Casma Therapeutics Establishes Scientific Advisory Board with Appointments of Leading Autophagy and Neuroscience Researchers

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – March 26, 2019 – Casma Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company harnessing the process of autophagy to design powerful new medicines, today announced the appointments of Sascha Martens, Ph.D., and Pietro De Camilli, M.D., as the first members of Casma’s scientific advisory board.

Martens, an expert in autophagy research, is currently professor and head of the department of biochemistry and cell biology at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) at the University of Vienna, Austria. De Camilli is based at the Yale School of Medicine, where he is the John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience and professor of cell biology, chair of the department of neuroscience and director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. Professor De Camilli is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“I am excited to establish a scientific advisory board to help guide us as we pioneer a new class of therapies to stop or reverse disease progression,” said Leon Murphy, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Casma Therapeutics. “Sascha and Pietro bring diverse and prolific research experience across the fields of autophagy, membrane dynamics, fundamental cell biology and neuroscience, and they will no doubt provide valuable insight as we advance our mission to leverage the natural process of autophagy to treat both rare and common diseases.”

Sascha Martens has worked at the MFPL, University of Vienna for nearly 10 years in roles of increasing seniority. As a principal investigator, Martens leads research on the foundations of autophagy, exploring how the numerous factors required for autophagy work together to form the autophagosomes that engulf and dispose of harmful cellular material. He is the author of dozens of papers on the factors and processes involved in autophagy and has received several prestigious research grants, including the Human Frontier Science Program grant and the European Research Council Consolidator grant. He has a diploma degree in biology and a Ph.D. in genetics from the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne, Germany, where he was awarded the Klaus Liebrecht Prize for one of the two best master or Ph.D. studies within the university’s math and science departments. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne, Germany and at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K.

“The scientific community is advancing our understanding of autophagy and its role in disease every day, not only in my lab but across academia,” Martens said. “I look forward to advising the Casma team as they apply our advances to treat disorders with high unmet need.”

Pietro De Camilli joined the Yale School of Medicine in 1988 and subsequently became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 1992. He served for three years as chair of the department of cell biology and was the founding director of the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair. As a principal investigator, he leads research on the cell biology of neuronal synapses, with the long-term goal of advancing understanding of nervous system function in human disease. De Camilli was awarded the Julius Axelrod Prize from the Society for Neuroscience in 2015. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), the National Academy of Medicine (USA), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the European Molecular Biology Organization, among other organizations. In 2017 he served as president of the American Society for Cell Biology. He earned his M.D. from the University of Milan, Italy and has a postgraduate degree in medical endocrinology from the University of Pavia in Italy.

“I have dedicated much of my career to understanding mechanistic and physiological processes whose dysfunction leads to disease,” De Camilli said. “It is invigorating to observe and advise as companies like Casma make strides to translate those discoveries into therapies that may reverse the course of neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders.”

About Casma Therapeutics
Casma Therapeutics is harnessing the natural cellular process of autophagy to open vast new target areas for drug discovery and development. Casma uses several approaches to intervene at strategic points throughout the autophagy-lysosome system to improve the cellular process of clearing out unwanted proteins, organelles and invading pathogens. By boosting autophagy, Casma expects to be able to arrest or reverse the progression of lysosomal storage disorders, muscle disorders, inflammatory disorders and neurodegeneration, among other indications. Casma was launched in 2018 by Third Rock Ventures and is based in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, please visit www.casmatx.com.

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