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Aro Biotherapeutics Appoints Leading Cancer Biologist Dr. Martin McMahon and Protein Structure and Design Expert Dr. Ronald Swanson to its Scientific Advisory Board


Philadelphia, PA, February 11, 2020 – Aro Biotherapeutics announced the appointments of Martin McMahon, PhD, and Ronald V. Swanson, PhD, to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Dr. McMahon will provide strategic counsel on the development of novel Centyrin-siRNA therapeutic candidates targeting KRAS and other oncogenic pathways. Dr. Swanson will provide scientific counsel on protein engineering and optimization of novel Centyrin targeting therapeutic candidates. 


“We warmly welcome Dr. McMahon, a well-known leader in cancer biology and experimental cancer therapeutics, and Dr. Swanson, an accomplished protein engineer who has been involved in the development of multiple protein therapeutic candidates, to Aro’s SAB,” said Sue Dillon, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aro. “Dr. McMahon’s expertise will be invaluable to Aro as we progress our Centyrin therapeutic candidates from research into clinical development. In addition, Dr. Swanson’s biotherapeutics development insights and experience will be extremely helpful for lead optimization. They are both assets to Aro and our SAB.”


Dr. McMahon’s translational cancer research program at the University of Utah focuses on the mechanisms underlying the initiation, progression and maintenance of metastatic melanoma, lung and pancreatic cancers. Prior to his appointments at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in 2015, Dr. McMahon held faculty positions dating back to 1998 at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Dillar Family Comprehensive Cancer Center where he served as a Distinguished Professor of Cancer Biology, Co-Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program and Director for Professional Education. Prior to UCSF, Dr. McMahon headed an independent research group at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto (now Merck Research Laboratories). He currently serves as the Cumming-Presidential Chair of Cancer Biology in the Department of Dermatology, Senior Director for Preclinical Translation and Co-Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program in the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Dr. McMahon graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Biochemistry from Glasgow University in 1981 and a doctorate from King’s College, University of London in 1985. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship under the mentorship of J. Michael Bishop at UCSF investigating the mechanisms of action of oncoprotein kinases such as SRC, ERBB and RAF. 


Dr. McMahon commented, “It is an honor to work with the Aro team to help advance transformational new therapeutics using the Centyrin technology to deliver novel cancer therapeutics directly to cancer cells. This technology has the promise to increase therapeutic anti-cancer efficacy and reduce potential toxicity to patients.”


Dr. Swanson is Chief Scientific Officer at Tyra Biosciences, a company focused on targeting acquired resistance in oncology. Prior to Tyra, Dr. Swanson managed the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Lead Discovery & Optimization group based in San Diego focused on engineering of antibodies, peptides and protein therapeutics. He was Senior Director of New Platforms and Technologies before retiring from J&J last year to return to a biotech startup environment. He began his career as Director of Genomics and Protein Expression at then biotech startup Diversa working on enzyme discovery and directed evolution. He later joined the newly founded Syrrx as Director of Molecular Biology focused on high-throughput protein structure determination and structure-based drug design. He was co-founder and CSO at ActiveSight, a pioneering structural biology contract research organization. Dr. Swanson graduated from University of California, San Diego with a BA in Biochemistry and Cell Biology in 1985 and from University of California, Berkeley in 1991 with a PhD in Molecular Biology under the guidance of Alex Glazer studying post-translational modifications of proteins. His postdoctoral fellowship was done with Mel Simon at Caltech working on protein-protein interactions in signal transduction and thermostable proteins.


Dr. Swanson commented, “It is great to be involved with the Aro team developing a novel platform for truly differentiated new therapeutics. The ability to access intracellular targets with the Centyrin technology allows for engineering highly specific and stable therapeutics that will profoundly impact disease treatment.”

Building a Pipeline of Life Changing Therapies

Centyrins are small, structurally simple, ultra-stable, highly soluble proteins. These characteristics enable the discovery of medicines with new mechanisms of action for cancer and other devastating diseases. This first-of-its-kind combination of properties is designed to address unmet medical needs by targeting drug payloads in high concentration to the site of disease, while lowering the toxicity to non-target organs. The company holds an exclusive worldwide license for research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of Centyrin protein therapeutics.

About Aro Biotherapeutics

Aro is a biotechnology company focused on the research and development of a new generation of protein biologics called Centyrins. The company is developing a wholly-owned pipeline of Centyrins for oncology and immunology, and is working with leaders in the industry on leveraging Centyrins for tissue specific targeting of therapeutics, including nucleic acid drugs for a diverse set of diseases. For more information, visit


CENTYRIN™ is a trademark of Johnson & Johnson


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