Antoine Yver (L) and Saurabh Saha

Ahead of Nas­daq de­but, Saurabh Sa­ha pads out the C-suite at Centes­sa, hir­ing a top Dai­ichi Sankyo alum as CMO

Centes­sa is wast­ing no time as­sem­bling the top team in charge of spear­head­ing its port­fo­lio play.

While pre­sum­ably go­ing on vir­tu­al road­shows for its up­com­ing IPO, the biotech put out word that it’s ap­point­ed An­toine Yver, the for­mer head of on­col­o­gy R&D at Dai­ichi Sankyo, as CMO.

Francesco De Ru­ber­tis

With 16 pro­grams in the pipeline — four of which have al­ready reached clin­i­cal stage — that came to­geth­er af­ter Francesco De Ru­ber­tis con­vinced 11 Medicxi star­tups to roll their op­er­a­tions in­to the same com­pa­ny, Yver is sure to hit the ground run­ning. CEO Saurabh Sa­ha clear­ly has no doubt about that, prais­ing his new de­vel­op­ment chief as a “true in­dus­try leader.”

Be­fore join­ing the Japan­ese phar­ma, Yver (a pe­di­atric on­col­o­gist by train­ing) had served as As­traZeneca’s glob­al med­i­cine head of on­col­o­gy, where he was cred­it­ed for lead­ing EGFR in­hibitor Tagris­so’s rapid jour­ney from first hu­man dose to US ap­proval in less than three years. Oth­er no­table drugs on his belt in­clude the PARP in­hibitor Lyn­parza and En­her­tu, the HER2-tar­get­ing an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate that As­traZeneca bet up to $6 bil­lion on.

The role at Centes­sa will take him far be­yond can­cer. With­in the group of clin­i­cal drugs, there’s an EGFR an­ti­body for cu­ta­neous squa­mous cell car­ci­no­ma and sol­id tu­mors, but the oth­er three are de­signed to treat he­mo­phil­ia, au­to­so­mal dom­i­nant poly­cys­tic kid­ney dis­ease and al­pha-1-an­tit­rypsin de­fi­cien­cy.

Steer­ing these pro­grams to mar­ket (or some kind of deal) AS­AP is a core part of De Ru­ber­tis’ pitch to the en­tre­pre­neurs be­hind each of the sub­sidiaries that agreed to merge in­to Centes­sa.

As the com­pa­ny wrote in its S-1, the founder-sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts “dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly share in up­side” through mile­stone pay­ments, which would be trig­gered by reg­u­la­to­ry ap­provals or cash pro­ceeds from part­ner­ships, out-li­cens­ing deals and/or a sale.

Gre­go­ry Wein­hoff

For his part, Yver has plen­ty of pos­i­tive things to say about this op­er­at­ing mod­el.

“Centes­sa’s as­set-cen­tric mod­el ex­em­pli­fies the very best prac­tices that I have ex­pe­ri­enced and im­ple­ment­ed in the in­dus­try,” he said in a state­ment.

He joins CFO Gre­go­ry Wein­hoff and chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer David Chao in the C-suite, af­ter Mon­cef Slaoui, the for­mer chief of Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed, quit the CSO job fol­low­ing a sex­u­al ha­rass­ment scan­dal that trig­gered his ejec­tion from all biotech posts.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 163,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”