Leuven, Belgium, 19 March 2021 - Augustine Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on the development of innovative medicines for rare peripheral neuropathies and neurodegenerative diseases, announces the strengthening of the company with seasoned senior executive Dr. Erik Tambuyzer joining the Board of Directors. Tambuyzer brings valuable insights based on his long-lasting work in the biotech industry and with patients' organizations for rare diseases. Academic researchers Dr. Ludo Van Den Bosch and Dr. Joris de Wit are joining the company's Scientific Advisory Board. The reinforcement of Augustine Therapeutics' boards is another important step in strengthening the company to further the development of new medicines treating multiple neurodegenerative diseases with high unmet need.
Augustine Therapeutics announces the appointment of Dr. Erik Tambuyzer, permanent representative of PMV, as a member of the Board of Directors.
Dr. Erik Tambuyzer holds a bioengineering degree with a PhD from KU Leuven and has over 30 years of experience in human healthcare innovation. In 1985, he co-founded and managed Innogenetics, one of the first biotech companies in Europe. In 1992, he joined Genzyme Corp. (now part of Sanofi) as Vice-President Europe, Diagnostics and Genetics and had an important role in building Genzyme's European presence. From 1996 to 2010, Tambuyzer was Genzyme's Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs Europe & International and co-managing director of the Genzyme biologicals manufacturing facility in Geel, Belgium. He was also a founding Board member and Chairperson of EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries. In 1997, he founded the joint industry Working Group on rare diseases and orphan medicines (EuropaBio/EFPIA). Tambuyzer has been its Chairperson until 2010, as well as from 1997-2000, the industry point person in the discussions with the European institutions on the European Orphan Medicinal Products Regulation (EC 141/2000).
Since 1993, Tambuyzer has worked with rare disease patients' organizations. From 2014 until 2020, he co-founded and chaired an international non-profit organization working on therapies for neurological rare diseases, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Recently, Tambuyzer was lead co-author of a review article about Therapies for Rare Diseases, published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery and co-authored by the heads of the orphan drugs sectors at EMA and FDA.
Ward Capoen (Principal at V-Bio Ventures and Augustine founding Board member) comments: "It is a pleasure to welcome Erik to the board, where his decades-long expertise in rare diseases and his industry experience will no doubt make a huge difference in the growth of Augustine. We are also delighted to welcome Ludo and Joris to the SAB, a clear sign of their continuing contributions to the work we are doing at Augustine."
Dr. Erik Tambuyzer comments: "I am thrilled to join the Board of Augustine Therapeutics, which has potential to be another biotech success story in Flanders, and to support the company in the development of novel orphan medicines, much needed by patients."
Professor Ludo Van Den Bosch and Professor Joris de Wit, both VIB-KU Leuven group leaders and co-founders of Augustine Therapeutics, join the Scientific Advisory Board.
Prof. Ludo Van Den Bosch obtained a PhD in Physiology at the KU Leuven, Belgium, in 1990. Van Den Bosch pursued his career with postdoctoral positions in molecular biology and neurodegeneration. In 1996, he co-established the Laboratory of Neurobiology and a few years later he became Assistant Professor at the KU Leuven. In 2013, he was promoted to Full Professor at the Neurosciences Department. Since 2014, Van Den Bosch has been a group leader at the VIB Center for Brain & Disease Research in Leuven, Belgium. In 2017, he became director of the Laboratory of Neurology (Experimental Neurology). His research is focused on motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and different neuropathies such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT). The aim of his research is to obtain a more in-depth understanding of the mechanisms of neuronal and axonal degeneration and regeneration, as well as translating these discoveries into new therapeutic strategies for these different neurodegenerative disorders. His founding scientific discoveries in CMT and ALS, published in Nature journals in 2011 and 2017 respectively, constitute the most advanced assets of Augustine Therapeutics.
Prof. Dr. Ludo Van Den Bosch adds: "As a scientist, it was always my ambition to translate my scientific discoveries into the development of new therapeutic strategies for patients suffering from diseases for which there is currently no cure. Joining Augustine Therapeutics as Scientific Advisor will help me realize this."
Prof. Dr. Joris de Wit holds a PhD in neuroscience from the VU Amsterdam in The Netherlands, obtained in 2004. He split his postdoctoral training between Amsterdam with Matthijs Verhage (VU Amsterdam) from 2004 to 2006, and San Diego, USA with Anirvan Ghosh (University of California San Diego) from 2006 to 2012.In 2013, de Wit started the Laboratory of Synapse Biology at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research and became Associate Professor at KU Leuven. In 2019, he was promoted to Professor at the Neurosciences Department. de Wit is the recipient of an ERC Starting Grant and FWO Odysseus grant.
Work from his lab includes the discovery of a new sorting mechanism by which neurons regulate the protein composition of their cell surface and the identification of molecular adhesion codes that specify properties of specific synapses. The discovery of a new role for the secreted amyloid precursor protein in modulating synaptic transmission, in close collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Bart De Strooper, was published in Science in 2019, and forms the basis of one of the projects being pursued by Augustine Therapeutics.$
Prof. Joris de Wit shares: "I am excited to join the Scientific Advisory Board of Augustine Therapeutics. The projects that are in the pipeline are highly innovative and can truly bring solutions to patients. I am looking forward to working with them!"
Sylvain Celanire, CEO of Augustine Therapeutics, remarks: " The continuous support of scientific co-founders de Wit and Van Den Bosch strengthens the scientific know-how of the company and is an invaluable validation of the importance of the company in the fields of peripheral neuropathies and neurodegenerative diseases".
About Augustine Therapeutics
Augustine Therapeutics focuses on the development of novel, innovative medicines for rare neurodegenerative disorders, tackling severe debilitating diseases with high unmet medical needs such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a serious and rare disease, as well as other peripheral neuropathies. The company is building a portfolio of first-in-class therapeutic modalities from the ground-breaking research of Prof. Ludo Van Den Bosch, Prof. Joris De Wit and Prof. Bart De Strooper (VIB-KU Leuven). Augustine Therapeutics is a spin-off company of VIB and completed a seed financing round of EUR 4.2 million in December 2019 with the support of VIB, V-Bio Ventures, and PMV, joined by Advent France Biotechnology and the Gemma Frisius Fund. www.augustinetx.com
VIB is an excellence-based entrepreneurial research institute in life sciences located in Flanders, Belgium. VIB's basic research leads to new and innovative insights into normal and pathological life processes. It unites the expertise of all its collaborators and research groups in a single institute, firmly based on its close partnership with 5 Flemish universities (Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Hasselt University). VIB is supported by a solid funding program from the Flemish government. VIB has an excellent track record on translating basic scientific results into pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial applications. Since its foundation in 1996, VIB has created 27 start-up companies, now employing over 900 people. www.vib.be
PMV is a do-and-dare company that shapes the economic future of Flanders. PMV finances promising companies from the very start through their growth and internationalization. PMV offers tailor-made financial solutions for every entrepreneur with a solid business plan and a strong management team, by providing venture capital, loans and guarantees. An experienced and highly motivated team of 125 professionals endeavors every day to achieve the goal of creating prosperity and well-being in Flanders. PMV has a portfolio of about € 1.3 billion in assets under management. Biotech Fund Flanders is a PMV managed venture fund focused on investments in life science projects. www.pmv.be
About KU Leuven
KU Leuven is Europe's most innovative university (Reuters) and ranks 48th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. As Belgium's largest university, KU Leuven welcomes nearly 60,000 students from over 140 countries. Its 7,000 researchers are active in a comprehensive range of disciplines. KU Leuven is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and has a strong European and international orientation. University Hospitals Leuven, its network of research hospitals, provides high-quality healthcare and develops new therapeutic and diagnostic insights with an emphasis on translational research. www.kuleuven.be/
Sylvain Celanire, PhD
Chief Executive Officer