Rome snags Merck, Celgene vet Zaller as new CSO

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4 months after launch, Rome Therapeutics has employed a brand new chief scientist. Dennis Zaller, Ph.D., arrives on the startup from Celgene, the place he spent 5 years overseeing partnerships with early-stage biotechs throughout immunology, fibrosis and immuno-oncology and ushering six new medication into the clinic.

Earlier than Celgene, Zaller spent 25 years at Merck Analysis Laboratories. As he labored his approach up the ranks, Zaller led drug discovery groups, serving to transfer 28 molecules into the clinic, eight of which scored approval.

As chief scientific officer, he’ll lead Rome’s efforts to find and develop medication for brand new targets present in elements of the human genome beforehand dismissed as “junk DNA.” Rome is trying past the two% of the genome that codes straight for proteins and specializing in elements of the genome referred to as the repeatome, which is made up of repeating sequences of nucleic acids, referred to as repeats for brief.

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Rome believes that drugging the repeatome, which makes up 60% of the genome, may result in new methods to deal with most cancers and autoimmune illnesses.

RELATED: Rome Therapeutics debuts with $50M and Rosana Kapeller on the helm

“ROME’s mission to discover the uncharted territory of the repeatome and produce ahead a brand new class of medicines resonates with me at my core. That is such an essential enviornment for drug discovery, and it holds nice promise for sufferers struggling with critical debilitating illnesses,” Zaller stated in a press release. “I consider that by unlocking the repeatome, we can drive hard-to-treat cancers and autoimmune illnesses into sustained remission.”

The corporate’s title is a contracted type of the phrase “repeatome,” however its co-founders draw comparisons to the Roman empire when they consider sustained remission.

“If you concentrate on Rome, how did they do their job? They didn’t simply go in and kill individuals—they went in, conquered and managed. We wish to conquer and management illness,” Rome co-founder Benjamin Greenbaum, Ph.D., stated.

“Our inspiration comes from the way in which we deal with HIV and different power illnesses,” stated Rome CEO Rosana Kapeller, Ph.D. “We are able to’t remedy these illnesses, however we now have medication that enable sufferers to stay lengthy and productive lives.”

The corporate has picked out some targets to pursue in most cancers and autoimmune illness, but it surely isn’t sharing simply but what these targets are. It has a number of years of drug discovery forward of it, figuring out and producing small-molecule modulators of its targets after which testing them in lab dishes in animal fashions.

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