- Chou joins Aruvant from Novartis, where he most recently led the global commercial launch of Kymriah®, the first CAR-T cell therapy, in North America, Europe and Asia
- Chou previously led the development and approval of Kymriah® for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
- He will lead Aruvant as the company prepares to dose the next cohort of patients with ARU-1801, a potentially curative investigational gene therapy for sickle cell disease administered with only reduced intensity conditioning
NEW YORK and BASEL, Switzerland, November 19, 2019 / PRNewswire / Aruvant, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing transformative therapies for the treatment of severe blood disorders, today announced the appointment of William Chou, M.D. as Chief Executive Officer.
“We are thrilled to have Will join Aruvant as we transition ARU-1801 from an academic effort to a mature and scalable process in advance of a new wave of patient data prior to pivotal trial initiation,” said Dr. Frank Torti, Vant Investment Chair at Roivant Pharma. “Will’s successful track record of bringing a transformational complex cell therapy to market prepares him well to build Aruvant into a leader in gene therapy, and to fully realize the promise of Aruvant’s potential one-time transformative therapy for patients.”
Dr. Chou brings over 15 years of healthcare experience to Aruvant, having previously served in a variety of leadership roles at Novartis across both development and commercial functions. Most recently, Dr. Chou served as Vice President, Global Disease Lead for Novartis’ Cell and Gene Therapy unit, where he oversaw the global commercial launch of Kymriah®, the first CAR-T cell therapy. Prior to that role, he led the Kymriah® lymphoma clinical development program to approvals in the US, Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan.
Prior to joining Novartis, Dr. Chou worked at the Boston Consulting Group where he focused on commercial and clinical pharmaceutical strategy. Dr. Chou holds an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management, an M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and an A.B. in politics and economics from Princeton University. Dr. Chou completed his residency in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital and his fellowship in geriatrics at Yale University.
ARU-1801, the lead candidate in Aruvant’s pipeline, is an investigational lentiviral gene therapy for sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia. ARU-1801 incorporates a patented gene payload for a modified gamma-globin delivered into autologous stem cells via a proprietary vector construct, with the aim of restoring normal red blood cell function through increased levels of fetal hemoglobin. The high potency of the modified gamma globin enables ARU-1801 engraftment with only Reduced Intensity Conditioning (RIC). Preliminary clinical data from an ongoing Phase 1/2 study in patients with sickle cell disease demonstrated continuing durable reductions in disease burden and cessation of daily opioid use for over 18 months of follow-up. This data was recognized last December at the 2018 American Society of Hematology’s (ASH) annual meeting as a “Highlight of ASH,” as well as at the 2019 Sickle Cell Disease Association of America’s (SCDAA) annual meeting, where it was awarded “Best Oral Presentation.”
“I am incredibly excited to lead Aruvant on its mission to bring new hope to patients who have been waiting for transformative, potentially curative therapies,” said Dr. Chou. “ARU-1801 has the potential to dramatically change the disease trajectory in patients with sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia. The opportunity to achieve this goal with only reduced-intensity conditioning could make a meaningful difference to the well-being of patients and to the health care system. I look forward to continuing the great progress the Aruvant team has made to date.”
About Sickle Cell Disease and β-Thalassemia
Sickle cell disease is a progressively debilitating and life-threatening inherited red blood cell disorder that causes a patient’s oxygen-carrying cells to be abnormally inflexible and sickle-shaped. This genetic defect leads to lowered oxygen-carrying capacity in the hemoglobin protein of these red blood cells. Sickle cell disease can cause inflammation of extremities, bacterial infections, stroke, anemia, and attacks of pain called sickle cell crises.
β-thalassemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder distinguished by reduced or nonexistent production of functional β-globin, a critical component of adult hemoglobin. Patients with the disorder suffer from anemia, which can cause weakness, fatigue, and more serious complications. Individuals with β-thalassemia are at an increased risk of developing abnormal blood clots.
Aruvant Sciences is a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on hematological conditions, with an emphasis on helping patients suffering from sickle cell disease and β-thalassemia. The company’s lead candidate, ARU-1801, is a modified fetal hemoglobin gene therapy for sickle cell disease and related hemoglobinopathies. For more information, please visit www.aruvant.com.
About Roivant Sciences
Roivant aims to improve health by rapidly delivering innovative medicines and technologies to patients. Roivant does this by building Vants – nimble, entrepreneurial biotech and healthcare technology companies with a unique approach to sourcing talent, aligning incentives, and deploying technology to drive greater efficiency in R&D and commercialization. For more information, please visit www.roivant.com.