Industry veteran brings nearly 20 years of broad leadership experience in biopharma
PITTSBURGH, PA, October 04, 2022 — BlueSphere Bio, a T-cell receptor (TCR) T-cell therapy company developing a powerful TCR discovery platform and novel therapeutic candidates for patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors, announced the appointment of Keir Loiacono, Esq. to Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Loiacono has played a key role as Chief Business Officer at BlueSphere over the last year, working closely with co-founders Drs. Mark and Warren Shlomchik, Dr. Bob Keefe, Chief Development Officer, and the broader team at BlueSphere. Mr. Loiacono will lead BlueSphere into the next phase of growth, as the company continues to build out its clinical and research activities.
BlueSphere expects to file an IND in the first quarter of 2023 for its first clinical candidate, a TCR T-cell therapy directed against the minor histocompatibility antigen HA-1 for the treatment of high-risk leukemia in the setting of allogeneic stem cell transplant. In addition, the company continues to develop additional, novel TCR-based clinical candidates through the use of its TCXpress™ and NEOXpress™ discovery platforms.
Jonathan Peacock, Chairman of BlueSphere’s Board of Directors, commented, “Under Keir’s leadership, BlueSphere will continue to build on its very strong scientific foundation and the strong financial support of UPMC Enterprises as it prepares to embark on its first clinical trial and leverages its TCXpress™ and NEOXpress™ discovery platforms to generate additional clinical candidates. I would also like to thank David Apelian, who is stepping down as CEO, for his service in leading the early development of the company over the last 3 years”.
Prior to joining the company, Mr. Loiacono served as Vice President of Business Development and General Counsel of OncoSec Medical Inc., a publicly traded, clinical stage oncology company. Earlier in his career, he worked as a Senior Director for Advaxis, Inc., a late stage, publicly traded, immuno-oncology company focused on developing, manufacturing and commercializing cancer vaccines, where he oversaw various legal, transaction and compliance functions. Before Advaxis, Mr. Loiacono was an IP attorney with Lerner David Littenberg Krumholz & Mentlik, where he focused on transactions and building patent portfolios. For nearly a decade before this role, he held various commercial roles with OraPharma, a specialty pharmaceutical company that was purchased by Johnson & Johnson. Mr. Loiacono also serves on the Board of Directors for EpiAxis Therapeutics, an early-stage drug discovery company.
About BlueSphere Bio
BlueSphere Bio is the first translational sciences stand-alone company formed by UPMC Enterprises, the innovation, commercialization, and venture capital arm of the Pittsburgh-based health system. The company was founded upon the unique, advanced TCR discovery platform – TCXpress™, designed to isolate and functionally characterize TCRs with speed and efficiency. This platform will be used to identify panels of specific TCRs reactive against shared antigens in various clinical settings for use in either TCR-based cell therapy or in antibody-like molecules, such as bi-specific T cell engagers. While the company’s initial focus is on oncology, the platform could be deployed in other therapeutic areas such as auto-immunity. BlueSphere anticipates filing its first IND application in the first quarter of 2023 for a novel TCR T-cell therapy for patients with high-risk leukemias, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and myeloid dysplastic syndrome (MDS) in the context of allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Concurrent with its use for shared antigens, BlueSphere is deploying TCXpress™ and NEOXpress™, a proprietary patient-specific neoantigen discovery platform, to target patient-specific neoantigens and anticipates additional virtual patient data from multiple solid tumor types over the next several months.
Vice President, Business Development & Operations