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Sharon Rogers was drawn to AmyriAD Therapeutics for a simple reason: unfinished business.
Rogers first encountered the company’s lead candidate for Alzheimer’s disease, AD101, around 2007 when she worked at a biotech startup called Sonexa Therapeutics.
“We built the company around moving this molecule along,” she explained. “So we finished up the nonclinical work and the toxicology, went from the first dose in humans and all the way into phase 2, answering questions about what this drug actually does in Alzheimer’s patients.”
But Sonexa ultimately became a victim of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Rogers said, and the molecule was returned to the Japanese company it had been licensed from.
Now as CEO of AmyriAD, Rogers has AD101 back in her hands and is finally advancing it deeper into the clinic.
“I was extremely excited to be able to get hold of it again (and) enable phase 3 clinical trials because this drug is phase 3 ready,” she said.
A long-time entrepreneur and pharma business pro, Rogers made a name for herself in the Alzheimer’s space after leading the global development of Aricept, which has been on the market to improve global function and cognition in Alzheimer’s patients for decades.
AmyriAD is testing AD101 in combination with Aricept, which targets acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and attention. But while Aricept “preserves acetylcholine by inhibiting an enzyme that normally breaks it down,” AD101 increases acetylcholine release, making the two more powerful together, the company said.
AmyriAD is hoping to begin a phase 3 study this year, and it’s a full circle Rogers is excited to complete.
“One of the things about Alzheimer’s is once you are in it, it’s very difficult to leave because the patients are compelling, the science is compelling, and because after more than 30 years, (there’s still this) totally underserved medical need,” she said.
Here, Rogers discusses the latest on AD101, the recent biotech downturn and what she’s learned from her long and winding road through pharma.
Welcome to WoW, the Woman of the Week podcast by PharmaVoice powered by Industry Dive.
In this episode, Taren Grom, former editor-in-chief emeritus at PharmaVoice, met with Sharon Rogers, CEO, AmyriAD.
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