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Dr. John Mendlein Joins aTyr Pharma as Executive Chairman
Date:5/25/2010

SAN DIEGO, May 25 /PRNewswire/ -- aTyr announced today that John Mendlein, Ph. D., has joined their Board of Directors as Executive Chairman. The translation of aTyr's newly found class of proteins, resectins, into medicines of the future will benefit from Dr. Mendlein's experience in biologics, partnerships, and product strategy. Resectins may serve as potential replacement protein therapeutics or as targets for antagonists relevant to inflammation, blood disorders, and metabolic disease. These naturally occurring human proteins possess novel biological activities distinct from currently known pharmaceutical targets and products.

"aTyr has recently uncovered novel proteins and pathways important to human physiology and disease. Dr. Mendlein's experience in translating game changing scientific discoveries into novel therapeutics will help us reach our goal – to build a successful, entrepreneurial enterprise from resectin based medicines offering breakthroughs in patient care" says Jeff Watkins, CEO of aTyr Pharma. Expanding on Dr. Mendlein's role, Watkins adds:  "John has an accomplished track record in biologics and building biotechs from a strong, novel scientific foundation. On multiple occasions he parlayed a company's science into meaningful partnerships and product opportunities while navigating the realities of running a biotech business."

Professor Paul Schimmel of The Scripps Research Institute and co-founder of aTyr Pharma adds, "Dr. Mendlein is the kind of visionary leader who recognizes how new biologies can open doors to whole new classes of therapeutics and targets. His passion for delivering new medicines to patients and his experience in making this happen helps actualize the potential of the new biology being elucidated with aminoacyl tRNA synthetase resectins."

Dr. Mendlein added, "The genomics efforts missed an important class of extracellular signaling proteins, resectins, which where hiding in the genes of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases, one of the most ancient and biochemically best understood enzyme families in biology. Thanks to aTyr and Dr. Schimmel a new fundamental biology related to intra- and inter-tissue extracellular communication in human physiology hereto unrecognized in medicine is rising up from these ancient, intracellular enzymes. Drug hunting doesn't get any more exciting than new therapeutic intervention points across multiple diseases."

Currently Chairman of Fate Therapeutics and Alevium Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Mendlein has extensive experience shepherding small molecules and biologics from discovery to humans and in building strong, entrepreneurial teams. Previously he was CEO of Adnexus Therapeutics, the leader in the development of a new class of targeted biologics (acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb, BMY). He has served in a variety of senior executive and board roles at both Aurora Biosciences (acquired by Vertex, VRTX) and Affinium Pharmaceuticals; and was a scientist at Smith Kline and French. He has been co-inventor or author of more than 40 issued patents and publications. In various board and executive roles he has been involved with biotech transactions totally over $3.5B in deal value. He received his Ph. D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings.  

About aTyr Pharma

aTyr Pharma engages in the generation of innovative therapeutics based on a new class of naturally occurring human proteins. These proteins, called resectins, modulate extracellular signaling pathways in a variety of biological processes. Resectins, previously overlooked by genomic efforts due to their hidden intra-protein location in ancient aminoacyl tRNA synthetase genes, have recently been discovered by aTyr, which is leading to connections in human physiology and pathophysiology ranging from inflammation to metabolic disease to peripheral neuropathy to blood disorders. Resectin biology, distinct from currently known pathways and pharmaceutical targets, may represent breakthrough opportunities for novel therapeutic interventions. Tmax, aTyr's first program, is a preclinical replacement protein candidate with a novel thrombopoietic activity for the treatment of thrombocytopenia. aTyr Pharma has established a dominant intellectual property estate surrounding resectin based compositions and therapeutic applications.

The privately held biotech was founded by Dr. Paul Schimmel, a leading aminoacyl tRNA synthetase scientist and biotechnology entrepreneur who also founded Alkermes (ALKS), Cubist (CBST), and Alnylam (ALNY). aTyr Pharma is backed by leading life sciences investors Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners, and Polaris Ventures. For more information please visit www.atyrpharma.com


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