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IO Biotech appoints Dr Peter Hirth as Chairman of the Board

Copenhagen, Denmark – October 4, 2016: IO Biotech today announced that industry veteran Dr Peter Hirth will succeed Dr Hans Schambye as Chairman of the Board of Directors. IO Biotech develops novel therapeutic immuno-oncology vaccines targeting immune check point inhibitory targets to treat cancer.

IO Biotech is focused on unlocking the full potential of the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Check point vaccines have a unique dual mode of action leading to simultaneous activation of anti-cancer immune responses and direct killing of tumor cells in contrast to known check point inhibitors in clinical use. By leveraging the ability of the natural immune system to fight cancer, the pipeline of IO Biotech has the potential to significantly provide novel effective treatments to the benefit of patients in need.

"I am very pleased to welcome Dr Hirth as our new Chairman of the Board. Dr Hirth has an exceptional history of value creation in the field of oncology and has led the development of a range of new therapies in the field. We look forward to continue developing our company under his leadership" said Mai-Britt Zocca, CEO of IO Biotech.

“Immuno-oncology is moving forward at a very high pace based on the great potential of the immune system to fight back against cancer. IO Biotech is founded on a very strong scientific track record of the founders in immuno-oncology. Their work provides compelling evidence for the proposed cancer vaccines to offer important new treatments for cancer patients and I am intrigued by the well differentiated approach that the IO Biotech technology has to offer. In particular the direct tumor cell killing effect provides a huge opportunity not only for clinical development but also in potential patient benefits. I am pleased to join the team in the quest to bring these new treatments forward to the benefit of patients as efficiently as possible” said Peter Hirth, Chairman of IO Biotech.

Dr. Hirth co-founded Plexxikon Inc., with operations starting in 2001 and serving as CEO until May 2013. During Dr. Hirth’s tenure, Plexxikon discovered and advanced several NCEs to the clinic, including a selective BRAF inhibitor approved by the FDA and sold under the brand name Zelboraf™. Plexxikon was acquired by Daiichi Sankyo in 2011. Prior to this, Dr. Hirth was president of SUGEN, Inc., helping to build the company from its inception and advance several kinase inhibitors through clinical trials for the treatment of oncology, including SUTENT. SUGEN was acquired by Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc. in 1999. Dr. Hirth serves or has served on the Board or advisory board of several companies, including Iconic Therapeutics, SutroVax, Afferent Pharma (acquired by Merck in 2016), Alios BioPharma, Inc. (acquired in 2014) and Trovagene, Inc. Dr. Hirth received his M.Sc. and his Ph.D. degrees in molecular genetics from Heidelberg University, Germany, and completed his post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Diego.

“On behalf of founders, management and the investors, Novo A/S and Lundbeckfonden, we would like to warmly thank former Chairman Dr Hans Schambye for his dedication to IO Biotech. Dr Schambye has provided excellent leadership in the first years of IO Biotech growing the company to its successful series A financing” said Christian Elling, Lundbeckfonden Emerge.

“IO Biotech is a great company” said Dr. Schambye. “It has a real opportunity to transform the way cancer patients are treated in the future with its innovative check point vaccines. It’s been a pleasure working with the founders and help the company grow from a fledgling startup to a capable biotech with a strong portfolio. The management, investors and I agree that this is a good time to further expand the international profile of the company, and to transform IO from a Danish to a truly international company and by attracting Dr. Hirth we have taken a step in this process. I am leaving IO Biotech in a very good shape and look forward to following the company in the future”.  

For further information, please contact:
CEO Mai-Britt Zocca
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +45 2194 7856 

IO Biotech is an immuno-oncology company, focused on the development of vaccine based cancer treatments. IO Biotech is a spin-out from Center for Cancer Immune Therapy at Herlev Hospital. The company is located at COBIS Science Park in Copenhagen, Denmark. For more information, visit www.iobiotech.com

Lundbeckfonden Emerge is the early stage investment unit of Lundbeckfonden, one of the largest industrial foundations in Denmark with a market value of more than DKK 50 billion. In addition to the three subsidiaries, Lundbeck, ALK-Abelló and Falck, the Foundation manages a portfolio of more than 20 life science investments in Europe and the US and owns a portfolio of securities of approx. DKK 14 billion. For more information, visit www.lundbeckfonden.com

Novo Seeds is the early stage investment unit of Novo A/S. Novo A/S is a Danish private limited liability company wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and the holding company of the Novo Group and as such the majority shareholder in the publicly listed companies Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S. Novo A/S provides seed, venture and growth capital to development stage companies within life science and biotechnology, as well as manages a broad portfolio of financial assets. For more information, visit www.novo.dk