Adaptimmune appoints Dr Jonathan Knowles as Chairman of the Board
(Oxford, U.K. and Philadelphia, U.S, 20 November, 2013) — Adaptimmune, the T cell therapy company pioneering engineered T cell receptors for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease, today announced the appointment of Dr Jonathan Knowles as the new executive Chairman of the Board of Directors with immediate effect. Dr Knowles succeeds Nicholas Cross who has been Chairman of the company since foundation and will remain on the Board as Deputy Chairman.
Adaptimmune was established in 2008 to develop unique T cell receptor engineering technology for adoptive T cell therapy through a proprietary platform co-owned with its sister company, Immunocore. Adaptimmune already has clinical trials in progress in HIV, multiple myeloma, melanoma and sarcoma and most recently opened a Phase I/IIa clinical trial in ovarian cancer in the US to investigate the safety and efficacy of treating patients with their own T cells that have been genetically engineered to enhance their anti-tumour properties.
Dr Knowles has been a Non-Executive Director of Adaptimmune since 2011 and was formerly President of Group Research and a Member of the Executive Committee at F.Hoffman-La Roche Limited, Basel, Switzerland for 12 years. Dr Knowles also served as a Board member at Genentech Inc. for over ten years and was a Member of the Board of Chugai Pharmaceuticals, Tokyo, Japan. Prior to joining Roche, he was Research Director, Glaxo Wellcome Europe.
Dr Knowles has also served as Chairman of the Hever Group and the EFPIA research Directors Group. He was instrumental in creating the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and was the first Chairman of the Board of IMI (a 2 Billion Euro Joint Undertaking with the EU Commission). He is a Distinguished Professor (FiDiPro) at the University of Helsinki, Finland, holds a visiting chair at the University of Oxford, and is a visiting scholar of Pembroke College, Cambridge.
James Noble, Chief Executive Officer of Adaptimmune, commented: “We are delighted that Jonathan has agreed to serve as the executive Chairman of Adaptimmune. His extensive experience across the pharmaceutical industry and academia will be particularly valuable as we expand our existing clinical programmes and prepare to open additional clinical trials in further cancer indications.
“I would like to acknowledge the significant commitment and input from Nick Cross to Adaptimmune as our founding Chairman over the past five years. He played a key role in the formation of Adaptimmune and in securing the funding for the company since then. His support and guidance have been instrumental in enabling us to make such rapid progress in development and we are pleased that he will continue to serve as Deputy Chairman.”
Dr Knowles said: “It is a pleasure to be appointed as the new chairman of Adaptimmune. I have been impressed by the significant progress that the company has already made, with multiple programmes under way in the clinic. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work more closely with the Adaptimmune team to bring breakthrough cancer therapies and potential cures to patients.”
Adaptimmune Ltd, UK
T: +44 (0)1865 261491
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Image (high resolution images available on request)
Dr Jonathan Knowles, the new Chairman of Adaptimmune
Notes for editors
Adaptimmune is focused on the use of T cell therapy with engineered T cell receptors to treat cancer and infectious disease. Established in July 2008 with a research base in Oxford, UK and a clinical base in Philadelphia, US, it aims to utilise the body’s own machinery – the T cell – to target and destroy cancerous or infected cells by using engineered, increased affinity T cell receptor (TCRs) as a means of strengthening natural patient T cell responses. Adaptimmune undertakes all of its own research and development using proprietary T cell receptor engineering technology co-developed and co-owned with its sister company Immunocore Ltd (formerly Avidex/MediGene) but exclusively licensed for T cell therapy to Adaptimmune. Backed by private investors, Adaptimmune is now in the clinic in the US, in HIV as well as multiple cancer indications with its engineered TCR to the NY-ESO-1/LAGE-1 cancer testis antigen.
About Adaptimmune’s T cell therapy
Cancerous or virally infected cells will typically present small parts or peptides of larger viral proteins or abnormal cancer proteins on their surface, offering a "molecular fingerprint", called an epitope, for killer T-cells from the immune system to identify. In a healthy individual, this triggers an immune response, eliminating the affected cell.
However, viruses such as HIV mutate rapidly, swiftly disguising their fingerprints to allow them to hide from killer T-cells while cancer proteins are usually derived from self-proteins against which natural TCRs do not respond.
Adaptimmune’s technology uniquely enhances the natural TCR affinity to either viral or cancer protein epitopes on an individual patient’s cells overcoming these obstacles for therapeutic benefit.
Adaptimmune has undertaken significant preclinical development with a number of pipeline TCRs to demonstrate their potency and specificity in vitro. Its lead clinical cancer programme is developing a TCR targeting the cancer testis antigen target NY-ESO-1 157-165 (HLA A2; SLLMWITQC), engineered using Adaptimmune’s proprietary TCR engineering platform. The company is gathering increasing clinical safety and efficacy data from this programme, the latest data from which will be published at the annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting (9 December 2013).
Posted: December 2013