Imugene Ltd bolsters drug development team with senior appointments of industry experts

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Imugene Ltd (ASX:IMU, OTC:IUGNF) has bolstered its drug development team with new appointments of industry experts to progress the research and development of the clinical stage immuno-oncology company’s cancer treatments.

The first appointment is of pulmonologist Dr Giovanni Selvaggi, who joins as chief medical officer. Trained in thoracic malignancies management with a focus on lung cancers and mesothelioma, he brings more than a decade of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

Selvaggi graduated from the University of Torino in Italy, where he also completed his residency in respiratory medicine at the postgraduate medical school.

Prior to joining the pharmaceutical sector, he was an attending physician at Thoracic Oncology at the San Luigi Hospital in Turin, Italy, where he was an investigator in various oncology clinical trials.

Since entering the corporate world, Selvaggi has been in clinical development-focused roles with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Bristol Myers Squibb and Novartis Oncology, where he was pivotal in Novartis’ successful development and approval of ceritinib or Zykadia, which targets non-small cell lung cancer/NSCLC).

He was also part of the immunotherapy team at Bristol Myers Squibb that led to the approval of nivolumab (Opdivo) in third-line small cell lung cancer.

A well-regarded presenter at major international medical conferences as well as having authored numerous peer-reviewed articles in major oncology journals, his most recent role with US oncology company Xcovery Holdings Inc was as chief executive officer.

Imugene managing director and chief executive officer Leslie Chong said: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Selvaggi to the Imugene team as our clinical development activities grow in both number and importance.

“He brings big pharma prowess that we expect to be very valuable, as well as having an excellent understanding of the experience of the institutions and investigators typically associated with drug development. He’s another excellent appointment to the world-class team we’re building.”

Depth of experience

Imugene has also brought in accomplished bioprocess development leader Paul Wright as vice president of the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls division.

“Paul brings extensive expertise in upstream and downstream process development for protein, viral vector, bioconjugate and oncolytic virus drug products. His depth of experience with a global pharma leader will be of great benefit to Imugene and we’re looking forward to his contribution to our outstanding team,” Chong said.

With more than 25 years of experience in the fields of protein and virus production, Wright is an expert in the areas of monoclonal antibodies, bioconjugate vaccines, viral vectors, and oncolytic viruses, with experience spanning all phases of development.

He spent 21 of his professional years at Pfizer before joining Imugene, holding positions of increasing responsibility within the Global Manufacturing and Vaccine Research and Development organizations.

Most recently, he was the director of Bioprocess and Analytical and member of the executive leadership team within Cancer Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, where he led the team responsible for the process, analytical, and formulation development of cancer vaccine projects from pre-clinical to first-in-human study stage.

His work included leading the successful process development, tech transfer and clinical trial manufacture of the US biopharmaceutical company’s vaccinia-based oncolytic virus (PF-07263689).

Wright holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours, Cell and Molecular Biology from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge UK.