— Dr. Vendola Brings Deep, Hands-On Industry Strategy, Operational and Financial Expertise to the Role —
ST. LOUIS, MO and SAN DIEGO, CA, Jan. 3, 2024 – Wugen,Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing allogeneic, off-the-shelf cell therapies to treat a broad range of hematological and solid tumor malignancies, today announced the appointment of Keith Vendola, M.D., M.B.A., as chief financial officer, effective October 2023.
“We are delighted to welcome Keith as Wugen’s CFO. Keith’s demonstrated success in cultivating longstanding relationships and executing strategic financing transactions with an array of investors will be an asset to Wugen as we pursue our goals to deliver groundbreaking clinical data and bring innovative cancer therapies to market,” said Kumar Srinivasan, Ph.D., M.B.A., president and chief executive officer of Wugen.
Dr. Vendola has over two decades experience in healthcare corporate finance and company building. He has worked as an executive, advisor, and investment banker, helping healthcare companies across verticals and sizes. During this time, he has contributed to > 50 deals and closed on > $2 billion in transaction value, including > $1 billion in financings.
Dr. Vendola joins Wugen from IO Biotech, where he served as CFO during its IPO. Prior, he served as CFO and chief strategy officer at Rezolute, leading the company through financial transformation and Nasdaq listing. Prior, he served as chief of staff to the CEO of Coherus BioSciences where his responsibilities spanned corporate development, strategy, operations, and investor relations. Keith began his corporate finance career as an investment banker within the healthcare groups of Banc of America Securities (now BofA Securities) and Chase (now JPMorgan Chase).
Dr. Vendola earned his M.B.A. in finance from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, M.D. from Dartmouth Medical School, and B.A. in psychology from the College of the Holy Cross, where he graduated with honors. He completed an executive education program at Harvard Business School focused on strategic negotiations as well as a research fellowship at the National Institute of Health, where he was an author on multiple papers.
“I’m thrilled to join Wugen and contribute to this team of recognized scientific pioneers and business leaders focused on this important mission to bring innovative therapeutics forward to advance cancer treatment,” said Dr. Vendola. “Making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients, that’s what it’s all about.”
Wugen, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing the next generation of off-the-shelf memory natural killer (NK) and CAR-T cell therapies for cancer. Wugen is leveraging its proprietary Moneta™ platform and deep genomic engineering expertise to pioneer a new class of memory NK cell therapies to treat hematological and solid tumor malignancies. For more information, please visit www.wugen.com.
WU-CART-007 is an allogeneic, off-the-shelf, fratricide-resistant CD7-targeted CAR-T cell therapy engineered to overcome the technological challenges of harnessing CAR-T cells to treat CD7+ hematological malignancies. Wugen is deploying CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to delete CD7 and the T-cell receptor alpha constant (TRAC), preventing CAR-T cell fratricide and mitigating the risk of graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD). WU-CART-007 is manufactured using healthy donor-derived T-cells to eliminate the risk of malignant cell contamination historically observed in the autologous CAR-T setting. WU-CART-007 is currently being evaluated in a global Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the treatment of relapsed or refractory (R/R) T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)/lymphoblastic lymphoma (LBL). Additional information is available on clinicaltrials.gov, identifier NCT# 04984356. WU-CART-007 has received Orphan Drug, Fast Track, and Rare Pediatric Disease Designations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of R/R T-ALL/LBL.
WU-NK-101 is a novel immunotherapy harnessing the power of memory natural killer (NK) cells to treat liquid and solid tumors. Memory NK cells are hyper-functional, long-lasting immune cells that exhibit enhanced anti-tumor activity and a cytokine-induced memory-like (CIML) phenotype. This rare cell population has a superior phenotype, proliferation capacity, and metabolic fitness, making it better suited for cancer therapy than other NK cell therapies. Wugen is applying its proprietary Moneta™ platform to advance WU-NK-101 as a commercially scalable, off-the-shelf cell therapy for cancer. WU-NK-101 is currently in development for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Wugen is planning to initiate solid tumor studies of WU-NK-101 in combination with cetuximab. Studies of WU-NK-101 to date have shown promising robust in vivo activity in various tumor indications, retention of anti-cancer activity in TME, resistance to immune suppression, and enhanced activity with checkpoint inhibitors. WU-NK-101 has received Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of AML.
About the Moneta™ Platform
Wugen’s proprietary Moneta™ manufacturing platform is a robust, efficient, scalable process to generate off-the-shelf memory natural killer (NK) cell therapies with enhanced anti-tumor functionality. The Moneta™ platform uses cytokine fusion complexes for streamlined and consistent manufacturing, is free of feeder cells for enhanced safety, and integrates cryopreservation to allow convenient dosing options for cancer patients.
Mark Lewis, Wugen