Gene therapy company focused on uro-oncology continues to expand operations and prepare for the future commercialization of an investigational treatment for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer
CAMBRIDGE (June 17, 2020) – FerGene, Inc., a privately held gene therapy company dedicated to revolutionizing the treatment of bladder cancer, today announced the appointment of top biotech leaders to its executive team. The newly appointed leaders bring a wealth of experience and proven track records of success in oncology and urology to the company, as FerGene prepares to potentially commercialize the first gene therapy for patients living with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) in the U.S.
Formed in late 2019 through a partnership between Blackstone Life Sciences and Ferring Pharmaceuticals, FerGene’s goal is to harness the promise of gene therapy to commercialize and develop a novel treatment for people living with NMIBC.
“We’re thrilled to welcome these phenomenal leaders to our new company,” said David Meek, Chief Executive Officer, FerGene. “They bring the expertise and capabilities needed to build a best-in-class organization poised to truly change the treatment paradigm in bladder cancer and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients.”
Ambaw Bellete – Chief Operating Officer
Ambaw Bellete has been named Chief Operating Officer at FerGene with responsibility for commercial operations. With more than 30 years of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, Ambaw has successfully developed and managed multi-disciplinary teams from pre-launch to commercialization phases across large global companies and start-ups. Most recently, Ambaw was President of PhotoCure, a company that delivers medical solutions for bladder cancer.
“I’m very excited to join FerGene and fulfill our mission of helping patients with bladder cancer,” said Mr. Bellete. “As a company with a singular focus in uro-oncology, we have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer who are unresponsive to current treatment options, and we are dedicated to addressing that unique need.”
Vijay Kasturi, MD – Vice President of Medical Affairs
The company has also named Vijay Kasturi, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs. During the last 25 years, Dr. Kasturi has built a stellar career as a hematologist/oncologist and biotech executive dedicated to developing innovative treatment options for patients. Prior to joining FerGene, Dr. Kasturi was head of U.S. Medical Affairs, Oncology for EMD Serono where he had responsibility for developing global and regional strategies that brought new therapies to patients in immunology, hematology and oncology.
Earlier in his career, he treated patients with cancer and served as an assistant professor of medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and as the program leader for genitourinary oncology at UMass Memorial Cancer Center. He trained in Hematology-Oncology at the National Cancer Institute and worked as an investigator and physician at the National Cancer Institute and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
“After many years as a practicing physician and professor, I joined industry so that I could help drive the advancement of new and innovative cancer treatment approaches,” said Dr. Kasturi. “I believe we have an extraordinary opportunity at FerGene to change the outlook for people who are diagnosed with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, and look forward to working with a team that is poised to deliver new insights and solutions to urologists in the U.S.”
Peter Olagunju – Senior Vice President of Technical Operations
In addition, the company named Peter Olagunju to Senior Vice President of Technical Operations. Prior to joining FerGene, Peter served in senior leadership roles at bluebird bio and has led global technical operations, manufacturing, quality and supply chain for cell and gene therapy companies.
“It’s extremely gratifying to join a company that is dedicated to the uro-oncology community and meeting the needs of patients,” said Mr. Olagunju. “There has been limited innovation in the treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer for more than two decades, and we hope to make a big impact through cutting-edge, targeted new approaches for this patient population.”
About Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., with NMIBC representing approximately 75% of all new bladder cancer cases. Despite the prevalence of NMIBC, there has been limited innovation in the treatment of this disease for more than 20 years. Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) remains the first-line standard of care for people living with high-grade NMIBC, however approximately 50% of patients who receive treatment with BCG will experience recurrence and disease progression, leaving them with few effective alternatives to life-altering radical cystectomy (bladder removal).
FerGene is a gene therapy company committed to revolutionizing the treatment of bladder cancer through its innovative science and unparalleled commitment to patient care. Founded in 2019 through an arrangement between Blackstone Life Sciences and Ferring Pharmaceuticals, FerGene is singularly focused on evolving the bladder cancer treatment landscape through its novel approach to gene therapy. A trusted partner to medical and advocacy communities, FerGene is dedicated to bringing new hope to a patient population which has seen little improvement in their standard of care over the past twenty years. For more information, please visit www.fergene.com or engage with us on Twitter at @FerGeneBio or on LinkedIn.