Drug developer Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc., which is currently studying protein homeostasis regulation as a treatment for orphan and neurodegenerative diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF), recently named Po-Shun Lee, MD as their new vice-president of clinical development. The pulmonary and critical care physician, who has been responsible for leading research programs on both CF and asthma, will now be in charge of the company’s main investigational products, PTI CFTR compounds, which are part of their lead CF program and are expected to begin clinical development soon.
With years of experience in the field of biopharmaceutical research, Lee was invited by Proteostasis Therapeutics to lead the company’s process of strategic selection regarding the PTI CFTR compounds, given the company’s ambition to create disease-modifying therapies for genetic and neurodegenetive diseases, including CF. Proteostasis’ work is based on a combined technology of phenotypic and drug discovery focused on targeting the disease and modulating protein homeostasis in order to amend the discrepancy in folding, trafficking, and clearance of proteins.
“Dr. Lee brings to Proteostasis the clinical and managerial drug development expertise that is critical to transitioning our lead program for cystic fibrosis from its current early development to market,” stated the Chief Executive Officer of Proteostasis, Meenu Chhabra. “As a self-described physician-scientist, Dr. Lee’s combined experience will shepherd the Proteostasis pipeline from our proprietary screening platform, through proof of concept, to market, and, most importantly, to the patients suffering from the orphan and neurological diseases we wish to treat.”
Lee has extensive experience in the field, as he served at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research as the Translational Medicine Expert, where he led two programs from early development for CF and asthma. Formerly, he was Associate Medical Director at Vertex, and worked on their drug Kalydeco, in addition to leading their CFTR corrector program to positive proof of concept. While serving as physician-scientist at Brigham Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, Lee also worked as scientific founder in the creation of two biotech companies — Critical Biologics Corporation and BioAegis Therapeutics.
With a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University, his previous work included serving as principal investigator in the Pulmonary and Translational Medicine Units, medical director of the Pulmonary Function Lab, an attending physician in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In addition to his positions, Lee has always been dedicated to research, mainly in the field of endogenous inflammation control, aberrant cellular proliferation in rare lung diseases, and gene therapy for CF.
“I am honored to join the Proteostasis team at this pivotal moment in their cystic fibrosis program,” Lee said. “Throughout my medical career I have had an interest in and have worked to find different therapies to treat cystic fibrosis. I look forward to helping lead the selection process and guide the design and conduct of future studies that will evaluate the selected drug candidates Proteostasis has so effectively developed with their platform technology.”
At the end of October, Proteostasis Therapeutics had also announced the launch of its Inaugural Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Advisory Board, a new strategic resource and supervising team for upcoming studies for the company’s CFTR compounds. Proteostasis’ main focus has been the combination of ivacaftor/lumacaftor in the gold-standard HBE cell assay for the most common mutation of CF, F508del/F508del, which they expect to be a more effective CF treatment.