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22 October, 2020 - 21:07 By Tony Quested

Well heeled Achilles appoints global big-hitter as CMO

Achilles Therapeutics logo

Cash rich Stevenage-based Achilles Therapeutics has appointed Professor Karl Peggs as chief medical officer with effect from January 4, 2021. 

Professor Peggs is an internationally recognised leader in the field of cancer immunology and a founder of the company.

Achilles Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing personalised cancer immunotherapies, recently closed a £100 million Series B financing led by incoming US investor RA Capital Management, corner-stoned by founding investor Syncona and joined by important new investors including Forbion, Invus, Perceptive Advisors and Redmile Group.

The company said proceeds from the Series B would deliver two human proof-of-concept studies using a unique personalised T cell therapy approach targeting clonal neoantigens in non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma. 

Achilles is developing personalised T cell therapies for solid tumours targeting clonal neoantigens: protein markers unique to each patient that are present on the surface of all cancer cells. 

Using its PELEUS™ bioinformatics platform, Achilles can identify clonal neoantigens from each patient’s unique tumour profile which are present on every cancer cell. 

Achilles uses its proprietary process to manufacture T cells which seek to exquisitely target a specific set of clonal neoantigens in each patient. Targeting multiple clonal neoantigens that are present on all cancer cells, but not on healthy cells, reduces the risk that new mutations can induce immune evasion and therapeutic resistance, and allows individualised treatments to potentially target and destroy tumours without harming healthy tissue.

Karl Peggs is currently a Professor of Transplant Science and Cancer Immunotherapy at UCL Cancer Institute, Scientific Director of the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit for Stem Cells and Immunotherapies, and Clinical and Scientific Director of the Sir Naim Dangoor Centre for Cellular Immunotherapy at UCLH.

Dr Iraj Ali, CEO of Achilles Therapeutics said: “Karl is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunology and has an unparalleled reputation for execution of complex cellular therapy trials.”

“He was instrumental in the formation of Achilles and we are delighted that he will be joining the Company on a permanent basis. We are at an exciting time in our growth as we continue to expand our studies in non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma, whilst broadening our pipeline into other solid tumour indications.”

“Achilles’ innovative platform, which enables the development of personalised T cell therapies for solid tumours targeting clonal neoantigens, has produced a uniquely compelling pipeline with the potential to target a broad range of cancers not satisfactorily addressed by currently approved therapies.”

“I am thrilled to be working with the dynamic team at Achilles to execute on our vision of fundamentally changing how certain cancers are treated.”

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