SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CERo Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of novel autologous engineered immune cellular therapies, today announced the expansion of the company’s leadership team with the addition of Remus Vezan, M.D., Ph.D. as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and John Rossi, M. Sci. as Senior Vice President and Head of Translational Medicine. Dr. Vezan and Mr. Rossi have been instrumental in the successful development of marketed CAR T-cell therapies in their prior roles. At CERo, they will lead the company’s clinical development efforts to rapidly advance its T cell engineering platform and next-generation cell therapy products. CERo’s novel approach combines elements of both innate and adaptive immune responses into single T cells to treat intractable hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.
“Remus and John bring a wealth of cell therapy clinical development experience to the CERo team, both as scientists and executives,” said Daniel Corey, M.D., founder and CEO of CERo Therapeutics. “Over the past year, CERo has made tremendous progress in the lab defining the potential of chimeric engulfment receptors that, when engineered into T cells, provide a novel and complementary mechanism to attack a variety of tumor types. Remus and John will be instrumental to our next stage of growth as we look to test this approach in the clinic and further develop the platform.”
CERo’s technology aims to expand the therapeutic potential of engineered T cell-based therapies by introducing distinct and complementary tumor cell clearance pathways into a single T cell. CERo’s core platform technology engineers T cells to express immune receptors called chimeric engulfment receptors (CERs) that enable T cells to target, induce cellular damage, uptake tumor antigen, and remove tumor cells. This approach effectively unites the anti-tumor attributes of both innate and adaptive immune responses into a single T cell product. CER T-cell products are designed to generate a more complete and durable anti-tumor response with a potentially more muted inflammatory cytokine profile. This novel biology amends itself to combinations with classic CAR T-cell or small molecule therapy.
“CAR T-cell therapies have been transformative for patients and our ability as physicians to treat cancers, yet their application has been primarily limited to hematologic tumors, and even in that setting, more than half of patients will relapse following treatment,” said Dr. Vezan. “With CER T and novel CAR T products, we see a vast opportunity to improve upon and optimize cell therapy to increase the curative potential and improve the safety profile with this remarkable therapeutic approach.”
Mr. Rossi added, “CERo’s technology upends traditional thinking of what a T cell can do. We believe that CERs, with their unique biology, flexibility, and synergy with existing immune therapy, cell therapy, or targeted oncology agents, will broaden the opportunity for patients across multiple indications to see benefit from this novel approach. As a translational researcher, I am energized by the compelling science and the myriad possible applications for CERo’s platform in diseases that have yet to be adequately addressed by existing therapies.”
Dr. Vezan joins CERo from Kite, a Gilead Company, where he spent the last four years in cell therapy clinical development, most recently as Executive Director of Clinical Development. At Kite, Dr. Vezan oversaw the clinical development of more than 20 CAR T-cell trials, as a single agent or in various combinations for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, including Axi-cell/YESCARTA®, the first CAR T-cell therapy approved for relapsed/refractory B-cell lymphoma and more recently TECARTUS®, the first CAR T-cell therapy for mantle cell lymphoma. In this role, Dr. Vezan supported the overall clinical development strategy and execution and under his leadership, YESCARTA® and TECARTUS® were granted various global approvals. Before Kite, Dr. Vezan served as Medical Director at Pharmacyclis, an Abbvie Company, where he led the development of HDACi -abexinostat and was clinical lead for ibrutinib (IMBRUVICA®) in lymphoplasmacytic lymphomas. During his four years at Pharmacyclics, he contributed to ibrutinib’s approvals in multiple indications, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Dr. Vezan completed his medical training (M.D. and Ph.D.) at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj, Romania and University of Bern, Switzerland.
Mr. Rossi, before joining CERo, led the cell therapy clinical pharmacology team at Kite, a Gilead Company, supporting the clinical development and global approvals of YESCARTA® and TECARTUS®. Throughout his six-year tenure at Kite, Mr. Rossi directed pharmacology and biomarker discovery initiatives to advance the company’s cell therapy pipeline, including the translational strategy to support pivotal CD19 CAR clinical trials from IND through global regulatory filings and commercial launch. Mr. Rossi also worked in close collaboration with researchers at the National Cancer Institute and key academic opinion leaders to advance understanding of the biology and mechanism of action of CAR T cell-based products. Mr. Rossi spent the previous 13 years at Amgen in a series of roles of increasing responsibility primarily focused on biomarker development for a range of clinical programs across multiple cancer indications. Before joining the biotechnology industry, Mr. Rossi was a researcher at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Los Angeles and OHSU in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Rossi received a master’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Portland State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Pitzer College.
About CERo Therapeutics
CERo Therapeutics, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering a new class of cell-based therapies that combine attributes of the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system into single T cells for treatment of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. The integrated approach draws on recent advances in molecular immunology and synthetic biology with the intent to improve upon and optimize cell therapy to increase the curative potential and safety profile of current approaches. CERo is advancing a pipeline of engineered CER T-cell products directed against hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. To learn more about the company and its science, please visit www.cero.bio.