Collectively, members of the Hepion team have more than 100 years of cyclophilin expertise. In 1988, Dr. Foster, now CEO of Hepion, began working on cyclosporine (an immunosuppressive cyclophilin inhibitor) as an academic at the University of Alberta in Canada. In 1993, Dr. Foster created Isotechnika Pharma Inc. to further explore novel immunosuppressive cyclophilin inhibitors, which were created to address the need for new therapies in solid organ transplantation and autoimmune disease. These research efforts led to the discovery of voclosporin, which is now in late-stage human clinical trials for the treatment of lupus nephritis and other indications, and has been used to treat more than 2,600 patients.
In 2006, scientists at Isotechnika began working on discovery of non-immunosuppressive cyclophilin molecules. This science team was led by Drs. Trepanier, Ure, and Mayo (see their biographies, below), who are now working to advance Hepion’s cyclophilin inhibitor, CRV431, for treatment of chronic liver disease.
Robert Foster, B.Sc. (Pharm), Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Foster first began working on cyclophilin in 1988, and brings more than 30 years of pharmaceutical and biotech experience to Hepion. Prior to Hepion, he was CEO and Founder of Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals Inc., which merged with Hepion in 2016. He founded Isotechnika Pharma Inc. (TSX:ISA) in 1993, and was its Chairman and CEO for approximately 21 years. Dr. Foster was founding CEO, and later CSO, of Aurinia (NASDAQ:AUPH) after it was acquired by Isotechnika. During his tenure at Isotechnika, Dr. Foster, together with a core team, discovered the immunosuppressive drug voclosporin.
In 2002, while CEO of Isotechnika, Dr. Foster structured a $215 million USD licensing deal, Canada’s largest at the time, for voclosporin with Hoffman-La Roche (Basel, Switzerland). In addition to pharmaceutical discovery and development, Dr. Foster also developed and obtained regulatory approvals for a commercially available diagnostic test (carbon-13 urea breath test), called Helikit, for the diagnosis of H. pylori. Helikit, which Dr. Foster subsequently sold, realized multimillion-dollar commercial sales that continue in Canada and other countries. Learn More >>
Daniel J. Trepanier, Ph.D.
Director, Drug Development
Dr. Trepanier first began working on cyclophilin in 1996, and has 22 years’ field experience in the pharmaceutical industry with strong emphasis on cyclosporine and novel cyclophilin inhibitors. He has direct hands-on expertise in drug discovery, analytical and bioanalytical method development and analysis, preclinical pharmacokinetic, toxicological and toxicokinetic studies, formulation development, drug manufacturing, preparation of preclinical regulatory submissions, and interfacing with contract research organizations and patent attorneys. Dr. Trepanier is the developer of Aurinia Pharmaceuticals’ voclosporin formulation which has been tested in more than 2,600 patients and is nearing commercialization. He was Director of Drug Development at Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals and retained this position following a merger with Hepion Pharmaceuticals in 2016.
Dr. Trepanier holds a BSc degree in chemistry and an MSc degree in biochemistry (Concordia University, Quebec), and a PhD in clinical chemistry (University of Windsor, Ontario). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship (University of Alberta) specializing in analytical chemistry. Dr. Trepanier is the author or co-author of numerous scientific papers, abstracts and patents.
Patrick R. Mayo, Ph.D.
Director, Clinical Pharmacology
Dr. Mayo began working on cyclophilin in 1983 and has 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. His work across all phases of drug development, from pre-clinical to Phase 4 post-marketing surveillance, has been instrumental in regulatory submissions including INDs and NDAs. He has direct hands-on expertise in pre-clinical and clinical pharmacology, drug discovery, population pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD), and physiologically-based modelling.
Dr. Mayo’s work has focused on calcineurin inhibitors cyclosporine, tacrolimus and voclosporin, an analogue of cyclosporine. He began his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a clinical research organization kineticist, where he worked extensively on cyclosporine, including the reformulation of cyclosporine, Neoral™. Most recently, Dr. Mayo published on the population PK/PD of tacrolimus and mycophenolic acid in renal allograft patients and provided population PK modelling and simulation support for Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Phase 2 voclosporin study in lupus nephritis. He also provided PK analyses of early cyclophilin inhibitors developed by Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals. In addition, Dr. Mayo was the Director of Clinical Pharmacology for Isotechnika during the Phase 1 through Phase 3 work on voclosporin in renal transplantion and plaque psoriasis.
Dr. Mayo obtained his PhD in pharmacokinetics from the University of Alberta, specializing in the effect of disease states on PK/PD relationships. He holds a BSc degree in pharmacy from the University of Alberta, where he worked as a clinical pharmacist in critical care, palliative care, and renal transplant. Dr. Mayo continues to provide pharmacometric analyses via Cogitare Analytics, and is the author, or co-author, of numerous scientific papers, abstracts and book chapters.
Daren Ure, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Development
Dr. Ure began working on cyclosporins and cyclophilins in 2003, and has been focused on furthering the understanding of cyclophilins in physiology and disease. He has also focused on the therapeutic application of cyclosporins, the most potent and documented chemical class of cyclophilin inhibitors. Dr. Ure was a Research Scientist with Isotechnika Pharmaceuticals, and then the Director of Research and Development at Ciclofilin Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Hepion in 2016.
While Dr. Ure focused on characterization of the enhanced calcineurin inhibitor, voclosporin, earlier in his career, he more recently played a central role in the development and characterization of a library of synthetic, non-immunosuppressive analogs of cyclosporine A, which led to the selection of the optimized compound, CRV431. His dedicated efforts on cyclophilins/cyclosporins and considerable cross-disciplinary experience has been invaluable in helping to advance CRV431.
Dr. Ure earned his Ph.D. in neurobiology at the University of Alberta (Canada) and conducted postdoctoral work at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) in viral immunology.