Spexis – Who we are and our legacy
The mission of Spexis is to discover and develop innovative medicines to help patients who are in need for novel transformative treatments.
Headquartered in Switzerland and Boston, two global biotech-hubs, our ambition is to develop Spexis into a leading biopharmaceutical company with a strategic focus on rare diseases, oncology and antimicrobial resistance. With a strong scientific core, our drug discovery and research efforts are led by our in house scientist via leveraging our discovery platforms in collaboration with top academic centers around the globe. We have two clinical programs focused on products for rare, chronic respiratory diseases.
Spexis AG is a combination of the two legacy companies, Polyphor, a publicly listed Swiss biotech and EnBiotix, a privately held US biotech. In December 2021, two companies – Polyphor and EnBiotix – teamed up to join forces and formed Spexis. Effective upon the merger, Polyphor acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of EnBiotix in exchange for shares of Polyphor common stock, and is traded under a new ticker symbol (Ticker.SW) and new company name Spexis on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
- ColiFin® which EnBiotix has in-licensed from PARI Pharma GmbH, a global leader in nebulized therapies, for worldwide rights ex-Europe. Approved in Europe since 2010 as a front-line therapy for lung infections in cystic fibrosis (“CF”), ColiFin® has a proven safety, efficacy and commercial track record which the Company will leverage towards the U.S. and global markets – and both within and outside the field of CF.
- Inhaled murepavadin, a novel class inhaled antibiotic specifically targeting Pseudomonas aeruginosa (“PA”), is being developed for the treatment of PA infection in people with CF and is beginning Phase 1 development using eFlow® Technology nebulizer (PARI Pharma GmbH).
- EBX-002, a combination of amikacin (AMK) and a potentiator molecule for NTM infections which preclinical studies to date have shown potential for superior activity compared to ARYKACE®.
- Balixafortide, a potent and highly selective blocker of CXCR4. Following the closure of its Phase 3 program in advanced breast cancer, additional oncology and non-oncology indications for balixafortide will be evaluated in collaboration with Fosun Pharma who owns China rights.
- New CXCR4 inhibitor program focused on orphan, hematological malignancies.
- Preclinical OMPTA BamA and LptA programs funded by CARBX targeting WHO Priority 1 bacterial infections planned to be developped for hospital acquired bacterial infections.
- Company aims to in-license or acquire other rare disease and oncology assets that will consolidate its position in these therapeutic areas.
We plan to advance our pipeline through multiple clinical trials and strategic transactions to build a rare disease and oncology company, as follows:
- Initiation of a single Phase 3 trial of ColiFin® for the treatment of CF patients in 2022, upon completion of which the Company plans to seek FDA approval in the US.
- Initiation of a Phase 1 trial of inhaled murepavadin in Q4 2021 to advance development for the treatment of people with CF.
- Additional oncology and non-oncology indications for balixafortide will be evaluated both alone and in collaboration with Fosun Pharma who owns rights to balixafortide in China.
- Combined company aims to in-license or acquire other rare disease and oncology assets post-closing that will consolidate its position in these therapeutic areas.
Jeffrey D. Wager, M.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Between 2011-2017, Jeff Wagner was co-creator and board observer to Grupo Biotoscana SL, a Latin American specialty pharma roll-up financed by Advent International and Essex Woodlands Healthcare Ventures, focused on cancer, infectious and rare diseases, leading to its USD 1 billion 2017 IPO on sales of ~$240M and 600 staff in 10 LatAm markets. From 2006 – 2010, he formed and led Artisan Pharma, Inc. as its founding CEO, raising $53M, building the entire team and implementing a 750 patient, 17 country Phase 2b/3 study ultimately leading to Artisan’s acquisition by Asahi Kasei Pharma Corporation (Japan) in 2011. In 2000, Jeff formed Apeiron Partners, a FINRA-registered (via its affiliate Commonwealth PharmaSecurities LLC) life sciences investment bank focused on corporate spin-outs, M&A, corporate venture capital and principal investments. In the process, successfully completed six spin-outs, including Targacept, Inc. (NASD: TRGT), Artisan Pharma (from Asahi Kasei), Biocritica ($120M annual revenue Xigris® franchise from Eli Lilly) and KBI BioPharma (acquired by JSR Corporation (Japan)). Between 2003 and 2006, advised on the establishment and investment of Z-Cube s.r.l., the €60M corporate venture fund of the Zambon Group, a privately held Italian pharmaceutical company. Between 1995-2000, Jeff was with Medical Science Partners, a Harvard-founded VC fund focused on forming spin-outs from the Harvard medical system, including deCODE, ICAgen, Inspire, Oravax (subsequently Acambis), ZYCOS, Inc. and Diatide, amongst others.
Jeff Wager began his career with a life sciences unit of the Bank of Tokyo, where he led business development, responsible for helping Japanese pharmaceutical clients establish overseas affiliates, design, and conduct overseas clinical development and structure strategic alliances. Jeff is also a co-founder and Chairman of Proterris, Inc., a phase 2 clinical-stage firm focused on therapeutic uses of low-dose gaseous and small molecule carbon monoxide for transplant, fibrosis, and oncology indications. Jeff Wager earned his MD from Rush Medical College and his MBA from the University of Chicago.
Chief Financial Officer
Hernan Levett joined Polyphor from NASDAQ listed company Auris Medical where he served as CFO. He started his Pharma international career at Novartis where he held roles of increasing responsibility in various countries and regional functions and as CFO for one of its affiliates. Following a 10 year tenure at Novartis, Mr Levett continued to build his experience in biotech joining InterMune where he served as VP of Finance. Mr. Levett brings over 25 years of finance and pharma / biotech experience at leading companies and holds a CPA degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Faculty of Economics.
Juergen Froehlich, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Juergen Froehlich’s career in biotechnology spans three decades and covers a broad range of drug development projects and approvalsacross therapeutic areas such as cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, oncologic, genetic and infectious disorders. He has worked with biologics, peptides, small molecules, and RNA therapeutics at companies including Boehringer Ingelheim, Genentech, Quintiles, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Ipsen, Vertex, Aradigm and Genevant. Since 2005, he has mainly been involved with rare diseases including bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, non-tuberculous mycobacteria infection, acromegaly, neuroendocrine tumors, urea cycle disorders cervical dystonia and hemophilia. Juergen was instrumental in obtaining successful marketing authorizations in the US, EMA and other countries for ODD designated products in cystic fibrosis, acromegaly and cervical dystonia. As Chief Medical Officer and Head of Regulatory Affairs of Aradigm Corporation, he imlmented a Phase 3 trial program with inhaled liposomal ciprofloxacin in patients with bronchiectasis and chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection and was an invited panel member at a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) workshop in 2018 for inhaled antibiotics in cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. Juergen Froehlich is also serving as a Board member of Appili Therapeutics, a publicly traded infectious disease company in Canada. He received his MD from the Medical School at Wuerzburg University, Germany, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Pharmacology and holds an executive MBA degree from the Graduate School of Business Administration in Zurich, Switzerland.
Chief Operating Officer
Stephan Wehselau is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years’ C-level experience as CFO, COO and CEO, having raised over $380 million in venture capital and private equity from high-profile international funds in the US, Europe and Asia in the life sciences & IT industries. Stephan is CFO and member of the Advisory Board of EnBiotix Inc. and Proterris Inc. During the last 22 years Stephan has been involved in the foundation of 5 Life Science companies (BioPharma, Medical Devices and Diagnostic) Xantos Biomedicine AG, JenaValve Technology Inc., Spherotec GmbH, Tube Pharmaceuticals GmbH and Granite Bio AG where he holds different executive and non-executive positions. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Nasca Cell AG a public listed company in Germany for 4 years. Before Stephan entered into the Start-Up and VC / PE Industry he started his career in the pharma industry and worked first for Boehringer Mannheim and later on for Roche. Since 2015 he entered also into the ICT and Tech industry. Before he joined Advertima AG in 2020 he was from 2015 – 2018 CFO of censhare AG, an agile software company of the next generation marketing cloud, integrating different applications and functions. Stephan Wehselau studied economics and and holds a master’s degree from the University of Bremen, Germany.
Jeffrey D. Wager, M.D.
Between 2011-2017, Jeff Wagner was co-creator and board observer to Grupo Biotoscana SL, a Latin American specialty pharma roll-up financed by Advent International and Essex Woodlands Healthcare Ventures, focused on cancer, infectious and rare diseases, leading to its USD 1 billion 2017 IPO on sales of ~$240M and 600 staff in 10 LatAm markets. From 2006 – 2010, he formed and led Artisan Pharma, Inc. as its founding CEO, raising $53M, building the entire team and implementing a 750 patient, 17 country Phase IIb/III study ultimately leading to Artisan’s acquisition by Asahi Kasei Pharma Corporation (Japan) in 2011. In 2000, Jeff formed Apeiron Partners, a FINRA-registered life sciences investment bank focused on corporate spin-outs, M+A, corporate venture capital and principal investments. In the process, successfully completed six spin-outs, including Targacept, Inc. (NASD:TRGT), Artisan Pharma (from Asahi Kasei), Biocritica ($120M annual revenue Xigris® franchise from Eli Lilly) and KBI BioPharma (acquired by JSR Corporation (Japan)). Between 2003 and 2006, advised on the establishment and investment of Z-Cube s.r.l., the €60M corporate venture fund of the Zambon Group, a privately held Italian pharmaceutical company. Between 1995-2000, Jeff was with Medical Science Partners, a Harvard-founded VC fund focused on forming spin-outs from the Harvard medical system, including deCODE, ICAgen, Inspire, Oravax (subsequently Acambis), ZYCOS, Inc. and Diatide, amongst others.
Jeff Wager began his career with a life sciences unit of the Bank of Tokyo, where he led business development, responsible for helping Japanese pharmaceutical clients establish overseas affiliates, design and conduct overseas clinical development and structure strategic alliances. Jeff is also a co-founder and Chairman of Proterris, Inc., a phase II/III clinical-stage firm focused on therapeutic uses of low-dose gaseous and small molecule carbon monoxide for transplant, fibrosis, and oncology indications. Jeff Wager earned his MD from Rush Medical College and his MBA from the University of Chicago.
Dennis Ausiello, M.D.
Dennis A. Ausiello is the Jackson Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is concurrently the Director, Emeritus of the Harvard Medical School’s M.D./Ph.D. Program. He is also Chair of Medicine, Emeritus, and Director of the Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Health (CATCH) at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dennis was the former Lead Director of the board of directors at Pfizer, Inc. Previously, and served as an editor of Cecil’s Textbook of Medicine. Dennis Ausiello serves on the board of directors of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Seres Therapeutics, Inc. and previously served on the board of directors of Pfizer, where he currently serves on the advisory board. Dennis received his B.S. from Harvard College and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Throughout his career, Dennis Ausiello has made substantial contributions to the study of epithelial biology in the areas of membrane protein trafficking, ion channel regulation and signal transduction, and has published numerous articles, book chapters and textbooks.
Kuno Sommer, Ph.D.
Kuno Sommer, Ph.D., today focuses on active board memberships in the life sciences sector as non-executive member. He is Chairman of the Board of the Bachem Group; the Sunstar group; TargImmune; PDS Pathology Data Systems AG and Kenta Biotech AG. In his last operational role he headed the contract research division of Harlan Laboratories Ltd. From 2000 until 2006 he was CEO of Berna Biotech Ltd, which was sold to Crucell N.V. in 2006 (today Johnson & Johnson). Starting in 1986 at F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd he worked in various functions until 1999 and spent 4 years in the US. In his last position at Roche he became a member of the Executive Committee, responsible for the Flavours and Fragrances division (today Givaudan Ltd). Dr. Sommer holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Basel as well as an MBA.
Dan Hartman, M.D.
Dan Hartman is currently Director, Integrated Development for the Gates Foundation, leading a team that provides technical expertise in product development to other foundation teams and their partners. He joined the foundation in 2012 in his current role and served simultaneously as interim director of the Malaria team from 2016 to 2018. Dan has extensive management and pharmaceutical experience. Before joining the foundation, he served for four years as president and CEO of Great Lakes Drug Development, a consulting company providing strategic and operational support for early drug development projects. Previously, he served as senior vice president of product development at deCODE genetics, executive director of Pfizer Global Research and Development, and vice president of global clinical development at Esperion Therapeutics, and he held clinical research positions at Eli Lilly & Company. He has also provided consultation to the biopharmaceutical venture capital community and serves as a member/advisor on several nonprofit boards. Dan served as a member of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and Cures Acceleration Network advisory board from 2016 to 2019 and was president of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Dan Hartman has received numerous awards, including Inventor of the Year from the Intellectual Property Owners Association. He received his bachelor’s degree from Calvin College and his medical degree from Wayne State University. Dan was trained in internal medicine and completed a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at Indiana University, where he also served as chief medical resident.
Robert Clarke, Ph.D.
Robert Clarke, has served as Chief Executive Officer / Board Member / Co-founder of Kinaset Therapeutics since 2020. He was previously Chief Executive Officer at Pulmatrix Inc. (NASDAQ:PULM), a clinical-stage respiratory drug delivery company, from 2012 to 2019 and successfully brought the company public in 2015. He joined Pulmatrix in 2004 as the first Ph.D.-level scientist and was appointed Chief Scientific Officer in 2010. In that role he was focused on developing the Pulmatrix technologies for the treatment of respiratory diseases. During his tenure as Chief Executive Officer, Pulmatrix raised more than $50 million in public equity, $80 million in venture capital funding and more than $10 million in non-dilutive funding to support the company’s development programs. Prior to his tenure at Pulmatrix, Robert was Associate Director, Life Sciences at Alkermes. He holds Board seats at several institutions including Johns Hopkins University and Boston University College of Engineering. Robert Clarke holds a Ph.D. in physiology from Johns Hopkins University and completed his post-doctoral training in respiratory biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University.
Bernard Bollag, MBA
Bernard Bollag, MBA, is a senior finance executive with broad experience in corporate finance and capital markets. Bernard was CFO in private equity, until 2012, with HomeSun in the UK Renewable Energy sector, as well as internationally, across a broad portfolio of sectors and investments. Prior to that, Bernard was with Syngenta. As its Group Treasurer, Bernard led the company’s banking and capital markets funding of the company as it spun off from Novartis and Astra-Zeneca. He then established the company’s financial risk practice for the Group and its international affiliates. Prior to that, he led a typical international finance career at Unisys, progressing through planning, operations, investments and funding. He is the founder and MD of Beaufort Capital, a boutique supporting High Net Worth individuals with their private equity and alternative investments. Bernard Bollag holds an MBA in Finance from the Columbia Business School in New York and a BA in Economics from the Bar-Ilan University of Tel-Aviv.
According to the Swiss code of best practice for corporate governance of economisuisse, all Board members are independent
We are a team of professionals that bring together profound life science knowledge, an entrepreneurial mindset and strong personal dedication to bring better therapies to the patients in need. Half of our employees are PhDs, the other half mainly graduate chemists, biologists and technicians.