Abata Therapeutics Announces the Appointment of Leonard Dragone, M.D., Ph.D., as Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Dragone’s deep experience in autoimmune disease and drug development comes as the company advances its lead program, ABA-101, in progressive MS toward an IND; Company is on track to enter the clinic in 2024

Watertown, Mass., April 20, 2023 – Abata Therapeutics, a company focused on translating the biology of regulatory T cells (Tregs) into transformational medicines for patients with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, today announced the appointment of Leonard “Lenny” Dragone, M.D., Ph.D., as its new chief medical officer. Dr. Dragone brings to Abata extensive experience in preclinical and early clinical development and autoimmune medicine. He will play a crucial role in advancing the development of Abata’s programs in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Abata cofounder and Third Rock Ventures Venture Partner Richard Ransohoff, M.D., has been the company’s interim CMO since its founding, and with Dr. Dragone’s appointment, Dr. Ransohoff will move into an advisory role.

“Lenny’s wealth of knowledge and experience in drug development and autoimmune disease, including MS, adds outstanding capabilities to Abata as we work to maximize the potential of our engineered Treg platform and lead programs,” said Samantha Singer, M.S., M.B.A., Abata president and chief executive officer. “Lenny’s dedication to improving patient outcomes aligns with our core values and will build on the foundation Richard and his team have built. We are incredibly grateful to Richard and confident that Lenny’s contributions will have a lasting impact on our company and the patients we serve.”

Dr. Dragone commented: “Abata has built a powerful platform that takes full advantage of the potential of Treg cells engineered with a tissue-specific TCR to treat diseases such as MS and T1D. I was drawn to Abata as the company’s approach to Treg cell therapy represents the cutting-edge of innovation with autologous Tregs: the use of autoantigen-specific TCRs to fully engage Tregs and a design focusing on resistance to pro-inflammatory triggers. I’m excited to be working with an incredibly strong and experienced team where I can help make a meaningful impact on the lives of patients living with autoimmune conditions.”

Dr. Ransohoff commented: “We are at an exciting and important time as an organization as we advance our progressive MS program toward an IND and, eventually, into clinical development. Lenny’s expertise as a drug developer with experience in MS will be critical to the success of these efforts and our ability to positively impact patients. I’m thrilled he’ll be joining us to advance this work.”

Dr. Dragone most recently served as chief medical officer at Sonoma Biotherapeutics. Previously, he held leadership roles in early clinical development at Janssen Biopharma, Merck Research Laboratories, and Genentech, where he advanced preclinical, pre-investigational new drug (IND) and early clinical programs. In these roles, he focused on advancing science and creating infrastructures that enable cross-functional collaboration and scientific advancement.

Lenny received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester before completing his pediatric residency and pediatric rheumatology fellowship training at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He was also an assistant professor of pediatrics and immunology at the University of Colorado and National Jewish Health in Denver, where he ran a National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory, publishing more than 30 peer-reviewed articles. Lenny remains clinically active as a Volunteer Associate Professor of Pediatric Rheumatology at UCSF, seeing patients in the pediatric rheumatology fellow’s clinic.

About Abata Therapeutics

Abata Therapeutics is focused on translating the biology of regulatory T cells (Tregs) into transformational medicines for patients with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Founded by pioneers in Treg biology, TCR and antigen discovery, disease pathogenesis, and molecular and imaging biomarkers, Abata has developed a differentiated product engine to create engineered Treg cell therapies that are tissue-specific, robust, and durable. In addition to its lead program in progressive MS, Abata has programs in type 1 diabetes and inclusion body myositis – two other tissue-specific autoimmune diseases with substantial unmet needs and a strong rationale for Abata’s Treg approach. The company was launched in 2021 by Third Rock Ventures, with participation from a diverse syndicate of investors, including ElevateBio, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Invus, Samsara BioCapital, and the JDRF T1D Fund. Abata is based in Watertown, Mass. Please visit abatatx.com or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for more information.

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