Industry veteran with deep commercial experience joins to lead the next stage of growth and development
Dr. Philip Toleikis will serve as Chief Technology Officer
Sernova to host investor calls
LONDON, Ontario and WINDHAM COUNTY, Conn., Sept. 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sernova Corp. (TSX:SVA) (OTCQB:SEOVF) (FSE/XETRA:PSH), a clinical-stage company and leader in cell therapeutics, today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Cynthia Pussinen as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. Dr. Philip Toleikis, who has led the company since 2009 as President and CEO will serve as Chief Technology Officer.
Ms. Pussinen’s expertise spans the drug development continuum from research through commercialization. She has led the development, licensure, commercialization and/or subsequent delivery to patients, of more than fifteen new medical therapies for patients globally, including Obizur® (Antihemophilic Factor (Recombinant), Porcine Sequence), Eraxis® (anidulafungin), Zmax® (azithromycin extended-release) and LUXTURNA® (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), the first gene therapy approved in both the United States and the European Union.
Most recently, Ms. Pussinen was the Chief Technical Officer for Spark Therapeutics, Inc., a fully integrated, commercial gene therapy company, and a member of the Roche Group. Prior to joining Spark in 2021, Ms. Pussinen’s leadership roles include 6 years with Ipsen Biomeasure and Ipsen Biosciences, U.S. R&D focused subsidiaries of Ipsen, where she served as President and CEO. She was instrumental in leading and executing the divestiture of Obizur® and its associated manufacturing physical infrastructure to Baxter. Ms. Pussinen was also the Executive Vice President, Technical Development, Operations & Supply Chain for Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the Global Vice President and General Manager, Life Sciences and Specialty Chemicals for Honeywell International. Early in her career Ms. Pussinen spent more than 18 years at Pfizer in a variety of increasingly responsible leadership roles across various functional areas.
Ms. Pussinen also served on the Drexel University Solutions Advisory Board, as a Board Director for Spark Therapeutics UK Ltd. and Spark Therapeutics Ireland Ltd. and is a member of an early-stage biotech company’s scientific and technical advisory board.
Ms. Pussinen earned a Master of Science in R&D management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, with a minor in engineering from the University of Connecticut. She is lean six sigma certified, is recognized as a mentor through the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) and was honored by WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology) as a recipient of their Giving Back award.
“Sernova has demonstrated tremendous growth over the past several years as it has transitioned from a research company to one that is moving towards commercialization of a product for the treatment of multiple chronic diseases including our flagship program for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). As a united Board, we feel now is the time to bring in an industry leader with extensive experience with large pharmaceutical companies as well as entrepreneurial biotech and advanced therapeutics focused companies,” commented Brett Whalen, Chair of the Board of Directors of Sernova. “The skills that Ms. Pussinen brings to our company include over 25 years of global experience shepherding new therapies from development through commercialization across multiple conditions with sales measured in the billions.”
Mr. Whalen continued, “the Board would like to thank Dr. Toleikis for his significant contributions to Sernova and his passionate commitment to our mission, and for continuing in his new role as Chief Technology Officer. Under his leadership, Sernova has solidified the strong scientific and technical foundations for future success and created significant market value driven by the strong positive clinical data outcomes in T1D. The Board is convinced that Ms. Pussinen and Dr. Toleikis bring the right combination of experience and talent to optimize this unique opportunity for all stakeholders.”
Ms. Pussinen added, “It is an honor and a privilege to join Sernova at this pivotal stage in the company’s evolution. Sernova has developed novel technology, and I am very excited by the positive pre-clinical and clinical results thus far. The company is a pioneer in creating new ways to address some of the most challenging chronic diseases, providing the possibility of a life-changing ‘functional cure’ for conditions including Type 1 Diabetes. I am inspired by the mission to improve human health and look forward to working with the passionate Sernova team to boldly advance the company’s mission for the benefit of all patients, stakeholders and investors.”
Dr. Toleikis said, “I am grateful to have led Sernova’s dedicated team over the past years. I am proud of all that we have accomplished together over the past years, including establishing a strong technology and scientific foundation along with introducing new treatments options to patients with chronic conditions. I am very pleased to welcome Ms. Pussinen to the Sernova team as the new CEO and look forward to working together. I look forward to my continued involvement with the Company to see through the realization of Sernova’s mission to bring a functional cure to patients around the world suffering from chronic diseases.
Sernova’s management will host investor calls, firstly to introduce Ms. Pussinen, and later, in approximately 30 days, to provide an overview of Sernova as well as a question-and-answer session. Investors will be informed of the details once finalized.
ABOUT SERNOVA CORP. AND THE CELL POUCH SYSTEM PLATFORM FOR CELL THERAPY
Sernova Corp. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that is developing therapeutic cell technologies for chronic diseases, including insulin-dependent diabetes, thyroid disease, and blood disorders that include hemophilia A. Sernova is currently focused on developing a ‘functional cure’ for insulin-dependent diabetes with its lead asset, the Cell Pouch System, a novel implantable and scalable medical device with immune protected therapeutic cells. On implantation, The Cell Pouch forms a natural vascularized tissue environment in the body for long-term survival and function of therapeutic cells that release essential factors that are absent or deficient in the bodies of patients with certain chronic diseases. Sernova’s Cell Pouch System has demonstrated its potential to be a ‘functional cure’ for people with T1D in an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical study at the University of Chicago. Sernova is also advancing a proprietary technology in collaboration with the University of Miami to shield therapeutic cells from immune system attack with the goal to eliminate the need for chronic, systemic immunosuppression. In May 2022, Sernova and Evotec entered into a global strategic partnership to develop an implantable off-the-shelf iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells) based islet replacement therapy. This partnership provides Sernova a potentially unlimited supply of insulin-producing cells to treat millions of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes (type 1 and type 2). Sernova continues to progress two additional development programs that utilize its Cell Pouch System: a cell therapy for hypothyroid disease resulting from thyroid gland removal and an ex vivo lentiviral Factor VIII gene therapy for hemophilia A.
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This release contains statements that, to the extent they are not recitations of historical facts, may constitute “forward-looking statements” that involve various risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, including, without limitation, statements regarding the prospects, plans, and objectives of the company. Wherever possible, but not always, words such as “expects”, “plans”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “intends”, “estimates”, “projects”, “potential for” and similar expressions, or that events or conditions “will”, “would”, “may”, “could” or “should” occur are used to identify forward-looking statements. These statements reflect management’s beliefs with respect to future events and are based on information currently available to management on the date such statements were made. Many factors could cause Sernova’s actual results, performances or achievements to not be as anticipated, estimated or intended or to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this news release. Such factors could include, but are not limited to, the company’s ability to secure additional financing and licensing arrangements on reasonable terms, or at all; ability to conduct all required preclinical and clinical studies for the company’s Cell Pouch System and or related technologies, including the timing and results of those trials; ability to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals, or on a timely basis; ability to in-license additional complementary technologies; ability to execute its business strategy and successfully compete in the market; and the inherent risks associated with the development of biotechnology combination products generally. Many of the factors are beyond our control, including those caused by, related to, or impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Investors should consult the company’s quarterly and annual filings available on www.sedar.com for additional information on risks and uncertainties relating to the forward-looking statements. Sernova expressly disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.