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Tarsier Pharma Adds Ocular Immunology Experts to Scientific Advisory Board

March 01, 2022

Tel Aviv, Israel, 1 March, 2022 – Tarsier Pharma, an advanced clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapeutics for blinding ocular diseases, has expanded its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The two new appointments of Prof. Thorne and Prof. Sen will boost support for Tarsier as the Company focuses on phase-3 clinical trials in non-infectious anterior uveitis including uveitic glaucoma, and, on earlier stage development of its pipeline for back-of-the-eye diseases with inflammatory underlying pathologies. They will join existing Scientific Advisory Board members Prof. Cunningham, Prof. Nguyen, and Prof. de Smet.

“This is the dream team we need to help drive Tarsier’s success,” says Dr. Daphne Haim-Langford, CEO and chairperson of Tarsier Pharma. “Prof. Thorne and Prof. Sen are both renowned ocular immunologists, with clinical management experience, alongside research, drug development, and clinical trials expertise, that will serve us well as we go forward in development and commercialization of novel Ophthalmic drugs. They are both key figures in various American and international uveitis forums, which will be essential in helping to increase awareness to the devastating rare condition uveitic glaucoma. We are thankful to add them to our existing exceptional Scientific Advisory Board.”

Prof. Jennifer Thorne, M.D., Ph.D., is the Cross Family Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute, where she is also chief of the Division of Ocular Immunology and Uveitis. Prof. Thorne holds a joint appointment as professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. An internationally recognized and board-certified ophthalmologist, Prof. Thorne is an expert in the evaluation and management of patients with uveitis and other related immune-mediated disorders.

“Tarsier Pharma has done incredible work to develop new drugs for patients with ocular inflammatory diseases. There is a substantial unmet need for such drugs, that would be local and potent anti-inflammatory treatments, yet without negative side effects that we know too well from steroidal existing treatments. Unfortunately, uveitis patients usually wait last in line for new therapies, but with Tarsier, they are first, and I am happy to join this important effort”, said Prof. Thorne.

Prof. H. Nida Sen, MD, MHS is Professor of Ophthalmology at the George Washington University and Clinical Leader at Janssen Retina R&D, Johnson and Johnson. She has been an investigator at the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), focusing on mechanism and treatment of uveitis. There she has served as a Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, an NIH Distinguished Scholar, and the Head of Uveitis Clinic and Clinical and Translational Ocular Immunology Section. As a prominent investigator in the field of uveitis and ocular immunology Prof. Sen led many clinical trials and natural history studies throughout her career. She is a board-certified ophthalmologist recognized worldwide as an expert in the field of uveitis and ocular immunology.   

“Indeed, we know from our everyday experience in the clinic, how much such novel therapies for uveitis are desperately needed, for the patients who seek treatments without significant side effects, and for the healthcare providers who currently have limited tools. I was excited with Tarsier’s story and development, years ago when Tarsier’s CEO first approached me at a uveitis meeting. I am very excited to become now officially part of the journey”, said Prof. Sen.

Tarsier’s existing SAB members are:

  • Emmett Cunningham, Jr, Prof. MD, Ph.D, MPH is an Operating Partner in the Blackstone Life Sciences group. Dr. Cunningham has led investments in medical technology and biotechnology, including partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Previously Dr. Cunningham was the Senior Vice President, Medical Strategy at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he led the team that developed Macugen, a first-in-class product for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Prior to Eyetech, Dr. Cunningham was at Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE). Dr. Cunningham is an internationally recognized specialist in infectious and inflammatory eye disease with over 400 publications.
    Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Board of Directors of Galera Therapeutics and the SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group. Dr. Cunningham was the founder and chairman of the Ophthalmology Innovation Summit (OIS) symposium held in conjunction with the annual meetings of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
    Dr. Cunningham received an MD and MPH in epidemiology and statistics from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in neuroscience from the University of California at San Diego for work done at The Salk Institute.
  • Quan Dong Nguyen, MD, MSc currently is a Professor of Ophthalmology at the Byers Eye Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine, where he has an active uveitis and ocular inflammatory diseases as well as clinical and surgical retina practice, while he continues his research in pharmacotherapy and ocular imaging. Dr. Nguyen serves as principal investigator on multiple clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute and other organizations for macular edema (from diabetes and uveitis), neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and ocular inflammatory and uveitic diseases, as well as co-investigator on numerous other clinical trials involving novel therapeutic agents. Dr. Nguyen is known for his innovative work in early proof-of-concept, first-in-human clinical trials to evaluate potential pharmacotherapeutic agents for retinal vascular and uveitic diseases.
    Prof. Nguyen is part of various ocular international forums, such as the IOIS (International Ocular Inflammation Society) and the FOIS (Foster Ocular Immunology Society).
  • Marc de Smet, Prof., is the former department head of Ophthalmology at Amsterdam University, and currently the Founder and head of MIOS sa, Switzerland, a private group practice focused on retina and inflammatory disorders. He is also the current chief medical officer of Preceyes, a company which has developed a robotic surgical platform for eye surgery. Prof. de Smet has authored and co-authored more than 175 papers, 25 books and book chapters, given numerous lectures and named lectures. Treasurer of the international uveitis study group (IUSG), he is member of the Jules Gonin club, the macula society and heads a division of the EViCR.net – a European clinical research network.

About Tarsier Pharma

Tarsier Pharma is a phase-3 pharmaceutical company, focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of first-in-class pharmaceutical therapies to treat ocular blinding diseases. TRS is a bio-inspired breakthrough proprietary technology platform, based on a new chemical entity with novel mechanism of action, that demonstrated safety and efficacy in a rare debilitating and blinding indication. Currently Tarsier is running TRS4VISION phase-3 clinical trial in subjects with non-infectious anterior uveitis including uveitic glaucoma.

Lead product candidate for uveitic glaucoma

Non-infectious uveitis is an autoimmune blinding ocular inflammation, considered the third leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Tarsier’s TRS01 is a potent fast-acting immunomodulator, delivered as eye drops, for the treatment of non-infectious anterior uveitis in patients with uveitic glaucoma – that is considered an end-stage condition of uveitis. Once a uveitis patient has also developed glaucoma (uveitic glaucoma), the only available treatments for active inflammation, which are steroids, should be avoided due to their side effects of expediting glaucoma and vision loss. Thus, TRS01 has the potential to become the standard of care for uveitic glaucoma.

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