REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwire - May 2, 2012) - Versartis, Inc., an emerging biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics for patients with endocrine disorders, today announced the appointment of Edmon R. Jennings as Chairman of its Board of Directors. With the addition of Mr. Jennings, the board was expanded to six members including: Srini Akkaraju, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director of New Leaf Venture Partners; Jeffrey L. Cleland, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Versartis; Kevin Johnson, Ph.D., Partner, Index Ventures; Shahzad Malik, General Partner, Advent Ventures; and Willem 'Pim' Stemmer, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Amunix, Inc. Mr. Jennings joins the board at the same time that Versartis completed patient enrollment in its first clinical trial of VRS-317, the company's proprietary once monthly form of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH).
"We are extremely pleased to welcome Ed Jennings to Versartis," stated Jeffrey L. Cleland, Ph.D., Versartis Chief Executive Officer. "I greatly enjoyed working with Ed when he was at Genentech where he had a key leadership role in Genentech's commercialization of the first recombinant human growth hormone, as well as significant involvement in subsequent licensing and partnering activities. His appointment to our board is particularly timely as we look forward to advancement of our lead product candidate for the once monthly treatment of growth hormone deficiency."
Mr. Jennings served in several executive roles during his 15 years at Genentech, including senior positions in sales, marketing and corporate development. He was subsequently Chief Commercialization Officer at Pain Therapeutics, Inc. before joining Angiogenix, Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Jennings currently serves as an industry consultant and participates as a board member of several private organizations.
"While daily injections of recombinant human growth hormone have proved to be a safe and effective treatment for growth hormone deficiency, once-monthly dosing of VRS-317 could offer the first significant improvement to patients in more than a decade," Mr. Jennings commented. "I have been following the progress of Versartis for some time and I am excited to share my experience as a member of the board."
The Phase 1 trial to evaluate the safety and tolerability of a single subcutaneous dose of VRS-317 was initiated in early 2011. The double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-ascending dose Phase 1 trial has enrolled 50 adult patients with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in the United States and Europe. The primary objective of this Phase 1 trial is to evaluate the safety and tolerability of a single subcutaneous dose of VRS-317. The adult GHD patients were withdrawn from daily rhGH therapy and, after a withdrawal period, received either a single subcutaneous dose of VRS-317 or placebo. The extent and duration of pharmacodynamic responses to VRS-317 (or placebo) will also be evaluated in each patient and compared to prior daily rhGH therapy. Results from this study will be discussed in an oral presentation on June 25 at ENDO 2012, the Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas.
Versartis, Inc. is a biotechnology company developing therapeutics for the treatment of endocrine disorders. The company's lead product candidate is VRS-317, a once monthly form of human growth hormone. Versartis is pursuing the development of new therapeutic proteins utilizing the proprietary Amunix half-life extension XTEN technology. XTEN is a novel hydrophilic sequence of natural amino acids and is expressed as a fusion protein with a therapeutically active peptide or protein. New compounds developed by Versartis using the XTEN technology are expected to provide improved therapeutic outcomes such as enhanced efficacy/compliance, fewer side effects, prolonged half-life (up to monthly dosing), as well as low-cost production and enhanced stability. Further information on Versartis can be found at www.versartis.com.