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We are a late stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of serlopitant for the treatment of pruritus, or itch, associated with dermatologic conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and prurigo nodularis. We are concurrently evaluating the use of serlopitant for the treatment of refractory chronic cough, a cough that persists for greater than eight weeks despite treatment of any identified underlying cause. We believe that serlopitant, a highly selective small molecule inhibitor of the neurokinin 1 receptor, or NK1R, given as a once daily, oral tablet, has the potential to significantly alleviate pruritus and refractory chronic cough symptoms.

Pruritus is the primary patient complaint among atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and prurigo nodularis patients and represents a significant medical need and commercial opportunity. There are no therapies approved today in the United States primarily intended to reduce the pruritus associated with these conditions. Refractory chronic cough also represents a significant opportunity, with no drugs specifically approved for this indication in the United States.

Menlo Therapeutics has completed two double blind Phase 2 clinical trials in over 380 patients with pruritus and observed clinically relevant and statistically significant improvements in pruritus in patients treated with serlopitant compared to patients treated with placebo. The first Phase 2 clinical trial, conducted in 257 patients with chronic pruritus, met its primary and multiple secondary efficacy endpoints of pruritus reduction for patients treated at our two highest doses (5 mg and 1 mg daily) compared with those receiving placebo. The second Phase 2 clinical trial, conducted in 127 patients with prurigo nodularis, a severely pruritic skin condition with lesions, also met its primary and multiple secondary efficacy endpoints demonstrating significant pruritus reduction. Serlopitant has been dosed in more than 1,000 individuals and has been shown to be well tolerated, including when administered to patients in a clinical trial for up to one year.

We have exclusive, royalty free development and commercialization rights to serlopitant in all markets other than Japan, where we have licensed serlopitant to JT Torii, for development and commercialization.

Our Team

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Steve Basta

Chief Executive Officer of Menlo Therapeutics Inc.

Prior to joining Menlo Therapeutics Inc., Mr. Basta served from 2011 to 2015 as CEO of AlterG, Inc. a privately held rehabilitation company which commercializes the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

From 2002 through 2011, Mr. Basta served as CEO of BioForm Medical, Inc. and its successor, Merz Aesthetics, Inc. Mr. Basta led BioForm’s growth from initial product launch to $80 million in annual revenues at the time of it’s acquisition by Merz, and subsequently led Merz Aesthetics through multiple product launches managing a global business unit which was the #3 worldwide injectable aesthetics business.

Prior to Bioform Medical, Mr. Basta served as President and CEO of Gliatech, Inc., a medical device company, VP Business Development and Chief Financial Officer of Creative BioMolecules, Inc., a protein therapy and drug device combination products company, and Executive Director of Product Development for The Immune Response Corporation, a biotechnology company.

Mr. Basta also served for two years as an associate with the investment banking firm, Dillon, Read & Co. Inc.  Mr. Basta received his MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University, and his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University.

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Kristine M. Ball

SVP of Corporate Strategy and Chief Financial Officer

Kristine Ball joined Menlo Therapeutics in 2017 with approximately 25 years’ experience in the life-sciences industry.  Most recently, Ms. Ball served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Relypsa, Inc. from 2012 to 2016.  At Relypsa, Ms. Ball was responsible for finance, investor relations, corporate development, and various other administrative functions.  Ms. Ball led Relypsa’s IPO in November 2013 and in 4 years raised over $675 million in various equity and debt financings to fund the company’s growth.  Additionally, Ms. Ball was actively involved with executing partnerships with Sanofi and Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma, and the company’s acquisition by Galenica for over $1.5 billion.

From 2005 to 2011, Ms. Ball was senior vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer of KAI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (acquired by Amgen), a drug discovery company.  At KAI, she was responsible for finance, administration and strategic planning.  She was involved in venture capital financings, pharmaceutical partnerships and KAI’s acquisition by Amgen.  Ms. Ball also served as vice president of finance at Exelixis, Inc., a biotechnology company, from 2000 to 2005, where she was involved in four acquisitions, Exelixis’ initial public offering and other financings.  Before joining Exelixis, Ms. Ball was a senior manager in Ernst & Young’s life sciences audit practice.

Ms. Ball holds a B.S. from Babson College and is a certified public accountant.   She also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Kidney Foundation Northern California Chapter.

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Paul Kwon, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

From 2010 to 2015, Dr. Kwon was Chief Medical Officer at Nora Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on developing therapeutics to address significant unmet needs in reproductive medicine.

At Nora, he led development of a clinical-stage molecule for the treatment of repeated implantation failure and recurrent miscarriage. From 2003 to 2009, Dr. Kwon held numerous positions at Genentech, where he was most recently head of the nononcology early clinical development group and oversaw clinical development of molecules from pre-IND through phase 2 in multiple therapeutic areas, including rheumatology, neurology, cardiovascular disease and ophthalmology.

In addition, he managed the medical groups for two post-marketed franchises in cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Dr. Kwon was in clinical practice as a dermatologist from 2001 to 2003 and 2009 to 2010 with the Permanente Medical Group in Northern California, where he also served as a consultant for the Permanente Technology Group.

Prior to this position, he was product manager and later director of business development for iMedica Corp, a healthcare IT firm in Mountain View, CA. From 2004 to 2014, Dr. Kwon served on the faculty at the University of California at San Francisco as Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology.

Dr. Kwon received his B.A. in human biology from Stanford University, and his M.D. from the University of California at San Francisco. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Mary C. Spellman

MD, SVP of Clinical Development.  

Dr. Spellman is a board-certified dermatologist with proficiency in clinical development and pharmacovigilance.  She has a long history of diverse roles in the biopharmaceutical industry supporting the development of topical, systemic, and biological therapeutics for dermatologic, immunologic, and oncologic indications from discovery to launch, including Phase IV and other commercial support.

As an independent consultant since 2006, she has provided services as a medical and safety officer, and development and regulatory strategist, to multiple biopharmaceutical and device companies and has been instrumental in achieving US FDA and ex-US approvals for many medications, dermatological devices, and vaccines.  She has also supported several clinical research organizations as a medical monitor, and in clinical data analysis and reporting. Prior to establishing her consulting practice, she was employed as Medical Officer for Revance Therapeutics; Senior Medical Director at Biogen Idec, Inc; Vice President of Clinical Research at Connetics Corporation; and Medical Director at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. She has managed teams in European countries and joint project management with European and Asian collaborators. She has strong communication skills with internal and external teams, including investors, medical audiences, and other development partners. Before joining the biopharmaceutical industry full time in 1997, Dr. Spellman sustained a clinical and teaching practice, directing the Residency Training Program, and was also the Director of the Clinical Research group in Dermatology at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Spellman received her medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin, and completed her internship in Internal Medicine at Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center, and her residency in Dermatology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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Danine Summers

Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs

Danine has 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, the last 20 years in dermatology specifically.  She started her career in field sales with Merck Sharp & Dohme and then moved on to American Scientific Products and Roche Labs. While at Roche Danine completed her MBA and transitioned from sales to marketing. She has 18 years of experience in various areas of Marketing with FCB Healthcare (clients included Syntex, Gilead, Allergan and Neutrogena) and Connetics Pharmaceuticals where she built the marketing department and launched Luxiq, the first product launch for the company.  Danine has spent the past 10 years in Medical Affairs and Professional Relations where she has successfully built and managed two Medical Affairs Departments. Further, she has led and/or participated in over 10 product launches.

Danine loves animals and has 5 dogs and 6 horses on which she competes in jumping events.  She is married to Gregg and they have one son, Sean.

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Xiaoming Zhang, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Non-Clinical and CMC

Xiaoming Zhang, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of experience in discovery and development of new molecular entities across multiple therapeutic areas. Prior to joining Menlo Therapeutics, he was a venture partner at Velocity Pharmaceutical Development, where he played an integral role in the launching and building of several project focused companies, including Menlo Therapeutics, Corsair and Spitfire. In 2010, he cofounded Theron Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage company developing a best-in-class bronchodilator for the treatment of COPD and uncontrolled asthma. He was previously the Senior Director of Chemistry at CoMentis Inc. In this capacity, he spearheaded cognition research effort targeting Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive deficit associated with schizophrenia. Previously, Dr. Zhang also served as Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Portola and ARYx, where he successfully led the discovery and preclinical development of a number of new molecular entities, notably elinogrel and tecarfarin. Earlier in his career, Dr. Zhang was a research scientist and program leader at Roche.

Dr. Zhang received a PhD from University of Maryland, College Park, in the field of synthetic organic chemistry and pursued postdoctoral research at University of California, Berkeley. He is an inventor on 33 US patents.

Board of Directors