CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–eGenesis, a biotechnology company focused on transforming xenotransplantation into a lifesaving medical procedure, today announced the appointment of William “Wes” Westlin, Ph.D., as Executive Vice President of Research & Development. Dr. Westlin brings more than 25 years of drug discovery and development experience to this role, where he will be responsible for leading the scientific efforts of xenotransplantation research and product development.
“Wes joins eGenesis at a critical time as we continue to build our R&D efforts and advance our preclinical research in xenotransplantation,” said Luhan Yang, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at eGenesis. “We are delighted to welcome Wes to our growing team, as we work to broaden our development expertise and accelerate our scientific efforts to meet milestones over the next few years.”
Prior to joining eGenesis, Dr. Westlin was Senior Vice President of Research and Early Development at both Nimbus Therapeutics and Avila Therapeutics where he led teams that advanced programs to early development using creative first-in-human study designs to generate clinical proof-of-concept. As part of the executive leadership teams, Dr. Westlin helped establish several critical partnerships with Sanofi, Celgene, Clovis Oncology, and Gilead Sciences. Before that, he served as the Senior Vice President for Preclinical Research at Praecis Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for preclinical research and early development in oncology, immunology, inflammation biology, and Alzheimer’s disease programs. Prior to joining Praecis, Dr. Westlin held scientific positions of increasing responsibility in the immunology, molecular pharmacology, and oncology research units of Monsanto/Searle and subsequently Pharmacia.
Dr. Westlin has authored more than 50 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and is a co-inventor on multiple patents. He received his Master’s and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from New York Medical College and held a post-doctoral fellowship with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“eGenesis is uniquely positioned within the industry to transform the field of xenotransplantation through the use of its novel multiplexed gene editing platform to address the issues of cross-species viral transmission and molecular incompatibilities in xenotransplantation,” said Dr. Westlin. “I’m excited to join this team to be part of the mission to address the shortage of transplantable organs for patients and their families.”
About CRISPR Gene Editing Technology
CRISPR is a genome-editing tool that can selectively delete, modify or correct a disease causing abnormality in a specific DNA segment. CRISPR refers to Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats occurring in the genome of certain bacteria. CRISPR technology uses a protein-RNA complex composed of either the protein Cas-9 or Cpf1, each of which binds to a guide RNA (gRNA) molecule that has been designed to recognize a particular DNA sequence.
Currently in the United States, there is a tremendous unmet demand for transplant organs with more than 118,000 people in need of a lifesaving organ transplant. Of those, more than 75,000 people are active waiting list candidates. The concept of cross-species transplantation, known as xenotransplantation, is the transfer of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. Due to the shortage of human organs, xenotransplantation emerged as an alternative potential option and its clinical potential is being explored with new technologies such as CRISPR Cas-9. Xenotransplantation is not new – the first serious attempts (then called heterotransplantation) first appeared in scientific literature in 1905 and it has been explored with limited success over the last century.
eGenesis is a biotechnology company focused on leveraging the advancements of gene editing technologies to deliver safe and effective human transplantable cells, tissues and organs to the hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide who are in dire need.