Nitrase Therapeutics Expands Pipeline to Include Oncology Programs and Adds Seasoned Cancer Experts to Scientific Advisory Board

Discovery of several nitrases that play an oncogenic role in both solid and hematological tumors as well as in immuno-oncology

BRISBANE, Calif., June 02, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nitrase Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company deploying its unique NITROME platform to unlock the therapeutic potential of nitrases, a new class of enzymes discovered by the company, today announced that it is expanding its therapeutic pipeline to include several nitrase targets company scientists have discovered that are important for tumor cell survival and in tumor evasion from the immune system. Additionally, the company announced the addition of two new members to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB): Steve Davidsen, Ph.D., vice president of oncology discovery at AbbVie, and Michael Kavanaugh, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at UCSF, and former chief scientific officer and head of non-clinical development at CytomX.

“Through our research efforts, we have identified over 25 nitrases to date and have been elucidating their role in disease biology,” said Pierre Beaurang, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Nitrase Therapeutics. “We have discovered that several nitrases and their nitro-substrates play an important role in cancer, both in cancer and in immuno-oncology. With the launch of our oncology program to discover and develop therapeutics against these identified nitrases, we are thrilled to have attracted Drs. Davidsen and Kavanaugh to our SAB. They have both made notable contributions to the advancement of cancer treatments, and their scientific, medical and clinical expertise in oncology will help us to optimally drug this new class of targets and advance potential therapies to patients.”

Nitration is an important modifier of protein structure, function and localization that is mediated by a class of newly-discovered enzymes, called nitrases. The company has identified the nitro-substrates, the proteins modified by nitrases, for several nitrases that act as important contributors to the onset and progression of cancer. The company is developing modulators of these nitrases to evaluate as potential drug candidates for a variety of underserved solid and hematological tumors.

Dr. Davidsen added, “I am impressed by Nitrase Therapeutics’ remarkable discovery of a large number of nitrases with broad and diverse biology. Now, the company has made another breakthrough discovery by uncovering the link between several nitrases and their nitro-substrates to diverse aspects of cancer. I am excited to join the SAB and help the company identify and advance novel agents against these exciting targets going forward.”

Dr. Kavanaugh added, “The nitrases and nitro-substrates involved in the pathology of cancer that the company has already identified speaks to the robustness of their NITROME platform. Included in their discoveries are nitrases that affect proteins which have been well-documented in a variety of cancers and are targets of high interest in the field. I look forward to working with the management team at Nitrase Therapeutics to bring truly unique medicines to patients.”

Steve Davidsen, Ph.D.
Dr. Davidsen is vice president of oncology discovery in AbbVie’s R&D organization, where he is responsible for discovery efforts across all oncology programs and sites. Prior to AbbVie’s separation from Abbott, Dr. Davidsen served as Divisional Vice President, Cancer Research. He joined the company in 1986 as a research scientist and has held various positions of increasing responsibility in the discovery organization. Dr. Davidsen has been a critical leader in building AbbVie’s oncology pipeline, directing research teams and partnerships that have led to more than 300 oncology trials across a broad range of hematologic and solid tumor indications, and multiple FDA approvals. He has more than 70 scientific publications across a diverse range of topics including metalloproteinase inhibitors, kinase inhibitors and the discovery of histone deacetylase inhibitors. Dr. Davidsen is a member of AbbVie’s R&D Senior Discovery Leadership Team and the AbbVie Oncology Therapeutic Area Strategy Council. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from University of Maryland and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Texas, Austin. He held a post-doctoral position at the University of California, Berkeley before joining Abbott/AbbVie.

Michael Kavanaugh, M.D.
Dr. Kavanaugh was an attending staff physician at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center for more than 30 years and is an associate clinical professor of medicine at UCSF. Dr. Kavanaugh also serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards and Board of Directors of multiple companies. From 2015-2020, Dr. Kavanaugh was the senior vice president, chief scientific officer and head of non-clinical development at CytomX. Previously, he was senior vice president and chief scientific officer of Five Prime Therapeutics. Before Five Prime, Dr. Kavanaugh served as vice president of Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Inc. and executive director of Oncology Biologics in the Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research. He joined Novartis in 2006 as part of the company’s acquisition of the Chiron Corporation, where he was vice president and head of antibody and protein therapeutics research. Dr. Kavanaugh received his M.D. from Vanderbilt University and his B.A. in molecular biochemistry and biophysics from Yale University. He completed training in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Cardiovascular Research Institute.

About Nitrase Therapeutics, Inc.
Nitrase Therapeutics is a pioneering biopharmaceutical company deploying its unique NITROME platform to unlock the therapeutic potential of nitrases, a new class of enzymes that it discovered, to develop a pipeline of therapies against a broad range of diseases. The medicines that Nitrase Therapeutics is developing will target these enzymes and potentially help slow or halt the progression of numerous diseases in which nitrases and nitro-substrates play a role, including Parkinson’s, cancer, immunological and fibrotic diseases. Nitrase Therapeutics (under the former name Nitrome Biosciences) has been widely recognized and has won multiple awards including the prestigious Target Advancement grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF). Nitrase Therapeutics is located in Brisbane, CA, and its investors include Sofinnova Partners, AbbVie Ventures, Dementia Discovery Fund, Bristol Myers Squibb, Mission Bay Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. For more information, please visit the company’s website at

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