Facio reinforces team

Facio Therapies has retained Joris De Maeyer and Lars Bastiaanse to support its drug discovery and development program aimed at stopping the progression of FSHD. Joris is responsible for drug discovery and early development, while Lars is responsible for Facio’s overall drug development strategy. 

Joris De Maeyer is seconded to Facio from DM&S consulting (Mechelen, Belgium) as Director R&D. He has over 13 years’ experience leading outsourced and collaborative programs in drug discovery and early drug development. Joris had various roles of increasing responsibility at Johnson & Johnson, Movetis and Shire. In his most recent position as Director Discovery, he was responsible for part of Shire’s GI and CNS discovery portfolios. Joris holds a PhD (medical sciences) from Ghent University and an MSc (bioscience engineering in cell and gene biotechnology) from the Catholic University of Leuven. 

Lars Bastiaanse is seconded to Facio from PMD Consulting (Riel, Netherlands) as Director Development. He has 20 years’ experience with drug development, project management, and change management. Among his clients are both established and start-up biopharmaceutical companies from Europe, the US, and Japan. Lars was general manager of Kinesis Pharma and of 3D-PharmXchange, two independent drug development consultancy firms. Prior, he held positions of increasing seniority at various Johnson & Johnson companies.

The key event in FSHD is the production of a protein called DUX4. This protein plays a normal role in early fetal development, but is highly toxic when produced in muscle tissue. In people without FSHD, the DUX4 gene is repressed in muscle tissue. Facio’s goal is to overcome FSHD by developing a therapeutic drug that takes the DUX4 gene back to its repressed state by boosting the activity of a natural repressor of DUX4, a protein called SMCHD1. In FSHD the activity of SMCHD1 is too low. The first step towards this goal will be the discovery of small molecules that boost SMCHD1 activity. Small molecules are relatively simple molecules that are manufactured by chemical synthesis. Most therapeutic drugs are small molecules.