Our mission is to serve patients with cancer by providing
an efficacious specific treatment intervention that preserves quality of life.
Marta Kijanka, PhD
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Marta Kijanka (1985; PhD) is a medical biotechnologist by training. In 2010 she joined the Molecular Oncology Group at Utrecht University to work on a project focusing on cancer molecular imaging and therapy using antibody fragments (i.e. nanobodies). Upon obtaining her doctorate she worked at QVQ, a CRO specialized in nanobody generation and production. Marta joined APO-T in August 2015 as VP of R&D. As acting CEO she is devoting her time since January 2018 to the overall strategy and general management of APO-T
Our Scientific Advisory Board
dr Michael Saunders
Michael Saunders holds a PhD in Biology from the University North Carolina (USA, 1989) and undertook postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Professor Pierre Chambon in Strasbourg (France). He also received general management training (EMBA) at ESSEC (France) and Mannheim Business School (Germany). Dr Saunders brings in 27 years of experience in pharmaceutical industry. Dr Saunders served as Senior Scientist and Project Leader at GSK at the French Drug Discovery Unit, followed by joining Devgen as Director Pharma Discovery.
Since 2006 Dr Saunders has worked for Ablynx NV as an independent senior interim project director leading the successful Nanobody Landgrab program selecting 100 therapeutic targets, and resulting in the identification of Nanobodies of therapeutic relevance against these targets, 20 patent applications, 4 internal drug development programs and 5 scientific publications. Within Ablynx Dr Saunders also led an internal drug discovery program and an external program as Alliance Manager with Boehringer Ingelheim.
Dr Saunders served as Senior Director, Targets & Programs of arGEN-X BVBA for 6 years and as VP External Research for 4 years. He has contributed to the discovery of six antibodies in clinical and preclinical development, to establishment and maintenance of academic collaborations and Alliance Management with Pharma partners (Shire, Bayer, Eli Lilly) and wrote and obtained 5 Research Grants (>11M€ non-dilutive funding).
Prof. Pierre van der Bruggen
Pierre van der Bruggen completed in 1982 studies in the Faculty of Agronomy at the Université catholique de Louvain and, in 1987, a Ph.D in Agronomical Sciences on a fungus pathogenic for cassava. In 1988, he joined the research group of Thierry Boon at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He became Associate Professor in 2000 at the Medical Faculty of the Université catholique de Louvain, where he is now Full Professor.
Pierre van der Bruggen identified in 1991 the first human gene, MAGE-1, coding for a tumor antigen recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes. He and his group identified over the years several other cancer germline genes and defined a large number of antigenic peptides, which are encoded by these genes and recognized on tumors by CD8 or CD4 T lymphocytes. Efforts have then been devoted to set up assays that accurately monitor CD4+ T cell responses to cancer vaccines. The group was also involved in the study of MAGE-3-specific regulatory T cells and is currently focused on dysfunctions of human tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
His group has discovered a new type of dysfunction of human tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, due to the presence of galectin-3, a lectin abundant in tumors. T cell dysfunction was corrected by galectin ligands and anti-galectin-3 antibodies. The group is further analyzing the mechanisms by which galectin ligands reverse the impaired function and is looking for agents that correct this function.
dr Allard Kaptein
Allard Kaptein completed in 1988 studies in the Faculty of Molecular Sciences at the Agricultural University Wageningen and, in 1993 received a Ph.D in Biopharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Leiden on the thesis “Regulation of the Synthesis and Secretion of Apolipoprotein A-I, Apolipoprotein B100 and Lipoprotein(a) in Cultured Hepatocytes” based on work done at the Gaubius Institute TNO in Leiden.
Dr Kaptein joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1994 and worked in different project and line management positions at Glaxo(Wellcome), Organon, Schering Plough and MSD, on cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease and oncology. Dr Kaptein led the activities for the BTK inhibitor programs at Organon, Schering Plough and MSD. The work on the covalent BTK inhibitor program was the base for the identification of acalabrutinib.
Dr Kaptein is one of the founders of Acerta Pharma and in his current role is responsible for new targets and programs for the company as well as preclinical work supporting acalabrutinib development activities. Acerta Pharma is a leader in the field of covalent binding technology applied to create novel, highly selective therapies for cancer. In October 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved acalabrutinib for the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma in patients who had previously been treated with another therapy.