Simon Boulton, a Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute, has been appointed Vice President Science Strategy at the start-up company Artios Pharma Ltd.
Artios is a newly launched private company that aims to develop new cancer treatments which target the processes cells use to respond to DNA damage.
Simon has worked for over 20 years on the understanding of DNA repair and the treatment of cancer resulting from DNA damage. He will join the leadership team at Artios and maintain his current position at the Crick.
As Vice President Science Strategy at Artios, Simon will guide the development of two programmes that Artios has licensed from Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the development and commercialisation arm of CRUK. One of these programmes originated in research carried out by Simon's group. Simon will also assist Artios in identifying new opportunities arising from research in this area.
Humans possess a network of DNA repair pathways that act to correct the DNA damage which occurs in cells throughout our bodies every day. This is known as the DNA damage response, or DDR. Defects in the body's DDR can lead to an increased risk of cancer.
In cancer cells, some of the DNA repair pathways are lost. By inhibiting DDR in cancer cells that have impaired repair pathways, scientists can selectively kill cancerous cells.
Simon believes there are many new opportunities to exploit knowledge of DNA repair pathways to develop novel inhibitors to tackle cancers.
Artios was established in May 2016 and is based at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. The company's investors include SV Life Sciences, Merck Ventures, Imperial Innovations, Arix Bioscience plc, CRT Pioneer Fund (managed by Sixth Element Capital), and AbbVie Ventures.
Dr Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Artios Pharma, said: "Simon brings with him considerable DDR experience and a wealth of contacts and knowledge in the field, all of which will be invaluable as we continue to build a pipeline of first-in-class DDR programmes and establish Artios as a leading player in the DDR field."
Simon added: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with Artios, a company specialising in DNA damage response and passionate about developing novel treatments for cancer. I look forward to working with Niall and the rest of the team to build and deliver a pipeline of novel programmes that we hope will benefit the lives of cancer patients in the future."