September 12, 2023 — AAVantgarde Bio (AAVantgarde), a clinical-stage, Italian-based international biotechnology company with two proprietary Adeno-Associated Viral (AAV) vector platforms for large gene delivery, today announced the appointment of Doug Kerr, MD/PhD/MBA as a Non-Executive Director, effective immediately. Dr. Kerr serves as Chief Medical Officer of Generation Bio, a company developing non-viral gene therapies that are durable and redosable for people living with rare and prevalent diseases.
“Doug brings a wealth of leadership and drug development experience in the gene therapy field from his current tenure at Generation Bio as well as from his time at Shire and Biogen. He also has a deep understanding of rare disease therapeutics and led the development of Spinraza™, a therapy approved for spinal muscular atrophy,” said Dr. Natalia Misciattelli, Chief Executive Officer of AAVantgarde. “His broad experience will be invaluable as we look to apply our technologies more broadly and open up the opportunities for underserved patients suffering from debilitating diseases.”
“I am delighted to be joining the Board of Directors at AAVantgarde,” said Dr. Kerr. “The Company is based on very rigorous science and has the potential to enable AAV to treat diseases previously unavailable to gene therapy and the application of this science to diseases both in the retina andin other therapeutic areas is exciting and important.”
Prior to Generation Bio, Dr. Kerr served as Vice President overseeing neurology, gene therapy, and lysosomal storage disease programs at Shire. Before that he served in various roles in Clinical Development and Corporate Strategy at Biogen, where he led development programs for Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
Dr. Kerr completed his neurology residency and was an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with appointments in Neurology as well as Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. While there, he not only saw patients with motor neuron, spinal cord, and neurodegenerative disorders, but he also ran a laboratory that investigated fundamental aspects of motor neuron/axon biology and neurodegeneration. During his career he has participated on the board of directors and scientific advisory boards of several biotechnology companies and nonprofit organizations.
Dr. Kerr received his MD from Jefferson Medical College, as well as his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Thomas Jefferson University. He obtained his MBA, with a specialization in entrepreneurship and finance, from Northeastern University and his Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry from Princeton University.
About AAVantgarde Bio
AAVantgarde Bio is a clinical stage, Italian headquartered, international biotechnology company that has developed two proprietary Adeno-Associated Viral (AAV) vector platforms to address the gene therapy cargo capacity limitations of AAV vectors. The AAVantgarde platforms could be used to deliver large genes to ocular and non-ocular tissues. Co-founded by Professor Alberto Auricchio at TIGEM (Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine) in Naples, Italy, and Telethon Foundation, AAVantgarde will initially validate the platform in the clinic in two inherited retinal diseases with clear unmet need. For more information, please visit: www.aavantgardebio.com
About Usher syndrome
Usher syndrome type 1B (Usher1B) is an inherited disease that affects the retina and the inner ear. Usher1B is caused by mutations in the MYO7A gene. The therapeutic gene to treat Usher1B is 6.7 kb long and is therefore too large to fit inside a standard AAV vector. Approximately 20,000 patients in the U.S. and E.U. have Usher1B. These children are born deaf, have vestibular dysfunction, and begin to progressively lose vision in their first decade of life. Although, there are surgical treatments available to treat deafness in these patients, there are no treatments available to treat progressive vision loss and blindness in these patients.
About Stargardt Disease
Stargardt disease is the most common inherited macular degeneration. Inherited in most cases as autosomal recessive, Stargardt disease is caused by mutations in the ABCA4 gene. The therapeutic gene to treat Stargardt disease (ABCA4) is 6.8 kb long which is too large to fit inside a standard AAV vector.Stargardt disease affects approximately 60,000-75,000 patients in the U.S. and E.U. Currently there are no treatments for the blindness caused by Stargardt disease.
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