Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Announces Appointment of Alastair Garfield, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer

July 8, 2024 at 8:00 AM EDT

BOSTON, July 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: RYTM), a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on transforming the lives of patients and their families living with rare neuroendocrine diseases, today announced the appointment of Alastair “Al” Garfield, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer, effective July 1.

“We are excited to welcome Al back to Rhythm as we continue to leverage our understanding of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) pathway to bring potential therapies to patients and their families,” said David Meeker, M.D., Rhythm Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. “Al’s leadership and established scientific expertise and experience in the brain’s regulation of appetite and body weight were instrumental in defining the Rhythm of today, and we are genuinely thrilled he chose to rejoin Rhythm to help us achieve our vision for the future of MC4R therapeutics.”

Dr. Garfield said, “After being part of the team to develop the first generation of MC4R agonists and seeing the transformational promise this precision medicine approach has delivered to patients and families living with hyperphagia and severe obesity, I am excited about the potential for additional opportunities for Rhythm. Decades of research interest in the MC4R pathway tell us that this robustly validated target has broad clinical relevance, and as the industry leader in this mechanism, I believe Rhythm is uniquely positioned to deliver on this potential.”

Dr. Garfield rejoins Rhythm after serving as Senior Vice President and Head of Translational Sciences and Strategy at Rectify Pharma, where he helped deliver first-in-class therapeutics for rare disease. Prior to joining Rectify, Dr. Garfield was Senior Vice President and Head of Translational Research at Rhythm. He also held roles at Pfizer, where he was a lab head in the Cardiovascular Metabolic Disease Research Unit and led novel obesity target identification.

Dr. Garfield’s holds a first-class degree in molecular and cellular biology and a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the University of Bath, UK. His postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Cardiff, UK and University of Cambridge, UK focused on neural pathways and genes underlying mammalian energy balance. As an assistant professor at the University of Edinburgh, UK and visiting professor Harvard Medical School, Dr. Garfield’s independent research expanded the field’s understanding of the hypothalamic melanocrotinergic networks regulating metabolism, body weight and appetite. His research has been published in leading scientific journals including Nature, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, and Cell Metabolism. Dr Garfield has authored numerous original research and review articles on the MC4R pathway, including “Melanocortin-4 receptor-regulated energy homeostasis,” which was published in Nature Neuroscience in 2016 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26814590/).

About Rhythm Pharmaceuticals
Rhythm is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company committed to transforming the lives of patients and their families living with rare neuroendocrine diseases. Rhythm’s lead asset, IMCIVREE® (setmelanotide), an MC4R agonist designed to treat hyperphagia and severe obesity, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management in adult and pediatric patients 6 years of age and older with monogenic or syndromic obesity due to pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 1 (PCSK1) or leptin receptor (LEPR) deficiency confirmed by genetic testing, or patients with a clinical diagnosis of Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS). Both the European Commission (EC) and the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have authorized setmelanotide for the treatment of obesity and the control of hunger associated with genetically confirmed BBS or genetically confirmed loss-of-function biallelic POMC, including PCSK1, deficiency or biallelic LEPR deficiency in adults and children 6 years of age and above. Additionally, Rhythm is advancing a broad clinical development program for setmelanotide in other rare diseases, as well as investigational MC4R agonists LB54640 and RM-718, and a preclinical suite of small molecules for the treatment of congenital hyperinsulinism. Rhythm’s headquarters is in Boston, MA.

Setmelanotide Indication
In the United States, setmelanotide is indicated for chronic weight management in adult and pediatric patients 6 years of age and older with monogenic or syndromic obesity due to POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR deficiency as determined by an FDA-approved test demonstrating variants in POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR genes that are interpreted as pathogenic, likely pathogenic, or of uncertain significance (VUS) or BBS.

In the European Union, setmelanotide is indicated for the treatment of obesity and the control of hunger associated with genetically confirmed BBS or loss-of-function biallelic POMC, including PCSK1, deficiency or biallelic LEPR deficiency in adults and children 6 years of age and above. In Europe, setmelanotide should be prescribed and supervised by a physician with expertise in obesity with underlying genetic etiology.

Limitations of Use
Setmelanotide is not indicated for the treatment of patients with the following conditions as setmelanotide would not be expected to be effective:

  • Obesity due to suspected POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR deficiency with POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR variants classified as benign or likely benign
  • Other types of obesity not related to POMC, PCSK1 or LEPR deficiency, or BBS, including obesity associated with other genetic syndromes and general (polygenic) obesity.

Contraindication
Prior serious hypersensitivity to setmelanotide or any of the excipients in IMCIVREE. Serious hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis) have been reported.

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

Skin Pigmentation and Darkening of Pre-Existing Nevi: Generalized increased skin pigmentation and darkening of pre-existing nevi have occurred because of its pharmacologic effect. Full body skin examinations prior to initiation and periodically during treatment should be conducted to monitor pre-existing and new pigmentary lesions.

Heart rate and blood pressure monitoring: In Europe, heart rate and blood pressure should be monitored as part of standard clinical practice at each medical visit (at least every 6 months) for patients treated with setmelanotide.

Disturbance in Sexual Arousal: Spontaneous penile erections in males and sexual adverse reactions in females have occurred. Patients who have an erection lasting longer than 4 hours should seek emergency medical attention.

Depression and Suicidal Ideation: Depression and suicidal ideation have occurred. Patients should be monitored for new onset or worsening depression or suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Consideration should be given to discontinuing setmelanotide if patients experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors, or clinically significant or persistent depression symptoms occur.

Hypersensitivity Reactions: Serious hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis) have been reported. If suspected, advise patients to promptly seek medical attention and discontinue setmelanotide.

Pediatric Population: The prescribing physician should periodically assess response to setmelanotide therapy. In growing children, the impact of weight loss on growth and maturation should be evaluated. In Europe, the prescribing physician should monitor growth (height and weight) using age- and sex-appropriate growth curves.

Risk of Serious Adverse Reactions Due to Benzyl Alcohol Preservative in Neonates and Low Birth Weight Infants: Setmelanotide is not approved for use in neonates or infants. Serious and fatal adverse reactions including “gasping syndrome” can occur in neonates and low birth weight infants treated with benzyl alcohol-preserved drugs.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

Most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥20%) included skin hyperpigmentation, injection site reactions, nausea, headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, depression, and spontaneous penile erection.

USE IN SPECIFIC POPULATIONS

Lactation: Not recommended when breastfeeding.
To report SUSPECTED ADVERSE REACTIONS, contact Rhythm Pharmaceuticals at +1 (833) 789-6337 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. See section 4.8 of the Summary of Product Characteristics for information on reporting suspected adverse reactions in Europe.

Please see the full Prescribing Information for additional Important Safety Information.

Forward-looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements regarding the potential, safety, efficacy, regulatory and clinical progress, or benefits of any of our products or product candidates, including potential MC4R therapeutics; our potential market position and opportunities; updates to our executive team; and the timing of any of the foregoing. Statements using words such as “expect”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “may”, “will” and similar terms are also forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, our ability to enroll patients in clinical trials, the design and outcome of clinical trials, the impact of competition, the ability to achieve or obtain necessary regulatory approvals, risks associated with data analysis and reporting, our ability to successfully commercialize setmelanotide and develop and commercialize additional potential MC4R therapeutics, our liquidity and expenses, our ability to retain our key employees and consultants, and to attract, retain and motivate qualified personnel, and general economic conditions, and the other important factors discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the three months ended March 31, 2024 and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligations to make any revisions to the forward-looking statements contained in this release or to update them to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this release, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

Corporate Contact:
David Connolly
Head of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications
Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
857-264-4280
dconnolly@rhythmtx.com

Media Contact:
Adam Daley
Berry & Company Public Relations
212-253-8881
adaley@berrypr.com


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Source: Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, Inc.