Avacta appoints Dr Jose Saro as Chief Medical Officer

Dr Jose Saro joins Avacta from Roche to lead the Group’s Affimer® therapeutic development strategy and drive the in-house programmes into the clinic

Cambridge, UK, 12 December 2018: Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that Dr Jose Saro has been appointed as Chief Medical Officer to lead the Group’s therapeutic development strategy and drive the in-house programmes into the clinic.

Dr Saro brings over 20 years’ experience in the pre-clinical, translational and early clinical development of oncology assets, spanning small molecules, biologics and drug conjugates. Dr Saro joins Avacta from Roche where he held the role of Senior Translational Medicine Leader at the Roche Innovation Center Zurich in which he focused on immuno-oncology and the development of combination products. 

Prior to his position at Roche, Dr Saro was Executive Director Oncology Global Development and Medical Affairs at Bristol Myers Squibb, based in Paris, where he led and contributed to many oncology clinical development programmes, including Sprycel, Ipilimumab (Yervoy anti-CTLA4), Nivolumab (anti-PD1), anti-PDL1, anti KIR, anti LAG3, Brivanib, MEK inhibitor and Elotuzumab.

Previously, Dr Saro was Executive Director of Translational Medicine and Early Clinical Development (Oncology) at Novartis. Prior to that, he held senior positions at Eisai, and Wyeth.

Dr Saro has also experience of the small biotech environment, having spent several years as Vice President Oncology Clinical Development at PharmaMar, an oncology focused biotech. There, he was Head of Clinical Research & Development teams, comprising approximately 45 people, located in both Madrid and Boston, MA.

Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Avacta Group commented: “I am delighted that Dr Jose Saro is joining Avacta to lead the therapeutic development strategy and to drive the in-house Affimer® programmes into the clinic. His extensive experience in developing pre-clinical assets and translating those into clinical development will be an invaluable asset to Avacta.

Jose joins Avacta at a hugely exciting time as we progress towards the first Affimer® clinical studies, which is a significant value inflection point for both the technology and Group. We very much look forward to working with Jose on our established programmes and on leveraging his knowledge to expand the pipeline of innovative and valuable immuno-oncology assets for the future.”

Dr Jose Saro commented: “Due to their simple structure, Affimer® proteins can be formatted to deliver the right characteristics required for the next generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics.

There are many opportunities for such a platform technology, and the recent collaboration with Tufts University Medical School is one example of a potentially game changing approach that is possible with Affimers. 

I am very excited to be part of Avacta as it continues to develop such transformative approaches using the Affimer® platform, that I believe will be a huge benefit to many oncology patients who currently have limited therapeutic options.”

Media Contact Information: 

Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)

Katie Odgaard


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