Zestagen SA, a portfolio company of Ventac Partners, is a Swiss anti-cancer biotechnology company. Our vision is to become a leading therapeutic company that brings new, innovative drugs for the treatment of cancer to the global market. We develop light chain monoclonal antibodies against extracellular Heat Shock Protein-90 (ehsp90), a subset of hsp90 that selectively facilitates cancer cell motility, migration and metastasis. The name “Zestagen” was coined after the Modern Greek word for heat “ζέστη - zesti”, as our mAbs and related intellectual property were discovered and assigned to us by the Hellenic Pasteur Institute in Greece. Zestagen’s operations are highly efficient, allowing for significant value generation as our drug candidates move towards the clinic. We employ a virtual drug development model whereby cutting-edge science is generated, geared and developed through a network of global partner CROs. Zestagen’s CEO orchestrates this process, assisted by a panel of seasoned drug development experts.
Chief Executive Officer
Nassos Alevizopoulos, PhD, MBA
Graduating with a Diploma in Biology from the University of Athens, Nassos earned a PhD in Biology from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, where his innovative work on the signal transduction of the cell growth regulator TGFβ and the pro-inflammatory cytokine ΤNFα culminated in the first authorship of four high-impact peer-reviewed scientific publications and in the award of the 1997 Brunner Prize of Excellence (best of 181 doctorates.) Nassos then did postdoctoral research at the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research of Basel, Switzerland. Following a year with the CRO Quintiles in Germany, Nassos was accepted to earn an MBA in Strategy & Finance at the Lausanne Business School, graduating second in his class. Nassos has worked at Novartis as Business Planning and Analysis Manager for Oncology and Transplantation (recognized as top 7 performer in Region Europe, 2004). Other career positions include CEO of Bionova Ltd. (biotechnology transfer), Chief Executive Officer of the arthritis CRO Biomedcode SA, and Chief Operating Officer at Dyonmed S.A, a medical devices company. As a Senior Vice President of Drug Development & Licensing for Regulon Inc, an American biotech company, Nassos directed a clinical team to earn an Orphan Drug designation for a liposomal cisplatin in pancreatic cancer by European Medicines Agency. He also negotiated a termsheet of US$50M for a global Lipoplatin outlicensing deal with a $6B pharmaceutical company.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Martin Austin (Chairman)
Martin Austin has more than 35 years of senior executive experience from the pharmaceutical industry, including the position as Head of Business Development for the Pharmaceuticals Division at Hoffmann-La Roche, from the international investment community as a Principal at Paul Capital Partners Royalty Funds, a USA based specialist in Secondary Private Equity and Alternative Asset Investments, as well as from SME’s in the life sciences area. Areas of expertise include business analysis, business planning and competitive intelligence functions, M&A, equity investments, product divestments, and in- and out-licensing on a large international scale. Since 2005, Martin Austin has been Managing Director of TransformRx GmbH providing business advice to clients regarding investment and business development. He is the author of “Business Development for the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Industry” 2008 based on the courses he presents with CELforpharma (Brussels), Pharmaguys (Beijing), the World Intellectual Property Organisation of the United Nations and at Basel University as a part of the Masters in Drug Development Sciences degree course. Martin Austin is a Partner in MarraM Advisors sarl, an Investment and Fund Governance firm which is the sponsor of the BioIndustrial Finance Fund (in formation), and in Ventac Partners. Martin Austin also serves as a Board Member of RSA AG the Swiss subsidiary of the RSA Group.
Robert Buchanan, JD, PhD
Robert L. Buchanan has been advising biotechnology companies, research institutes and teaching hospitals throughout the US, Europe and Asia for over 15 years. He is a partner of Ventac Partners, LLC (Boston, MA) an international life sciences consultancy. He is a patent attorney registered to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). He is also licensed to practice law before certain state and federal courts in the United States. Currently, Dr. Buchanan is patent counsel to start-up companies and non-profit research institutions based in Europe, Asia and the United States. Prior to joining Ventac Partners, Dr. Buchanan was co-chair of the Life Sciences Practice Group of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, LLP (now Edwards Wildman). His practice involved counseling clients of all sizes (start-up, mid-size and Fortune 500 companies), as well as providing legal and business advice to non-profit institutions, universities, teaching hospitals and venture capital firms throughout the United States and Europe. Dr. Buchanan has extensive experience in designing effective patent prosecution, licensing and product launch strategies for start-up companies. He is well-versed in addressing complex legal issues that can arise during private financings, M&A deals, licensing and other transactions requiring substantial due diligence. Dr. Buchanan obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California (Biochemistry) and completed post-doctoral training as a Fellow of The California Institute of Technology (Neurogenetics). Dr. Buchanan received a law degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston.
Alexandros Diamantidis has more than 35 years of investment and corporate experience in the life sciences industry. Mr. Diamantidis is the President of the Board of Bioanalytica SA, a marketing, sales and research biotechnology company that operates successfully since 1994. Bioanalytica SA has developed Zestagen’s antibodies up to the present preclinical stage.
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD
Bruce R. Zetter, PhD
Dr. Bruce Zetter joined Zestagen’s SAB in March 2013. Dr. Zetter is the Charles Nowiszewski Professor in the Departments of Cell Biology and Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Zetter joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1978 following a PhD from the University of Rhode Island and fellowships at MIT, the Salk Institute and the University of California in San Francisco. From 2001-2004, he served as Vice President of Research and from 2004-2008 as Chief Scientific Officer of Children’s Hospital, Boston. Dr. Zetter is highly regarded internationally as a leader in the research of tumor progression, cancer diagnosis, cancer metastasis, and tumor angiogenesis. Among other achievements, he has won a Faculty Research Award from the American Cancer Society and the prestigious MERIT award from the US National Cancer Institute. He has chaired the National Institutes of Health review board on tumor progression and metastasis, panels on breast and prostate cancer for the NIH and for the U.S. Department of Defense as well as the NASA committee that selects scientific projects for the space shuttle. Dr. Zetter also serves on several grant review boards for public agencies such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society as well on the board of eight peer-reviewed journals, while is often called on as an expert witness in court cases involving health and biotechnology. Dr. Zetter serves on the scientific advisory boards of select biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and serves as an advisor to venture firms and investment firms. He is scientific founder of Predictive Biosciences, a new company focused on cancer diagnosis.
Evangelia Patsavoudi, PhD
Evangelia studied Biology at the University of Patras and later earned a PhD in animal physiology from Paris VI University. She has over 30 years of uninterrupted research, teaching and theses-support experience. Lia is a Professor of Biology at the Athens Technological Educational Institute and a Group Leader at the Dept. of Biochemistry at the Hellenic Pasteur Institute in Athens. She has pioneered the scientific development of the extracellular hsp90 field worldwide. She discovered the monoclonal antibody 4C5 in 1991 and have been exploring its remarkable properties ever since. Evangelia has conceived key experiments allowing Zestagen to obtain early proof of principle in in vitro as well as animal experiments. She has authored several high impact publications in peer-reviewed journals like Clinical Cancer Research, JBC, PLoS etc as well as one patent application.
Konstantinos Alevizopoulos, PhD
Konstantinos Alevizopoulos has thirteen years experience in the development and commercialization of therapeutic, diagnostic and medical device products in the biomedical sector. Since 2010, he has served as the Chief Executive Officer of APIM Therapeutics AS, a venture-capital financed oncology biotech (Norway). He is also a Partner of Ventac Partners, an international business development & consulting corporation. Other important past positions include: Chief Scientific Officer of Gerolymatos International SA (GR), Chief Executive Officer of Medexis SA (GR), Head of Preclinical R & D of Biovista Inc. (US) and Head of R & D of Apotech Corporation (CH). Dr. Alevizopoulos consults for several biotech companies, academic institutes and government associations; he is also a co-founder of Casigen Pharma (Hong Kong), PharmaCellion (UK) and of the Hellenic Biotechnology Cluster (Greece). Dr. Alevizopoulos received his Biology degree from the University of Athens, Greece and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He has also conducted post-doctoral studies in the Swiss Institute of Experimental Cancer Research (Switzerland) and the Schering Plough Research Institute (USA) specializing in preclinical oncology research. Dr. Alevizopoulos is trained in European Patent Law (Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg, France).
Zestagen is in the process of recruiting additional SAB members.Back to top
About heat shock protein-90 (hsp90)
hsp90 helps (chaperones) several cellular proteins (referred to as hsp90 clients) attain functionality in vivo. A great body of evidence implicates deregulated hsp90 function in human cancer. About 200 hsp90 chaperone client proteins are often activated, mutated, or overexpressed in cancer cells. hsp90 may therefore be responsible for the multiple hallmark traits of malignancy, such as de-regulated signal transduction, evasion of apoptosis, immortalization, angiogenesis, invasion and metastasis.
About Ventac Partners
Zestagen SA is a portfolio company of Ventac Partners. Ventac Partners is a dedicated life science consulting firm with a strong track record in founding new innovative companies, intellectual property development, fund raising, deal-making, strategy consulting, and corporate finance. To learn more about Ventac Partners, please refer to www.ventac-partners.com.