On March 8, 2021 Axial Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on leveraging the gut-brain axis for the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics with an initial focus on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), reported the appointment of A. Stewart Campbell, Ph.D. as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (Press release, Axial Biotherapeutics, MAR 8, 2021, View Source [SID1234576204]). Dr. Campbell will also serve as a member on the Axial Board of Directors.
"Stew is a proven executive leader with extensive experience in R&D innovation. His expertise across the drug development lifecycle, combined with his experience building results-focused teams makes him the right leader to take Axial forward," said Ronald C. Renaud, Axial Board Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Translate BIO. "His focus on bringing new therapies to patients will be critically important as he spearheads Axial’s efforts to advance new gut-targeted small molecule treatments for serious central nervous system (CNS) diseases and conditions."
Dr. Campbell is an accomplished executive with more than 25 years of experience building and leading teams that have strong track records of discovering and developing novel therapeutics, including numerous innovative product candidates that have progressed to the clinic. He is co-inventor on 20 issued patents.
He joined Axial in 2016 and has led the company’s research and development efforts, most recently serving as Senior Vice President, R&D. Prior to joining Axial, Dr. Campbell held various leadership roles at biopharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies including Ancora/CordenPharma, Surface Logix and Insmed Inc. He led the acquisition of Ancora by CordenPharma and subsequently served as Head of Product Management and Business Development for Carbohydrates and Lipids at CordenPharma. While at Surface Logix and Insmed, Dr. Campbell played an integral role in the discovery or development of five clinical stage drug candidates, including belumosudil and TAK-607. He holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Queen’s University (Canada) and did post-doctoral research at Duke University.
"Axial is well-positioned for future growth with deep expertise in the gut-brain axis and cutting-edge science leading to the discovery of new drug targets and the development of safe and effective first-in-class therapies for CNS diseases and conditions, as well as oncology," said Dr. Campbell. "I look forward to working together with the leadership, the Board, and the dedicated Axial team to expand our pioneering drug discovery approach and advance our product candidates through the clinic."
Dr. Campbell succeeds David H. Donabedian, Ph.D., who served as CEO of Axial since co-founding the company in 2016. "We thank David for his commitment and tireless effort over the past four years, taking Axial from an idea to a company poised to enter Phase 2B in autism and with a robust pipeline of innovative programs in Parkinson’s disease and oncology," said Dr. Campbell.
Axial’s unique focus on targeting the gut as a means to treat CNS diseases and conditions is rooted in the groundbreaking research of its co-founder Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian at the California Institute of Technology establishing the biological link between the gut-brain axis and neurological disease.
The foundation of Axial’s approach is its innovative platform that leverages its proprietary in vivo models and "omics" capabilities as the scientific underpinning for the identification and validation of new disease targets followed by the design and delivery of gut-restricted, small molecule therapeutics. The company’s platform has significant potential for the development of novel therapies that mitigate underlying disease pathology, resulting symptoms, and disease progression in neurological diseases as well as oncology.
Axial’s lead product candidate is AB-2004, an oral compound poised to redefine the treatment of irritability in children with ASD, improving the lives of affected children and their families. In a Phase 1B/2A study, AB-2004 was shown to reduce metabolites implicated in ASD and improve key behaviors including irritability and anxiety. AB-2004 had no drug-related adverse events consistent with the large body of existing human safety data.
The company’s pipeline also includes small molecule, microbiome-inspired therapies in preclinical development for treatment of the underlying disease burden in PD.