SAN DIEGO, July 6, 2021 – Locanabio, Inc., an RNA-targeting gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing therapies for patients with severe neuromuscular, neurodegenerative and retinal diseases, today announced the appointment of John P. Leonard, PhD, to chief scientific officer and Edward R. Conner, MD, to chief medical officer, effective today. Drs. Leonard and Conner are both seasoned industry experts with significant industry experience in genetic medicines and product research and development.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome John and Ed to the Locanabio team. Their extensive experience in drug discovery and development across multiple therapeutic areas, including rare and neuromuscular diseases, and deep insights into successfully advancing new genetic medicines will be instrumental as we progress and expand the company’s pipeline,” said Jim Burns, PhD, chief executive officer at Locanabio. “This is an exciting time for the company, and I very much look forward to working with both John and Ed as we accelerate our efforts to advance multiple promising programs into IND-enabling studies.”
Dr. Leonard joins Locanabio as an experienced scientific leader driving R&D programs across multiple modalities including cell and gene therapies, biologics and small molecules, starting from identification and screening of drug candidates to early proof of concept stage and early-stage clinical trials. He previously served as head of hematology and in vivo research and translation at CRISPR Therapeutics where he advanced gene editing programs leveraging lipid nanoparticle (LNP) and adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 for liver and neuromuscular indications. Before CRISPR Therapeutics, he held various roles of increasing responsibility at Genzyme (now Sanofi Genzyme), most recently head of metabolic and neuromuscular research in the rare disease unit.
Dr. Leonard earned a doctorate degree and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Neurology in London. He earned a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and pharmacology from King’s College London. He holds multiple patents and has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal publications.
“Locanabio’s unique CORRECTX™ platform offers new and enhanced methods of RNA modification delivered with gene therapy,” said Dr. Leonard. “This novel approach has potential to lead to new scientific breakthroughs for patients with severe genetic diseases, and I am delighted to join such an innovative and talented team.”
Dr. Conner is an established leader in driving clinical development, translational medicine and clinical strategy, with broad experience in early- and late-stage and post-marketing products. He joins Locanabio from Audentes Therapeutics (now Astellas Gene Therapies) where he served as chief medical officer and senior vice president and led functions including clinical development and operations, medical affairs, regulatory, drug safety and patient advocacy. He also managed an investigational new drug (IND) filing for Pompe disease and led the clinical development for myotonic dystrophy and Duchenne muscular dystrophy programs. Prior to Audentes, Dr. Conner served as chief medical officer and senior vice president at Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. Previously, he served as vice president of global clinical development at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. Before that, he was senior medical director at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. and previously medical director at Genentech (now a member of the Roche Group).
Dr. Conner earned a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Michigan and his fellowship in clinical immunology and allergic diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Duke University.
“Locanabio is at an important stage of the company’s growth,” said Dr. Conner. “The promising preclinical data across multiple diseases and therapeutic categories is very exciting, and I look forward to helping advance these programs into the clinic to reach underserved patients with potential new therapeutic options.”
Locanabio is the global leader in developing a new class of genetic medicines. Our unique and multidimensional approach uses gene therapy to deliver RNA binding protein-based systems to correct the message of disease-causing RNA and thereby change the lives of patients with devastating genetic diseases. These broad capabilities delivered via gene therapy enable Locanabio to potentially address a wide range of severe diseases with a single administration. The company is currently advancing programs in neurodegenerative, neuromuscular and retinal diseases. For more information, visit www.locanabio.com.
Berry & Company