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Achillion Pharmaceutials Announces Key Promotion and Discovery Organization Change

NEW HAVEN, Conn., July 10, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:ACHN), the leader in complement alternative pathway therapeutics, today announced that Mingjun Huang, Ph.D., is being promoted to Senior Vice President and Head of Research. With this promotion, Dr. Huang broadens her leadership responsibility to all aspects of discovery and non-clinical development. The Company also announced today that Joel Barrish, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, plans to leave the Company for personal reasons.   

Dr. Huang joined Achillion in 2001 as Director of Biology and has advanced through her outstanding contributions to the Company’s discovery efforts and her innovations in building the Company’s drug portfolio. She is a pioneer in the discovery and development of the first oral factor D inhibitor, ACH-4471, as well as the next-generation compounds.

"Mingjun's leadership since the inception of the complement program has been fundamental to our understanding of the biology underlying complement factor D inhibition. Her work ethic, scientific acumen, and passion to develop innovative therapies for patients are second to none. I am excited that Mingjun is assuming the leadership of the discovery engine at Achillion," said Milind S. Deshpande, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Achillion.

Dr. Huang received her medical training at Shanghai Medical School, Fudan University, her Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico, and her postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health. She was a research fellow at National Cancer Institute and also head of antiviral research at Southern Research Institute prior to joining Achillion. Dr. Huang has published over thirty research articles and reviews in prestigious journals, and has presented extensively at international medical and scientific conferences. 

Dr. Barrish’s resignation as Chief Scientific Officer is effective as of July 14, 2017. There are no plans to seek a replacement for his position at this time. "In the past year under Joel's tenure, we have significantly expanded the breadth and depth of our Factor D inhibitor library. We wish him the best in his new endeavors," said Deshpande. 

Achillion continues to dose PNH patients in a phase 2 study of its first complement factor D inhibitor, ACH-4471, and plans to report interim data during its second quarter 2017 results call. ACH-4471 is also poised to begin a phase 2 clinical study in C3G, a rare kidney disease for which there currently are no approved treatments.

In recent years, Achillion researchers have designed a library of over 2,000 small molecule inhibitors of complement factor D. Factor D occupies a critical position in the complement alternative pathway. Dysregulation of the alternative pathway can induce inflammation and tissue damage and is associated with a variety of diseases, including paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), C3 glomerulopathy (C3G), immune complex membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (IC-MPGN) and dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD). Achillion's lead candidate, ACH-4471, entered the clinic last year and is reported to be the first factor D inhibitor to demonstrate complement alternative pathway inhibition in humans after oral dosing.

About the Achillion Complement Factor D Platform

Achillion has leveraged its internal discovery capabilities and a novel complement-related platform to develop small molecule drug candidates that are oral inhibitors of complement factor D. Factor D is an essential serine protease involved in the complement pathway, a part of the innate immune system. Achillion's complement platform is focused on seeking to advance small molecule compounds that inhibit factor D and can potentially be used in the treatment of immune-related diseases in which complement alternative pathway plays a critical role. Potential indications being evaluated for these compounds include PNH, C3G, IC-MPGN and geographic atrophy (GA), an advanced form of dry AMD.

About Achillion Pharmaceuticals

Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHN) is a science-driven, patient-focused company seeking to leverage its strengths across the continuum from discovery to commercialization in its goal of providing better treatments for people with serious diseases. The company employs a highly-disciplined discovery and development approach that has allowed it to pursue best-in-class oral antiviral therapy for chronic hepatitis C (HCV) and build a platform of potent and specific complement inhibitors. Achillion is rapidly advancing its efforts to become a fully-integrated pharmaceutical company with a goal of bringing life-saving medicines to patients with rare diseases. More information is available at

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. Achillion may use words such as “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “target,” “intend,” “plan,” “aim,” “believe,” “seek,” “estimate,” “can,” “could” “focus,” “will,” “look forward,” “goal,” “may,” “potential” and similar expressions to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements also include statements about: the development of Achillion’s product candidates and the timing of reporting interim data; the potential benefits of, and potential indications for, Achillion’s compounds that inhibit factor D; and statements concerning Achillion’s strategic goals, efforts, plans, and prospects. Among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are risks relating to, among other things, Achillion’s ability to: advance the preclinical and clinical development of its complement factor D inhibitors under the timelines it projects in current and future preclinical studies and clinical trials; obtain and maintain patent protection for its drug candidates and the freedom to operate under third party intellectual property; demonstrate in any current and future clinical trials the requisite safety, efficacy and combinability of its drug candidates; obtain and maintain necessary regulatory approvals; establish commercial manufacturing arrangements; identify, enter into and maintain collaboration agreements with third-parties, including the current collaboration with Janssen; compete successfully in the markets in which it seeks to develop and commercialize its product candidates and future products; manage expenses; manage litigation; raise the substantial additional capital needed to achieve its business objectives; and successfully execute on its business strategies. These and other risks are described in the reports filed by Achillion with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2017, and its subsequent SEC filings. 

In addition, any forward-looking statement in this press release represents Achillion's views only as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Achillion disclaims any duty to update any forward-looking statement, except as required by applicable law.

Glenn Schulman
Executive Director, Investor Relations
Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Tel. (203) 752-5510

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