Inspirna Announces Appointment of Karim Benhadji, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer and Retirement of Robert Wasserman, M.D.

NEW YORK – May 21st, 2024 – Inspirna, Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing first-in-class cancer therapeutics, announced today the appointment of Karim Benhadji, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer, effective May 1, 2024.

Dr. Benhadji will succeed Robert Wasserman, M.D., who is retiring as Chief Medical Officer and will transition to a role as Advisor to the Company. Dr. Wasserman was appointed Chief Medical Officer of Inspirna (previously Rgenix) in 2019, and oversaw the early clinical development of its lead candidates, ompenaclid (RGX-202) and abequolixron (RGX-104).

“Bob was instrumental in transforming our pipeline and advancing important development candidates. We thank him for his invaluable contribution,” said Dr. Usman “Oz” Azam, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Inspirna. “This is a pivotal year for Inspirna, and we are excited to welcome Karim to the team to oversee a potentially transformative period for both the Company and patients in need of new and better treatment options for difficult-to-treat cancers. Karim brings vast mid and late stage oncology drug development experience to the Company, and his leadership will be crucial in the coming years as we execute on our clinical development strategy.”

“Inspirna is differentiated by its proprietary target discovery platform RNA-DRIVEr™, and I am excited to work with this team to realize the full potential of this microRNA-based target discovery platform,” said Dr. Benhadji. “Ompenaclid and abequolixron both have the potential to be first-in-class and best-in-class oral small molecule drugs, and I look forward to working with the team to bring these novel medicines to patients in need.”

Dr. Benhadji brings 20 years of experience in biopharmaceutical oncology drug development, and most recently served as Chief Medical Officer of GV20 Therapeutics. He previously served as Senior Vice President, Head of Clinical Development and Operations at Taiho Oncology, where he oversaw the development of early and late phase portfolio assets, including the pivotal Phase 3 SUNLIGHT trial in collaboration with Servier that led to the FDA approval of LONSURF® (trifluridine/tipiracil) in combination with bevacizumab in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Prior to joining Taiho Oncology, Dr. Benhadji spent 13 years with Eli Lilly and Company in oncology development roles of increasing responsibility, including overseeing several immuno-oncology programs. Dr. Benhadji received his M.D. from the University of Oran, and a Master of Science in Pharmacology and Therapeutics in Oncology from the University of Paris.

About Inspirna

Inspirna, Inc., is a privately-held clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel cancer drugs that target key pathways in cancers of high unmet need. The company is pursuing several first-in-class drug candidates. Inspirna’s lead drug candidate, ompenaclid (RGX-202), is an orally-administered small molecule that targets the CKB/SLC6A8 pathway. This pathway becomes activated in the tumors of select patients where it enables the generation of the energy molecule ATP in response to tumor hypoxia. Ompenaclid is currently being tested in multiple mid stage clinical trials in patients with advanced or metastatic RAS mutant colorectal cancer.

Inspirna’s second clinical stage drug candidate, abequolixron (RGX-104), is an oral small molecule activator of LXR/APOE that inhibits angiogenesis and tumor myeloid derived suppressor cells to enhance the immune response against tumors. Abequolixron is currently being tested in a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial in patients with advanced or metastatic lung cancer in combination with docetaxel and endometrial cancer in combination with ipilimumab through a clinical collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb.

Inspirna identifies novel cancer targets using its microRNA-based target discovery platform, RNA-DRIVEr, which was originally developed by Inspirna’s scientific co-founders at The Rockefeller University and exclusively licensed to Inspirna. The Company brings together distinguished scientific founders, a seasoned board of directors, and a leadership team comprised of experienced drug developers. The Company is funded by leading biotechnology investors, including Novo Holdings A/S, Sofinnova Partners, Sands Capital, Vivo Capital, Lepu Holdings Limited, Sixty Degree Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, K2 HealthVentures, Oceanpine Capital, WuXi PharmaTech Healthcare Fund I, LP, Alexandria Venture Investments, LLC, Dreavent 6, Exor Seeds, and the Partnership Fund for New York City. For more information, please visit


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