Domain Therapeutics strengthens its scientific advisory board with leading GPCR and disease experts

Written by: Mike Wood
Published on: 24 Jun 2019

Strasbourg, France, June 24, 2019 – Domain Therapeutics today announces the appointment of world-renowned GPCR (G protein-coupled receptors) and drug discovery and development experts to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB): Pr. Silvio Gutkind, Pr. Morley Hollenberg and Pr. Brigitte Kieffer.
Dr. Youssef Bennani, chairman of Domain’s board of directors, will also join the SAB, which will benefit from his expertise in drug discovery and development acquired during 25 years in the pharmaceutical R&D industry, including 15 years at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Since its inception, Domain Therapeutics has initiated and developed high-value innovative programs targeting GPCRs, with the aim of bringing novel therapies to patients in the fields of neurodegenerative disorders, oncology/immuno-oncology and rare diseases. In addition to its expertise in the identification and early development of small molecule drug candidates, the company is also building additional capabilities in biologics through collaborations.
The SAB, chaired by Pr. Michel Bouvier, will provide valuable scientific insight and recommendations to Domain’s management team to ensure the rapid expansion of its pipeline and to progress existing and future assets from discovery to the clinical phase.
The newly appointed members to Domain’s SAB are:
   Dr. Youssef Bennani, PhD, pharmaceutical executive, currently independent board member of Bellus Health (BLU, Toronto Stock Exchange) and former site head and vice president of R&D at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. He holds a PhD in chemistry (University of Montreal), an executive MBA from LFGSM (Chicago, IL) and conducted post-doctoral studies at the Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA). Following his studies, he held various positions of increasing responsibility in pharmaceutical R&D in the US and Canada, including Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories (now Abbvie), Athersys and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Over the span of his career, he has worked in the fields of oncology, neurology, immunology and rare diseases.
  Pr. J. Silvio Gutkind, PhD, professor in the department of pharmacology and associate director of basic science, Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego (UCSD, La Jolla, CA). His research team studies the molecular basis of cancer and more particularly the role of G proteins, GPCR and chemokine networks in cancer initiation, metastasis and immune evasion. His translational efforts are aimed at targeting GPCRs and their signaling circuits in this new era of precision oncology and cancer immunotherapies. Dr. Gutkind is a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a branch chief at the NIH from 1998 until 2015. He has been a member of many editorial boards of scientific journals as well as national and international advisory committees. He has published more than 400 studies in prestigious journals and organized multiple international symposia and meetings.
  Pr. Morley D. Hollenberg, D. Phil., MD, professor in the departments of physiology & pharmacology, and medicine at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine (Calgary, Canada). With a background in chemistry (MSc, the University of Manitoba), pharmacology (D. Phil., Oxford University) and medicine (MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Pr. Hollenberg’s research is focused on the signaling pathways triggered by peptide hormones and by proteinases that regulate the Proteinase-activated receptor (PAR) family of GPCRs. He has published more than 500 papers and is an expert in signaling pathways connected to arthritis, intestinal inflammation, atopic dermatitis, neurodegeneration and pain.
  Pr. Brigitte Kieffer, PhD, professor in the department of psychiatry and recipient of a Canada Research Chair at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). A graduate of the University of Strasbourg (France), Pr. Kieffer joined the IGBMC (Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology) in 2001 and directed the institute from 2012 to 2013. She is recognized as an international expert in molecular neurobiology, particularly in the field of opiate receptors, and leads major investigations in addiction, mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Pr. Kieffer has been honoured with three major distinctions from the US National Academy of Sciences and the French Académie des Sciences. She is author of more than 250 publications, reviews and book chapters, and has been invited to speak at more than 200 conferences and institutions worldwide.
“We are very honoured and privileged to have brought together these remarkable experts who are key opinion leaders in their respective fields,” said Pascal Neuville, CEO of Domain Therapeutics. “We look forward to their contribution as we strengthen Domain’s pipeline and execute our strategy.”
“I am personally very pleased to welcome these outstanding scientists as advisors to Domain Therapeutics,” said Pr. Michel Bouvier, chairman of the SAB. “No doubt the expertise of each of them will contribute to increasing the value of Domain’s current and future assets.”
About Domain Therapeutics
Domain Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and early development of new drug candidates targeting transmembrane receptors, in particular G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), one of the most important classes of drug targets. Domain identifies and develops candidates (allosteric modulators and biased ligands) through its innovative approach and technologies. Domain has three revenue generating pillars to its innovative business model: 1) collaboration with pharma companies for the discovery of new molecules, 2) out-licensing of its bioSens-All™ technology and 3) creation of asset centric vehicles for the development of its internal pipeline of preclinical candidates for central nervous system disorders and cancer. These asset-centric companies attract investment for focused development and exit is through a trade sale at an appropriate inflection point.
About G Protein-Coupled Receptors
GPCRs belong to the family of membrane receptors and constitute one of the main classes of therapeutic targets for many indications. The binding of a hormone or a specific ligand to a receptor’s binding site activates one or several pathways for intracellular signaling. This enables the cell to provide an adapted response to the change in its environment. GPCRs remain largely under-exploited to date. The many drugs that target GPCRs represent about 40% of all treatments on the market, but only address 15% of GPCRs.
Such receptors are widely expressed in the central nervous system where they play critical roles in regulating brain functions. A significant number of GPCRs are orphan receptors with no known ligand, making the corresponding drug discovery effort particularly challenging. Such complex targets are not addressable with conventional drug discovery approaches and require dedicated technologies.