- Dr. Couto strengthens leadership team with extensive AAV and ocular gene therapy expertise
DURHAM, NC – Atsena Therapeutics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on bringing the life-changing power of genetic medicine to reverse or prevent blindness, today announced the appointment of Linda B. Couto, PhD, as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). Dr. Couto brings more than 25 years of gene therapy experience to the Atsena leadership team. She has been a senior gene therapy consultant to the company and will assume the CSO responsibilities from Shannon Boye, PhD, Atsena’s co-founder who has been serving as acting CSO. “I’m thrilled to welcome Linda to the Atsena team and look forward to working with her to develop novel ocular gene therapies,” said Dr. Boye, who will remain on Atsena’s board of directors and continue to provide scientific and strategic counsel.
“Linda’s depth of knowledge about adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors and experience with the first approved gene therapy for inherited retinal disease are extraordinary assets to Atsena,” said Patrick Ritschel, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Atsena. “We’re delighted that Linda is taking on the role of Chief Scientific Officer and look forward to continuing to leverage her gene therapy expertise as we progress the development of novel treatments aimed at reversing or preventing blindness.”
Prior to Atsena, Dr. Couto was Head of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Ocular Research Lead for Spark Therapeutics. She has been responsible for the pre-clinical development of numerous recombinant AAV vectors, encompassing vector design, execution of proof-of-concept studies in animal models of disease, and Investigational New Drug (IND)-enabling pharmacology, biodistribution, and toxicology studies, across multiple therapeutic areas. Dr. Couto has authored numerous non-clinical modules to support regulatory applications for gene therapies at various stages of development from pre-IND to Biologics License Applications and Marketing Authorization Applications, including LUXTURNA®.
Dr. Couto was also Associate Director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Earlier in her career, she held positions of increasing responsibility at several gene therapy biotechnology companies including Avigen Therapeutics and Somatix Therapy Corporation. Dr. Couto holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I’m excited to contribute to the advancement of Atsena’s innovative AAV technology platform and pipeline of ocular gene therapy programs,” said Dr. Couto. “I share the Atsena team’s passion for developing treatments for inherited retinal diseases and believe we have the potential to significantly improve patients’ lives with the power of genetic medicine.”
About Atsena Therapeutics
Atsena Therapeutics is a clinical-stage gene therapy company developing novel treatments for inherited forms of blindness. The company’s ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial is evaluating a potential therapy for one of the most common causes of blindness in children. Its additional pipeline of leading preclinical assets is powered by an adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology platform tailored to overcome significant hurdles presented by inherited retinal disease, and its unique approach is guided by the specific needs of each patient condition to optimize treatment. Founded by ocular gene therapy pioneers Dr. Shannon Boye and Sanford Boye of the University of Florida, Atsena is based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, an environment rich in gene therapy expertise. For more information, please visit atsenatx.com.