Alex­ion cre­ates new post for chief di­ver­si­ty of­fi­cer; Bar­ry Greene step­ping down at Al­ny­lam, Yvonne Green­street named as suc­ces­sor

Uzair Qadeer

Alex­ion has carved out a new po­si­tion for chief di­ver­si­ty of­fi­cer and filled it with an in­side pro­mo­tion.

Uzair Qadeer will now be re­spon­si­ble for their “di­ver­si­ty, in­clu­sion and be­long­ing” strat­e­gy, look­ing to re­shape the biotech’s cor­po­rate cul­ture. A vet­er­an of De­loitte and Bris­tol My­ers Squibb, Qadeer was work­ing on ex­ec­u­tive coach­ing and help­ing cre­ate the di­ver­si­ty pro­gram he now leads.

“At Alex­ion, we be­lieve that di­ver­si­ty is hav­ing a seat at the ta­ble, in­clu­sion is hav­ing a voice, and be­long­ing is hav­ing that voice be heard. Our work isn’t done un­til our em­ploy­ees and pa­tients can feel a true sense of be­long­ing,” Qadeer said. “Mag­ne­tiz­ing and in­cu­bat­ing di­verse tal­ent will al­low us to har­ness di­verse in­sights that fu­el in­no­va­tion and cre­ate val­ue for the pa­tients we serve. I am com­mit­ted to ac­ti­vat­ing this pur­pose­ful vi­sion.”

Yvonne Green­street

→ Af­ter a 17-year stint at Al­ny­lam, pres­i­dent Bar­ry Greene is leav­ing the RNAi biotech and hand­ing the reins over to COO Yvonne Green­street. Green­street, who was SVP of med­i­cines de­vel­op­ment at Pfiz­er and an SVP at Glax­o­SmithK­line be­fore join­ing Al­ny­lam in 2016, takes up the pres­i­dent post at a com­pa­ny fac­ing an im­por­tant and dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion. CEO John Maraganore has set am­bi­tious goals for the com­pa­ny, aim­ing to move them in­to a top 5 biotech in the next cou­ple years, along­side the likes of Am­gen and Re­gen­eron.

“Yvonne has got an in­cred­i­ble strate­gic mind; she’s in­cred­i­bly ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tional­ly,” Maraganore told End­point News’ Ja­son Mast. “With­out a doubt I think our fu­ture is in great hands.”

Mean­while, a search is on­go­ing at Al­ny­lam for a new chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer.

→ Get­ting in the Covid-19 sweep­stakes with lenzilum­ab be­ing used in a com­bo with remde­sivir for NI­AID’s Big Ef­fect Tri­al, Cameron Dur­rantled Hu­mani­gen has al­so been re­vamp­ing its staff, this time with Tim­o­thy Mor­ris tak­ing over as COO and CFO. Con­cur­rent with the move, Mor­ris will step down from Burlingame, CA-based Hu­mani­gen’s board of di­rec­tors, of which he had been a mem­ber since 2016. Mor­ris leaves his CFO role at Io­vance and has held that role at a string of oth­er com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Acel­Rx, Vivus and Quest­cor Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Else­where at Hu­mani­gen, Bob Atwill steps in to a new­ly-cre­at­ed role as head of the Asia-Pa­cif­ic re­gion. Cur­rent­ly a prin­ci­pal at cross-bor­der M&A provider Eaton Square with the same re­gion­al fo­cus, Atwill has been an ex­ec at such Aus­tralian com­pa­nies as Fit­genes and Ben­itec Bio­phar­ma.

Shree­r­am Arad­hye

→ Rid­ing high with its Phase I da­ta re­leased yes­ter­day from their Roche-part­nered RNAi pro­gram for hep B, Dicer­na has found a CMO to take the place of the re­tir­ing Ralf Rosskamp. No­var­tis vet Shree­r­am Arad­hye will be­come EVP and CMO on Sept. 8, while Rosskamp will hold a con­sult­ing role at least through June 2021. Arad­hye makes his way to Dicer­na af­ter be­ing chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Ax­cel­la, and for 20 years he held nu­mer­ous ti­tles at No­var­tis and its glob­al af­fil­i­ates, no­tably as glob­al head of med­ical af­fairs and CMO, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ No stranger to the C-suite, Paul High­am has tak­en the reins as CEO of Va­lo Ther­a­peu­tics, an im­munother­a­py play­er with of­fices in Ox­ford and Helsin­ki de­vel­op­ing can­cer treat­ments us­ing tu­mor anti­gen-coat­ed on­colyt­ic virus­es. High­am has al­so held the top spot at two Ger­man biotechs, Gly­co­tope and Im­mat­ics Biotech­nolo­gies. He got his start at Bay­er as GM, Swe­den and Den­mark, and then pro­ceed­ed to GSK as their VP, com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment.

→ Buoyed by its $22 mil­lion Se­ries C round led by Boehringer In­gel­heim Ven­ture Fund, an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate biotech NBE-Ther­a­peu­tics has a new CEO with Bertrand Damour now at the helm. His pre­de­ces­sor, founder Ulf Grawun­der, will slot him­self in­to the role of chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer and chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. His last CEO gig was at Syn­thena AG, where he was al­so chair­man, and he’s al­so been the top man at Gene­Prot, Mind­NRG and On­coEthix.

Mag­gie Chen

Mag­gie Chen is on board as CFO of Suzhou, Chi­na-based CD­MO CMAB Bio­phar­ma, fo­cused on pre­clin­i­cal and PhI/II clin­i­cal prod­ucts. Be­fore mak­ing the leap to CMAB, Chen had been VP and CFO at Fo­s­un, and pri­or to that, she was al­so CFO at Por­ton Phar­ma So­lu­tions.

→ Deep­en­ing its part­ner­ship with Pfiz­er a month ago with a $15 mil­lion round, Cam­bridge biotech Mis­sion Ther­a­peu­tics has made changes in its lead­er­ship with the pro­mo­tions of Paul Thomp­son to CSO and Nick Ed­munds to chief tech­no­log­i­cal of­fi­cer. An 11-year GSK vet, Thomp­son makes the jump af­ter 2 years as Mis­sion’s VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Ed­munds came from As­traZeneca in 2016, where he had been head of new modal­i­ties, drug safe­ty and me­tab­o­lism, and moves on up from his pre­vi­ous role at Mis­sion as VP, head of DUB (deu­biq­ui­ty­lat­ing en­zymes) dis­cov­ery.

Fang Ni

→ With the dis­tinc­tion of land­ing the first IPO in 2020 — set­ting the ta­ble for the crazi­ness to come in the midst of the pan­dem­ic — on­col­o­gy play­er Black Di­a­mond Ther­a­peu­tics has brought back found­ing CBO Fang Ni to fill the same ca­pac­i­ty.  He had been a prin­ci­pal at Ver­sant Ven­tures and a mem­ber of the in­vest­ment team, serv­ing as in­ter­im CBO at Monte Rosa Ther­a­peu­tics and Bright Peak Ther­a­peu­tics dur­ing that pe­ri­od. He’s al­so a Roche vet who was more re­cent­ly the di­rec­tor, glob­al on­col­o­gy busi­ness de­vel­op­ment & li­cens­ing with­in the Big Phar­ma’s part­ner­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Ken­neth Kobayashi

→ When last we left Aslan Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, they were fac­ing the same up­hill bat­tle of tri­al de­lays that have been so per­va­sive dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, paus­ing re­cruit­ment for their study of ASLAN004 in mod­er­ate to se­vere atopic der­mati­tis. Sin­ga­pore-based Aslan has named Ken­neth Kobayashi CMO to con­tin­ue de­vel­op­ment of that lead pro­gram. Kobayashi heads to Aslan from Eli Lil­ly sub­sidiary Der­mi­ra, where he was their se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor. Pri­or to that, he was No­var­tis’ clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment med­ical di­rec­tor in the im­munol­o­gy, he­pa­tol­ogy and der­ma­tol­ogy glob­al de­vel­op­ment unit.

WuXi Vac­cines — a joint ven­ture formed be­tween WuXi Bi­o­log­ics and Shang­hai-based Hile Bio-Tech­nol­o­gy — has snagged Jian Dong to helm the com­pa­ny as CEO. Dong hopped aboard WuXi Bi­o­log­ics in 2014 and pre­vi­ous­ly served in roles at Eli Lil­ly, Shang­hai Unit­ed Cell Biotech­nol­o­gy and Shen­zhen Kang­tai Bi­o­log­i­cal Prod­ucts.

Frank Zhang

→ Two months af­ter Yuan Xu steered Leg­end Biotech to a $424 mil­lion pub­lic de­but on the Nas­daq, founder and chair­man Frank Zhang is grab­bing the reins as CEO. In con­junc­tion with the move, Zhang is al­so step­ping down from the helm of Gen­Script — a po­si­tion he’s held for 18 years. Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease, Xu stepped down for “per­son­al rea­sons.”

Cure­Vac, one of the key play­ers in the race to de­vel­op a new mR­NA vac­cine to fight Covid-19 has reshuf­fled the top spots in the ex­ec­u­tive suite. And they’ve brought on Ig­or Splaws­ki, a No­var­tis vet out of Har­vard to spear­head their work on mR­NA as CSO. Splaws­ki played a big role at the No­var­tis In­sti­tutes for Bi­o­log­i­cal Re­search un­der Jay Brad­ner, where he was an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and site head. Like Brad­ner, Splaws­ki was al­so a pro­fes­sor at Har­vard, where he worked on hu­man ge­net­ic and mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­o­gy stud­ies. He wrapped a 3-year stint at Har­vard in 2008.

Alan Smith

→ Ear gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny Ak­ou­os has tapped Alan Smith as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer. In ad­di­tion, the com­pa­ny an­nounced that Saira Ra­masas­try — who’s al­so a board mem­ber of Vir and Sang­amo — has been ap­point­ed to its board of di­rec­tors as au­dit com­mit­tee chair, and board mem­ber Arthur Tzian­a­bos, the cur­rent CEO and pres­i­dent of Ho­mol­o­gy Med­i­cines, has been ap­point­ed chair­man of the board. Smith pre­vi­ous­ly served as EVP, tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions at Bel­licum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and has held ex­ec roles at Cog­nate Bioser­vices and Osiris Ther­a­peu­tics.

→ With a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on di­a­bet­ic mac­u­lar ede­ma, Bel­gian bio­phar­ma Ox­u­ri­on NV has turned to Grace Chang to be their CMO. Cur­rent­ly an ad­junct clin­i­cal as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the oph­thal­mol­o­gy de­part­ment at USC’s Keck School of Med­i­cine, Chang used to be CMO at No­tal Vi­sion. She al­so led glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at for­mer No­var­tis sub­sidiary Al­con Lab­o­ra­to­ries.

Robert Zeldin

→ Part­ner­ing with J&J on their gene ther­a­py for x-linked re­tini­tis pig­men­tosa — and re­leas­ing promis­ing Phase I/II da­ta last month — MeiraGTx has snagged Robert Zeldin as CMO. Zeldin, a Mer­ck and No­var­tis vet, has pre­vi­ous­ly been CMO at sev­er­al biotechs in the last 5 years: Im­muno­vant, Ac­celeron and Abl­ynx.

→ GSK and Dai­ichi Sankyo vet Juan Car­los Jaramil­lo is mov­ing on to French vac­cine com­pa­ny Val­ne­va to take the CMO job, ef­fec­tive Oc­to­ber 1. His pre­de­ces­sor, Wolf­gang Ben­der, is re­tir­ing at the end of Oc­to­ber. Jaramil­lo had been with Dai­ichi Sankyo for 7 years, most re­cent­ly as SVP, head of glob­al mar­ket ac­cess & pric­ing. While at GSK, he was the act­ing head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and med­ical af­fairs vac­cines, Eu­rope.

Se­lec­ta Bio­sciences, which struck a li­cens­ing agree­ment in June to open up its im­mune tol­er­ance plat­form Imm­TOR to Sarep­ta, has re­cruit­ed Pe­ter Tra­ber as CMO. Tra­ber has helmed Galectin Ther­a­peu­tics as pres­i­dent and CEO, and has al­so spent time as their CMO in the crowd­ed but be­lea­guered NASH field. He was for­mer­ly CMO and SVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment & med­ical af­fairs with GSK and the pres­i­dent and CEO of the Bay­lor Col­lege of Med­i­cine.

Su­san­na High

Su­san­na High has been named chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Waltham, MA mus­cle dis­ease biotech Dyne Ther­a­peu­tics. She hails from blue­bird bio, where she filled the same role and guid­ed the ap­proval of Zyn­te­glo for trans­fu­sion-de­pen­dent be­ta tha­lassemia. High al­so held a num­ber of po­si­tions at Al­ny­lam, in­clud­ing SVP, strat­e­gy & busi­ness in­te­gra­tion, be­fore she left for blue­bird.

Backed by Mer­ck and Am­gen, Durham, NC-based RNA mod­u­la­tion biotech Ri­bometrix has tapped Bar­clay “Buck” Phillips as COO and CFO. Phillips is stay­ing in the Re­search Tri­an­gle area af­ter a stint at G1 Ther­a­peu­tics as their CFO, SVP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. He’s al­so led fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions at No­vavax as SVP, CFO and trea­sur­er from 2013-17.

Enoch Kar­iu­ki

→ Fo­cused on re­cep­tor ty­ro­sine ki­nase-like or­phan re­cep­tor 1 (ROR) and chalk­ing up a $137 mil­lion Se­ries B round in Ju­ly, San Diego-based Velos­Bio has en­list­ed Enoch Kar­iu­ki to be their CFO. Kar­iu­ki skips over from an­oth­er San Diego biotech, Syn­thorx, where he was their SVP, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. Pri­or to Syn­thorx, he was VP at H.I.G. Bio­Health Part­ners, the ded­i­cat­ed health­care in­vest­ment af­fil­i­ate of H.I.G. Cap­i­tal.

→ Stay­ing in San Diego, Kei­th Mar­shall has been ap­point­ed CFO of IBD-fo­cused Prometheus Bio­sciences. Mar­shall hails from Cona­tus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he had been EVP, COO and CFO the last 3 years. Be­fore that, he was CFO and head of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment at Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing com­pa­ny Torque Ther­a­peu­tics (which merged with Co­gen Im­mune Med­i­cine to be­come Reper­toire Im­mune Med­i­cines).

→ More changes at San Diego biotechs abound as De­nis Dry­gin has signed on as CSO of mi­croR­NA play­er Reg­u­lus Ther­a­peu­tics, which forked over its lead drug to Sanofi in No­vem­ber 2018 af­ter sig­nif­i­cant down­siz­ing. Dry­gin co-found­ed and was VP of R&D at Pimera the last 7 years, and be­fore that, he spent 8 years at Cy­lene Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in nu­mer­ous posts, leav­ing in 2013 as VP, bi­ol­o­gy.

Nush­mia Khokhar

Nush­mia Khokhar has been pro­mot­ed to SVP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Lon­don-based T cell pro­gram­ming bio­phar­ma Au­to­lus. Vi­jay Red­dy has al­so an­nounced he’s leav­ing Au­to­lus as CMO and re­turn­ing to the US. Khokhar was pre­vi­ous­ly the glob­al clin­i­cal leader for the dara­tu­mum­ab (Darza­lex) pro­gram at Janssen be­fore join­ing Au­to­lus as VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in 2017. Al­so, Ac­celeron R&D chief Jay Back­strom has been elect­ed to Au­to­lus’ board of di­rec­tors.

→ Genome edit­ing vet TJ Cradick has been hand­ed the keys to the CSO car at CRISPR biotech Ex­ci­sion Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics. Cradick was head of genome edit­ing for more than 4 years at CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics, and ear­ly in his ca­reer, he was a sci­en­tist in the zinc fin­ger nu­cle­ase de­sign & se­lec­tion group at Sang­amo.

Evo­lu­tion Re­search Group, a New Jer­sey-based net­work of clin­i­cal re­search sites, has cho­sen William Mar­tin to be CSO af­ter a near­ly 9-year run at Alk­er­mes in roles of in­creas­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ty, capped by his year-long tenure as se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment & med­ical af­fairs. He al­so spent time at Pfiz­er as as­so­ciate di­rec­tor, clin­i­cal re­search and pre­ci­sion med­i­cine.

James Craven

→ There are a few per­son­nel changes at CN Bio, a bio­engi­neer­ing com­pa­ny out of the UK fo­cused on sin­gle and mul­ti-or­gan mi­cro­phys­i­o­log­i­cal sys­tems (MPS). James Craven, CN Bio’s new chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, comes from Brooks Life Sci­ences, where he head­ed their mar­ket strat­e­gy and com­mer­cial de­liv­ery. Pfiz­er and Gen­Script vet Bri­an Man­ning is now the US head of sales af­ter be­ing se­nior di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at In­Sphero. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Sarah Payne has been brought on as prod­uct mar­ket­ing man­ag­er.

→ With teplizum­ab gath­er­ing re­newed mo­men­tum thanks to sol­id June da­ta as a BLA awaits, Ash­leigh Palmer’s Proven­tion Bio has giv­en the new­ly-cre­at­ed role of chief le­gal of­fi­cer to Hei­dy Abreu King-Jones. She leaves Ax­cel­la, where she was SVP, gen­er­al coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary. From 2013-18, King-Jones al­so filled sev­er­al po­si­tions in the le­gal de­part­ment at Sarep­ta.

Lance Ku­ra­ta

→ Speak­ing of le­gal ap­point­ments, Lance Ku­ra­ta has joined San Diego mR­NA play­er Arc­turus as chief le­gal of­fi­cer. Ku­ra­ta had pre­vi­ous­ly been a part­ner in the cor­po­rate group and mem­ber of the life sci­ences prac­tice group at Mintz.

→ AAV gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny AskBio has named Michael Kran­da as SVP, ther­a­peu­tic prac­tice leader. Pri­or to his new role, Kran­da served as se­nior di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at the Allen In­sti­tute. In ad­di­tion, Kran­da has held di­rec­tor roles at Im­munex (now Am­gen) and PTC Ther­a­peu­tics among oth­ers.

Jim Green­wood has be­come a se­nior ad­vi­sor at DLA Piper and will chair their Life Sci­ences, Health, Pol­i­cy and Reg­u­la­to­ry sub­group that was just cre­at­ed. Green­wood re­cent­ly com­plet­ed his 15-year tenure at the helm of BIO.

Cas­san­dra Mat­ney

→ CRO Pre­mier Re­search has wooed Cas­san­dra Mat­ney as se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor. Pri­or to hop­ping aboard the com­pa­ny, Mat­ney held po­si­tions at Astel­las, Janssen, In­cyte and Co­v­ance.

Lund­beck vet Mads Kro­n­berg has joined Dan­ish pep­tide-based med­i­cine biotech Zealand Phar­ma as their head of in­vestor re­la­tions & com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Be­fore mak­ing the jump to Zealand, Kro­n­berg spent more than 12 years at Lund­beck, work­ing his way up to se­nior di­rec­tor, head of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

→ A cou­ple months re­moved from the ap­point­ment of Ja­son O’Neill as CEO, im­munother­a­py-fo­cused Den­dreon has brought in Dar­lene Romine to be SVP of sales and mar­ket ac­cess as well as a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. Romine has pre­vi­ous­ly held sim­i­lar posts at J&J, Bio­gen and Mallinck­rodt.

Jonathan Yu

→ Tar­get­ing hema­to­log­ic dis­eases, Disc Med­i­cine is giv­ing its staff a boost with Jonathan Yu com­ing in as SVP of cor­po­rate strat­e­gy and William Sav­age as VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment to help ad­vance their hep­cidin path­way mod­u­la­tor pipeline to­ward the clin­ic. Yu co-found­ed and was VP of cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, fi­nance and op­er­a­tions for Qpex Bio­phar­ma, while Sav­age, a Shire/Take­da vet, was se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor at Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tics.

Ellen For­est has got­ten the call to be chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer at Yu­man­i­ty Ther­a­peu­tics, which tar­gets neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases. Pri­or to Cam­bridge, MA-based Yu­man­i­ty, For­est was SVP and head of hu­man cap­i­tal for Co­gen Im­mune Med­i­cine and VP, head of hu­man re­sources for Mer­ri­mack Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ On­col­o­gy and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease-fo­cused bio­phar­ma RAPT Ther­a­peu­tics has called up­on Phyl­lis Loud Gray to be VP of hu­man re­sources. Gray moves on from Sune­sis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where she was their se­nior di­rec­tor and head of hu­man re­sources.

→ Co-found­ed by Bob Langer and rais­ing $56 mil­lion in their May IPO, ENT-fo­cused Lyra Ther­a­peu­tics is bring­ing in Pamela Nel­son as SVP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs. Nel­son, held the VP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs post at Ave­dro pri­or to Lyra, start­ed her reg­u­la­to­ry ca­reer at Gen­zyme and Alk­er­mes.

Rich Hey­man

→ Less than a year af­ter pulling in an im­pres­sive $62 mil­lion Se­ries C round, PMV Phar­ma has named Rich Hey­man as chair­man of its board. Hey­man joins right as the Cran­bury, NJ-based com­pa­ny brought in $70 mil­lion from a Se­ries D fi­nanc­ing round. Hey­man comes to PMV af­ter found­ing the biotechs Aragon (ac­quired by J&J) and Ser­agon (ac­quired by Roche and Genen­tech), each of which sold for more than $1 bil­lion in the span of 12 months back in 2013 and 2014.

→ Ex-Pur­due CEO Mark Tim­ney has been named chair­man of the board at fi­bro­sis-fo­cused Blade Ther­a­peu­tics, suc­ceed­ing Luke Evnin, who was chair­man since its 2015 found­ing. Tim­ney al­so helmed and was a board mem­ber at The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny.

Ted Love

Pablo Legor­re­ta’s Roy­al­ty Phar­ma, which made waves with its prodi­gious $2.2 bil­lion IPO in June, has added to its board of di­rec­tors with Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics pres­i­dent CEO Ted Love. MSCI chair­man and CEO Hen­ry Fer­nan­dez is al­so join­ing the board.

→ Buf­fa­lo-based Athenex has elect­ed Robert Spiegel to its board of di­rec­tors. Spiegel has held the CMO job at PTC Ther­a­peu­tics and Sch­ler­ing-Plough.

→ J&J vet Chris Ha­lyk is now on the board of di­rec­tors MediPharm Labs out of Toron­to. Ha­lyk spent 33 years at the phar­ma gi­ant un­til 2019, when he was pres­i­dent of Janssen (Cana­da).

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos (via Getty Images)

With ad­u­canum­ab caught on a cliff, Bio­gen’s Michel Vounatsos bets bil­lions on an­oth­er high-risk neu­ro play

With its FDA pitch on the Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab hanging perilously close to disaster, Biogen is rolling the dice on a $3.1 billion deal that brings in commercial rights to one of the other spotlight neuro drugs in late-stage development — after it already failed its first Phase III.

The big biotech has turned to Sage Therapeutics for its latest deal, close to a year after the crushing failure of Sage-217, now dubbed zuranolone, in the MOUNTAIN study.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter Ko­dak de­ba­cle, US lends $1.1B to a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy com­pa­ny and their big Covid-19, mR­NA plans

In mid-August, as Kodak’s $765 million government-backed push into drug manufacturing slowly fell apart in national headlines, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly got a message from his company’s government liaison: HHS wanted to know if they, too, might want a loan.

The government’s decision to lend Kodak three quarters of a billion dollars raised eyebrows because Kodak had never made drugs before. But Ginkgo, while not a manufacturing company, had spent the last decade refining new ways to produce materials inside cells and building automated facilities across Boston.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Jef­frey Hat­field takes over from Diego Mi­ralles as CEO of Vi­vid­ion; Drag­on­fly scores a new ex­ec with COO Alex Lu­gov­skoy

→ San Diego protein degradation startup Vividion Therapeutics has made a change at the top with Jeffrey Hatfield taking the helm as CEO, replacing Diego Miralles six months after Roche forked over $135 million to collaborate with Vividion on their small molecule degraders. Hatfield is chairman of the board at miRagen Therapeutics and previously held the CEO job at Zafgen and Vitae Pharmaceuticals. He also had a series of leadership roles at Bristol Myers Squibb from 1996-2004, including SVP, immunology and virology divisions.

The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 94,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.