press release

Enlaza Therapeutics Appoints Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., as a Key Advisor

Executive Chairperson and former CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals to help guide the development of a high-value pipeline of first-in-class covalent protein drugs from Enlaza’s War-Lock™ platform

LA JOLLA, Calif., June 18, 2024 – Enlaza Therapeutics, the first covalent biologic platform company, today announced the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, Executive Chairperson of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, as a key advisor to the company. Dr. Leiden has more than 40 years of experience in the biopharma industry developing life-improving medicines and building companies that transform the industry.

“Jeff is one of the most accomplished and admired leaders in our industry. He has dedicated his career to developing important first-in-class medicines from novel breakthrough technologies that have helped millions of people with serious diseases,” said Sergio Duron, Ph.D., CEO of Enlaza Therapeutics. “With our War-Lock platform, we can create covalent protein drugs with the potential to improve treatments for many diseases. Jeff’s guidance will be invaluable as we establish a diverse pipeline and advance our lead assets toward clinical development.”

“While covalency has been a long-standing strategy in small molecule drug development, Enlaza is the first to incorporate covalency into biologics, unlocking a new class of protein therapeutics,” said Dr. Leiden. “I look forward to working closely with the Enlaza team to realize the full potential of this exciting new drug discovery and development platform and help create meaningful new medicines for patients.”

As CEO and President of Vertex from 2012 through 2020, Dr. Leiden built a robust pipeline of drug candidates, with a particular focus on therapies that cure or modify the course of disease. Under his leadership, Vertex delivered the first and only medicines to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis for patients with certain forms of the disease, including KALYDECO®, ORKAMBI®, SYMDEKO® and TRIKAFTA®. In 2015, he established a collaboration with CRISPR Therapeutics to develop transformative therapies for sickle cell disease (SCD), beta thalassemia (TDT) and other diseases; and in 2023, CASGEVY™ was approved as the first gene-editing therapy in the world for SCD and TDT. In 2019, he led the Vertex acquisition of Semma Therapeutics to develop a clinical program to investigate what may be the first potentially curative stem cell-based therapy for type 1 diabetes.

Prior to joining Vertex, Dr. Leiden was a managing director at Clarus Ventures, a life sciences venture capital firm, from 2006 through 2012. Dr. Leiden was President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of Abbott Laboratories, Pharmaceuticals Products Group, and a member of the board of directors of Abbott Laboratories from 2000 to 2006. At Abbott he led the development and commercialization of HUMIRA®. From 1987 to 2000, Dr. Leiden held several academic appointments, including the Rawson Professor of Medicine and Pathology and Chief of Cardiology and Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of Chicago, the Elkan R. Blout Professor of Biological Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an elected member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.

About the War-Lock™ Platform

Enlaza’s covalent biologic platform, called War-Lock, creates highly specific therapeutic warheads that covalently bind to drug targets of interest. This white-space technology enables, for the first time, a covalent-acting protein drug that retains the selectivity of small-format biologics. Protein drugs produced by the platform can be modified to incorporate various payloads and achieve specific delivery to target tissues with high fidelity.

About Enlaza Therapeutics

Enlaza Therapeutics is pioneering the field of covalent biologics. This novel class of protein therapeutics has the potential to delivers more efficacious and safer treatments for patients. The company’s proprietary War-Lock™ platform leverages leading synthetic biology technology for site-specific covalent coupling driven by drug binding. Enlaza is building a pipeline of first-in-class covalent biologics.


Sergio Duron, Ph.D.
Enlaza Therapeutics
[email protected]

Jessica Yingling, Ph.D.
Little Dog Communications Inc.,
[email protected]