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Agios Pharmaceuticals Appoints Charles Sawyers, M.D.,to Scientific Advisory Board

- Agios Expands Internal Scientific and Business Leadership -

Cambridge, MA – February 6, 2009 – Agios Pharmaceuticals, the first biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel drugs in the rapidly emerging field of cancer metabolism, today announced the appointment of Charles Sawyers, M.D., to its scientific advisory board. Dr. Sawyers, who currently serves as Chairman of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, is an internationally recognized clinician and scientist who led the clinical development of two breakthrough cancer therapies, Gleevec (imatinib) and Sprycel (dasatinib).

"We are excited to have Dr. Sawyers join the Agios scientific advisory board to help accelerate our exploration of the therapeutic potential of cancer metabolism.  He adds a strong clinical dimension that complements our existing group of renowned oncology and metabolic experts," said Michael Su, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Vice President Drug Discovery, Agios. "Combining Dr. Sawyers' expertise in translational clinical trial design with the novel biological insights generated, in part, from our cell metabolism platform, will be critical to advancing our development programs."

In addition to the appointment of Dr. Sawyers, Agios continues to focus on building a strong internal scientific and business team – recent leadership additions include:  

  • Valeria Fantin, Ph.D., Director, Molecular Oncology
  • Jennifer Fujii, Ph.D., Director, Business Development and Operations
  • Shengfang Jin, Ph.D., Director, Cell Biology
  • Frank Salituro, Ph.D., Director, Medicinal Chemistry

"The Agios team has quickly grown to more than 40 people around the world, spanning cell biology, chemistry, metabolomics and business development," said Kevin Starr, interim Chief Executive Officer, Agios Pharmaceuticals and Partner, Third Rock Ventures. "With critical mass in R&D and strong scientific leadership in place, we are uniquely positioned to move our pipeline towards the clinic while levering the almost daily scientific advancements -- inside and outside the company -- in the field of cancer metabolism."

Agios was founded by three of the foremost authorities and leaders within the field of cancer metabolism: Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D., Director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School; Tak W. Mak, Ph.D., Director of The Campbell Family Institute for Cancer Research and Professor of The University of Toronto; and Craig B. Thompson, M.D., Director, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania.

About Cancer Metabolism
Cancer metabolism is a new and exciting field of biology that provides a novel approach to treating cancer.  Cancer cell metabolism is marked by profound changes in nutrient requirements and usage to ensure cell proliferation and survival.  Research in the field has demonstrated that cancer cells become addicted to certain fuel sources and metabolic pathways. In cancer, this metabolic reprogramming is coordinated with proliferative signaling and regulated by the same oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes to ensure efficient proliferation. Glycolysis (sugar metabolism), fatty acid metabolism and autophagy (self metabolism) are three pathways shown to play a critical role in cancer metabolism. Identifying and disrupting certain enzymes in these, and perhaps other, metabolic pathways provides a powerful intervention point for discovery and development of cancer therapeutics.

About Agios Pharmaceuticals
Agios Pharmaceuticals is the first biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics in the emerging field of cancer metabolism. To support and drive these efforts, Agios is building a robust platform integrating metabolomics, genetics, biochemistry and microscopy to enable biomarker and target identification.  Agios’ platform of differential cellular metabolism of diseased cells relative to normal cells will also be applicable to other therapeutics areas including autoimmune, inflammatory and neurological diseases. The Company’s founders represent the core thought leaders in the field of cancer metabolism, responsible for key advances, insights and discoveries in the field. Agios Pharmaceuticals is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  For more information, please visit the company's website at www.agios.com.

Media Contact:
Kathryn Morris
Yates Public Relations
845-635-9828