Charting a course to therapeutics for difficult-to-treat cancer

Who We Are

Our goal is to improve the lives of patients with difficult-to-treat cancers by building and developing a superior portfolio of biologics, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and monoclonal antibody (mAb) immunotherapies.

About us section image of man with arms crossed

Pipeline

Discovery Program Solid / Heme Cancers Preclinical Current Stage Ph 1 Ph 2 Ph 3 Solid Multiple mAb Programs Hematologic ADC PYX-203 (CD123-CPI) Solid ADC PYX-202 (DLK1-MMAE) Solid ADC PYX-201 (EDB-Auris.)
Program Discovery Pre- clinical Current Stage Ph 1 Ph 2 Ph 3 —Solid Multiple mAb Program —Solid ADC PYX-202 (DLK1-MMAE) —Solid ADC PYX-201 (EDB-Auris.) —Hematologic (CD123-CPI) ADC PYX-203

Our Science

Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs)

ADCs are a therapeutic class where cytotoxic chemotherapy molecules are linked to a targeting mAb to effectively deliver the tumor killing effect into tumor lesions while limiting systemic toxicity. ADCs are an established and fast-growing class of biologics. To date, 11 ADCs have been FDA approved, of which six have entered the market since 2019.

We are developing next-generation ADCs using both novel and validated linker-payload combinations and site-specific conjugation techniques derived from the proprietary Flexible Antibody Conjugation Technology (FACT) ADC Platform. We believe that the site-specific conjugation techniques and ADC technology that underpin the FACT platform enable us to develop next-generation ADCs with more favorable drug properties than traditional technologies.

PYX-201
PYX-201 is an investigational human IgG1 isotype site-specifically conjugated with an auristatin toxin targeting oncofetal fibronectin extradomain-B (EDB) that we plan to initially develop for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Fibronectin is a glycoprotein found in the extracellular matrix. EDB regulates blood vessel morphogenesis, which provides the tumor access to nutrition and oxygen, a means to remove waste, and a pathway for metastasizing cells. EDB is overexpressed in many malignancies and is minimally expressed in most normal adult tissues. In addition to achieving tumor regression with single agent PYX-201 in patient derived xenograft, treatment of syngeneic tumor models with PYX-201 resulted in immunogenic cell death enhanced infiltration of T cells into the tumor microenvironment (TME), enabling synergistic activity in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor.
PYX-202
PYX-202 is an investigational, novel ADC consisting of an IgG1 Delta-like 1 homolog (DLK1), mAb conjugated to monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE) via a site-specific plasma-stable β-glucuronide linker. DLK1 is a transmembrane protein normally expressed in embryonic tissues but highly restricted in healthy adult tissues. DLK1 becomes re-expressed in certain solid tumor malignancies. PYX-202 is designed to use the microtubule-disrupting MMAE payload, which is utilized in three currently marketed ADCs, providing a validated anti-tumor effect. We have observed durable tumor regression in small cell lung cancer in patient derived xenograft models. We have also observed significant efficacy in human tumor cell line-based (CDX) mouse models.
PYX-203
PYX-203 is an investigational ADC consisting of an IgG1 anti-CD123 mAb dimeric antibody conjugated to a novel cyclopropylpyrroloindoline, or CPI dimer payload via a site-specific plasma-stable, cleavable linker. CD123 (IL-3Rα) is a cell surface antigen highly expressed on leukemic stem cells and leukemic blasts in AML. PYX-203 utilizes a novel DNA-damaging toxin, cyclopropylpyrroloindoline (CPI), and has shown robust anti-tumor activity in nine disseminated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) models.
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Antibody-drug conjugate

Immuno-oncology (I/O)

The advent of I/O therapeutics, particularly immune checkpoint inhibitors, has shifted the treatment paradigm for oncology. The immune system has the capability to recognize and eliminate cancer, but tumor cells take advantage of immune checkpoint pathways, which normally prevent autoimmunity, to suppress and evade immune effector cell activity.

While these drugs provide significant therapeutic benefit for durable responders, response rates remain low for most patients, particularly for tumors with low levels of T-cells infiltrating the tumor. These non-inflamed (i.e., “cold”) tumors can suppress the adaptive immune response through a variety of mechanisms within the TME.

Target Catalog Overview

We have a large proprietary immunotherapy target catalog, and we are building a large “cold” tumor target discovery database leveraging several human tumor databases. These cold tumor targets are potentially dominant immune suppressors that are expressed across a variety of tumor associated cells, offering the potential to uncover not only novel I/O mechanisms, but additional novel targets for our ADC platform.

immuno-oncology

Our Team

Lara S. Sullivan, M.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Pamela Connealy, M.B.A.

Chief Financial Officer

Ronald Herbst, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Ritu Shah, PMP

Chief Operating Officer

James Mutamba, Ph.D.

Vice President of Business and Corporate Development

Board Members

Lara S. Sullivan, M.D.

Chief Executive Officer

David Steinberg

Founding CEO and Chairman

John Flavin

Co-founder, Founding Chairman and Independent Director

Mark Chin

Director

Gotham Makker, M.D.

Director

Lucio Iannone, Ph.D.

Director

Christopher O’Donnell, Ph.D.

Director

Scientific Advisory Board

Thomas Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D.

University of Chicago

Michael B. Atkins, M.D.

Georgetown-Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

Lisa H. Butterfield, Ph.D.

Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
University of California San Francisco

Alan Korman, Ph.D.

Vir Biotechnology, Inc.

Jason J. Luke, M.D., FACP

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and University of Pittsburgh

Christoph Rader, Ph.D.

The Scripps Research Institute  

Anthony W. Tolcher, M.D.,
FRCP, FACP

Next Oncology

Investors

Pamela Connealy, M.B.A.

Chief Financial Officer

Pamela Yanchik Connealy, M.B.A. joined Pyxis in July 2021 as the Chief Financial Officer with responsibility for finance, legal and human resources. Pam has over 25 years of finance and business operations experience and prior to joining Pyxis Pam was the CFO, Chief HR Officer of Immunovant with additional responsibilities for legal, IT and facilities. Ms. Connealy also served as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Kiva, a San Francisco based nonprofit organization. From April 2014 to June 2018, Ms. Connealy served as Global Head of Talent at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing on talent management, compensation, benefits, and global mobility. From March 2012 to November 2013, she served as Vice President of Business Operations at Salesforce, and from March 2002 to April 2010, Ms. Connealy served as a Vice President and Corporate Officer at Genentech, with roles including Chief Financial Officer of Research & Development and Global Head of Procurement.

Ms. Connealy earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Gannon University and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.

Mark Chin

Director

Mark is an experienced venture capital investor, with significant experience as a board director of both private and public biotech companies in the US and Europe. He is currently a managing director at Arix Bioscience and a board director of Harpoon Therapeutics (Nasdaq: HARP), Imara (Nasdaq: IMRA), Iterum Therapeutics (Nasdaq: ITRM), and a number of privately held biotechnology companies.

Prior to Arix, Mark was a principal at Longitude Capital, where he focused on investments in biotechnology and medical technology companies. Prior to Longitude, he was a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, where he was responsible for strategy and corporate development projects for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Before BCG, he worked in corporate development at Gilead Sciences and market planning at Genentech. He has an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an MS in Biotechnology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in Management Science from the University of California at San Diego.

Christopher O’Donnell, Ph.D.

Director

Christopher O’Donnell, Ph.D. is a Partner at Pfizer Ventures and Executive Director, Pfizer Worldwide Research, Development & Medical. Chris has over 20 years of scientific leadership at Pfizer and a strong track record of delivering clinical candidates across multiple disease areas and modalities. Prior to Pfizer Ventures, Chris built and led the Applied Synthesis Technologies group within Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development organization to accelerate the delivery of Pfizer’s small molecule portfolio. Prior to that, Chris built and led Pfizer’s Antibody Drug Conjugate Oncology Medicinal Chemistry group which delivered new linker, payload and conjugation methods resulting in 7 conjugates entering clinical development for many different cancer indications and this technology is at the foundation of PYX-201 and PYX-203. Chris started his career in the Neuroscience Medicinal Chemistry group where he invented and helped deliver numerous clinical candidates, with the most advanced being the AMPA positive allosteric modulator in Phase II that was licensed to Biogen. Chris has co-authored 60 peer reviewed manuscripts and is the inventor/co-inventor on 25 patents.

Chris earned his BS in Chemistry from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and joined Pfizer after his post-doctoral research studies as an American Cancer Society Fellow at the University of California – Irvine.

Within Pfizer Ventures Chris is responsible for identifying, evaluating, making and managing equity investments aligned with the future directions of Pfizer. He currently serves on the boards of Adapsyn Biosciences, ARKUDA Therapeutics, Pyxis Oncology, Storm Therapeutics (UK) and Strata Oncology. Chris previously served on the boards of Kymera Therapeutics (KYMR) and was a board observer of BioAtla Inc. (BCAB), Mitokinin, Morphic Therapeutic (MORF) and Petra Therapeutics.

Gotham Makker, M.D.

Director

Gotham Makker, M.D., serves as head of Strategic Investments at RTW Investments, LP (“RTW”). Gotham has more than 17 years of healthcare industry experience. Prior to joining RTW, Gotham served as CEO of Simran Investment Group, LLC, a privately held equity investment fund. Before Simran, Gotham was a healthcare portfolio manager and principal at Citadel Investment Group LLC, a position he held from 2002 to 2005. Prior to joining Citadel, Gotham served in various analyst roles at Oracle Partners LP, covering biotechnology and medical device sectors. He began his career on the life sciences investment banking team at Hambrecht & Quist.

Gotham serves on the board of directors of Rocket Pharmaceuticals.

Gotham received his MD from the University of Nebraska Medical School, and he completed the Sarnoff cardiovascular research fellowship at Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons and at Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

Christian Schetter, Ph.D.

Director

Christian has over 20 years’ experience in the life science industry. He is Executive Chairman of STipe Therapeutics, Chairman of Twelve Bio and a Non-Executive Director of Atox Bio, all Arix portfolio companies. Prior to joining Arix he was for four years CEO of Rigontec GmbH, a German Biotech start-up company in the immune oncology space. Christian lead Rigontec to a successful acquisition mid 2017 by MSD valuing EUR 115 MM in upfront payment and additional EUR 349 million in potential milestones. Between 2008 and 2014 Christian was President and CEO of Neovii Biotech, previously Fresenius Biotech. During his tenure one antibody product was brought to market and the indication for another product expanded. Christian was instrumental in selling Fresenius Biotech to the Neopharm Group, Israel, to form Neovii Biotech and positioning it as a successful standalone business. Before joining Fresenius, Christian was Senior Vice President, European Operations of Coley Pharmaceutical Group, Inc, a pioneer in the development of immunostimulatory oligonucleotides, and served as Managing Director of Coley GmbH. He was part of the leadership team which built Coley Pharmaceuticals from inception through multiple financing rounds, a NASDAQ IPO and, following a number of significant pharma deals, to a trade sale to Pfizer in 2007.

Before entering the life science industry Christian was successfully performing academic research at the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried, Germany. He received his undergraduate degree and PhD from the University of Cologne and did postdoctoral research in oncology and virology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

John Flavin

Co-founder, Founding Chairman and Independent Director

John is co-founder and an independent Director of Pyxis Oncology, where he was founding Chairman. He is also the Founder and CEO of Portal Innovations, a life sciences venture development engine.  A seasoned life sciences executive and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in finance, operations, and innovation, John has co-founded and scaled several life sciences companies as President and CFO such as Advanced Life Sciences and MediChem Life Sciences. Mr. Flavin has also co-founded and led transformative life sciences incubators including MATTER and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago. He has completed numerous public and private capital financings totaling over $300 million including 2 NASDAQ IPOs and has raised over $135 million in philanthropic and corporate funding to support university technology commercialization and venture start-up activities.  He received his B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University and his M.B.A. in Finance from Lewis University. 

Lucio Iannone, Ph.D.

Director

Lucio Iannone is an investor at Leaps by Bayer, the investment arm of the global life sciences company Bayer. Lucio is responsible for developing investment cases and deal execution. He is also involved in the sourcing, screening, and mentoring of companies with game-changing science. As an investor, Lucio is also serving as board member for Khloris Biosciences, Vesigen Therapeutics , Immunitas Therapeutics, eGenesis, Azitra, Kojin Therapeutics and Axxam. Before joining Leaps by Bayer, he had several senior roles in biotechnology companies and venture capital firms. He has experience with molecular biology, cell & gene therapy technologies and their application in oncology and other therapeutic fields. Lucio obtained his Ph.D. in Medicine at the Imperial College of London.

David Steinberg

Founding CEO and Chairman

David is co-founder and Chairman of Pyxis Oncology, where he was founding CEO, and serves as a General Partner at Longwood Fund. Previously, David was co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at PureTech Health, (LSE: PRTC), where he focused on biotech venture creation and investing. David has co-founded and served as CEO and founder of several biotech companies, including Vor Biopharma (NASDAQ:VOR) Be Biopharma, Vedanta Biosciences, Endra Life Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: NDRA), and Entrega Biosciences, and co-founded ResTORbio (NASDAQ: TORC). Prior to that David worked in biopharma strategy consulting at Boston Consulting Group and Vertex Partners, and in R&D at P&G Pharmaceuticals. He received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and holds a B.A. in biology from Cornell University.

Ritu Shah, PMP

Chief Operating Officer

Ritu is the Chief Operating Officer at Pyxis Oncology. Ritu has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry specializing in portfolio management and strategic planning. Prior to joining Pyxis, Ritu served as the Vice President of Business Operations and Program Management of Levo Therapeutics where she led the operations for the Phase 3 trial of Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare disease. Prior to Levo, Ritu was the Chief of Staff to the CEO and Vice President of Program Management for AveXis, a biotech gene therapy company focusing on SMA, and led the integration following the $8.7B acquisition by Novartis. Prior to AveXis, Ritu spent 8 years at Baxter, Baxalta, and Shire in various executive roles leading patient advocacy, commercial, research and development, supply chain, and global operations. Ritu started her career at Accenture where she spent over a decade in management consulting focusing on R&D and supply chain projects across manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.

Ritu earned her B.Sc. from University of Notre Dame in the Department of Chemical Engineering and graduated summa cum laude. Ritu is certified as a Project Management Professional, PMP. Ritu is also involved in her community and serves as a Board member of an entrepreneurial incubator program.

Steve Monks

Chief Technical Officer

Steve is the Chief Technical Officer at Pyxis Oncology. Prior to joining Pyxis, Steve was an independent consultant advising small to medium biotech companies in the oncology, vaccine, and tissue repair spaces on CMC (chemistry, manufacturing, and controls), Quality, and Regulatory strategies. Prior to this, Steve served as Senior Vice President of Development at Aura Biosciences where he spearheaded all product technical development efforts for their Virus-Like drug conjugate AU-011. Prior to Aura, Steve was a member of the executive leadership team at Agenus, where he was responsible for internal and external cGMP manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, and the analytical and process development functions across the entire Agenus pipeline.

Steve received his Ph.D. from The University of Melbourne and a BSc with first-class honors in Zoology from the University of Queensland, Australia.

James Mutamba, Ph.D.

Vice President of Business and Corporate Development

Dr. James Mutamba is the Vice President of Business and Corporate Development at Pyxis Oncology. Prior to joining Pyxis, Dr. Mutamba was a Principal at Longwood Fund, where he was responsible for building and supporting portfolio companies, including Pyxis Oncology. Prior to Longwood he was a Senior Associate at PureTech Health where he co-founded Commense, Inc., a microbiome-based maternal and childhood health company. Dr. Mutamba was also a co-founder and inventor in Glyph Biosciences, an immune-focused company targeting novel lymphatic system biology, and Calix Biopharma, a company developing engineered exosomes for novel drug delivery applications. Prior to joining PureTech, Dr. Mutamba was a strategy consultant at ClearView Healthcare Partners and played multiple roles in research and product development at Pathogenica, Inc., a biotech startup out of Harvard University. 

Dr. Mutamba earned his Ph.D. from MIT in the Department of Biological Engineering and completed coursework at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He received his BS in Biochemistry from UNCG where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. 

Ronald Herbst, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Ronald Herbst is the Chief Scientific Officer of Pyxis Oncology. Prior to joining Pyxis, Dr. Herbst was Vice President, Research & Development and Head of Oncology Research at MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, where he served as Chair of the Oncology Research Committee and as member of the MedImmune Research Leadership Team. Under his leadership, the oncology group brought 10 novel targets to the clinic in the areas of immunotherapy and antibody drug conjugates. Prior to that, Ronald focused on the company’s respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity efforts, where he led the advancement of 4 novel molecules into the clinic, including one that is now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Before joining MedImmune, Ronald was Senior Principal Investigator in oncology at DNAX, a Schering Plough biotechnology subsidiary. 

Ronald conducted his postdoctoral research in the Department of Biology at Stanford University.  He obtained his Ph.D. at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, with research conducted at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Axel Ullrich’s Laboratory. Ronald has (co)-authored more than 100 publications and is co-inventor on 17 pending or granted patents. 

Robert Crane

Chief Financial Officer

Robert Crane is the Chief Financial Officer of Pyxis Oncology. Mr. Crane has 30 years of experience in the life sciences industry, including therapeutics, medical devices, and diagnostics. Mr. Crane has been involved with public and private firms in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, serving as chief financial officer at six U.S. public companies. He has listed companies on NASDAQ as well as the Australian Stock Exchange.

Mr. Crane has served as Chief Financial Officer plus stepping in to run manufacturing, quality, and business development when required. Mr. Crane has been responsible for several IPOs and numerous public and private financings with proceeds of over $1 billion plus partnerships and collaborations. He has also been responsible for the sale of multiple companies. Mr. Crane’s involvement includes growth-stage companies and turnarounds. Companies where Mr. Crane has been CFO include Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline Plc; I-STAT Corporation, Inc., which was acquired by Abbott Laboratories; Taris Biomedical, which was acquired by Allergan and Johnson & Johnson; InKine Pharmaceutical Company, Inc., which was acquired by Salix, Inc.; Olivo Laboratories which was acquired by Shiseido; Seragen, Inc., which was acquired by Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Mr. Crane was previously a partner in the venture capital firm, Montgomery Ventures which invested in emerging healthcare and technology companies. He was also chairman of the American Bicycle Group, a premier manufacturer of high-end bicycles with brands including Litespeed, Merlin, and Quintana Roo.

Mr. Crane holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Masters of Business Administration from Stanford University.

Lara S. Sullivan, M.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Lara S. Sullivan is the Chief Executive Officer of Pyxis Oncology. Prior to joining Pyxis, Lara was Founder and President of SpringWorks Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SWTX), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company spun-out from Pfizer. While at Pfizer, Lara led strategy, competitive intelligence and portfolio operations for the company’s early-stage R&D pipeline. Prior to joining Pfizer, Lara was an associate partner at McKinsey & Company, where she specialized in biopharmaceutical R&D productivity and efficiency. Lara also served as a principal at Paul Capital Partners, where she led due diligence for healthcare investments, and earlier in her career worked in healthcare equity research and healthcare municipal finance at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Lara holds an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Cornell University.