We aim to become a leading pharma company focused on antibiotics and specialty diseases
We are a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company based in Allschwil, Switzerland, and are focused on the discovery and development of antibiotics and other specialty pharma products for severe or life-threatening diseases.
Polyphor was founded in 1996 and is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company based in Allschwil, Switzerland, near Basel. It focuses on the development of macrocycle drugs that address antibiotic resistance and improve therapy outcomes in cancer.
Our lead drug candidates
A precision Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotic (OMPTA) against Pseudomonas aeruginosa
An antagonist of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 for combination treatment in oncology
POL6014 – Outlicensed to Santhera on 14.02.2018
An inhaled inhibitor of neutrophil elastase for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis and other severe lung diseases
First new class of antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria
We are a clinical stage, Swiss biopharmaceutical company which has discovered and is developing the OMPTA (Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotics). The OMPTA are potentially the first new class of antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria to have reached Phase III stage in the last 50 years. The company’s lead product, murepavadin, (POL7080) is in Phase III development against Pseudomonas aeruginosa – recognized as a critical priority 1 pathogen by WHO. Polyphor is also developing an immuno-oncology candidate, balixafortide (POL6326), which is in preparation for entering a pivotal registration program in combination with eribulin in patients with advanced breast cancer, and a pipeline of further preclinical antibiotics based on its OMPTA platform.
Proprietary macrocycle technology platform for pharma companies
Polyphor offers its macrocycle library to interested parties for screening on their biological targets.
Giacomo Di Nepi, MBA, MSC
Chief Executive Officer
Giacomo Di Nepi, MBA, currently serves on the boards of Geneuro (GNRO.PA), Kuros Biosciences (KURN.SW) and in the Shareholders’ Advisory Board of NTC, a privately held company. Before, he was Executive Vice President and General Manager, Europe, for InterMune Inc., where he launched and brought to the patients Esbriet (orphan drug, the first product to treat IPF, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) and built a USD 140 million and 200-person business from scratch, until the acquisition from Roche. Prior to that, he held senior leadership positions with Takeda and Novartis, where he was also a member of the Pharma Executive Committee, and was a Partner with McKinsey & Co.
Giacomo Di Nepi holds a degree in Economics from Bocconi University, Milan, Italy and an MBA from INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.
Debra Barker, M.D.
Chief Medical & Development Officer
Dr. Debra Barker, M.D., is a seasoned medical expert in clinical development and has extensive experience in infectious and respiratory diseases and in immunology. She joined Polyphor in May 2017 from Novartis, where she held various senior management positions as Global Head of Medical Affairs for the ophthalmology business and Head of Development for infectious diseases, transplants and immunology. From 1995 to 2001 she worked in clinical and commercial roles for Roche, and previously for SmithKline Beecham and Knoll/BASF.
Dr. Debra Barker received an MD from Queens’ College, Cambridge, UK, and an MSc in immunology from King’s College, London, UK. Dr. Barker is a British / Swiss dual national.
Daniel Obrecht, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
Daniel Obrecht, Ph.D., spent 11 years at the Central Research Laboratories of Roche Basel. In his previous position he was Head of the Combinatorial Chemistry Group.
Dr. Daniel Obrecht obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Zurich in 1985 under the supervision of Prof. H. Heimgartner, after which he was associated with Prof. R. E. Ireland at Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow for 2 years. Dr. Daniel Obrecht is the author of numerous publications and books and holds several patents in the field of pharmaceuticals. He was appointed Roche Lecturer in 1993.
Chief Financial Officer
Kalina Scott joined from Bank am Bellevue in Zurich, where she was Managing Director Corporate Finance, responsible for transactions in the fields of mergers & acquisitions, capital markets and private placements. A seasoned professional with over 20 years of work experience in investment banking and corporate finance, she started her career at UBS in Zurich and London, working in structured finance and credit risk management, followed by leveraged finance as well as mergers & acquisitions. As Director of Corporate Finance at KPMG Zurich, she created a corporate defense offering and supported the IPO advisory business of KPMG.
Kalina Alexieva Scott studied Business and Economics at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Sofia University in Bulgaria.
Helmut Kessmann, Ph.D.
Head of Business Development Pharma
Helmut Kessmann, Ph.D., has over 20 years’ experience in business and corporate development in the biotech industry. In 1996, he co-founded Discovery Technologies Ltd. in Basel, Switzerland, which was later integrated into US-based Discovery Partners International, followed by a successful IPO in 2000. He then joined Graffinity Pharmaceuticals, Heidelberg, Germany, which in 2004 merged with MyoContract Ltd to form Santhera Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a specialty pharma company focussing on orphan diseases. Santhera went public in 2006 (SIX: SANN). During the last 20 years he closed many in- and out-licensing deals for platform technologies and products at all stages in development, led cross-functional M&A teams, and was a member of the corporate leadership teams. Prior to that he held various research management positions at Ciba-Geigy, now Novartis. He is Board member of T3 Pharma, Basel, and Swiss Healthcare Licensing Group.
Dr. Kessmann studied biology, philosophy and business administration and completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1988 at the University of Münster, Germany.
Head of Human Resources
Franziska Müller is responsible for all strategic personnel-related topics at Polyphor as well as the management of the daily business in Human Resources. She joined the company in 2008 as an assistant in Human Resources. From 2005 to 2007 she completed internships at Credit Suisse and Basler Insurance in Human Resources and Management Development.
Franziska Müller studied personnel and organizational psychology and holds a master’s degree from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. She is a Swiss citizen.
Argeris (“Jerry”) M. Karabelas, Ph.D.
Argeris (“Jerry”) M. Karabelas, Ph.D., is a Partner at Care Capital, LLC. Previous to this position, Dr. Karabelas founded the Novartis BioVenture Fund. He was also the former Head of Global Healthcare and Executive Committee Member, Novartis. Prior to that he was former Executive VP and Head of Global Pharmaceuticals, SmithKline Beecham. He was also a Professor of Pharmacokinetics. Dr. Karabelas has founded several companies. He is currently a member of the Board of Valeant Pharma, Regenxbio and Braeburn Pharma. He is former Chairman of Human Genome Sciences, Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc., Renovo, NitroMed, Inc., and SkyePharma plc.
Dr. Karabelas holds a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacokinetics from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and a Bachelor of Sciences in Biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire.
Kuno Sommer, Ph.D.
Kuno Sommer, Ph.D., today focuses on active board memberships in the life sciences sector as non-executive member. He became Chairman of the Board of the Bachem Group starting in 2012 and in 2017 Chairman of TargImmune. He is also a Board member of Ferienclub Privilège AG, Kenta Biotech AG, PDS Pathology Data Systems AG and Sunstar-Holding AG and other companies of the Sunstar-group. In his last operational role he headed the contract research division of Harlan Laboratories Ltd. From 2000 until 2006 he was CEO of Berna Biotech Ltd, which was sold to Crucell N.V. in 2006 (today Johnson & Johnson). Starting in 1986 at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd he worked in various functions until 1999 and spent 4 years in the US. In his last position at Roche he became a member of the Executive Committee, responsible for the Flavours and Fragrances division (today Givaudan Ltd).
Dr. Sommer holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Basel as well as an MBA.
Bernard Bollag, MBA
Bernard Bollag, MBA, is a senior finance executive with broad experience in corporate finance and capital markets. Bernard was CFO in private equity, until 2012, with HomeSun in the UK Renewable Energy sector, as well as internationally, across a broad portfolio of sectors and investments. Prior to that, Bernard was with Syngenta. As its Group Treasurer, Bernard led the company’s banking and capital markets funding of the company as it spun off from Novartis and Astra-Zeneca. He then established the company’s financial risk practice for the Group and its international affiliates. Prior to that, he led a typical international finance career at Unisys, progressing through planning, operations, investments and funding. He is the founder and MD of Beaufort Capital, a boutique supporting High Net Worth individuals with their private equity and alternative investments.
Bernard Bollag holds an MBA in Finance from the Columbia Business School in New York and a BA in Economics from the Bar-Ilan University of Tel-Aviv.
Frank Weber, M.D.
Frank T. Weber, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer Probiodrug and head of Market Access at Santhera (both part time). He has 25 years of industry experience, having served as Senior Vice President, EU Medical and Global Medical Advisor of Intermune and prior to that as Chief Medical Officer at Merck Serono. Dr. Weber held also various clinical development medical affairs positions at American Cyanamid/Lederle, Sythelabo and Merck KGaA and worked as a Medical Director in managed care with MedNet, a Munich Re/United Health Care joint venture. Dr. Weber trained as a maxillo-facial surgeon and immunologist. He holds a medical degree from the University of Cologne.
Silvio Inderbitzin, Ph.D.
Silvio Inderbitzin, Ph.D., is active as an active board member and investor in various start-up and small to mid-sized life science companies in Switzerland. In addition, he has an operational function as CEO (besides Chairman) at a new on the market dermatological company Mavena International Ltd. He is also member of the Board of the following companies: Aurealis Pharma AG, Hänseler Holding AG, Helvecura Genossenschaft, HTHC High Tech Home Care AG, Just Finance AG, NEXILIS AG, Nuomedia AG, Strekin AG, Ulrich Jüstrich Holding AG, Vital Solutions Swiss AG, as well as the following non-profit organizations: Krebsforschung Schweiz and Swiss Cancer Foundation. Before he served a privately-held 450-employee pharmaceutical company Spirig Pharma Ltd. where he first joined as Head of QA, was elected to Technical Director, member of the Corporate Management Team, Board of Directors and also became a co-owner. Prior to the successful sale of the company in 2012/2013, he served as CEO and was responsible for its foreign subsidiaries. He has his origin in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Dr. Inderbitzin studied Pharmacy at the University of Berne, holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Zurich/ETH and obtained an Executive MBA from the University of St. Gallen.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht, Ph.D.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht, Ph.D. is co-founder of Polyphor Ltd. and has been its CEO for more than 18 years, from the company’s inception until March 2015. Under his leadership the proprietary Macrocycle Technology Platform was developed and business relations were established with companies in Japan, USA and Europe. Three own product candidates were advanced into clinical development and Polyphor evolved from a drug discovery chemistry service provider into a clinical stage pharma company supported by a strong and broad investor base. Prior to that Jean-Pierre Obrecht was Head Logistics Chemicals at F. Hoffmann-Roche Pharma in Basel. Before that he was head of the production and engineering department and member of the management team of Dr. R. Maag AG, a former affiliate of Roche and later Ciba-Geigy.
Jean-Pierre Obrecht obtained his Ph.D. in Natural Sciences (chemistry) from the ETH Zurich and an Executive MBA degree from the University St. Gallen (NDU/HSG).
Andreas Wallnöfer, Ph.D.
Andreas Wallnöfer, Ph.D., MBA served at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Roche Ltd. from 2007 to 2009 as Global Head of Clinical Research & Exploratory Development and Senior Vice President. After Roche’s acquisition of Genentech he was appointed in 2010 as Head of Roche pRED Development and, in addition, in 2012 he took on the role of Global Head of Cardiovascular & Metabolism Disease (CVM). After the company decided to exit CVM for strategic reasons, he left Roche and joined in 2016 BioMedPartners. Subsequently, he acted as interim Head of Development at Polyphor until spring 2017 and directed the company’s lead project successfully through end of Phase II regulatory meetings. He currently also serves as Board member of Amal Therapeutics SA.
Dr. Wallnöfer holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Basel, trained as Clinical Pharmacologist at the University Hospital of Leiden and holds an Executive MBA from IMD Lausanne.
Polyphor has around 71 employees. Half of them are PhDs, the other half mainly graduate chemists, biologists and technicians. We are a team of professionals that bring together profound life science knowledge, an entrepreneurial mindset and strong personal dedication to bring better therapies to those in desperate need.