WAVE Life Sciences Ltd. (NASDAQ: WVE), a genetic medicines company focused on developing stereopure nucleic acid therapies for patients impacted by rare diseases, today announced that it has appointed Michael A. Panzara, M.D., MPH, as head of the company’s neurology franchise. In this new role, Dr. Panzara will oversee WAVE’s portfolio of neurological therapeutic candidates, from target discovery through clinical development, regulatory approval, and post-approval activities. His initial focus will be on filing investigational new drug (IND) applications for WAVE’s two lead programs in Huntington’s disease and initiating IND-enabling studies for WAVE’s first Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy candidate by the end of this year. Beyond that, he will play a key role in realizing WAVE’s plan to deliver six IND programs by 2018.
“WAVE’s platform, with its potential for developing nucleic acid therapeutics with superior pharmacological and safety profiles, holds great promise for unlocking the full potential of nucleic acid therapeutics to make a meaningful impact on multiple serious, genetically defined diseases”
“As a seasoned drug developer with a proven track record of bringing first-in-class drugs for neurologic conditions to market, Mike is the right person to lead WAVE’s neurology franchise and drive our programs into the clinic and through regulatory approval so they can benefit patients,” said Paul Bolno, M.D., MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of WAVE Life Sciences. “As a physician scientist, Mike’s deep expertise in clinical development, his ability to build and lead successful teams, and his passion for improving patients’ lives will be tremendous assets as we progress our emerging clinical pipeline.”
Dr. Panzara comes to WAVE with more than 15 years of experience in key leadership roles in neurological drug development, regulatory approval, and lifecycle management. Most recently, Dr. Panzara held the role of Group Vice President and Head of Multiple Sclerosis, Neurology, and Ophthalmology Therapeutic Areas in Global Development at Sanofi Genzyme. During his time at Sanofi Genzyme, Dr. Panzara oversaw global regulatory approvals of the multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs LEMTRADA (alemtuzumb) and AUBAGIO (teriflunomide), managed the neurological and ophthalmological portfolios across Sanofi which included a diverse pipeline of small molecules and biologics, and led global strategy and execution of development plans for neurology and ophthalmology candidates from preclinical development through regulatory approval.
Prior to joining Sanofi Genzyme, Dr. Panzara was Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Neurology at Biogen. During his time there, he served as the global clinical lead for the development of TYSABRI (natalizumab) for multiple sclerosis, overseeing its clinical program and global approvals. He also managed clinical development activities for all late-stage MS products including AVONEX (interferon beta-1a), PLEGRIDY (PEG-interferon beta-1a), and TECFIDERA (oral dimethylfumarate).
“WAVE’s platform, with its potential for developing nucleic acid therapeutics with superior pharmacological and safety profiles, holds great promise for unlocking the full potential of nucleic acid therapeutics to make a meaningful impact on multiple serious, genetically defined diseases,” said Dr. Panzara. “I am thrilled to join the team at such an exciting time in the company’s growth, as we prepare to bring our lead programs in Huntington’s disease into the clinic. I look forward to leading the development of these promising programs, as well as those in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other neurologic disorders, with the ultimate goal of delivering long-awaited breakthroughs to people living with these devastating disorders.”
WAVE’s formalization of a neurology franchise reflects the company’s strategic prioritization of internal resources on developing and commercializing treatments for neurological, neuromuscular and neurosensory disorders, while simultaneously undertaking strategic partnerships with leaders in other disease areas to bring the potential benefits of stereopure drugs to as many patients as possible.
About WAVE Life Sciences
At WAVE Life Sciences, we are driven by an unwavering passion and commitment to deliver on our mission of confronting challenging diseases by developing transformational therapies and empowering patients. We are utilizing our innovative and proprietary synthetic chemistry drug development platform to design, develop and commercialize stereopure nucleic acid therapeutics that precisely target the underlying cause of rare and other serious genetically defined diseases. Given the versatility of our chemistry platform, WAVE’s deep, diverse pipeline spans multiple modalities including antisense, exon-skipping, and single-stranded RNAi. For more information, please visit www.wavelifesciences.com and follow us on Twitter at @WAVELifeSci and LinkedIn.