Chief Scientific Officer Chris Twitty will step down from his position at OncoSec Medical Inc. to pursue an opportunity with a private oncology firm, the clinical-stage biotechnology company announced Oct. 20.
The news came as part of a wider business update from the OncoSec, which boasts headquarters in both Pennington in New Jersey and in San Diego, Calif.
OncoSec has been without a permanent chief executive officer since June, when Daniel O’Connor resigned the post. Initially, former Chief Operating Officer Brian Leuthner occupied the role on an interim basis, however he exited the company in August.
At that time, OncoSec formed a leadership committee consisting of three board members: Margaret Dalesandro, Dr. Herbert Kim Lyerly and Yuhang Zhao. The trio leads all development efforts, with particular focus on TAVO – its lead asset – while the search for a permanent CEO continues.
“On behalf of the board of directors and the other members of the Leadership Committee, we are grateful to Dr. Twitty for leading OncoSec’s R&D team over the last five years and we thank him for his contributions to our significant progress towards bringing TAVO to patients,” board Chair Dalesandro said in a prepared statement.
A formal analysis of the Keynote-695 clinical trial is expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2022, the company said.
On Nov. 12, updated TAVO data from Keynote-695 will be presented at The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s 36th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. as part of a poster presentation, titled “Durable Durable responses with intratumoral electroporation of plasmid interleukin 12 plus pembrolizumab in patients with advanced melanoma progressing on an anti-PD-1 antibody: updated data from Keynote 695.’
TAVO (tavokinogene telseplasmid) is OncoSec’s lead immunotherapy investigational product candidate.
According to the company it allows for the intratumoral delivery of a naturally occurring protein that has immune-stimulating functions, DNA-based interleukin-12. Using electroporation – a physical transfection via electrical pulse to create temporary pores in cell membranes through which substances can enter cells – the technology is “designed to produce a controlled, localized expression of IL-12 in the tumor microenvironment, enabling the immune system to target and attack tumors throughout the body.”
“As an oncologist focused on intra-tumoral cytokine immunotherapies, TAVO is an active drug with a remarkable safety profile, which will serve a PD-1 refractory patient population for whom there are no approved therapies,” Lyerly, also a member of the Duke University School of Medicine, said in a statement. “We are excited to update the community at SITC 2021.”
Updated TAVO data from the ongoing trial will also be presented at the 2021 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December.