials. The words “anticipate,” “appear,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “target,” “potential,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “continue,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Each forward-looking statement is subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statement. Applicable risks and uncertainties include the risks that the preclinical testing of the Company’s compounds and preliminary data from clinical trials may not be predictive of the results or success of ongoing or later clinical trials, that data may not be available when we expect it to be, that the Company will be unable to successfully complete the clinical development of its compounds, including VS-6063, VS-4718 and VS-5584, that the development of the Company’s compounds will take longer or cost more than planned, and that the Company’s compounds will not receive regulatory approval or become commercially successful products. Other risks and uncertainties include those identified under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012 and in any subsequent SEC filings. The forward-looking statements contained in this presentation reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events, and the Company does not undertake and specifically disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.