leadership team
Brihad Abhyankar, MS, FRCS, MBA, FFPM
Vice President, Clinical Development

Dr. Brihad Abhyankar, MS, FRCS, MBA, FFPM is the Vice President of Clinical development and Global Program Head for the MORF-057 program at Morphic Therapeutic. He has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry working in clinical development and medical affairs. Most recently, he served as executive medical director and program team leader at Theravance Biopharma, where he supervised a cross-functional team as leader of their flagship molecule development program and supported operations within the gut selective JAK inhibitor program.

Prior to his work at Theravance Biopharma, Dr. Abhyankar served as the head of clinical development at Akari Therapeutics, developing treatments for a range of rare and orphan autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. He previously served as the executive medical director of clinical science at Takeda where he directed strategy for global clinical development and played a key role in the development, approval and the life cycle management of ENTYVIO® or vedolizumab.

Dr. Abhyankar has previously served in Shire Pharmaceuticals, Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals and Solvay pharmaceuticals in various roles of increasing responsibility in medical affairs and clinical development. Prior to working in the biopharmaceutical industry, he trained and worked as a surgeon for 10 years and has senior resident level experience in urology, surgical oncology and general surgery in the UK National Health Service and in Mumbai, India.

He is a fellow of the Royal College of the Surgeons of Glasgow & and a Fellow of the Faculty of the Pharmaceutical medicine of the Royal College of Physicians. Dr. Abhyankar holds an MBA from Henley Management College, a Master of Surgery in General Surgery from the University of Bombay and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Bombay.

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TL1A and IL-23

Morphic is leveraging its structural biology expertise and medicinal chemistry capabilities to develop small molecule therapeutic candidates against non-integrin targets including TL1-A and IL-23. Inhibition of these pathways have potential as treatments for IBD through monotherapy and possibly in combination with other IBD treatment mechanisms including α4β7 inhibition.

α5β1

Morphic is developing small molecule inhibitors of the integrin α5β1 based on research demonstrating that fibronectin integrin inhibition suppresses pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation. Potential indications include severe pulmonary hypertensive disease including pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Integrin Partnership: Janssen

Morphic entered a research partnership with Janssen in 2019 to discover inhibitors of undisclosed integrin targets. In 2021, this partnership was expanded to include an antibody activator of an integrin target, extending the application of Morphic’s knowledge of integrin biology into modalities beyond small molecules. The antibody activator program is the focus of our collaboration with Janssen today.

Undisclosed Targets

Morphic is leveraging the MInT Platform to discover therapeutically relevant small molecule inhibitors of targets across the integrin family to treat autoimmune diseases, cancer and fibrotic diseases.

Undisclosed Target for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Morphic is deploying the MInT Platform to create small molecule inhibitors of an undisclosed integrin target for evaluation as a potential treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is a devastating, usually fatal disease characterized by elevated mean pressures in the pulmonary artery and associated with lung and heart dysfunction. Morphic’s PAH program is in preclinical development.

αvβ8 (MORF-088)

Morphic is developing small molecule inhibitors of the integrin αvβ8 for potential uses in myelofibrosis and a combination immuno-oncology approach for the treatment of solid tumors. αvβ8 is known to activate selective isoforms of TGF-β and Morphic has demonstrated that αvβ8 inhibition can drive increased platelet production and potentiate immune checkpoint blockade and potentially drive responses in checkpoint refractory tumors. Morphic’s αvβ8 inhibitors are in preclinical development.

Next Gen α4β7 Inhibitors

Morphic is developing a family of next generation α4β7 small molecule inhibitors with enhanced attributes using the MInT Platform. These candidates have distinct chemical properties from our first-generation inhibitors with differentiated selectivity, potency, and pharmacokinetic profiles. Morphic’s next generation α4β7 inhibitors are currently in preclinical development.