Leading a new mechanism of action, CXCR4 inhibition in solid tumors in oncology
We are a clinical stage, Swiss biopharmaceutical company leading the research and development of a new mechanism of action in solid tumors, CXCR4 inhibition, for combination treatment in oncology. Balixafortide, an innovative molecule based on our inhouse macrocycle chemistry, is developed for treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Balixafortide is a potent and highly selective blocker of CXCR4, a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) that regulates the trafficking and homing of both cancer cells and cells of the patient’s immune system. The anti-cancer effects of Balixafortide are thought to include direct suppression of metastatic spread, sensitization of tumor cells to chemotherapy, and activation of the immune system.
Clinical proof-of-concept (link to the Lancet paper) has been achieved in a Phase Ib study in combination with eribulin in patients with metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer. Balixafortide has an FDA fast track designation and is currently being evaluated in a Phase III study (Fortress) for treatment of metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer in combination with eribulin. If successful, it would be the first CXCR4 antagonist to treat solid tumors. Balixafortide is also being researched in other solid and hematological tumors.
First new class of antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria
Polyphor 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 and constitutes potentially a major breakthrough in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, which is a global threat to human society and to health care systems world-wide. A recent publication in Nature combining researchers at the University of Zurich, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH, Zurich) and Polyphor, uncovered the mechanism of action of the new OMPTA class.
The company’s has multiple preclinical candidates expected to enter human trials in the near future. Inhaled murepavadin, (POL7080), a pathogen-specific antibiotic, is being developed as a treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in people with cystic fibrosis and is in the final stage of its preclinical development.
POL7306, a first lead molecule of the OMPTA class covering all priority 1 WHO/ESKAPE pathogens including multi-resistant (MDR), extensively-resistant (XDR) and colistin-resistant bacterial strains is currently in late preclinical development.
Our lead drug candidates
An antagonist of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 for combination treatment in oncology
A precision Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotic (OMPTA) against Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis
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
Chief Executive Officer
Gökhan Batur joined from MSD, where he was Executive Director, as Global Brand Leader, responsible for leading the global commercial strategy and execution for the entire Merck antibiotics portfolio managing multiple in-line, launch and pipeline products and sales of ~2 billion dollars. Prior to this role he was Executive Director, Global Brand Leader, Gram Negative Antibiotics. Previous roles at MSD included Executive Director, Hospital Acute Care Franchise for Emerging Markets and China and, before, he held positions both at regional and country level in marketing and sales including regional marketing leader for Hospital Products and Oncology in the EEMEA region
Gökhan Batur studied Management Information Systems and holds a Bachelor of Science from Bosphorus University, Istanbul.
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.
Frank Weber, M.D.
Chief Medical & Development Officer
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.
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.
Chief Financial Officer
Hernan Levett joined the Polyphor management team from NASDAQ listed company Auris Medical where he served as CFO. He started his Pharma international career at Novartis where he held roles of increasing responsibility in various countries and regional functions and as CFO for one its affiliates. Following a 10 year tenure at Novartis, Mr Levett continued to build his experience in biotech joining InterMune where he served as VP of Finance. Mr. Levett brings over 25 years of finance and pharma / biotech experience at leading companies and holds a CPA degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Economics.
Kuno Sommer, Ph.D.
Kuno Sommer, Ph.D., today focuses on active board memberships in the life sciences sector as non-executive member. He is Chairman of the Board of the Bachem Group; the Sunstar group; TargImmune; PDS Pathology Data Systems AG and Kenta Biotech AG. 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.
Andreas Wallnöfer, Ph.D.
Andreas Wallnöfer, Ph.D., MBA served at F.Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd from 2007 to 2009 as Global Head of Clincal 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 Roche decided to exit CVM for strategic reasons, he left the company and joined BioMedPartners as designated General Partner in their new fund III. In his role as founder of “Andreas Wallnöfer, Life Sciences Consulting Ltd.”, he acted as interim Head of Development at Polyphor between 2016 and 2017 (i.e. until closure of BMI fund III) and directed the company’s lead project successfully through end of the Phase II regulatory meetings. He currently also serves as Board member of Alentis Ltd. Basel, Switzerland, Tolremo Ltd, Muttenz & Zurich, Switzerland as well as of Azafaros BV, Leiden, The Netherlands and Basel, Switzerland.
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.
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.
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. He is Chairman at a new on the market dermatological company Mavena International Ltd., but also of the following Swiss companies: Hänseler Holding AG, Vital Solutions Swiss AG and HTHC High Tech Home Care AG. In addition he is member of the Board of the following companies: Aurealis Therapeutics AG, Helvecura Genossenschaft, Just Finance AG, NEXILIS AG, Artidis AG, Strekin AG, Kinarus AG, Ulrich Jüstrich Holding AG as well as the following non-profit organizations/Foundations: Swiss Cancer Research and Swiss Cancer Foundation, Lucerne sinfony orchestra.
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.
Hugh O’Dowd, MBA
Hugh O’Dowd currently serves as independent Non-executive Chairman on the Board of ONK Therapeutics, an innovative natural killer (NK) cell therapy company. Until its acquisition by BioNTech SE in May 2020, he served for four years as President, Chief Executive Officer, and a member of the Board of Directors of Neon Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTGN), a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company that developed neoantigen-based therapeutics. Prior to Neon Therapeutics, Hugh O’Dowd spent more than 20 years in a variety of senior leadership roles at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation including his role as Chief Commercial Officer of Novartis Oncology from 2011 to 2015. During this time, he was responsible for the oncology portfolio strategy for the world’s then second-largest oncology / hematology organization, including global brand leadership, business development/licensing, and commercialization.
According to the Swiss code of best practice for corporate governance of economisuisse, all Board members are independent
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 the patients in need. Half of our employees are PhDs, the other half mainly graduate chemists, biologists and technicians.