RUSS LEBOVITZ, MD PhD
CEO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR
Dr. Lebovitz is a San Francisco based serial entrepreneur, early stage investor and CEO focused on novel scientific approaches to treatment and diagnosis of prevalent unsolved diseases. He has founded or led multiple early stage companies developing novel drugs, devices and diagnostics to enhance management of neuro degenerative disease, cancer, medical imaging and dermatology.
Dr. Lebovitz currently serves on the Management Teams and Boards of Amprion, Skincential Sciences and AbbyMed. He received his MD and PhD degrees from Washington University and management training at Rice University and Stanford.
CLAUDIO SOTO, PhD
CSO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR
Dr. Soto is Professor in the Department of Neurology and the Director of the George and Cynthia W Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Brain Related Illnesses at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He is a key thought leader in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, and his laboratory is focused on the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases associated with the misfolding and accumulation of proteins in the brain. Dr. Soto has published more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and contributed to over 20 books. Dr. Soto developed the key intellectual property around Amprion’s PMCA technology.
BEN VOLLRATH, PhD
Dr. Vollrath is a biotech entrepreneur and C-level executive with extensive experience in developing biotech start-up companies from inception to exit. Previously, Dr. Vollrath served as CEO of Xetrios Therapeutics (acquired by Kolltan Pharmaceuticals) and Entrepreneur in Residence at Avalon Ventures, a San Diego-based Venture Capital Firm, where he was involved in the formation and development of Afraxis (acquired by Genetech), Carolus Therapeutics and Otonomy (Nasdaq: OTIC). Earlier in his career, Dr. Vollrath was a Senior Scientist at Renovis and a PostDoc at Merck.
RUSS LEBOVITZ, PhD
CEO, Amprion Inc.
Kendall Investments, LLC
CLAUDIO SOTO, PhD
Professor of Neurology, Director Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Brain Disorders, University of Texas Health Science Center
CSO, Amprion Inc.
DENNIS CHOI, MD PhD
Chair of the Department of Neurology and Director of the Institute for Advanced Neurosciences, Stony Brook University School of Medicine.
Dr. Chois prior positions have included Executive Vice President at the Simons Foundation, Vice President for Academic Health Affairs at Emory University, Executive Vice President for Neuroscience at Merck Research Labs, and Head of Neurology at Washington University Medical School. Dr. Choi has served previously as President of the Society for Neuroscience, Vice-President of the American Neurological Association, and chairman of the U.S./Canada Regional Committee of the International Brain Research Organization. He has been a member of the NAS Board on Life Sciences, the Councils for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, the Society for Neuroscience, the Winter Conference for Brain Research, the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, and the Neurotrauma Society. He has served on advisory boards to the Dana Alliance for Brain Research, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the Grass Foundation, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, the Max-Planck Institute in Heidelberg, the Korea Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS), and the FDA, as well as multiple university-based research consortia, biotechnology companies, and pharmaceutical companies. His own research has focused on cellular mechanisms of pathological neuronal death, and the development of novel therapeutics and biomarkers.
Amprion has developed novel assay technology that allows ultra-sensitive detection of misfolded proteins in biological samples, including serum and urine, using a proprietary Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification (PMCA). Atto-mol sensitivity allows for detection of disease-relevant misfolded protein species prior to onset of clinical disease symptoms.
PMCA recapitulates in vitro the protein aggregation process ongoing during development of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders associated with misfolded proteins. The platform can be adapted to various misfolded protein species, including Aβ, tau, alpha-synuclein and PrP.
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE PROGRAM
Amprion is developing a novel, highly sensitive diagnostic for AD that specifically detects and quantifies soluble, oligomeric Aβ aggregates. The technology allows for ultra-sensitive detection of the disease-relevant oligomers in cerebrospinal fluid, blood or urine, and our results demonstrate that this technology can discriminate AD patients from controls (including individuals affected by similar neurological diseases) with high sensitivity and specificity. Our results also indicate that the assay can detect individuals affected by Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), which is considered a precursor to AD.
We are expanding the PMCA platform to include misfolded tau protein species, and are exploring the utility of this marker in the diagnosis of AD. We believe that a diagnostic assessing the pathogenic protein species directly with high sensitivity and selectivity will have a dramatic impact as a companion diagnostic on clinical trials targeting AD as well as clinical practice.
PARKINSON’S DISEASE PROGRAM
Amprion has adapted the PMCA technology for alpha-synuclein. Our results indicate that the platform can detect alpha-synuclein aggregates with high selectivity and sensitivity, and presents a novel diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s Disease. We are currently exploring the utility of alpha-synuclein PMCA for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE, Prion Diseases) have been associated with PrPTSE, a misfolded variant of the cellular protein PrPc. TSE in humans are very rare, but lead to dementia and invariably to death. However, the number of patients showing elevated levels of PrPTSE has been estimated to be as high as 1 in 3500 in the UK, raising the possibility of significant human-to-human transmission. Studies by Amprion have demonstrated that Amprion’s PMCA technology can detect PrPTSE in patients and animals prior to the onset of disease symptoms. There are currently no tests available on the market that allow for prion detection in non-symptomatic patients or animals.
The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center is using Amprion’s PrPTSE PMCA technology under a limited license for human diagnosis of TSE.