We are aimm

Our mission is to isolate and develop antibodies from cured cancer survivors to create safe, effective and targeted therapies for other cancer patients. We believe our approach has the potential to leverage the cancer fighting success of others to bring deep and sustained anti-cancer benefits to many.

This therapeutic approach is being increasingly recognized by the scientific community. Recent scientific breakthroughs have demonstrated that the presence and generation of immune B-cells (that secrete antibodies) in the tertiary lymphoid structures of tumors of cancer patients support and predict response to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Using our proprietary technology platform, we interrogate the full B-cell repertoire from cured cancer patients and reverse-engineer their successful immune response. Our antibody expertise was first evolved and perfected for infectious disease applications. From that history and experience, we demonstrated a proven track-record of selecting and isolating therapeutic antibodies directly from patients with infectious disease, elucidating the unique potential of patient-derived antibodies.

Similarly in cancer, we have successfully identified and isolated reactive antibodies from cancer survivors. Once identified, these novel antibodies are quickly advanced through discovery and lead optimization. Our proprietary approach allows us to unlock novel targets and advance new science, resulting in a revolutionary, paradigm shift in immune-oncology.

AIMM works closely with its (academic) partners to bring these promising therapeutic candidates to patients.

Our strategy

Recent scientific insights have established that people who have been cured of cancer demonstrated that B-cells (antibody response) predicted and supported their therapeutic response. AIMM’s strategy is to test the blood of cured cancer patients for the presence of B cells and antibodies that are able to bind and destroy the patient’s tumor cells. By screening against a broad panel of tumor cells, AIMM selects antibodies that have potential to treat a large number of patients with a similar cancer.

In support of this strategy, AIMM developed unique and proprietary tools for studying individual B cells from patients. The company first validated this approach in the development of antibodies against infectious diseases. Now, AIMM has shifted its focus to oncology. The unprecedented power of AIMM’s platform can potentially help transform this deadly and prevalent disease through the identification of effective anti-cancer antibodies in patients, years after their disease was eradicated.

AIMM has now amassed a rich pipeline of tumor-specific antibodies from cured cancer patients with promising clinical potential. We have discovered new targets and new biology that the immune system leveraged in an antibody campaign. In most cases, these targets are unique and would not have been predicted or viewed as druggable targets using traditional, rational drug design and discovery approaches.

Our organization is led by industry experts, including a management team, board of directors and scientific advisors with deep and successful track records in drug development.

AIMM’s vision is to be recognized as a leading research and development organization that validates patient-derived antibodies for the successful treatment of cancer.

To this end, we have established aggressive goals for this year, 2020:

  • Filing the first CTA/IND to test and advance our most promising antibody AT1412/CD9.
  • Selecting a second antibody to initiate pre-clinical development.
  • Autonomously developing ‘regular’ antibody formats, while co-developing alternative formats (e.g. bispecifics, CAR-Ts etc.) with leading pharma and biotechnology companies.
  • Further expanding our antibody discovery pipeline (screening and selection) with new and
    existing collaboration partners.

Management team

John Womelsdorf, PhD, MBA

Chief Executive Officer

John joined AIMM Therapeutics in 2012 as its Vice President of Business Development.  Having executed a series of transactions that helped to enable AIMM to shift strategy and focus, John was appointed in 2018 to the role of Chief Executive Officer.  Prior to joining AIMM Therapeutics, John Womelsdorf performed the role of lead negotiator at both Roche and Johnson & Johnson. While at Johnson & Johnson, John was appointed to the Board of Directors of Tibotec Therapeutics, a member of the J&J family of companies, where he helped to transition the business into a commercial entity with the successful launch of PrezistaTM (darunivir) for the treatment of HIV. More recently, he served as the Vice President of business development at both Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals and Optimer Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Cubist in 2013).

Hans van Eenennaam, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. van Eenennaam currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer of AIMM Therapeutics. Up until March 2019, Dr. van Eenennaam served as Executive Vice President of Antibody Research and Site Head for Aduro Biotech Europe. In 2015, Aduro Inc. acquired BioNovion B.V., a company advancing novel antibody therapies for immune oncology, which van Eenennaam co-founded in 2011, and served on in the role of Chief Operational Officer.

At BioNovion, and later at Aduro, he was involved in the discovery and development of three clinical and one preclinical-stage antibodies: CD27 (MK-5890), APRIL (BION-1301), CTLA-4 (ADU-1604) and SIRP (ADU-1806), respectively. Earlier in his career, he held numerous positions of increasing responsibility at Organon in Oss, Netherlands, and the Organon Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, which was acquired by Schering-Plough Corporation in 2007 and later by Merck & Co.

While at Organon, Dr. van Eenennaam and colleagues discovered pembrolizumab (Keytruda®). In 2016, he was awarded the Inventor of the Year Award from the Educational Foundation of the Intellectual Property Owner Association. Dr. van Eenennaam received his doctorate (cum laude) in autoimmune biochemistry from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Dr. van Eenennaam is member of the Board of Directors at Catalym GmBH (Martinsried, Germany) and Lygature (Utrecht, the Netherlands).

Eric M. van der Aa, PhD

Chief Operating Officer

Dr. van der Aa currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of AIMM Therapeutics and has more than 25 years of experience in management positions in the biopharma industry. Prior to his appointment in May 2019, Dr. van der Aa was Director of Compliance & Validation at ProPharma Group (who acquired Xendo BV in 2018) for 3 years.

Before starting at Xendo, he served as CEO for both  Pantarhei Oncology, a clinical-stage endocrine oncology company, and Hep-Art Medical Devices, a company developing a bioartificial liver system for clinical use. Previously, Eric was interim CEO for Arthrogen, advancing local gene therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, he founded and directed AMCAS, a company in immune response testing models. Prior to these appointments,  Dr. van der Aa was a member of the founding management team of AMT (now uniCure) as EVP of Business Development.

Dr. van der Aa started his pharmaceutical career at Organon in Oss, Netherlands as Licensing Manager for research programs. He received a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences specializing in toxicology, completed a Postdoctoral program in Toxicology, and obtained his doctorate in Pharmacology at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. From 2011 to 2015, Eric served as a Board Member of the Dutch biotechnology society HollandBio.

Board of directors

Jan de Vries, PhD

Chairman and non-Executive Board Member

Dr. de Vries has decades of experience across research and early development in academia, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries. De Vries is the co- founder and CEO of Tr1X, a biotech company based in California. Prior to that, de Vries was the CEO of AIMM Therapeutics.

Before joining AIMM, de Vries was Vice President, Drug Discovery and Early Development at Novartis and Head of the Novartis Research Institutes for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland. He was also Global Head of the Therapeutic Area of Autoimmunity, Inflammation, and Transplantation in Basel and Vienna. At Novartis, he led the discovery and early development of the marketed drugs Elidel®, Ilaris®, Gilenya® ,Cosentyx®, and Maizent®. De Vries joined Novartis from the California-based DNAX Research Institute for Molecular Biological Research (acquired by Schering-Plough and Merck & Co), where he was Director of Immunology. Prior to that, he was Co-Director of the Schering–Plough Institute for Immunological Research in Lyon, France.

De Vries is a member of the scientific advisory boards of several private and public biotechnology companies. He started his career in academia at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, where he was Head of the Department of Immunology. De Vries has published more than 300 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and holds 20 patents. He earned an MSc degree in Biology/Biochemistry from the University of Utrecht, a Ph.D. degree in Immunology from the University of Amsterdam, and completed his Post-Doctoral studies with John Mendelsohn at the University of California, San Diego.

Timothy Wright, MD

non-Executive Board Member

Dr. Wright is a general partner at Time BioVentures, a life sciences venture capital firm based in southern California. From 2016 to 2019, Dr. Wright served as Chief R&D officer at Regulus Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company. Previously, Dr. Wright served as Executive Vice President, Translational Sciences at the California Institute for Biomedical Research, a non-profit affiliate of The Scripps Research Institute, from 2015 to 2016.

Dr. Wright held positions of increasing responsibility at Novartis Pharmaceuticals from 2004 to 2015, including Deputy Head of Translational Research, Global Head of Translational Medicine, Global Head of Translational Sciences and Global Head of Pharma Development. He held positions in Research and Exploratory Development at Pfizer from 2001-2004.

Before moving to industry, Dr. Wright had a distinguished academic career at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Wright serves as a scientific advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Leonard Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC. Dr. Wright received a BA in Biology from the University of Delaware and an MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he also completed post-doctoral training.

Doug Manion, MD, FRCP

non-Executive Board Member

Dr. Manion has over 20 years of experience in drug development. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of KLEO Pharmaceuticals, a company developing fully synthetic compounds that recruit the immune system to destroy cancer cells. He was Senior Vice President, Head of Specialty Development and Head of Japan and China R&D at Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMS) until October 2016. He held leadership roles at BMS overseeing various therapeutic areas, including virology, immunoscience, neurology, cardiology, metabolic diseases, genetically-defined diseases and fibrosis since joining in 2005. From 2001 to 2005, he was Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs for HIV/AIDS at GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).

He started his career at DuPont Pharmaceuticals in 1997. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and completed his Fellowship in Infectious Diseases in Ottawa, Canada. He received a clinical and bench research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Doug also serves on the Board of Directors of Celleron Therapeutics.

Scientific Advisory Board

Bob Löwenberg, MD, PhD

Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Dr. Löwenberg is Professor of Hematology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (1990- ). Between 1980-1990 he was the Scientific Director of the Rotterdam Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center. From 2013-2020 he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology. Professor Löwenberg’s research activities concentrate on the pathobiology and developmental diagnostics and therapeutics of acute myeloid leukemia. He has published extensively in leading scientific journals.

Bob Löwenberg has held various leading positions. Professor Löwenberg was one of the founders and has served as President of the European Haematology Association (EHA). He has been president of the International Society of Experimental Hematology and the International Society of Hematology. He is immediate past Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and current Vice-President of the Board of the European School of Hematology (Paris). He founded and served as the first president of the Dutch-Belgian Cooperative Group on Hemato-Oncology in Adults (HOVON Cooperative Group), one of the leading cooperative clinical trial consortia in hemato-oncology in Europe.

Bob Löwenberg has received various honours and awards for his contributions to the field of hematology. He is an elected member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of The Netherlands.

Hergen Spits, PhD

Amsterdam UMC

Dr Spits is an emeritus professor of Cell Biology at the Amsterdam UMC, AMC location. Spits co-founded AIMM therapeutics in 2004 and till 2019 was its CSO. Previously Spits was a Senior Director Immunology Research at Genentech. Before joining Genentech, Spits was professor Cell Biology at the AMC. Prior to that Spits was at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam where he was a senior staff scientist and served as Head of the Immunology Department.

From 1985 through 1992 Spits held several positions at Schering Plough, first at the Schering –Plough Institute for Immunological Research in Lyon and then at the DNAX Research Institute for Molecular Biological Research in Palo Alto in California. Spits earned his PhD degree cum laude at the University of Amsterdam in 1983 and conducted research at the Dana Farber Institute for Cancer Research, Harvard University in Boston.

John Haanen, MD, PhD

The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI-AvL)

Dr. John B. Haanen is Chief Science Officer Immunotherapy, consultant medical oncologist, and Staff Scientist in the Division of Molecular Oncology & Immunology, at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. He is also Professor of Translational Immunotherapy of Cancer at Leiden University Medical Centre.

Dr. Haanen received his medical degree from the University of Leiden, then completed a PhD on human CD4+ helper T cells at the Department of Immunohematology and the Blood Bank of the Leiden University Medical Centre and the DNAX Research Institute in California, USA. He then trained in internal medicine at Leiden University Medical Centre and at Bronovo Hospital in The Hague, the Netherlands. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in tumor immunology at the division of immunology, followed by training in medical oncology at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

His research focuses on the translation of novel immunotherapy strategies into the clinical practice, especially adoptive cell transfer programs, DNA vaccine development, and immune checkpoint blockade (neoadjuvant trials and biomarker research). His clinical medical oncology practice is focused on melanoma and renal cell carcinoma patients.

Dr. Haanen was a Co-founder of the Amsterdam Biotherapeutics Unit and was Chairman of The Dutch Tumor Immunology Working Party for oncology for many years. He is in the board of the Dutch Melanoma Treatment Registry and serves on various national and international advisory boards and committees, including the editorial board of Current Oncology Reports, ESMO Open, Kidney Cancer. He is Editor-in-Chief of ESMO IOTECH. He has been Scientific Chair of the ESMO IO congress for the past 3 years (2017-2019) and will be Scientific chair of the ESMO 2020 congress. He has authored > 240 research articles.

Ton Schumacher, PhD

The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI-AvL)

Ton Schumacher performed his PhD research with Hidde Ploegh at The Netherlands Cancer Institute.  Following a postdoctoral fellowship with Peter Kim at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/ Whitehead Institute, he joined The Netherlands Cancer Institute, where he is currently Senior Member.

Overall goal of his research program over the past decades has been to dissect how the human immune system can recognize cancer cells, and how such recognition can be strengthened for therapeutic purposes. Schumacher is recipient of, amongst others, The Amsterdam Inventor Award, Queen Wilhelmina Cancer Research Award, Meyenburg Cancer Research Award, and William B. Coley Award.

Next to his position at The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Schumacher is involved in the development of novel immunotherapeutics in biotech and in venture capital.

History 2004 — 2014

AIMM Therapeutics is a successful biotech company, spun-out in 2004 from the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the Academic Medical Center (AMC) at the University of Amsterdam, now Amsterdam UMC. Since inception, the company has been headquartered at the premises of Amsterdam UMC. In its earlier stage, AIMM was spearheaded by Prof. Hergen Spits, Prof. Ton Schumacher, Dr. Willem van Oort and Dr. Donald Kalff.

The company’s goal was to develop a progressive approach to the discovery of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of infectious diseases and cancer. AIMM gained a strong reputation through the development of its proprietary B-cell immortalization technology (AIMSelect and AIMProve), enabling the isolation of cloned cell lines that produce antibodies of high clinical value.

A decisive breakthrough occurred in 2007 with the discovery of D25, a best-in-class antibody for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections in young, at risk children. In 2009, MedImmune closed a licensing deal with AIMM for the further development. This compound, Nirsevimab (MEDI-8897) is currently into Phase 3 of the clinical trials. In addition to D25, AIMM discovered a range of other antibodies including antibodies against Influenza and MRSA which resulted in non-dilutive (discovery-stage) licensing deals with Crucell and Genentech.

History 2014 — now

Since 2014, AIMM shifted its strategic focus entirely to the development of effective antibody-based therapies for oncology indications. AIMM interrogates B-cells from human cancer survivors, reengineering their successful immune response.

In 2018, AIMM received U.S.$25 million investment from an undisclosed U.S. investor.