AIM ImmunoTech Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:AIM) announced Friday that CEO Thomas Equels has been named the Weaver H Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year by BioFlorida, the voice of the state’s life science industry.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes an entrepreneur who has made extraordinary contributions to the growth of life sciences in the leadership of a company or institution. BioFlorida represents 6,700 establishments and research organizations in the biopharmaceuticals, medical technology, healthIT, and bioagriculture sectors.
AIM, based in Ocala, Florida, is an immuno-pharma company focused on the research and development of therapeutics to treat multiple types of cancers, immune disorders, and viral diseases, including COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
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The company said Equels’ successful legal career included extensive experience in the pharma sector. He has over the years served as a court-appointed receiver turning around businesses in a number of different fields.
Equels is also a highly decorated combat aviator, twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and 15 Air Medals, including three for extraordinary valor. In 2012, he was knighted by Pope Benedict as a knight of the Papal States.
“We are pleased to present Thomas K. Equels with this award for his contributions to the Florida life sciences industry and his ongoing passion and commitment to find solutions for the treatment of seriously debilitating disorders — including their work to fight COVID-19,” said Nancy Bryan, president and CEO of BioFlorida, in a statement.
“Tom Equels is a deserving recipient of BioFlorida’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award. Tom left a highly successful legal practice in 2016 to assume the leadership role at AIM,” said Dr William Mitchell, board chairman of AIM. “In less than four years he has positioned Ampligen — its principal lead drug — in a large number of promising clinical trials, as well as established financial stability at AIM. Tom’s progress in proving the enormous potential of Ampligen has been remarkable.”
AIM’s flagship products are Ampligen (rintatolimod) and Alferon N Injection. Ampligen is being evaluated as a potential therapeutic for COVID-19, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), for multiple types of cancers, and as a viral vaccine adjuvant. Alferon is a natural interferon that is approved in the US and Argentina.
In a potential breakthrough, Ampligen has demonstrated the potential for standalone efficacy in the clinical setting in pancreatic cancer. In this regard, AIM recently announced receipt of statistically significant positive pancreatic cancer survival results from a multi-year Early Access Program conducted at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
The safety and efficacy of Ampligen are also being studied in several immuno-oncology clinical trials at highly respected NCI-Designated Cancer Centers; two of which are in combination with the checkpoint blockade drug pembrolizumab.
The National Cancer Institute has awarded $14.5 million to Roswell Park to fund five immuno-oncology clinical trials. In addition, two Department of Defense "Breakthrough Awards" totaling about $15 million to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Moffitt Cancer Center for Ampligen studies are expected to commence in 2020-21 in brain-metastatic breast cancer.
AIM recently signed a clinical trial agreement with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center supporting an FDA-authorized Phase 1/2 clinical trial of Ampligen combined with Interferon Alfa-2b to test the safety and effectiveness of the combination regimen to clear the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the upper airway in patients with cancer and mild-to-moderate COVID-19.
AIM also recently signed a material transfer and research agreement with Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Shionogi, a leading global pharmaceutical company, to test Ampligen as a potential vaccine adjuvant for COVID-19. The pre-clinical testing and research is being conducted by their laboratories in Japan.
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