San Antonio — Rapamycin Holdings, a life sciences business working to commercialize a new formulation of an immunosuppressant as a prostate cancer drug, has changed its name to Emtora Biosciences and hired a new CEO.
Carole Spangler Vaughn is taking over at Emtora for Dan Hargrove, who has spent about 18 months in the chief executive role. Hargrove is also an executive at two clinical research organizations in San Antonio, Cancer Insight and Trauma Insight. He will continue working with Emtora through Cancer Insight, which is running a Phase 1b clinical trial on Emtora’s drug, eRapa. Hargrove replaced co-founder Randy Goldsmith in the top leadership position of the company in 2017.
Spangler Vaughn has previously held business development roles at life sciences companies like Clario Medical Imaging and Dendreon, the Seattle-based biotech that received the first FDA approval for a cell-based cancer immunotherapy in 2010, then fell on hard times, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and sold to Valeant Pharmaceuticals. She also has worked as a laboratory manager in the biologics discovery unit of Bristol-Myers Squibb, in the technology commercialization office at the University of Washington, and as a business consultant for healthcare companies in Houston, where she is still based. She plans to travel to San Antonio weekly, according to a spokesperson. She’s once before held the lead executive role, working as interim CEO of Seattle Sensor Systems.
Hargrove recruited Spangler Vaughn, in part because of her experience commercializing technology, he said in a news release. The company’s name change to Emtora is related to the mechanism of action that eRapa targets, known in short as mTOR, which has been observed to regulate cell proliferation and growth.
Emtora’s eRapa is a new formulation of a drug called rapamycin, which was initially developed as an immunosuppressant to prevent organ transplant rejection. While at a high dose the drug can suppress the body’s immune system, the company believes that a low dose might rejuvenate it. There are other derivatives (or analogues) of rapamycin that are structurally similar but not the same as the original drug. ERapa was developed with a coating that allows the drug to pass through the stomach before being released, the company has previously said.
Emtora began its Phase 1b trial last year, which it expected to last nine months to a year. The company is seeking approval for eRapa through a 505(b)(2) application, which allows drug developers to include in its submission data from earlier clinical trials conducted by other companies.