Adrestia Therapeutics announces appointment of Dr Tom D. Heightman as Chief R&D Officer

Written by: Editor
Published on: 6 Oct 2021

Tom Heightman [square]Building a team of world leading experts in the field of cutting-edge cell and molecular biology to develop precision medicines

Cambridge, 4 October 2021 – Adrestia Therapeutics, a UK-based biotechnology company using cutting edge cell and molecular biology to develop precision medicines, announces the appointment of Dr Tom D. Heightman as Chief R&D Officer. Tom is a leading medicinal chemist with broad experience of drug discovery, and over his 23-year career has implemented transformative innovation in drug discovery and delivered multiple programs into the clinic.

Adrestia Therapeutics was founded by Professor Steve Jackson in 2018, together with Ahren Innovation Capital. Adrestia’s Disease Rebalancing Platform uses synthetic viability to identify phenotypic and molecular imbalances of disease as the basis for novel target discovery and drug discovery. In December 2020, the Company announced a Series A co-led investment from Ahren and GSK, together with a multi-project Adrestia-GSK collaboration agreement seeking to discover novel drug targets across a number of therapeutic areas.

Genetic, environmental, or other factors cause imbalances in physiological processes and pathways, leading to disease. Adrestia’s Disease Rebalancing Platform uses cutting edge cell and molecular biology to restore the biological balance in diseased or dying cells; a concept coined “synthetic viability”. The platform can be applied to diverse therapeutic areas, which are caused by faulty molecular pathways that lead to cellular dysfunction or death. Through this approach and bolstered by the strategic collaboration with GSK, Adrestia is developing precision genetic models to search for therapeutic targets, precision diagnostics, novel drug compounds and new applications for existing drugs.

“We founded Adrestia Therapeutics in order to build a cutting-edge drug discovery company to develop novel therapies, as well as finding new applications for existing drugs, said Professor Steve Jackson, Chief Scientific Officer and Interim Chief Executive Officer of Adrestia. “We are delighted to have appointed Tom Heightman as Chief R&D Officer. As an experienced and entrepreneurial scientist with a strong track record of applying technology innovation to drug discovery, Tom’s skills complement the expertise of the founders and we look forward to growing Adrestia and building out the Company’s discovery pipeline.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Adrestia at such an exciting time in the company’s growth”, said Dr Tom D. Heightman, Chief R&D Officer of Adrestia. “With the founders’ vision and the backing of leading experts in the field, as well as the recently started GSK collaboration, Adrestia has unique opportunities to tackle diseases that have hitherto been difficult to treat.”

Dr Tom D. Heightman obtained his Chemistry MA at Oxford, and PhD at the ETH Zurich with Prof A. Vasella. In his subsequent 23-year medicinal chemistry career he has made scientific and leadership contributions to the discovery of over a dozen pre-clinical drug candidates, of which thus far seven progressed to IND and five to Phase 2 trials. In 1998 following his PhD Tom joined GlaxoSmithKline in Harlow, UK, where he held positions of increasing responsibility, becoming head of lead discovery for GSK’s Neurology CEDD 2006-2008. In 2008, he joined the Structural Genomics Consortium at Oxford University, as a co-founding Chemical Biology PI and project manager for the SGC’s Epigenetics Chemical Probes Consortium, overseeing the creation of platforms for bromodomain and demethylase inhibitor discovery. From 2011-2019, Tom worked at Astex in Cambridge, UK, becoming VP & Head of Medicinal Chemistry, engaged in all aspects of fragment based drug discovery in oncology and CNS, and delivering multiple clinical candidates. In 2019 he took the role of VP Global Head Oncology Chemistry at AstraZeneca, overseeing significant expansions in Cambridge and Boston, and implementing strategic initiatives in new drug targeting modalities and synthetic methodology. Tom is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, having served on the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector committee and the Chemistry-Biology Interface Division Council, and has authored more than 100 publications and patents.