SAN DIEGO, July 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - Viracta Therapeutics, Inc., a precision oncology company targeting virus-associated malignancies, today announced that Roger J. Pomerantz, MD, FACP, has been appointed to its Board of Directors. Dr. Pomerantz is currently the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ContraFect Corporation and brings meaningful expertise in multiple areas of drug development and capital formation to Viracta's Board of Directors.
"I am thrilled to be joining Viracta's Board at what is a very exciting time for the company. We have come a long way in learning about the role of viruses in cancer, and Viracta's elegant approach to targeting Epstein-Barr virus-associated malignancies holds tremendous promise that is perhaps not yet fully appreciated. In addition, I have had a long research interest in interdicting in viral latency to attack various serious human diseases," said Dr. Pomerantz. "I look forward to working closely with the Board and management team to advance our clinical portfolio and position Viracta for continued success."
Ivor Royston, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viracta added, "Dr. Pomerantz is an accomplished leader in the industry with proven success in late-stage clinical development, and we are pleased to welcome him to our team. His extensive and diverse experience will add valuable depth to our Board of Directors, as we advance our lead program towards registration and position Viracta for additional growth."
Dr. Pomerantz has extensive board experience and currently serves on the board of directors of Intec Pharma, Collplant Biotechnologies, Silicon Therapeutics, and X-Vax Inc., in addition to ContraFect. He also serves as the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Aridis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Pomerantz was a Venture Partner at Flagship Pioneering from 2014 through 2019. In addition, he served as the President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Seres Therapeutics from 2014-2019, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor to its Board of Directors. Previously, Dr. Pomerantz was Senior Vice President, Worldwide Head of Licensing & Acquisition at Merck & Co., Inc and prior to that was Senior Vice President and Global Franchise Head of Infectious Diseases at Merck. Prior to joining Merck, Dr. Pomerantz was Global Head of Infectious Diseases for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals. He also served as CEO of Tibotec Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Dr. Pomerantz has led the development of twelve small and large molecular drugs approved globally, in a wide range of important human diseases.
Dr. Pomerantz received his B.A. in Biochemistry at the Johns Hopkins University and his M.D. at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He received post-graduate training at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and M.I.T. Dr. Pomerantz is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. He was Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Chief of Infectious Diseases, and the Founding Director and Chair of the Institute for Human Virology and Biodefense at the Thomas Jefferson University and Medical School.
Nanatinostat (VRx-3996) is an orally available histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor being developed by Viracta. Nanatinostat is selective for specific isoforms of Class I HDACs, which is key to inducing latent viral genes in EBV-associated malignancies. The nanatinostat and valganciclovir combination is being investigated in EBV-associated lymphomas in an ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial [NCT03397706].
Viracta has received Fast Track designation from the FDA for the nanatinostat and valganciclovir combination in relapsed/refractory EBV-positive lymphomas, as well as orphan drug designations for the treatment of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder, plasmablastic lymphoma and T-cell lymphomas.
Approximately 95% of the world's adult population is infected with EBV. Infections are commonly asymptomatic. Following infection, the virus remains latent in a small subset of lymphatic cells for the duration of the patient's life. Under certain circumstances, such cells may undergo malignant transformation and become lymphoma. In addition to lymphomas, EBV is associated with a variety of solid tumors, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma and gastric cancer.
Viracta is a precision oncology company targeting virus-associated malignancies. The company's proprietary investigational drug, nanatinostat, is currently being evaluated in combination with the antiviral agent valganciclovir as an oral combination therapy in a Phase 2 clinical trial for EBV-positive lymphomas. Viracta is pursuing application of this Kick and Kill platform approach in other EBV-associated malignancies, such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma and gastric carcinoma, and other viral-related cancers.
For additional information please visit www.viracta.com.