Robert Forrester, LL.B., is President and Chief Executive Officer of Verastem, Inc. Mr. Forrester has 18 years of experience as the CEO, COO or CFO of both private and public life science companies with Verastem Oncology; Forma Therapeutics; CombinatoRx (NASDAQ:CRXX), now ZLCS; and Coley (NASDAQ:COLY), which was acquired by Pfizer.
Mr. Forrester was a managing director of the Proprietary Investment Group at MeesPierson, part of the Fortis Group, investing in life science companies. Prior to MeesPierson, Mr. Forrester worked for the investment banks BZW — now Barclays Capital — and UBS, in the corporate finance groups undertaking M&A, and public and private finance transactions. Mr. Forrester started his career as a lawyer with Clifford Chance in London and Singapore.
“In the U.S., the bigger of the two markets is the CLL/SLL market where almost 200,000 patients have these diseases. These are diseases of aging, so the average patient with CLL is probably in the early 70s.
It is a big problem in that it is a chronic indolent lymphoma and incurable. These patients are generally living with this disease for the rest of their lives. Follicular lymphoma is slightly smaller with about 141,000 patients in the U.S. living with this disease.
Every year, there are probably around 10,000 to 20,000 or more patients getting each of these tumors.”
The novel action of the new therapy is a potential breakthrough:
“Chemotherapy, as we all know, is a sort of chemical poison that goes after rapidly dividing cells and has a lot of activity but also a lot of toxicity, and so it is very hard to tolerate.
This new wave of targeted therapies, including duvelisib, is targeted at the B cells and also the tumor microenvironment, so we are modulating the immune system. Duvelisib has a dual action, which is why this drug is a novel PI3K delta and gamma inhibitor.
It is really important because we are targeting both the B cells and also that tumor microenvironment, so there is direct killing of the B cells but also affecting the environment the tumor is residing in and making it hostile to the tumor as opposed to hospitable to the tumor.”
Read the entire 2,867 word interview in the Wall Street Transcript interview with the CEO of Verastem to get the complete details.
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