AAVantgarde Bio (AAVantgarde) a biotechnology start-up that is developing gene therapies for inherited retinal disorders based on Adeno-Associated Viral (AAV) vectors, announced the appointment of Naveed Shams, M.D., Ph.D., as Chief Development and Medical Officer (CDMO).
Most recently, Dr. Shams managed more than 60 scientists as head of Translational Research and Early Development efforts at ProQR Therapeutics, a clinical stage, oligonucleotide (RNA) platform company with a focus on rare inherited retinal diseases.
Dr. Ram Palanki, Chairman of AAVantgarde’s Board of Directors said,
Naveed is a seasoned biotech executive and a highly respected clinician with over three decades of expertise in developing and commercializing ophthalmic drugs globally. His extensive experience as a global R&D leader in ophthalmology should prove invaluable to grow AAVantgarde into a clinical stage company.”
Dr. Shams received his medical degree from Dow Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan, and his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of South Carolina. After completing a fellowship in Cornea and External Disease at the Schepens Eye Research Institute & Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, he served on the Research Faculty in the Department. His industry leadership experience spans multiple therapeutic areas and includes tenures with Santen, Genentech, Novartis Ophthalmics, Opko Health, On Demand Therapeutics, and Storz Ophthalmic Instruments. While at Genentech, Dr. Shams led the clinical team responsible for the development and approval of Ranibizumab (Lucentis®) for the treatment of wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD).
AAVantgarde Bio’s technology builds on existing AAV platforms, which are the main viral vector technology used in gene therapy applications. The company is a spin-off of TIGEM, an international research institute based in Naples that is owned and managed by Fondazione Telethon. AAVantgarde’s founder, Professor Alberto Auricchio, is a highly recognized scientist and a pioneer in the field of gene therapy.
“I am thrilled to join AAVantgarde to lead the development of the company’s next generation large gene replacement AAV therapies into the clinic,” Dr. Shams said. “AAVantgarde Bio has two proprietary AAV platforms for the delivery of large genes with lead programs in ophthalmology. It is an exciting time to be joining the organization.”
Paola Pozzi, a Partner with Sofinnova Partners’ Telethon Fund, said, “With the recent clinical trial application successfully submitted to AIFA, Italy, Naveed’s leadership will be critical in the development of AAVantgarde’s lead investigational products for the treatment of Usher syndromes and Stargardt disease. Dr. Shams is well known in the Sofinnova Partners’ network as an industry veteran who can build and motivate teams. I look forward to his leadership to help accelerate the development of AAVantgarde’s innovative portfolio to address unmet needs for patients worldwide.”
AAVantgarde has received support since 2021 from the Sofinnova Telethon Fund, an early-stage fund dedicated to investments in rare genetic diseases.
About AAVantgarde Bio
AAVantgarde Bio is an innovative biotechnology start-up, co-founded by Pr. Alberto Auricchio and born from the research activities carried out at Tigem (Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine) in Naples, Italy, and supported by Sofinnova Partners. For more information visit: www.aavantgardebio.com