Feng Liu Ph.D.

I have worked as a discovery research biologist in the pharmaceutical industry for 14 years. In 10 years that I spent in Wyeth (later Pfizer) neuroscience discovery research, I have initiated several discovery projects and have been a principal investigator or co-investigator of discovery programs that have been advanced into development and clinical trials. At Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, I have worked on three compounds that advanced to Phase II clinical trials for treating orphan diseases such as familial chylomicronemia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Recently, I co-initiated the current project, namely the use of fatty acid cystamine conjugates as novel autophagy activators and CFTR correctors to treat cystic fibrosis (CF) with the delta F508 deletion mutation. We specifically develop compounds that activate autophagy in potentially restoring CFTR function and clearance of foreign pathogens. Autophagy is a cellular mechanism that is essential for cellular homeostasis. As autophagy activators, our fatty acid cystamine conjugates can provide a unique mechanism for trafficking/correcting the misfolded delta F508 CFTR. Furthermore, chronic bacterial infection in the lungs of CF patients represents a serious health risk in CF patients. Our fatty acid cystamine conjugates can induce an alternative intracellular mechanism for bacterial clearance, which sometimes could not be adequately addressed with current antibacterial therapies. On the CF program, our research group worked closely with the experts in the CF field, such as Dr. Bob Bridges on the CFTR chloride channel activities, and Dr. Tracey Bonfield on the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activates.