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Amakem NV, a kinase platform company focusing on ophthalmology, today announces the appointment of Dr. Steve Pakola as Chief Medical Officer and Dr. George Lasezkay to its Board as an Independent Director. Both have exceptional track records in the biotechnology industry and bring a wealth of ophthalmology experience to Amakem.
Dr. Pakola was previously Chief Medical Officer at ThromboGenics NV (Euronext Brussels: THR), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing innovative ophthalmic medicines, where he played a pivotal role in driving the development of ThromboGenics’ lead product, ocriplasmin, from initial concept through to regulatory submission.
Dr. Lasezkay was previously Corporate Vice President of Corporate Development and Assistant General Counsel for Allergan, Inc., a global pharmaceutical and medical aesthetics company. In these positions, he was responsible for corporate strategy as well as licensing, R&D collaboration and acquisition transactions involving both products and companies. George is currently an industry consultant and serves as an advisor to a number of public and private biotechnology companies developing therapies for ophthalmic conditions.
Dr. Jack Elands, CEO of Amakem, said: “Amakem’s ability to attract a CMO and Independent Director of the caliber of Steve and George highlights the potential AMA0076 has in glaucoma and of our ophthalmology and technology platform in general. Steve played a key part in the successful development of ocriplasmin at ThromboGenics, while George has been closely involved in the strategic development of businesses in ophthalmology and in other therapeutic areas. We very much look forward to their joining the Amakem team as we advance our own highly promising pipeline and build our company.”
Steve Pakola commented: “I am very excited by this opportunity. AMA0076 has shown excellent preclinical results and offers the potential to be a breakthrough product for one of the leading global causes of preventable blindness. It has given me great satisfaction to have seen a novel ophthalmic product through from concept to regulatory submission, and I look forward to bringing that drive and experience to Amakem.”
George Lasezkay, said: “Amakem has already made great progress with its development of AMA0076 and the company’s Localized Drug Action platform has the potential to generate additional high value product candidates in ophthalmology and other indications. It is an exciting time to be joining the Board and bringing my experience to bear on the strategic development of the business.”
Michael Palfreyman, Chairman of Amakem, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome George to the Board and Steve to the senior team at Amakem. Their track records speak for themselves and their breadth of experience will be invaluable as we continue to prove the value of the platform in ophthalmology, where AMA0076 is making excellent progress, and explore opportunities in other therapeutic areas.”
Dr. Pakola is a physician with over 15 years of industry experience, including experience in preclinical and clinical development, regulatory affairs and medical affairs. Dr. Pakola was at ThromboGenics for 12 years, where he was responsible for the Company’s worldwide clinical development programs including vitreoretinal disease and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Pakola identified the opportunity for ocriplasmin in eye diseases and spearheaded the development programme which has led to successful completion of Phase III trials in symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion including macular hole and recent filing in the US and Europe. More broadly, Dr. Pakola played a significant role in transforming ThromboGenics from a small start-up to a publicly-traded company.
Before joining ThromboGenics, Dr. Pakola was Associate Director of Cardiovascular Clinical Research at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he was U.S. Clinical Leader for Pradaxa, the first new oral anticoagulant to reach the market in 50 years. He received his B.A. with Honors in Biology and his M.D. with Honors from University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A where he was awarded the Charles A. Oliver Ophthalmology Prize.
Dr. Lasezkay is the president of Horizon Pharma Group, a consultancy practice that advises life sciences companies on strategy and business development.
Previously, he was Corporate Vice President of Corporate Development and Assistant General Counsel for Allergan, Inc., a global pharmaceutical and medical aesthetics company. In these positions, he was responsible for corporate strategy as well as licensing, R&D collaboration and acquisition transactions involving both products and companies. While at Allergan, he was instrumental in establishing the Allergan Ligand Retinoid Therapeutics joint venture that was subsequently awarded the Recombinant Capital Breakthrough Biotechnology Alliance award in 1997.
Dr. Lasezkay has served as a director of a number of US and international biotechnology and emerging pharmaceutical companies, both public and private. He also has extensive experience in private legal practice, hospital pharmacy practice, clinical pharmacokinetics consultation, clinical drug research, and pharmacy education.
Dr. Lasezkay earned B.S. Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a J.D. degree from the University of Southern California Law Center. He also holds a certificate in alternative dispute resolution from the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution of the Pepperdine University School of Law.
Amakem is an ophthalmology company developing new treatments for serious eye conditions. Amakem’s product pipeline is based on its unique Localized Drug Action platform which is designed to generate safe and effective novel kinase inhibitors that minimize systemic exposure with the aim of reducing side effects. Amakem’s lead candidate, AMA0076, is for glaucoma and the Company is working to apply the Localized Drug Action approach to a range of other eye diseases.
Founded in 2010, Amakem has raised more than €21m in funding and is backed by leading life sciences investors including Forbion, Crédit Agricole, Vesalius BioCapital, LRM, PMV/Vinnof and Life Science Research Partners.
Amakem is based in Belgium and located in the life sciences incubator “BioVille” at the University of Hasselt. The Company has a long-standing collaboration with the Ophthalmology Research Center of the University Leuven Hospital.