Pyxis Oncology Announces Worldwide Licensing Agreement with Pfizer to Develop and Commercialize Multiple Antibody-Drug Conjugates

— Pyxis expands developmental capabilities with license to two ADC programs and ADC technology platform toolkit developed by Pfizer —

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 18, 2021 – Pyxis Oncology (“Pyxis” or the “Company”) today announced that it has entered into a worldwide license agreement with Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) for the development and commercialization of two antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) candidates and a license to Pfizer’s ADC technology platform, enabling expansion of its ADC portfolio and further strengthening its developmental capabilities.

“This collaboration represents successful execution of our overarching corporate strategy to marry in-house organic growth with strategic in-licensing and partnerships to develop our multi-asset multi-platform portfolio,” said Lara Sullivan, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Pyxis. “We look forward to advancing these candidates to the clinic and ultimately achieving the company’s vision to bring new treatment options to patients with difficult-to-treat cancer.”

Under the terms of the licensing agreement, Pfizer will provide Pyxis with a worldwide, royalty-bearing license to develop and commercialize two innovative ADC candidates, PYX-201 and PYX-203. Pfizer will receive an upfront payment and equity in Pyxis and is eligible to receive development and sales-based milestone payments and tiered royalties on potential sales. As part of this agreement, Pyxis also was granted a license to Pfizer’s ADC platform, including various payload classes, linker technology and site-specific conjugation techniques for the future development of additional ADCs. Pfizer will also continue to support the development and advancement of this portfolio through an equity investment made by Pfizer Ventures.

Ronald Herbst, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Pyxis, said, “The early generations of ADCs demonstrated significant potency, but considerable room remains for innovation to generate highly effective ADCs with an improved safety profile. PYX-201 and PYX-203 represent the next generation of ADCs that use innovative conjugation technologies. By combining highly specific antibodies targeting clinically validated tumor markers with established linkers and both novel and proven payloads, we are excited to translate the extensive validating preclinical studies conducted by Pfizer to an improved clinical profile for patients.”

Jeff Settleman, Ph.D., Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer of oncology research & development, added, “The Pyxis team of industry veterans led by Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Herbst has the experience needed to maximize the clinical potential of these therapeutics. This agreement underscores our commitment to ensure these molecules reach patients as quickly as possible. We look forward to the team’s advancement of these therapeutics based on the promise of ADC technology to significantly impact the treatment landscape.”

PYX-201 is a first-in-class non-internalizing ADC that targets a tumor-restricted antigen that is overexpressed in several solid tumor types to selectively kill tumor cells while enhancing a robust anti-cancer immune response. PYX-203 is an ADC that targets an antigen expressed in certain hematologic malignancies. PYX-203 utilizes a highly potent DNA-damaging agent designed to reduce the potential development of drug resistance and disease relapse.

About Pyxis Oncology
Founded by Longwood Fund, Pyxis Oncology is building a differentiated portfolio of biologics, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and immunotherapies, to improve the lives of patients with difficult-to-treat cancers. Pyxis is employing site-specific conjugation technology to develop highly stable ADCs with superior therapeutic indexes. Pyxis is also advancing a diverse portfolio of immunotherapies that target broad immune regulators as well as novel immune checkpoints identified through its immuno-oncology and cold tumor platforms. For additional information, visit www.pyxisoncology.com.

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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.