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.
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.
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.