STORM Therapeutics, the drug discovery company focused on the discovery of small molecule therapies modulating RNA epigenetics, announced the appointment of Nobel prize winner Professor Thomas Cech as a Scientific Adviser.
This appointment follows STORM Therapeutics’ successful Series A Financing Extension announced earlier in January 2018.
Professor Cech is Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder and Director, University of Colorado BioFrontiers Institute.
He has spent decades at the frontier of research into RNA biology discovering novel biologic mechanisms important to cellular function and shaping both academic and commercial efforts in the RNA field.
Professor Cech was the scientific founder of Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals, (1992-99) which became Sirna Therapeutics and is now an operating subsidiary of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Merck & Co., New Jersey, USA.
In 1982 Professor Cech and his research group announced that an RNA molecule from Tetrahymena, a single-celled pond organism, cut and rejoined chemical bonds in the complete absence of proteins.
This discovery of self-splicing RNA provided the first exception to the long-held belief that biological reactions are always catalysed by proteins.
It has been heralded as providing a new, plausible scenario for the origin of life; because RNA can be both an information-carrying molecule and a catalyst, perhaps the first self-reproducing system consisting of RNA alone.
Keith Blundy, CEO of STORM Therapeutics, said: “We are very pleased to have attracted such an internationally renowned researcher as Professor Tom Cech to STORM as an advisor. As a leader in the field of RNA biology, Tom’s in-depth knowledge, insight and experience will be invaluable as we look to continue building a drug discovery platform and mature into a world leading therapeutics company targeting RNA epigenetic modulation.”
Professor Tom Cech, said: “Our understanding of RNA modification and its effects on biology and disease are increasing exponentially. Now is the time to begin exploring the therapeutic potential. I am enthused to contribute to STORM Therapeutics’ leading effort to develop small molecule modulators of RNA epigenetics.”
In addition to the 1989 Nobel Prize, Professor Cech's work has been recognised by many national and international awards and prizes, including the Heineken Prize of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (1988), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1988) and the National Medal of Science (1995).
In 1987 Professor Cech was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and awarded a lifetime professorship by the American Cancer Society.
Other recent appointments at STORM Therapeutics include: Sakae Asanuma, President of Taiho Ventures and Professor Paul Workman, President and CEO of The Institute of Cancer Research to the Board of Directors; and Dr Paul Leeson and Professor Mark Dawson as scientific advisors.