Cyclenium Pharma

Cyclenium Pharma is the Canadian Subsidiary of SpiroChem AG.

It is deploying its proprietary next generation CMRT™ small-molecule macrocycle technology for drug discovery against difficult disease targets. As a Contract Research Organization, Cyclenium is offering solutions to innovative pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies worldwide who want to explore macrocycles as new modalities.

About Cyclenium

Cyclenium was founded by management and research staff from Tranzyme Pharma, one of the pioneers in the generation and use of small molecule macrocycles for drug discovery. Tranzyme was the first company to prepare and use large screening libraries (50,000+) of synthetic macrocyclic compounds to identify and optimize multiple lead candidates that progressed to late stage clinical trials (Phase 2b, Phase 3). Subsequent to Tranzyme’s merger with Ocera Therapeutics (now part of Mallinckrodt Plc (NYSE: MNK)) and closure of its Canadian R & D site, the founders created, based on their vast experience, profound knowledge base in macrocyclic chemistry, and exceptional track record of successful lead and clinical candidate generation, a proprietary next generation technology that addresses the deficiencies of earlier efforts in this rapidly growing field. Since May 2023 and the acquisition by SpiroChem AG, Cyclenium is providing access to its proprietary platform to customers.

Company Milestones

  • May 2023: Acquisition of Cyclenium Pharma by SpiroChemAG
  • January 2022: Drug discovery collaboration with Vuja De Sciences (U.S.) for targeting of metastatic cancer recurrence.
  • May 2020: Awarding of a major grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to support late stage discovery research on the company’s pan-flaviviral inhibitors
  • October 2018: Discovery collaboration with AiCuris (Germany) for anti-infective pharmaceuticals
  • September 2018: Funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) received for joint anti-viral program with Haplogen
  • September 2018: Collaborative project with Haplogen Biosciences on pan-flaviviral therapeutics recognized with EUREKA label
  • December 2017: Drug discovery collaboration agreement established with Ono Pharmaceutical (Japan)
  • March 2017: Research agreement on multiple targets formed with the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto)
  • July 2016: Beyond Europe grant received from the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) for joint project with Haplogen GmbH

Meet the Team


Thomas Fessard

Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer &
Chief Scientific Officer

Arkadii Vaisburg

Ph.D., Executive director of Medicinal Chemistry


Helmut Thomas


Mark L. Peterson


Thomas Fessard

Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer & Chief Scientific Officer

Thomas studied chemistry in France (ENSC, Montpellier) and the UK (UMIST, Manchester) and obtained a PhD degree from the university of Nottingham, UK.

After research appointments at the School of Pharmacy in Nottingham and ETH Zürich, Thomas joined Lipideon Biotechnology AG in 2007. As Head of the Drug Discovery and Chemistry, he lead a multi-disciplinary team that discovered a candidate for pre-clinical investigation (Non-Systemic Cholesterol Absorption Inhibitor).

In 2011, Thomas co-founded SpiroChem AG, Swiss fine chemicals company and serves as CEO of the company.

Thomas has several years of experience in the management of R&D projects, including medicinal chemistry, design of innovative building blocks for drug discovery and development of new process routes.

Arkadii Vaisburg

Ph.D., Executive director of Medicinal Chemistry

Arkadii is the site head of the North American Division of SpiroChem (Cyclenium Pharma, Montreal, Canada). He is responsible for the site operation directing multiple teams of scientists working on platform, medicinal chemistry and custom synthesis projects, as well as supporting the SpiroChem business development team in contacting, soliciting and arranging meetings with potential clients.

He has more than 25 years of drug discovery and development experience in the areas of infectious diseases, ophthalmology and oncology. Prior to joining SpiroChem Arkadii served as Executive Director at MethylGene/Mirati Therapeutics in Montreal where he and his coworkers delivered clinical compounds, Glesatinib and Sitravatinib to treat cancer; and most recently as Senior Director at NuChem Sciences, a well-established North American CRO.

Arkadii holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from N.D.Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Helmut Thomas

Ph.D., DABT, President, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Thomas was Senior Vice President, Research & Preclinical Development at Tranzyme Pharma for over seven years prior to co-founding Cyclenium Pharma. He is a highly accomplished biochemist and toxicologist with an extensive and productive career in drug discovery and development. He began his career with CIBA-GEIGY in Basel, Switzerland in 1990 and became the Head of Toxicology and Preclinical Safety at CIBA-GEIGY Pharmaceuticals UK in 1994.

Following the merger with Sandoz in 1997, Dr. Thomas spent the next eight years with Novartis Pharma, where he held several top-level management positions in Europe and the U.S., culminating in his appointment as Executive Director, Global Project Manager and Leader of the PRIDE (Proof of Research In Development) Team Oncology in East Hanover, NJ, with responsibility for the early development portfolio from end-stage research to clinical proof of concept.

While at Novartis, he directed the preclinical development of more than 25 drug candidates, including such important marketed drugs as Diovan® for hypertension and Gleevec® for chronic myeloid leukemia.

He joined Tranzyme from LymphoSign Inc., where he served as Vice President, Research and Development.

Dr. Thomas received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and organic chemistry from the University of Hannover, Germany. He is an author of over 130 scientific articles, book chapters and abstracts as well as a co-inventor on numerous patents.

Mark L. Peterson, Ph.D.

Chief Operating Officer & Corporate Secretary

Prior to co-founding Cyclenium Pharma, Dr. Peterson was Vice President, IP & Operations at Tranzyme Pharma, where he led the chemistry R & D efforts during the technology development stage of the company and the initiation of its GPCR-based drug discovery programs. He later focused on building and maintaining an extensive portfolio of over 120 patents and applications protecting Tranzyme’s pioneering technology and pharmaceutical product candidates.

Previously with Monsanto and Advanced ChemTech, he has worked in a variety of research areas including structure-based design, solid phase organic chemistry, combinatorial libraries, synthetic automation, heterocycles, unnatural amino acids, peptides and peptidomimetics.

Dr. Peterson received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Washington State University and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Minnesota, Department of Medicinal Chemistry. He is author or co-author of over 85 publications and abstracted presentations plus three book chapters, as well as co-inventor on 30 patents. In addition, he is co-editor of a seminal book in the area of small molecule macrocycle drug discovery:

Practical Medicinal Chemistry with Macrocycles: Design, Synthesis and Case Studies.