Verastem, Inc., (NASDAQ: VSTM) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing drugs to treat cancer by the targeted killing of cancer stem cells, announced the appointment of Joanna Horobin, M.B., Ch.B., as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Horobin was most recently the President of Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and has been responsible for the development and approval of multiple drugs over the course of her career.
“Joanna’s track record of execution across a broad range of products positions us well as we progress towards initiating a potential registration study of VS-6063 in mesothelioma mid-next year,” said Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Verastem.
Dr. Horobin has 30 years of pharmaceutical drug development experience. As President of Syndax, Dr. Horobin designed and implemented the Phase 2 clinical development of entinostat in metastatic breast and lung cancer.
“Dr. Horobin brings a great deal of successful experience in the design and execution of clinical development programs in oncology,” said Jose Baselga, M.D., Ph.D., Verastem Scientific Advisory Board.
Verastem has identified a specific genetic biomarker which it believes predicts sensitivity to the focal adhesion kinase inhibitors VS-6063 and VS-4718. Approximately 40-50% of mesothelioma patients lack this marker. The Verastem development team, led by Dr. Horobin, is designing a Phase 2 trial in this indication that, if successful, may allow for an accelerated approval.
“Verastem is moving quickly to translate the pioneering discoveries of Dr. Bob Weinberg to clinical products targeting cancer stem cells,” said Dr. Horobin. “I am excited to join the team and drive these programs forward. With three cancer stem cell-targeted candidates in development, Verastem is taking significant strides towards revolutionizing the standard of care in oncology.”
Dr. Horobin was VP, Oncology at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi, NYSE: SNY) where she led the global oncology business, including the successful global launch of Taxotere® (docetaxel) in breast cancer and Campto/Camptosar® (CPT11) for colorectal cancer. Dr. Horobin also led a successful joint venture with Chugai to launch Granocyte® (lenograstim). Previously, Dr. Horobin played significant leadership roles in the approvals of Lovenox®, Celectol®, Augmentin®, Timentin®, temocillin, Bactroban® and Relafen®/Reliflex®. Dr. Horobin received her medical degree from the University of Manchester, England.