Prescient onboards former Array Biopharma executive

By Trevor Hoey. Published at Oct 29, 2018, in Biotech

Clinical-stage oncology company, Prescient Therapeutics Ltd (ASX:PTX), has appointed leading drug discovery and development executive, Dr James Winkler, as Vice President for business development based in the US.

Winkler brings 40 years’ experience in the international biotechnology and pharmaceutical space, with a focus on oncology and inflammation. He has overseen the discovery and advancement of multiple new drugs into clinical development, with several demonstrating mid-to-late stage clinical success.

Especially noteworthy are the senior leadership positions Winkler previously held with pioneering targeted cancer drug developer, Array BioPharma (NASDAQ:ARRY), where he established and led the company’s licensing and collaboration efforts.

US$3.1 billion Array has engaged in cancer drug collaborations with Pfizer and Merck, and in 2013 entered a multi-year licensing and collaboration partnership with Loxo Oncology (NASDAQ:LOXO) to develop a number of promising new small molecule cancer drugs.

At Array, Winkler provided leadership for multiple teams working in drug discovery, translational research and clinical development, as well as managing several collaborations with multinational pharmaceutical firms.

He also helped build an impressive pipeline of development drugs, with over 12 advancing toward Phase II or III studies.

Most recently, Winkler served as Vice President Discovery and Translational Biology with drug discovery and development company, FORMA Therapeutics, and Chief Scientific Officer with Arvinas Inc (NASDAQ:ARVN). He also worked with GlaxoSmithKline as Associate Director, Department of Oncology Research.

Winkler’s experience should be invaluable for PTX as the company advances its PTX-200 drug candidate — a novel pH domain inhibitor that inhibits an important tumour survival pathway known as Akt, which plays a key role in the development of many cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer, as well as leukaemia.

PTX-200 is at various trial stages across a range of cancers, and its phase II study examining the outcomes in breast cancer patients is keenly anticipated, particularly after receiving encouraging efficacy signals in the phase 1B study with twice the expected response rate.

Prescient surges 50% as global markets tumble

PTX Managing Director and Chief Executive, Steven Yatomi-Clarke, said: “We are honoured to have such an experienced and talented leader join our team.”

“His contribution and expertise across target validation, early drug discovery, translational medicine and clinical and platform development, as well as fostering multiple industry collaborations, will help make a significant and positive difference to the growth of our business and our promising cancer therapy portfolio.”

Dr Winkler said: “Even though it is currently a small company, Prescient has unique and exciting drugs in development.”

“I am excited to join a small and passionate team and contribute to the important work of developing new treatments for people with cancer.”

This news comes less than a fortnight after PTX announced it had kicked off a collaboration agreement with a leading private US-based drug development company to develop new formulations of pH domain and Akt inhibitors. This pipeline collaboration builds on PTX’s knowledge gained during the development of PTX-200.

This development resulted in PTX’s shares surging nearly 50% from 7.2 cents to a high of 10.5 cents last week — a strong performance, given the substantial downturn in equities markets that was occurring in the background.

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