Overview

Akston Biosciences leverages its core expertise of designing novel fusion proteins to develop and manufacture new classes of biologic therapeutics for Type 1 diabetes (T1D) prevention, ultra-long acting insulin therapy, and vaccines.  Founded by the team that developed the world’s first clinical glucose-responsive insulin at SmartCells, Inc. (sold to Merck & Co. in 2010), Akston has raised over $18 million in equity financing from the management team and private investors, as well as $10 million from National Institutes of Health grants and The Helmsley Charitable Trust.  Akston is partnered with Dechra Pharmaceuticals PLC (DPH) to commercialize AKS-321d, a once-a-week canine insulin therapy.

Facility

Akston operates over 20,000 square feet of manufacturing, laboratory and office space in its Beverly, Massachusetts facility.  The manufacturing plant includes a GMP Quality Control (QC) laboratory and a large scale process development laboratory.  The 7,500 square foot GMP biologics factory is scheduled to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020.  This is designed for the production of GMP drug substance, using single-use processing, to support the clinical and commercial development of Akston’s therapeutics.  It includes an ISO7/Grade C cleanroom for inoculation, an ISO8/Grade D cleanroom for up- and down-stream processing, and an ISO8/Grade D cleanroom for post-viral processing. 

Akston also operates a Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) lab for analyzing clinical samples and a research laboratory used to process, purify, and formulate therapeutic candidates for in vivo testing. The research laboratory includes a rodent vivarium and analytical testing equipment for in-house studies.

Management and Board of Directors

TODD ZION, Ph.D.

PRESIDENT & CEO, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
Dr. Zion was President and CEO of SmartCells, Inc., developer of SmartInsulin, from its founding through its sale to Merck & Co., Inc. in 2010. He earned his doctorate in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At M.I.T., Todd won the Robert P. Goldberg Grand Prize in the 2003 M.I.T. $50K Entrepreneurship competition. Prior to enrolling at M.I.T., he worked as a polymer development engineer at Eastman Kodak. Todd graduated from Cornell University summa cum laude with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.

THOMAS LANCASTER, Ph.D.

VICE PRESIDENT, MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, DIRECTOR
Dr. Lancaster was Vice President of Research and Development at SmartCells, Inc. from 2004 through its sale to Merck & Co., Inc. in 2010. Dr. Lancaster earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was an NSF Graduate Fellow and an Elf Autochem Fellow. Before entering M.I.T., he was a Research Engineer at Union Carbide Corporation. Tom graduated with high distinction from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.

THILLAINAYGAM SATHIYASEELAN, Ph.D.

VICE PRESIDENT, QUALITY AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS
Dr. Sathiyaseelan (“Sathi”) was Director of Bioanalytical Development at SmartCells, Inc. at the time of its sale to Merck & Co. in 2010. Before that, he was Senior Manager, Vaccine Preclinical Development Projects at Vaxine Pty Ltd, Adelaide, Australia and Director (Immunology R&D and Therapeutic Antibody Development) at Hematech Inc., Sioux Falls, SD. Sathi earned his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and his Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery degree from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

JAMES HERRIMAN

VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS
Mr. Herriman was Vice President of Operations of SmartCells, Inc. from 2004 through its sale to Merck & Co., Inc. in 2010. He was Vice President of Product Development at Neuromedical Systems, Inc. where he played a key role in helping to grow this start-up to a $100 million NASDAQ IPO, was a co-founder and President of Aspex Incorporated and Vice President of Operations at Media-Unbound, Inc., which was acquired by Rovi Corporation. Jim received his B.A. in Philosophy from Emory University.

ED CANNON, Ph.D.

DIRECTOR
Dr. Cannon is currently the founder, President and CEO of NovAb, Inc., which is developing a novel class of antibody biotherapeutics. He was formerly the President and CEO of Unigen Pharmaceuticals, the CEO of AerovectRx, the President and CEO of AdipoGenix; the founding CEO of Elixir Pharmaceuticals; a founder, director, and President of the Therapeutics Division of DyaxCorp and a founder, director and CSO of Hygeia Sciences. Ed earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Georgia, and studied molecular immunology at Harvard Medical School.

ROBYN DAVIS

DIRECTOR
Ms. Davis is currently a Director at Brooks Automation (BRKS), which is a global leader in robotics and a Director at CRA Health, a privately-held predictive analytics firm. Since 2000 she has been a Managing Director of Angel Healthcare Investors, overseeing its investment process in early-stage firms, serving on boards of portfolio companies and actively contributing to fundraising and successful portfolio company exits. Robyn earned her B.A. from Tufts University and her M.B.A. from Harvard University.

Advisory Board

MARK ATKINSON, Ph.D.

Dr. Atkinson is the American Diabetes Association Eminent Scholar for Diabetes Research and the Jeffrey Keene Family Professor at the University of Florida. He is also the Executive Director of the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD). The author of over 400 publications, he is one of the world’s most cited diabetes researchers and received the prestigious Eli Lilly Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association. Dr. Atkinson earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Pathology at the University of Florida and his B.S. in microbiology from the University of Michigan – Dearborn.

CHARLES FINN, Ph.D.

Dr. Finn is Chief Executive Officer at RRD International, LLC, and Chairman of ClearPath Development Company LLC. He has more than 25 years of experience in the research, development, and government regulation of biological and pharmaceutical products covering a wide range of product types and therapeutic indications. Chuck began his career as a Staff Fellow at FDA, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, then entered industry, where he worked for Lederle-Praxis Biologicals, Miles Pharmaceuticals (Bayer), Genetics Institute, BRI International, and Quintiles. Dr. Finn earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Georgetown University and his B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland.

JOHN CAMBIER, Ph.D.

Dr. Cambier is the Chairman of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and has published more than 300 original research papers and reviews. He was a faculty member at Duke University and the Head of the Division of Basic Sciences in the Department of Pediatrics at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. Dr. Cambier earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in virology and immunology at the University of Iowa and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

JAMES THOMAS, M.D.

Dr. Thomas is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a faculty member at the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Thomas earned his B.A. from Southwestern at Memphis, his M.D. from the University of Tennessee and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Washington University Medical Center.