Press release – May 30, 2017
Innsbruck, Austria, May 30, 2017 – ViraTherapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing promising innovative virus-based immunotherapeutics, today announced the appointment of Dr. Heinz Schwer as CEO. He takes over the position from interim CEO and co-founder Prof. Dr. Dorothee von Laer, who will remain a scientific advisor.
Heinz Schwer, PhD, MBA is an accomplished biotech executive, with strong experience in strategic leadership, business development, M&A and drug development. Dr. Schwer has a solid track record of successfully advancing companies from pre-clinical into clinical stage and navigating them through emerging operational challenges. He also has an excellent track record of effectively driving and managing acquisitions and integrating merged teams. Prior to joining ViraTherapeutics, Dr. Schwer served as CEO of Lanthio Pharma B.V. at the time the company was acquired by MorphoSys AG. He was previously founder and CEO of Sloning BioTechnology GmbH, which was sold to MorphoSys, where he stayed to manage the integration of the Slonomics® technology platform. Dr. Schwer received his PhD in clinical chemistry from University of Regensburg, was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School at the Beth Israel Hospital and Dana-Faber Cancer Institute and holds an MBA from Henley Management College, UK.
“I am very happy that we could attract Dr. Schwer to join ViraTherapeutics as CEO. Fueled by our strong R&D partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, ViraTherapeutics is transitioning from a pre-clinical stage company to a clinical stage company. We are convinced that Dr. Schwer, with his experience and track record, is the right person to lead ViraTherapeutics into the future,” said Dr. Klaus Schollmeier, chairman of the supervisory board of ViraTherapeutics.
Prof. Dr. Dorothee von Laer commented: “I am pleased that I can hand over my CEO responsibilities to a senior industry leader like Heinz Schwer. This will give me the time to fully concentrate on driving the science forward and ensuring that all research work at the Medical University of Innsbruck, at the Christian Doppler lab, at ViraTherapeutics and at our industry partner Boehringer Ingelheim is fully coordinated.“
Dr. Heinz Schwer said: “It is a pleasure to join an organization that combines world-class scientific innovation, supportive venture capital and the experience of big pharma. I am very much looking forward to leading a great team of senior scientists and industry experts to develop a new immunotherapy platform to treat cancer".
About ViraTherapeutics GmbH
Austrian based ViraTherapeutics GmbH (ViraT) is a privately held biopharmaceutical company developing promising innovative virus-based immunotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer. ViraTherapeutics was founded in 2013 as a spin-out of the Medical University of Innsbruck by Prof. Dr. Dorothee von Laer, head of the Virology Division at the university. The company develops oncolytic cancer vaccines based on a chimeric virus derived from the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), so called VSV-GP.
In 2016, ViraTherapeutics and Boehringer Ingelheim agreed on a long term collaboration to jointly develop a next generation oncolytic virus therapy platform and to investigate the lead candidate VSV-GP alone and in combination with other therapies. ViraTherapeutics is responsible for preclinical and clinical testing of VSV-GP in Phase I trials. Under the terms of the collaboration, Boehringer Ingelheim received the right to acquire ViraTherapeutics after conclusion of Phase I clinical development. The potential transaction value accounts to up to EUR 210 million.
ViraTherapeutics is funded by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), EMBL Ventures and the Empl foundation. The Company also received funds from the Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (aws - the Austrian Government Promotional Bank through its Venture-Capital-Initiative and Seedfinancing program), from the FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency) as well as pre-seed financing funds from CAST (Center for Academic Spin-offs Tyrol) and aws.
The company currently has 18 employees. ViraTherapeutics won the international life science business plan competition Best of Biotech 2012 and was awarded the second prize in the Science4Life venture cup 2013. The company has a collaboration with the Medical University of Innsbruck, which includes a team of scientists from the laboratory of Prof. von Laer.
For more information, please visit www.viratherapeutics.com.