Af­ter sell­ing a failed Cerulean for scrap val­ue, the ex­ec­u­tive team wins a bonus re­ward

Christo­pher Guiffre, CEO

By the end of the third quar­ter last year, Cerulean had burned through close to $196 mil­lion with­out much to show for it. The 2014 IPO floun­dered, de­spite the siz­zling boom biotech was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. But that wasn’t too sur­pris­ing as their lead nano drug failed a Phase IIb tri­al for non-small cell lung can­cer.

Then the same drug failed again last year, for re­nal cell car­ci­no­ma, and the Waltham, MA based com­pa­ny was doomed. The CEO struck a part­ner­ship deal with No­var­tis, but net­ted on­ly $5 mil­lion up­front. So now the com­pa­ny is be­ing sold for parts. The lead, CR­LX-101, was wrapped up with its on­ly oth­er drug, the ear­ly stage CR­LX301, and sold to NewLink for on­ly $1.5 mil­lion. No­var­tis picked up the pipeline tech for a mere $6 mil­lion, a round­ing num­ber for the phar­ma gi­ant. A few lega­cy staffers in the hand­ful who are still left will get job of­fers.

Ale­jan­dra Car­va­hal, Gen­er­al Coun­sel

Daré Bio­science gets the pub­lic shell in a re­verse merg­er, with some re­main­ing eq­ui­ty for the in­vestors.

But even cat­a­stroph­ic fail­ure can earn a re­ward. The ex­ec­u­tive crew at Cerulean, among the fi­nal sur­vivors, each get a cash bonus ap­proved by the board on March 19, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments filed with the SEC. The bonus­es re­place the re­ten­tion agree­ment the board signed off on last No­vem­ber 8, when they agreed to hand over 3.5% of the val­ue of the com­pa­ny at any sub­se­quent change of con­trol — at a time when the writ­ing was on the wall.

CEO Christo­pher Guiffre gets $125,525.63.

CFO Gregg Beloff gets $51,276.81.

Chief Med­ical Of­fi­cer Adri­an Senderow­icz gets $104,732.57.

Gen­er­al Coun­sel Ale­jan­dra Car­va­hal gets $78,573.29.

Adri­an Senderow­icz, CMO

The board will de­ter­mine the fi­nal bonus amount af­ter the re­verse merg­er is com­plete.

In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma stirred up a short-lived ruckus when it lined up re­ten­tion bonus­es af­ter a dis­as­trous set­back last year. The con­tro­ver­sy sim­mered down af­ter re­porters learned that all sur­viv­ing staffers could earn a re­ten­tion bonus for stay­ing with the trou­bled biotech. There’s no word about any bonus­es for the rank and file who stayed on past the first lay­offs at Cerulean, or the No­vem­ber reck­on­ing with the board.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Lisa M. DeAngelis, MSKCC

MSK picks brain can­cer ex­pert Lisa DeAn­ge­lis as its next CMO — fol­low­ing José Basel­ga’s con­tro­ver­sial ex­it

It’s official. Memorial Sloan Kettering has picked a brain cancer expert as its new physician-in-chief and CMO, replacing José Baselga, who left under a cloud after being singled out by The New York Times and ProPublica for failing to properly air his lucrative industry ties.

His replacement, who now will be in charge of MSK’s cutting-edge research work as well as the cancer care delivered by hundreds of practitioners, is Lisa M. DeAngelis. DeAngelis had been chair of the neurology department and co-founder of MSK’s brain tumor center and was moved in to the acting CMO role in the wake of Baselga’s departure.

Penn team adapts CAR-T tech, reengi­neer­ing mouse cells to treat car­diac fi­bro­sis

After establishing itself as one of the pioneer research centers in the world for CAR-T cancer therapies, creating new attack vehicles to eradicate cancer cells, a team at Penn Medicine has begun the tricky transition of using the basic technology for heart repair work.

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Tal Zaks. Moderna

The mR­NA uni­corn Mod­er­na has more ear­ly-stage hu­man da­ta it wants to show off — reach­ing new peaks in prov­ing the po­ten­tial

The whole messenger RNA field has attracted billions of dollars in public and private investor cash gambled on the prospect of getting in on the ground floor. And this morning Boston-based Moderna, one of the leaders in the field, wants to show off a few more of the cards it has to play to prove to you that they’re really in the game.

The whole hand, of course, has yet to be dealt. And there’s no telling who gets to walk with a share of the pot. But any cards on display at this point — especially after being accused of keeping its deck under lock and key — will attract plenty of attention from some very wary, and wired, observers.

“In terms of the complexity and unmet need,” says Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer, “this is peak for what we’ve accomplished.”

Moderna has two Phase I studies it wants to talk about now.

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It's not per­fect, but it's a good start: FDA pan­elists large­ly en­dorse Aim­mune's peanut al­ler­gy ther­a­py

Two days after a fairly benign review from FDA staff, an independent panel of experts largely endorsed the efficacy and safety of Aimmune’s peanut allergy therapy, laying the groundwork for approval with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS).

Traditionally, peanut allergies are managed by avoidance, but the threat of accidental exposure cannot be nullified. Some allergists have devised a way to dose patients off-label with peanut protein derived from supermarket products to wean them off their allergies. But the idea behind Aimmune’s product was to standardize the peanut protein, and track the process of desensitization — so when accidental exposure in the real world invariably occurs, patients are less likely to experience a life-threatening allergic reaction.

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Rit­ter bombs fi­nal PhI­II for sole lac­tose in­tol­er­ance drug — shares plum­met

More than two years ago Ritter Pharmaceuticals managed to find enough silver lining in its Phase IIb/III study — after missing the top-line mark — to propel its lactose intolerance toward a confirmatory trial. But as it turned out, the enthusiasm only set the biotech and its investors up to be sorely disappointed.

This time around there’s little left to salvage. Not only did RP-G28 fail to beat placebo in reducing lactose intolerance symptoms, patients in the treatment group actually averaged a smaller improvement. On a composite score measuring symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, bloating and gas, patients given the drug had a mean reduction of 3.159 while the placebo cohort saw a 3.420 drop on average (one-sided p-value = 0.0106).

Ear­ly snap­shot of Ad­verum's eye gene ther­a­py sparks con­cern about vi­sion loss

An early-stage update on Adverum Biotechnologies’ intravitreal gene therapy has triggered investor concern, after patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) saw their vision deteriorate, despite signs that the treatment is improving retinal anatomy.

Adverum, on Wednesday, unveiled 24-week data from the OPTIC trial of its experimental therapy, ADVM-022, in six patients who have been administered with one dose of the therapy. On average, patients in the trial had severe disease with an average of 6.2 anti-VEGF injections in the eight months prior to screening and an average annualized injection frequency of 9.3 injections.

Alex Ar­faei trades his an­a­lyst's post for a new role as biotech VC; Sanofi vet heads to Vi­for

Too often, Alex Arfaei arrived too late. 

An analyst at BMO Capital Markets, he’d meet with biotech or pharmaceutical heads for their IPO or secondary funding and his brain, trained on a biology degree and six years at Merck and Endo, would spring with questions: Why this biomarker? Why this design? Why not this endpoint? Not that he could do anything about it. These execs were coming for clinical money; their decisions had been made and finalized long ago.

Arde­lyx bags its first FDA OK for IBS, set­ting up a show­down with Al­ler­gan, Iron­wood

In the first of what it hopes will be a couple of major regulatory milestones for its new drug, Ardelyx has bagged an FDA approval to market Ibsrela (tenapanor) for irritable bowel syndrome.

The drug’s first application will be for IBS with constipation (IBS-C), inhibiting sodium-hydrogen exchanger NHE3 in the GI tract in such a way as to increase bowel movements and decrease abdominal pain. This comes on the heels of two successful Phase III trials.