Arrakis Therapeutics Names Russell C. Petter, Ph.D., as Founding CEO and Chief Scientific Officer
– Entrepreneurial Drug Developer Brings Track Record for R&D Innovation at Biotech Companies –
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., October 15, 2015 – Arrakis Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company discovering a new class of medicines that target RNA with small-molecule drugs, announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Russell C. Petter, Ph.D., as the company’s Founding Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Petter is a distinguished medicinal chemist and drug developer, conceiving innovative methods for drug design and development that have been successfully applied in the discovery of multiple new therapeutic agents, many of which have advanced through late-stage clinical trials. He brings 20 years of experience leading companies with innovative and entrepreneurial small-molecule drug development, including senior R&D roles at Celgene, Avila Therapeutics, Mersana Therapeutics, and Biogen. Dr. Petter will also be appointed to the Arrakis Therapeutics Board of Directors.
“Russ has a brilliant mind for medicinal chemistry and brings an exceptional track record of drug development leadership and scientific acumen, as well as the ability to build an experienced and passionate team,” said Alan Walts, Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Arrakis and Venture Partner at Advent Life Sciences. “We are enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead for Arrakis under Russ’ capable and visionary leadership.”
Dr. Petter is the founding scientist of Arrakis and has been instrumental in pioneering the novel approaches to high-throughput investigation and chemical biology that form the basis for Arrakis’ proprietary PEARL-seq™ platform. Arrakis’ proprietary approach is designed to interrogate the vast and largely unexplored transcriptome, the full collection of RNAs transcribed from DNA, to discover small-molecule medicines that target RNA at key disease intervention points. Arrakis’ proprietary RNA-targeted medicines are focused on the treatment of neurological diseases, cancer, and rare genetic diseases.
“I am very excited to lead Arrakis into this unexplored field of drug discovery and to have the privilege to drive our science and pipeline, while growing a team of scientific leaders, employees, and investors who will enable us to transform the way that RNA is targeted for innovative drug development,” said Dr. Petter. “We are at the leading edge of elucidating how RNA can be targeted for small molecule drug development, and there is widespread excitement about the potential for this new therapeutic approach to yield innovative medicines to address diseases that are beyond the reach of today’s medicines.”
Prior to founding Arrakis, Dr. Petter was Vice President of Chemistry at Celgene from 2012 to 2015 where he played a key role in integrating targeted covalent inhibitors into the Celgene pipeline. Previously, he was Vice President of Drug Discovery at Avila Therapeutics from 2007-2012 and was instrumental in developing a pipeline of novel medicines that led to the acquisition of Avila by Celgene. Additional R&D leadership roles held by Dr. Petter include Vice President of Research at Mersana Therapeutics and Director of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Biogen. At Biogen, he served as a member of the Biogen-Idec research management team and helped build the small molecule programs in oncology and immunology. Earlier in his industry career, he served as Section Head in Oncology Chemistry at Sandoz/Novartis. In his academic work as an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Petter made significant contributions in the fields of allosteric synthetic receptors and enzyme inactivation. Dr. Petter graduated from Dartmouth College, earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Duke University, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University. He has published more than 50 papers in scientific journals and is a co-inventor on over 40 patents and patent applications.
About Arrakis Therapeutics
Arrakis Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the discovery of a new class of medicines that directly target RNA. The company’s TRYST™ and PEARL-seq™ platforms identify new RNA targets and drug candidates to treat diseases unaddressed by today’s medicines. Arrakis is developing a proprietary pipeline of RNA-targeted small molecules focused on neurologic diseases, cancer, and rare genetic diseases.
Arrakis was founded in 2015 by Russell Petter, Ph.D., Alan Walts, Ph.D., Henri Termeer and Raj Parekh, Ph.D. with a vision to create a proprietary, transformational discovery platform that identifies small-molecule drugs that act directly on disease-causing RNA. The company was established with seed funding provided by Advent Life Sciences and Henri Termeer. The company brings together scientific leaders in RNA structure, chemistry and biology, along with a highly experienced management team and the backing of leading life sciences investors. The company is located in Waltham, Mass. Please visit www.arrakistx.com.
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