Protein degradation: Looking back and moving forward

The 20th anniversary of the first paper published on the PROTAC® technology is July 17, 2021. In those 20 years, incredible progress and momentum has been generated, including the first benefit for patients demonstrated in multiple indications.

Our panel will take a look back at 20 years of discovery and development in targeted protein degradation (TPD), assess the current and near-term state of the field, and look at what the future holds.

The audience will gain insight into:
  • Challenges for protein degradation companies - past, present, and future
  • The distinct advantages PROTAC protein degraders have over other modalities
  • Technological advances and novel approaches that will be needed to move the field forward
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Ian Churcher

Ian Churcher

CSO, Amphista Therapeutics

Ian was one of the pioneers of the recent renaissance of the PROTAC field through his 2012 collaboration with Prof Craig Crews & Alessio Ciulli when leading the GSK PROTAC group (2012-2017) including the publication of the landmark 2015 Nature Chemical Biology paper and advancing a portfolio of VHL & IAP-based PROTACs towards the clinic. Ian also has extensive experience of medicinal chemistry & chemical biology leadership from roles at Merck & GSK across many therapy areas including neuroscience, oncology, inflammation, and others. More recently, Ian led the R&D team at BenevolentAI where he applied novel artificial intelligence methods to a portfolio of projects to approach target identification and chemical optimization in new ways. Ian returned to the TPD field in May 2020 as CSO at Amphista Therapeutics, the leading European-based targeted protein degradation company focused exclusively on using novel degrading mechanisms to advance a range of programs towards the clinic.

Craig Crews

Craig Crews

John C. Malone Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Professor of Chemistry, of Pharmacology, and of Management; Executive Director, Yale Center for Molecular Discovery

Dr. Crews is the John C. Malone Professor of MCDB and professor of Chemistry and Pharmacology at Yale University. He graduated from the U. Virginia with a B.A. in Chemistry and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Biochemistry. On the faculty at Yale since 1995, his laboratory has developed the use of small molecules to control intracellular protein levels. In 2003, he co-founded Proteolix, Inc., whose proteasome inhibitor, Kyprolis™ received FDA approval for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Dr. Crews’ lab is also credited with founding the field of ‘Targeted Protein Degradation’ drug development technology, i.e., PROTACs, which has the potential to target currently ‘undruggable’ disease causing proteins. In 2013, Dr. Crews launched the New Haven-based biotech venture, Arvinas, Inc., which is testing the first PROTAC-based drugs in clinical trials for prostate and breast cancer. Dr. Crews has received numerous awards and honors, including the Ehrlich Award for Medicinal Chemistry (2014),), a NIH R35 Outstanding Investigator Award (2015), the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research (2017), the Khorana Prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry (2018), the Pierre Fabre Award for Therapeutic Innovation (2018), the Pharmacia-ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics (2019), the Heinrich Wieland Prize (2020) and the Scheele Prize (2021).

Angela M. Cacace

Angela M. Cacace

Vice President of Neuroscience and Platform Biology, Arvinas

Dr. Cacace is the Vice President of Neuroscience and Platform Biology at Arvinas. Angela brings more than two decades of biopharmaceutical research and pharmacology experience, contributing to four marketed drugs and over 18 development candidates. Angela came to the company after serving as the Vice President of Biology at Fulcrum Therapeutics, where, together with her team, she built the biology platform and delivered the first development candidate for the treatment of FSHD. Previously, Angela was the Director of Neuroscience and Genetically Defined Diseases at Bristol-Myers Squibb where she spearheaded alternative therapeutic modalities and was a co-inventor on several development candidates.

Throughout her 19 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, she has held multiple leadership positions, where she was responsible for building research-wide teams and initiatives including the Lead Profiling Function, GPCR High Throughput Screening Team and the Cellular Resource Team. While serving as a Sr. Principal Scientist in Cancer Biology at Pfizer, together with her team, she discovered a novel anti-angiogenic antibody development candidate.

Angela received her B.S. in biology from Fairfield University, Ph.D. in pharmacology from Columbia University and completed her postdoctoral research in Oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb and the National Cancer Institute.

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor

Chief Scientific Officer, Arvinas

Dr. Taylor is the Chief Scientific Officer at Arvinas. He came to the Company after nearly 10 years at Pfizer Oncology, most recently as an Early Development Team Leader. In this role, Dr. Taylor was responsible for leading a cross-functional drug development team that conducted Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials for multiple assets in several cancer indications. His initial role at Pfizer Oncology was as Senior Director of Translational Oncology. In this role, he was responsible for directing translational science activities, which included designing and executing translational research plans and leading companion diagnostic partnerships for programs in both preclinical and clinical (Phase 1 -3) stages.

Prior to Pfizer, Dr. Taylor worked at Bayer Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, holding positions of increasing responsibility, including Vice President of Cancer Biology. In this position, he led the department responsible for all biology aspects of small molecule drug discovery of cancer therapeutics in the mechanistic areas of signal transduction, cell cycle regulation, angiogenesis and apoptosis. During his tenure, the Cancer Biology group delivered numerous molecules to the Development organization. He also started and led the Biomarker group, which contributed to the development of sorafenib.

Dr. Taylor earned his B.A. from Bowdoin College and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Harvard University. He also completed his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Harold Varmus at the University of California, San Francisco and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

John G. Houston

John G. Houston

President and Chief Executive Officer, Arvinas

Dr. Houston is President and Chief Executive Officer of Arvinas. Previously, he was the SVP of Specialty Discovery at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). He spent more than 18 years at BMS in roles of increasing responsibility and had accountability for all Discovery Biology disease teams as well as various Discovery technology departments. He was also the site head of the BMS Connecticut facility. Dr. Houston was a member of the BMS R&D Executive Leadership team and chaired the Target Portfolio Committee which had governance oversight in the discovery space. With his teams and research colleagues, he progressed over 200 compounds into early development, several of which advanced into late stage clinical trials, and toward commercialization.

He was also the principal architect and driver of the ‘Leveraging Technology’ initiative at BMS which oversaw the design and implementation of an industry-leading integrated lead discovery and optimization process. This initiative created revolutionary changes in the discovery process at BMS with significant improvements in capacity, speed and cost control resulting in marked increases in research productivity and success rates.

Dr. Houston has over 28 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Bristol-Myers Squibb, he worked at Glaxo Welcome Research and Development in the UK, where he served as head of the Lead Discovery Unit. Dr. Houston currently serves on the boards of directors of NextCure, Inc., Oerth Bio, Cybrexa Therapeutics and BioCT.

Dr. Houston obtained his B.Sc. degree in Medical Microbiology from Glasgow University and obtained his Ph.D. with Professor Brian Catley in Microbial Biochemistry from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He also completed his post-doctoral studies on an MRC grant with Professor Julia Douglas at Glasgow University.

Arsalan Arif

arsalan arif

Founder & CEO, Endpoints News

Arsalan Arif is a news media entrepreneur who set out in 2015 to build his vision of an independent biotech news company at Endpoints News.