Cancer immunotherapy biotech Tessa Therapeutics names industry veteran to board

Cancer immunotherapy biotech Tessa Therapeutics names industry veteran to board

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3 -min read
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IN a sign that it could be progressing towards certain milestones, Singapore-based immunotherapy biotech company Tessa Therapeutics continued to shore up its board of directors with another independent member on Friday.

The company, whose key nasopharyngeal cancer therapy is currently undergoing a global Phase 3 trial, has appointed industry veteran Jeffrey Buchalter as an independent board member. Mr Buchalter is Tessa's third independent director appointed over the past year.

In April 2018, the company appointed former Novo Nordisk chairman Goran Ando to the board. This was followed in December 2018 with the appointment of Dr George Sledge, chief of medical oncology at Stanford University Medical Centre.

Mr Buchalter formerly held various chairmanships and senior management positions at a number of biopharmaceutical companies, including as chief executive and chairman of Nasdaq-listed Enzon Pharmaceuticals.

"I am pleased to be part of Tessa's growth and development at such a critical stage of the company's growth," Mr Buchalter said in a statement. "I am excited to see the clinical progress Tessa has made in the treatment of solid tumours, using their proprietary technology."

Tessa co-founder and chief executive Andrew Khoo said that Mr Buchalter's industry leadership experience and deep knowledge of oncology "will be a great fit as Tessa moves to our next growth inflection point".

Tessa counts Singapore government-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings as an investor. In 2017, Temasek led a US$80 million funding round into Tessa, alongside Heliconia Capital and EDBi. An additional US$50 million was raised in 2018, lifting the round's total to US$130 million, according to a company spokesperson.

The company's therapies focus on combining virus-specific T cells with other immuno-oncology technologies to target solid tumours; it is also developing an allogeneic therapy to address Epstein-Barr virus-associated lymphomas. None of Tessa's programmes are currently offered for sale, and are all still undergoing investigation.

Tessa's most advanced product is the TT10, which is in a Phase 3 trial at the moment. It also has two products at the Phase 1 stage, and two more at the pre-clinical stage.

In 2017, Tessa appointed a chief commercial officer and a chief financial officer. In September 2018, the company announced a strategic collaboration with St Jude Children's Research Hospital in the United States to develop novel cellular immunotherapies for children with brain cancer. In November 2018, Tessa hired a president of research and development.