NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Intima Bioscience, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing genetically engineered cell therapies for solid tumor cancers, today announced the appointment of Alessandro Riva, M.D. as Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Riva is a veteran biotech executive who has held senior leadership positions at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Gilead Sciences, where he was responsible for the company’s hematology and oncology programs and managed the U.S. and EU approvals of multiple innovative cancer treatments including Yescarta, a CAR-T cell therapy.
“Alessandro is an extremely accomplished biopharma leader who has played an important role in some of the biggest moments in the field of cell therapy during his tenures at Novartis and Gilead,” said Gerald Chan of Morningside Ventures and Intima board member. “Alessandro has unmatched experience when it comes to bringing potentially curative cell therapies to patients with cancer and I look forward to working with him as he joins Intima.”
Dr. Riva most recently served as Chief Executive Officer at Ichnos Sciences, where he built a biotechnology company focused on bi- and tri-specific antibodies in oncology and biologics in autoimmune diseases. Before Ichnos, he was EVP and Global Head of Oncology Therapeutics and Cell & Gene Therapy at Gilead Sciences, where he was instrumental in the $12 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma and led its integration and growth. He also managed the U.S. and EU approvals of Yescarta, the first approved CAR-T cell therapy for adult patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma and the therapy’s development in additional indications. Prior to Gilead, Dr. Riva was EVP and Global Head of Oncology Development and Medical Affairs at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, where he contributed significantly to the creation of the Cell and Gene Therapy Unit. He was also President ad interim of Novartis Oncology during the $16B acquisition of GSK Oncology. Dr. Riva is an author and co-author of more than 100 papers and abstracts in the field of oncology. He is currently on the Board of Directors for Century Therapeutics. He received his bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Milan and a certificate board in oncology and hematology from the same institution.
“Intima Bioscience has made impressive and significant progress advancing genetically engineered cell therapies for difficult-to-treat solid tumor cancers, an area in which there remains a significant unmet need for patients,” Dr. Riva said. “By combining advances in the development of cell therapies with the targeting of the novel intracellular immune checkpoint CISH, Intima’s scientific approach is exceptionally promising for the treatment of a variety of cancers. I have been fortunate to contribute to gene and cell therapy in cancer at pivotal moments in its evolution. This is the natural next step in my own personal and professional journey. I look forward to working with the impressive team and advancing the company’s efforts towards meaningful curative intent on behalf of the patients we serve.”
Intima recently shared a study showing that the deletion of the intracellular immune checkpoint CISH from primary human T cells can enhance anti-tumor activity across a broad range of cancer types regardless of the cancers’ PD-L1 biomarker status. This approach potentially offers novel treatment paradigms and possibilities to extend the efficacy of current cell surface checkpoint inhibitors such as PD-1 and TIGIT.
CISH is a gene found in humans and many other mammals that controls T cell receptor signaling. A member of a new class of intra-cellular immune checkpoint molecules, CISH functions downstream of the T cell receptor to regulate antigen-specific effector functions, including reactivity to cancer neoantigens. Intima is investigating the anti-tumor impact of CISH inhibition through the use of CRISPR gene editing in tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial.
About Intima Bioscience
Intima Bioscience is a company advancing checkpoint cell therapy, an approach that combines the use of patients’ own immune cells with immune checkpoint targeting, in solid tumors with curative intent. Intima is currently running a Phase 1/2 clinical study of its checkpoint cell therapy, which targets the immune checkpoint CISH in patients with gastrointestinal and colon cancers. https://www.intimabioscience.com/