Plex Pharmaceuticals

ABOUT US


Plex Pharmaceuticals is a scientifically-driven company with a vision to improve the lives of patients diagnosed with complex, degenerative diseases. Plex Pharmaceuticals is focused on the treatment of diseases generally caused by  protein mis-folding such as ALS, Parkinson's Disease and cataracts.

Plex has a rich pipeline of drug discovery programs and a dedicated scientific team.  To date, Plex Pharmaceuticals has been primarily funded through grants from the NIH and the MJFF. Plex’s drug discovery lab and operations are located in San Diego, California.

 

  • Company founded in 2009.

  • Acquired by Collidion, Inc. in 2017.

Plex (Latin for fold) pharmaceuticals (formerly CalAsia Pharmaceuticals) is an early stage biotechnology company which is focusing its drug discovery expertise on diseases caused by protein misfolding: ALS, Parkinson’s disease and cataracts. CalAsia Pharmaceuticals, the predecessor to Plex Pharmaceuticals, was founded in 2009 and raised almost $3,000,000 in non-dilutive funding from the NIH and the Michael J.Fox Foundation to support its efforts in fragment-based screening and structure-based drug design. Plex’s ALS effort is built around the work of Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. Arthur Horwich, Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Horwich was one of the co-discoverers of the protein chaperone machinery, for which he received a Lasker Award. Plex pharmaceuticals additionally has a development program for Dengue, West Nile and Zika antiviral drugs which has also received support from the NIH and has worked on a novel brain-penetrant heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor for glioblastoma.

EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT


 
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Hoji Alimi, Chairman, CEO

Mr. Alimi has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry and has raised more than $170 million in capital throughout his career for different ventures. In 1999, he founded Micromed Laboratories Inc. to assist drug and device companies to navigate FDA and European Conformity (“CE”) mark approval processes. In 2002, Mr. Alimi founded Oculus Innovative Sciences, Inc., a company focused on topical anti- infective drugs as well as device-related applications. As CEO and Chairman, he led the company to successfully complete a randomized, double-blind, controlled phase II trial for improvement or cure of infection in diabetic ulcers.  Under his tenure, the company became publicly traded on Nasdaq and achieved dozens of regulatory approvals, including CE marks and 510(K) FDA clearances. In 2012, he founded Ruthigen, Inc. to focus on the development of a drug compound for the reduction of hospital acquired infections during invasive abdominal procedures. As CEO, Chairman and CSO, Ruthigen, Inc. completed an initial public offering and traded on NASDAQ, and later merged with Pulmatrix, a pulmonary-focused pharmaceutical company. Hoji Alimi holds more than 30 patents in areas of anti-infective, surgical, wound care and manufacturing of specific drugs and devices.   He received his B.A. in Biology - Sonoma State University 1995


 
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G. Sridhar Prasad, PhD, CSO

Dr Prasad has been a member of drug discovery teams that discovered multiple drug candidates advanced to various stages of preclinical and clinical development, including Merck’s MK-4965. He was the lead crystallographer and core member of the team that discovered Alogliptin - A Syrrx and Takeda San Diego's DPP4 inhibitor being marketed under the brand name Nesina® to treat type 2 diabetes and the first drug to be discovered using structure-based design at Syrrx. He designed, built and implemented fragment-based crystallography drug discovery technology platforms at Syrrx, Merck and Metabasis. He has co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed research articles and holds 6 US and international patents. He serves on the editorial board of Current Protein and Peptide Science, Chemical Sciences Journal and Organic and Medicinal Chemistry International Journal. Dr. Prasad obtained his PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and post-doctoral training at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, where he was Assistant Professor.


 
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William H. Watson, III, Vice-President of Global Sales and Business Development

William Watson’s career stems from over 30 years in finance and has grown to provide pivotal business development strategy and implementation for Collidion, Inc. Mr. Watson has been a registered representative and registered principal with FINRA since the early 1980’s. From 2003 to 2007, he joined Brookstreet Securities as the Vice President of Corporate Finance, where he completed 21 engagements totaling over $250 million of private placements, PIPE transactions, initial public offerings, and secondary offerings for small capitalization growth companies.  He has completed an additional $100 million of financing in his career for a variety of other ventures. In addition to financing activities, he also assisted in the assembly of Collidion’s scientific advisory board, interfaced with the board of directors and management, and generated key business development leads with healthcare partners. Since 2013, Mr. Watson has served on the Board of Directors of the National Investment Bankers Association.


 
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Sameer Harish, Director of Finance

Mr. Harish served as principal of Harish Life Science Advisors since 2011, an independent consulting firm he founded that provided financial, strategic and market research advisory services to life science companies. From 2013 until 2015 he served as Chief Financial Officer of Ruthigen, Inc. From 2005 until 2011, he served as an equity research analyst covering medical devices and diagnostics sectors with Needham & Co, and then subsequently at ThinkEquity. From 2002 through 2005, Mr. Harish worked as a research analyst at Symmetry Capital, a healthcare-focused hedge fund, where he guided investments in the medical device, biotechnology and specialty pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Harish also held research and laboratory positions at Guidant (now part of Abbott Laboratories) and Synteni (acquired by Incyte Corporation). Mr. Harish received a bachelor of arts from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied molecular and cell biology with an emphasis in immunology.

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS


 
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Hoji Alimi, Chairman, CEO

Mr. Alimi has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry and has raised more than $170 million in capital throughout his career for different ventures. In 1999, he founded Micromed Laboratories Inc. to assist drug and device companies to navigate FDA and European Conformity (“CE”) mark approval processes. In 2002, Mr. Alimi founded Oculus Innovative Sciences, Inc., a company focused on topical anti- infective drugs as well as device-related applications. As CEO and Chairman, he led the company to successfully complete a randomized, double-blind, controlled phase II trial for improvement or cure of infection in diabetic ulcers.  Under his tenure, the company became publicly traded on Nasdaq and achieved dozens of regulatory approvals, including CE marks and 510(K) FDA clearances. In 2012, he founded Ruthigen, Inc. to focus on the development of a drug compound for the reduction of hospital acquired infections during invasive abdominal procedures. As CEO, Chairman and CSO, Ruthigen, Inc. completed an initial public offering and traded on NASDAQ, and later merged with Pulmatrix, a pulmonary-focused pharmaceutical company. Hoji Alimi holds more than 30 patents in areas of anti-infective, surgical, wound care and manufacturing of specific drugs and devices.   He received his B.A. in Biology - Sonoma State University 1995


 
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G. Sridhar Prasad, PhD, CSO

Dr Prasad has been a member of drug discovery teams that discovered multiple drug candidates advanced to various stages of preclinical and clinical development, including Merck’s MK-4965. He was the lead crystallographer and core member of the team that discovered Alogliptin - A Syrrx and Takeda San Diego's DPP4 inhibitor being marketed under the brand name Nesina® to treat type 2 diabetes and the first drug to be discovered using structure-based design at Syrrx. He designed, built and implemented fragment-based crystallography drug discovery technology platforms at Syrrx, Merck and Metabasis. He has co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed research articles and holds 6 US and international patents. He serves on the editorial board of Current Protein and Peptide Science, Chemical Sciences Journal and Organic and Medicinal Chemistry International Journal. Dr. Prasad obtained his PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India and post-doctoral training at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, where he was Assistant Professor.


 
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William H. Watson, III, Vice-President of Global Sales and Business Development

William Watson’s career stems from over 30 years in finance and has grown to provide pivotal business development strategy and implementation for Collidion, Inc. Mr. Watson has been a registered representative and registered principal with FINRA since the early 1980’s. From 2003 to 2007, he joined Brookstreet Securities as the Vice President of Corporate Finance, where he completed 21 engagements totaling over $250 million of private placements, PIPE transactions, initial public offerings, and secondary offerings for small capitalization growth companies.  He has completed an additional $100 million of financing in his career for a variety of other ventures. In addition to financing activities, he also assisted in the assembly of Collidion’s scientific advisory board, interfaced with the board of directors and management, and generated key business development leads with healthcare partners. Since 2013, Mr. Watson has served on the Board of Directors of the National Investment Bankers Association.

 

SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD


 
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Allan E. Rubenstein, MD, Chairman SAB

Dr. Rubenstein has over 20 years of experience in management of biotechnology and medical equipment companies. Dr. Rubenstein is presently Clinical Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the NYU Langone Medical Center. He is the founder and the former CEO of NexGenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotechnology company focused on drug development for neurofibromatosis and related sporadic tumors. He also serves as the Vice-Chairman and Lead Director of the Cooper Companies (COO, NYSE), a medical products company. Dr. Rubenstein was one of the founding members of the Children's Tumor Foundation and also founded the Mount Sinai Neurofibromatosis Research and Treatment Center. He has been recognized in Who's Who in the East and Who's Who in Science and Technology. He has provided counsel to numerous research and governmental agencies, including the NINDS, the Neurogenetics Study Section of the National Cancer Institute, and the Department of Defense NF Research Program. He is a reviewer for several scientific publications and was a Contributing Editor for the Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine for many years. Dr. Rubenstein graduated from Cornell University. His medical education began at the University of Rochester, School of Medicine, and was completed at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. His Neurology specialty training was completed at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center- Neurological Institute in New York.


 
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Arthur L. Horwich, MD

Dr. Horwich is Sterling Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received undergraduate and MD degrees from Brown University, trained in Pediatric Medicine at Yale, then was a postdoctoral fellow in the Tumor Virology Lab at the Salk Institute and in Genetics at Yale, where he subsequently joined the Genetics Faculty and has remained. His independent work identified a mutant affecting the proper folding of imported mitochondrial proteins, which proved to be a double ring assembly, Hsp60, a chaperonin. He then focused on structure and mechanism of action of the related bacterial chaperonin, GroEL and its cooperating “lid” component, GroES. His most recent work focuses on misfolding-induced ALS produced by mutant superoxide dismutase 1. He has been recognized by membership in the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, and has received a number of international awards including: Gairdner International Award, Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences, Rosenstiel Award in Basic Medical Science, Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.


 
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Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, FANA, FAAN

Dr. Kesari is currently Chair, Department of Translational Neuro-Oncology and Neurotherapeutics, John Wayne Cancer Institute. He is also Director of Neuro-Oncology, Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Member, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. Dr. Kesari is also Director of the Translational Neuro-Oncology Laboratories at the Moores Cancer in addition to a Professor of Neurosciences at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Kesari is ranked among the top 1% of neuro-oncologists and neurologists in the nation, according to Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. He is a winner of an Innovation Award by the San Diego Business Journal. He is on the advisory board of American Brain Tumor Association, San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation, Chris Elliott Fund, Nicolas Conor Institute, Voices Against Brain Cancer, and Philippine Brain Tumor Alliance. He has been the author of over 200 scientific publications and is the inventor on several patents and patent applications. He completed ahis residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and ahis fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He earned a Ph.D. degree in molecular biology and a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine. He is a member of the Society of Neuro-Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Indian Society of Neuro-Oncology, and American Academy of Neurology.


 
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Nicholas DP Cosford, PhD

Dr. Cosford is Professor at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California. His research is involved in investigating the interactions of small molecule compounds with therapeutically important proteins and cellular signaling pathways. One aspect of his research emphasizes the use of medicinal chemistry and chemical biology approaches to probe intracellular pathways that regulate cell survival and cell growth. Another area of active research is the development of synthetic chemistry methodology using microfluidic technology for the rapid synthesis of biologically active small molecules. Therapeutically, his group is primarily focused on the discovery and optimization of compounds that have the potential to treat cancer, CNS diseases and infectious diseases. He has more than 20 years of experience leading small-molecule drug discovery projects in the pharmaceutical industry. At Sibia Neurosciences and at Merck Research Laboratories he directed multidisciplinary research teams focused on small- molecule hit-to-lead optimization and was responsible for moving several lead compounds through to the clinical phase. Examples include taking a nicotinic receptor agonist (Altinicline, SIB-1508Y) from initiation of research through to Phase II clinical for PD; taking mGluR5 negative allosteric modulators from HTS hits through in vivo proof-of-concept to Phase I clinical (ongoing); and design, synthesis and optimization of an mGluR5 PET tracer clinical candidate; design, synthesis and optimization of an Akt allosteric inhibitor preclinical candidate. To date, he has published more than 55 peer reviewed scientific publications, has more than 30 issued patents, and more than 30 additional patent applications pending. In 2006 he received the FRAXA Research Foundation Award for Outstanding Contributions to Fragile X Research.


 
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Prof. Krishna K. Sharma, PhD

Dr. Sharma is Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Missouri, Columbia, USA. As PI on several previous grants during the last 20 years, he has investigated lens crystallin structure-function and the molecular mechanisms involved in lens protein aggregation. His research focuses on mechanisms that underlie age-related changes in lens alpha-crystallin, the major protein in the lens, and how such changes can be modified to prevent age-related loss of lens transparency and cataract formation. Understanding protein interactions in the lens and how these interactions alter the function and structure of alpha-crystallin is fundamental to identifying the mechanisms of cataract development, and to developing modulators that will prevent lens changes and cataract formation. His work lead to the identification of chaperone functional sequences in alpha A and B-crystallins, and to the synthesis and characterization of peptide chaperones derived from these two crystallins. At this time his laboratory is conducting studies to develop alpha-crystallin- derived peptides that will inhibit protein aggregation and misfolding that leads to age- related loss of lens transparency. Another facet of his research is to identify the initiating events for age-related lens changes by characterizing proteolytic mechanisms responsible for crystallin fragmentation and aggregation. His group has identified specific crystallin fragments in aging human lenses that induce protein aggregation. He is recipient of several awards and honors, including, Lew R. Wasserman Merit Award, Research to Prevent Blindness, Robert E. McCormick Scholar Award, Research to Prevent Blindness and Cataract Research Award, National Foundation for Eye Research. He also serves on National Advisory Eye Council of NIH.