Lodo Therapeutics Names Serial Biotech Entrepreneur Dale Pfo
NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Lodo Therapeutics Corp., a biotechnology company applying its proprietary platform to reinvent environmentally-sourced, natural product drug discovery, today announced the appointment of Dale Pfost, PhD, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Pfost has more than 25 years of experience as a life science entrepreneur, senior executive and venture investor. He has served as CEO of five biotechnology companies, three of which became publicly traded with valuations exceeding two billion dollars. Dr. Pfost has successfully completed dozens of financings, overseen numerous M&A transactions and served as a director at multiple public and private life science firms.
The company also announced the addition of four members to the senior leadership team: Steve Colletti, PhD, Senior Vice President of R&D; Anthony Colasin, Senior Vice President of Business Development; Barbara Lindheim, Consulting Vice President of Strategic Communications and Investor Relations; and Sarajane Mackenzie, Consulting Vice President of Human Resources and Organization Development.
Accelerator Life Science Partners' chief executive, Thong Q. Le, served as Lodo's initial CEO and remains a Lodo director. Mr. Le noted, "Lodo is one of the shining stars of our New York City-based portfolio companies. It is leveraging the pioneering metagenomic research of Dr. Sean Brady at Rockefeller University to tackle a big challenge--revolutionizing the field of environmentally-sourced, natural product drug discovery. Lodo has demonstrated that its technology-enabled platform can identify wholly novel molecules directly from environmental DNA with the potential to address currently undruggable targets. Dale brings Lodo a wealth of experience in growing cutting-edge enterprises and is supported by the expert scientific and business talent joining the Lodo team. We are thrilled he is taking the reins at this exciting time in the company's development."
Lodo's technology reinvents and reinvigorates environmentally-sourced, natural product drug discovery. The company's platform uniquely integrates next-generation sequencing (NGS), artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), synthetic biology and automation to access undiscovered molecules directly from biosynthetic gene clusters encoded in the microbial DNA present throughout nature. The molecules produced by these microbes exhibit extensive chemical diversity and are biologically relevant. Honed by a billion years of evolution, their functions and activities include signaling, regulating growth, immunomodulation, antiproliferative, and modulating intra and intercellular interactions. The Lodo platform is designed to capture data on these functions at the level of the encoded DNA, thereby obviating the need to first culture the microbe and assay the metabolites. This greatly accelerates the discovery process while significantly decreasing costs.
Pharmaceuticals derived from natural sources, while representing more than half of the most widely used drugs, were developed from the tiny fraction of microbes that can be readily cultured in the laboratory (estimated at less than 1%). By extracting, analyzing and prioritizing microbial DNA directly from the environment, Lodo is able to efficiently access an entire universe of chemically diverse, drug-like compounds created by this microbial treasure trove, and it does so initially using DNA data, prior to working with the compounds themselves.
Lodo is applying its platform to discover novel anti-infective agents for two global partners while building an internal pipeline of oncology drug candidates. The company expects to establish additional partnerships and expand its own programs in other therapeutic areas.
Dr. Pfost commented, "Pharmaceuticals derived from nature have been among the richest sources of important drugs. But productivity declined as the limitations and costs of conventional technology restricted researchers to a small pool of candidates. Lodo's platform is a game changer. It uniquely integrates advanced technologies including NGS and AI/ML to leapfrog those limitations, providing us a historic opportunity to reinvent environmentally-sourced drug discovery."
Dr. Pfost continued, "We are the only company that can broadly access microbial DNA encoding such highly diverse collections of drug-like molecules, and we can also analyze, prioritize and enrich these molecules in silico, with orders of magnitude improvements in efficiency and speed. Our scientists combine deep knowledge of molecular and biological targets with computer-aided structure activity relationship data to bridge from the DNA to assessments of the encoded molecule's ability to bind to its target. This represents a quantum leap in capability compared to the laborious and costly laboratory methods required for conventional natural product drug research. I welcome the opportunity to work with our exceptional team, top-tier partners and investors to further advance our platform and address major unmet medical needs."
Lodo director Steven Gillis, PhD, is a Managing Director of Arch Venture Partners and a renowned biotechnology inventor, entrepreneur and investor. Dr. Gillis said, "Dale Pfost and the newly appointed senior team are an excellent choice to lead Lodo, which has developed a unique platform incorporating advances in both life sciences tools and computational technologies. It enables researchers for the first time to rapidly and efficiently access the 99% of undiscovered microbial DNA-encoded molecules that may have potential as novel drugs. This promising approach could help reinvigorate the lagging productivity of conventional drug discovery and produce innovative medicines for several diseases that remain poorly treated."
Dr. Pfost previously was General Partner at venture capital firm Advent Life Sciences and acting CEO of MicroBiome Therapeutics, which he co-founded. Dr. Pfost was founding CEO of Acuity Pharmaceuticals, which merged to form OPKO Health. He was the founding CEO of Oxford GlycoSciences and genomics pioneer Orchid BioSciences. Dr. Pfost was CEO at anti-cancer company Receptor BioLogix, where he led its successful acquisition by Symphogen. His first company, which he started in graduate school, was acquired by SmithKline Beckman and produced the Biomek, still a leading laboratory automation system today. Dr. Pfost is the co-author of 10 scientific papers and an inventor on 10 patents. He earned a BS degree from the University of California Santa Barbara and a PhD in physics from Brown University.
Dr. Colletti brings 24 years of experience at Merck Research Laboratories in small molecule, natural products, RNA therapeutic and fusion protein drugs. Starting as a medicinal chemist, Dr. Colletti assumed positions of increasing responsibility at Merck. Most recently, he was Executive Director and Head of Therapeutic Modalities, responsible for overseeing 200 scientists. Dr. Colletti was a core member of development teams that discovered and advanced more than a dozen preclinical candidates across multiple therapeutic areas. He is an inventor, author and co-author of over 125 publications and patents. Dr. Colletti completed a BS degree at Loyola University Chicago, received a PhD in chemistry from Boston University, and was an NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellow in chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute.
Anthony Colasin has over 20 years of leadership experience in strategy and corporate and business development at large and emerging biotechnology firms. He has an extensive track record in creating and implementing business and partnering strategies, with deal transactions valued at more than $3 billion. Mr. Colasin most recently co-founded microbiome-based drug developer Bloom Science. Previously, he was the Chief Business Officer for neurological drug developer Bionomics and Vice President of Business Development for Ironwood Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Colasin began his career at Amgen and ICOS. He has an MBA from the Anderson School at the University of California, Los Angeles and a BS degree in economics magna cum laude from the University of Southern California, and also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Barbara Lindheim provides strategic communications services to the biotechnology and life sciences industries. Her more than 25 years of experience spans public relations, strategic positioning, corporate and product communications, investor relations, crisis communications and social media. She is a Principal at BLL Partners, LLC, and previously held senior communications, marketing and strategy roles at Orchid BioSciences, Edelman Public Relations, BioCom Partners, Noonan/Russo Communications, Glaxo SmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi. An honors graduate of Cornell University, Ms. Lindheim earned an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School and a master's degree in public policy from Princeton University. She lectures on biomedical industry strategy at leading business schools.
Sarajane Mackenzie has over 25 years' global and cross-cultural experience in executive human resource positions in the biotech, pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare and information technology industries. She headed the human resource function at Novo Nordisk, Orchid Biosciences, Johnson & Johnson and Tata Consultancy Services. Ms. Mackenzie has helped transform businesses and manage rapid expansions. She is also President of The Mackenzie Consulting Group, LLC, which provides interim HR executives and does HR executive search at small and emerging life science companies She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master's degree in organization development from the University of San Francisco.
About Lodo Therapeutics
Lodo discovers and develops novel therapeutics addressing undruggable targets by applying its proprietary platform to tap the vast collections of undiscovered molecules encoded in environmental microbial DNA. These evolutionarily optimized leads include structurally diverse molecules with drug-like properties that have been largely inaccessible until now. The Lodo platform leverages breakthroughs in next-generation sequencing, artificial intelligence/machine learning and synthetic biology to increase speed and efficiency by orders of magnitude. Following successful initial collaborations with two global partners, Lodo is developing an internal pipeline of oncology drugs and expanding its partnering activities in a range of indications. Lodo is an Accelerator Life Science Partners-backed entity headquartered in New York City. For more information, visit lodotherapeutics.com
Strategic Communications & Investor Relations
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SOURCE Lodo Therapeutics Corp