Amphista Therapeutics appoints leading protein degradation pioneer, Ian Churcher as CSO
Amphista Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company creating first-in-class cancer therapeutics that harness the body’s natural processes to remove disease causing proteins selectively and efficiently, today announced the appointment of Dr Ian Churcher as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).
Amphista’s CEO Dr Nicola Thompson said, “I’m delighted to welcome Ian to the team. As an internationally recognised leader in the field of targeted protein degradation (TPD) as a therapeutic modality, Ian’s scientific leadership will be a tremendous addition to the Amphista team as we progress our TPD pipeline to the clinic. Ian’s appointment so soon after last month’s $7.5m Series A financing signals Amphista’s determination to deliver on its vision to create a world-leading protein degradation company delivering ground-breaking new medicines in areas of high patient need.”
Ian commented on his appointment, “I’ve long sought out novel approaches to address traditionally undruggable targets in areas of high patient need. Amphista has a unique approach to targeted protein degradation and Nicola has quickly built a high-quality team. I’m excited by the opportunity to help Amphista develop its novel platform further and rapidly advance its lead projects into the clinic. As Amphista’s approach is very different to existing targeted degradation approaches, it offers significant potential to address a wide range of targets to ultimately help patients across many hard to treat diseases.”
Between 2012-2017, Ian led the Protein Degradation Discovery Performance Unit at GSK where, in collaboration with Professors Craig Crews and Alessio Ciulli, they pioneered the use of VHL-dependent PROTACs, culminating in landmark publications. Ian has also led teams developing drug discovery technologies and advancing medicines across multiple therapy areas during an R&D career at Merck & GSK. More recently, Ian led research at biotechnology companies aiming to change the way drug R&D is carried out, including as SVP Drug Discovery at BenevolentAI. There, working closely with machine learning and data science experts, he advanced a portfolio of programmes and helped develop novel AI-led methods for target identification and chemical optimisation. Ian holds an MA and D.Phil. in Chemistry from the University of Oxford where he was also Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry.
Amphista’s TPD small molecules instruct cells to degrade disease-causing target proteins directly, giving a clear therapeutic advantage over simple target inhibition. Specifically, Amphista’s platform is independent of traditional E3 ubiquitin ligases used by the field, potentially expanding the available target scope of TPD approaches and should overcome recently identified PROTAC® resistance mechanisms.