Assembly Biosciences, a biotechnology company with strong Indiana University and Hoosier State ties that seeks to cure hepatitis B and C. difficile infections, announced several senior-level hires throughout the company on Monday.
Founded in 2012, Assembly is largely built around the research of Adam Zlotnick, a professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at Indiana University Bloomington. By exploiting vulnerabilities in the capsid assembly of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), it is hoped that the chronic liver infection that it causes — which kills about 786,000 people annually and affects about 240 million people globally according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — can be eradicated.
C. difficile is an overgrowth of bacteria in the lower gastrointestinal tract often triggered by the use of antibiotics to treat common infections. This can produce toxins that can lead to severe diarrhea, sepsis and even death. According to the CDC, deaths linked to C. difficile infections (CDI) increased more than five fold between 1999 and 2007, and C. difficile is the leading cause of death associated with gastroenteritis in the U.S. Through a unique platform for targeted delivery of beneficial bacteria, viruses, proteins and small molecules to the colon or terminal ileum, Assembly hopes to eliminate CDI as well.
Zlotnick serves as Assembly’s chief scientific adviser and chairs its HBV and virology science advisory board. Other current Assembly officials with IU or Indiana ties include:
- William W. Turner, who co-founded Assembly with Zlotnick and is a former visiting scholar in biochemistry at IU-Bloomington. Turner is head of discovery chemistry at Assembly and served for 35 years as a research chemist at Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co.
- Derek Small, a co-founder, CEO and director of Assembly, who earned a bachelors degree in business from Franklin College.
- Richard DiMarchi, an Assembly director who is the Cox Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Gill Chair in Biomolecular Sciences at IU-Bloomington.
- Micah Mackison, Assembly’s vice president of corporate development and strategy, who earned his bachelors degree in finance from IU.
- William Ringo, an Assembly director who also serves as a director for BioCrossroads, an Indiana initiative and public-private collaboration that focuses on growing, advancing and investing in the life sciences.
“The exceptional quality of these incoming senior managers adds significant depth and experience to the innovative science and technical approaches we are pursuing at Assembly to cure HBV and leverage the microbiome to treat infectious diseases,” Small said.
“With our team largely complete and cash reserves on hand projected to fund our progress for two years, we anticipate initiating clinical trials in the second half of 2016 with our microbiome therapy for recurrent CDI and our lead CpAM antiviral compound for the treatment of HBV.”