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Oruka Therapeutics Expands Leadership Team, Naming Joana Goncalves, MBChB, as Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Goncalves, former CMO at Cara Therapeutics, joins Oruka as CMO

Eugenia Levi, PharmD, former Head of Global Medical Affairs for Cosentyx at Novartis, also joins as VP, Medical Affairs

WALTHAM, Mass., April 24, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Oruka Therapeutics, Inc. (“Oruka”), a biotechnology company developing novel biologics designed to set a new standard for the treatment of chronic skin diseases, including plaque psoriasis, today announced the strengthening of its leadership team with the addition of two experienced executives.

Joana Goncalves, MBChB, will serve as Oruka’s Chief Medical Officer, effective April 18, 2024. Dr. Goncalves brings two decades of leadership experience in dermatology clinical development and medical affairs. She joins Oruka to lead the company’s global clinical development and regulatory affairs. Oruka also announced that Eugenia Levi, PharmD, will join the company as Vice President of Medical Affairs. Dr. Levi joins Oruka from Novartis where she was Global Head of Medical Affairs for COSENTYX®, and previously held positions at Celgene, where she worked in Medical Affairs for OTEZLA®, and at LEO Pharma, Inc.

“We are thrilled to strengthen our executive team with these proven industry leaders. Jo has advanced multiple novel dermatology programs from early-stage clinical trials through regulatory approval. Her extensive leadership experience will prove invaluable as we advance our portfolio of potentially best-in-class antibodies and build a high-performing team,” said Lawrence Klein, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Oruka Therapeutics. “Jo and Eugenia share our vision of offering patients living with chronic skin diseases the greatest possible freedom from their condition, and we’re delighted to welcome them to Oruka.”

“I am incredibly excited to join Oruka’s leadership team and help the company redefine the treatment paradigm for plaque psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions,” said Dr. Joana Goncalves. “ORKA-001 and ORKA-002 have the remarkable opportunity to deliver high rates of complete skin clearance with as few as one or two doses a year, which would represent a significant leap forward in the treatment profile we can offer to patients.”

During her biopharmaceutical career, Dr. Goncalves has played a crucial role in advancing multiple novel dermatology medicines through clinical development and global regulatory approval. She has held responsibilities spanning clinical development, safety, and medical affairs for multiple development programs, including OTEZLA® for psoriasis. Dr. Goncalves most recently served as Chief Medical Officer of Cara Therapeutics, where she played an instrumental role in guiding the development of KORSUVA® through NDA submission and regulatory approval for the treatment of moderate-to-severe pruritus associated with chronic kidney disease. Prior to her time at Cara, Dr. Goncalves held positions at Celgene, where she led medical affairs for OTEZLA®, and at LEO Pharma, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of LEO Pharma A/S. She began her pharmaceutical career at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, working on a range of products across various therapeutic areas. Dr. Goncalves received an MBChB from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Oruka’s co-lead programs, ORKA-001 (an IL-23p19 inhibitor) and ORKA-002 (an IL-17A/F inhibitor), were designed utilizing state-of-the-art antibody engineering, including half-life extension, to enable dosing as infrequently as once or twice a year while potentially delivering superior efficacy than the current standard of care. Both programs are expected to enter clinical trials in 2025, with initial pharmacokinetic data for ORKA-001 anticipated as early as the second half of 2025.

About Oruka Therapeutics

Oruka Therapeutics is developing novel biologics designed to set a new standard for the treatment of chronic skin diseases. Oruka’s mission is to offer patients suffering from chronic skin diseases like plaque psoriasis the greatest possible freedom from their condition by achieving high rates of complete disease clearance with dosing as infrequently as one or twice a year. Oruka is advancing a proprietary portfolio of potentially best-in-class antibodies that were engineered by Paragon Therapeutics and target the core mechanisms underlying plaque psoriasis and other dermatologic and inflammatory diseases. For more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements in this press release, other than purely historical information, may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, concerning Oruka and other matters. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, express or implied statements relating to Oruka’s management team’s expectations, hopes, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future including, without limitation, Oruka’s business strategy, Oruka’s potential growth opportunities, Oruka’s preclinical and future clinical development activities, the potential therapeutic benefits and economic value of Oruka’s programs, the timing and results of preclinical studies and clinical trials, Oruka’s business plans and the anticipated benefits of the management changes. In addition, any statements that refer to projections, forecasts or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking statements. The words “opportunity,” “potential,” “can,” “goal,” “aim,” “strategy,” “target,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “achieve,” “believe,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intends,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “possible,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “will,” “would” and similar expressions (including the negatives of these terms or variations of them) may identify forward-looking statements, but the absence of these words does not mean that a statement is not forward-looking. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects. There can be no assurance that future developments affecting Oruka will be those that have been anticipated. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (some of which are beyond Oruka’s control) or other assumptions that may cause actual results and performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, discussions of potential risks, uncertainties, and other important factors included in filings by Oruka from time to time. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should any of Oruka’s assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary in material respects from those projected in these forward-looking statements. Nothing in this press release should be regarded as a representation by any person that the forward-looking statements set forth therein will be achieved or that any of the contemplated results of such forward-looking statements will be achieved. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements in this press release, which speak only as of the date they are made and are qualified in their entirety by reference to the cautionary statements herein. Oruka does not undertake or accept any duty to make any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements. This press release does not purport to summarize all of the conditions, risks and other attributes of an investment in Oruka.

Oruka Therapeutics Corporate Communications Contact:
Sheryl Seapy

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