Amy Bur­roughs to lead Cleave Ther­a­peu­tics; Cyn­thia Collins clinch­es Ed­i­tas CEO job amid his­toric CRISPR move

Amy Bur­roughs

→ Af­ter bag­ging $12 mil­lion to ad­vance its lead drug can­di­date CB-5339 — a (VCP)/p97 in­hibitor — through ear­ly clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, Cleave Ther­a­peu­tics is beef­ing up its ex­ec­u­tive team. Amy Bur­roughs will be lead­ing the helm as CEO while Scott Har­ris joins as COO. Bur­roughs was an ex­ec­u­tive-in-res­i­dence at 5AM Ven­tures, which led the re­cent fi­nanc­ing, where she al­so served as a strate­gic com­mer­cial ad­vi­sor to port­fo­lio com­pa­ny Cri­net­ics Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Giv­en her ear­ly ex­pe­ri­ence with the team at Genen­tech and back­ground in life sci­ences con­sult­ing, Bur­roughs brings crit­i­cal per­spec­tives on “un­der­stand­ing mar­ket needs, build­ing part­ner­ships and at­tract­ing top-notch tal­ent,” said board chair­man and for­mer Cleave CEO Lau­ra Shawver.

Har­ris most re­cent­ly served at two Bridge­Bio sub­sidiaries, in­clud­ing as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions at Navire Phar­ma. He’s had a stint as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions at Ad­ynxx and honed his cross-func­tion­al acu­men across Corthera, Bio­Marin Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, At­ten­uon, Angstrom Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and Biosite.

Cyn­thia Collins

Sev­en months af­ter Ka­trine Bosley abrupt­ly stepped down from Ed­i­tas, Cyn­thia Collins has been con­firmed as the of­fi­cial pres­i­dent and CEO. Collins — a board mem­ber and for­mer CEO of Hu­man Longevi­ty — has presided over the re­cent ini­ti­a­tion of Ed­i­tas’ first hu­man tri­al, and will now con­tin­ue to steer the biotech along the his­toric CRISPR move. The dos­ing of ED­IT-101 (or AGN-151587, as their part­ners at Al­ler­gan, call it) would mark the first test of in vi­vo edit­ing us­ing CRISPR/Cas9 — more specif­i­cal­ly, to a ge­net­ic mu­ta­tion that caus­es a rare form of blind­ness known as Leber con­gen­i­tal amau­ro­sis 10 (LCA10). She will al­so work on “mov­ing clos­er to the clin­ic with ED­IT-301 for the treat­ment of sick­le cell dis­ease, ex­pand­ing our port­fo­lio through strate­gic busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, and build­ing our or­ga­ni­za­tion­al ca­pa­bil­i­ties to scale for growth,” Collins added in a state­ment.

Jay Shep­ard

Ar­a­vive CEO and pres­i­dent Jay Shep­ard will be step­ping down from his roles in the com­pa­ny “for fam­i­ly med­ical rea­sons.” The com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors is com­menc­ing a search for his suc­ces­sor, and in the mean­time, Shep­ard plans to serve in his cur­rent role un­til a suc­ces­sor is ap­point­ed. Shep­ard’s de­par­ture comes as the com­pa­ny has ini­ti­at­ed the Phase 1b por­tion of a Phase 1b/2 clin­i­cal tri­al for their lead drug can­di­date, AVB-500 — an affin­i­ty de­coy pro­tein that tar­gets the GAS6-AXL sig­nal­ing path­way — com­bined with stan­dard of care ther­a­pies in pa­tients with plat­inum-re­sis­tant ovar­i­an can­cer. 

→ A Phase III ready Pal­la­dio Bio­sciences — with a lead drug, lix­i­vap­tan, lined up for poly­cys­tic kid­ney dis­ease — has picked Alex Mar­tin to lead their com­pa­ny as CEO. Mar­tin had the top job at Realm Ther­a­peu­tics be­fore its ac­qui­si­tion by ES­SA Phar­ma in Ju­ly and has held the COO role at In­ter­cept Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. He be­gan his ca­reer at SmithK­line Beecham and lat­er be­came vice pres­i­dent, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment & li­cens­ing at No­var­tis, grad­u­al­ly build­ing a fo­cus on BD, op­er­a­tions and fundrais­ing.

Mer­ck and Il­lu­mi­na-backed Ser­im­mune has brought on Noah Nass­er to over­see the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of its “im­mune in­tel­li­gence” tech­nol­o­gy plat­form map­ping the range of anti­gens stim­u­lat­ing im­mu­ni­ty. The new CEO, who hops over from the chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer po­si­tion at Hu­man Longevity, sees “re­mark­able op­por­tu­ni­ties” in in­fec­tious dis­ease, on­col­o­gy and au­toim­mune dis­ease. Nass­er has led sim­i­lar func­tions at mul­ti­ple ge­net­ic test­ing com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing ones that were ul­ti­mate­ly ac­quired by Myr­i­ad Ge­net­ics and Il­lu­mi­na. Ser­im­mune’s founder, Patrick Daugh­er­ty, will con­tin­ue to act as the com­pa­ny’s CSO and board mem­ber. Il­lu­mi­na Ven­tures part­ner Bill Welch is join­ing the board of di­rec­tors.

Sud­ha Para­sur­a­man

Ri­bon Ther­a­peu­tics, the biotech backed by No­var­tis, Cel­gene and J&J to go af­ter new class­es of en­zyme fam­i­lies ac­ti­vat­ed un­der cel­lu­lar stress con­di­tions, has named Sud­ha Para­sur­a­man and Ed­ward “Tad” Stew­art its first-ever CMO and CBO, re­spec­tive­ly. Well versed in hema­tol­ogy, on­col­o­gy and pe­di­atrics, Para­sur­a­man held the same role at X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and pri­or to that was VP, glob­al med­ical af­fairs at he­mo­phil­ia play­er uniQure. Her ca­reer has al­so tak­en her to No­var­tis and Mil­len­ni­um Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (now Take­da On­col­o­gy), as well as Har­vard Med­ical School, Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Boston, and Dana Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute. Stew­art, who spent over 15 years at Mer­ri­mack Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, was the pres­i­dent and CEO of Com­mense and CBO of Crescen­do

Bams Abi­la

Im­mod­u­lon — a UK biotech de­vel­op­ing im­mune-mod­u­lat­ing bac­te­r­i­al add-on can­cer ther­a­pies to check­point and chemo —  has se­lect­ed phar­ma vet Bams Abi­la as their CMO. Most re­cent­ly, Abi­la served as the CMO of Cmed and as the prin­ci­pal con­sul­tant at Clin­treq. His pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences in­clude lead­er­ship roles at Aven­tis, Pfiz­er, Astel­las, As­traZeneca and GSK. Abi­la was ap­point­ed as a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor of bi­o­log­ics and ad­vanced ther­a­py drug de­vel­op­ment to the Fac­ul­ty of Life Sci­ences & Med­i­cine at King’s Col­lege Lon­don in 2015. He is a fel­low of the Fac­ul­ty of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Med­i­cine of the Roy­al Col­lege of Physi­cians in the UK. 

→ The ma­chine learn­ing-dri­ven drug dis­cov­ery spe­cial­ists at Daphne Koller’s start­up in­sitro have wel­comed Mary Rozen­man to their ranks as CFO/CBO while tap­ping Kei­th James as SVP drug dis­cov­ery. Their ap­point­ments high­light the com­pa­ny’s com­mit­ment to not just iden­ti­fy nov­el tar­gets but to achieve its re­al goal of de­vel­op­ing nov­el, bet­ter ther­a­peu­tics faster while en­vi­sion­ing new types of col­lab­o­ra­tions. Rozen­man was the SVP of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment at Aim­mune Ther­a­peu­tics; be­fore that she learned the ins and outs of biotech in­vest­ments and fi­nanc­ing as a VP at Lon­gi­tude Cap­i­tal and a ju­nior part­ner at McK­in­sey & Com­pa­ny. James, a Pfiz­er vet with mul­ti­ple clin­i­cal can­di­dates to his name, was the pres­i­dent of the Fer­ring Re­search In­sti­tute and a vis­it­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tor at The Scripps Re­search In­sti­tute

→ With its lead prod­uct can­di­date for re­frac­to­ry angi­na now in the clin­ic, Xy­lo­Cor Ther­a­peu­tics has re­cruit­ed Rick­ey Rein­hardt as their CMO. Hav­ing led the Eu­ro­pean ap­proval for GSK’s Strimvel­lis and di­rect­ed clin­i­cal R&D at Re­genxbio, Rein­hardt will now ap­ply his ex­per­tise in gene ther­a­py to the car­dio­vas­cu­lar niche. Most re­cent­ly he was CMO at Comet Ther­a­peu­tics, where he chan­neled his deep ex­pe­ri­ence in me­tab­o­lism.

Ajim Tam­boli Rodin

→ Synap­tic-fo­cused biotech Rodin Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Ajim Tam­boli as CFO. A long­time health­care in­vestor, Tam­boli comes on board af­ter a stint at Asym­me­try Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment. He was an an­a­lyst at Lehman Broth­ers, Cred­it Su­isse and Lazard Fr­eres, with a num­ber of IPOs and fol­low-on of­fer­ings un­der his belt, be­fore found­ing En­durant Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment.

→ Just a few weeks af­ter tak­ing his $1.1 mil­lion sev­er­ance check from Gilead, John McHutchi­son has re-emerged as the new CEO of As­sem­bly Bio­sciences, which has seen its share price swoon as in­vestors lost con­fi­dence in its abil­i­ty to com­pete with Gilead with its ex­per­i­men­tal he­pati­tis B drug. McHutchi­son will be join­ing Steven J. Knox in the new job. Knox left as head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Gilead, where he al­so played a big role in the de­vel­op­ment of the hep B drug Vem­lidy, to join As­sem­bly in the same role. 

Josh Bilenker didn’t just gain a per­son­al wind­fall by sell­ing Loxo to Eli Lil­ly for $8.1 bil­lion. He got a new, if tem­po­rary, job out of the deal as well. Bilenker will now head on­col­o­gy re­search and ear­ly phase de­vel­op­ment as they look for a re­place­ment for Levi Gar­raway, now head­ed off in pur­suit of “oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ties.” In ad­di­tion, Long­time BD chief Dar­ren Car­roll is head­ed to re­tire­ment af­ter 22 years at the phar­ma gi­ant. Heather Wasser­man has been pro­mot­ed to vice pres­i­dent of cor­po­rate busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, with re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for busi­ness de­vel­op­ment trans­ac­tions, emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tion, and ven­ture cap­i­tal, SVP/trea­sur­er Phil John­son will be in charge of M&A and Frank Cun­ning­ham has been pro­mot­ed to se­nior vice pres­i­dent of man­aged health­care ser­vices.

Teri Lox­am

→ Cell ther­a­py play­er SQZ Biotech has wooed se­nior Mer­ck ex­ec Teri Lox­am to be­come its CFO. The phar­ma gi­ant said that Lox­am, who’s been man­ag­ing in­vestor re­la­tions and glob­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions, “will be missed per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly.” Pe­ter Dan­nen­baum has been pro­mot­ed to fill her shoes.

Ve­r­avas — a med­ical di­ag­nos­tic com­pa­ny fo­cused on bi­otin — has tapped Car­roll Street­man Jr to head the com­pa­ny as CEO. Dur­ing his 45-year ca­reer in the in­dus­try, Street­man has been in man­age­ment po­si­tions at med­ical ser­vices com­pa­ny Full Spec­trum Be­hav­ior Analy­sis, Di­a­Sorin, CSHC Con­sul­tants and HCA Health­care Cor­po­ra­tion. It was at Di­a­Sorin that he first worked with Ve­r­avas’ CSO, Josh Sol­do.

→ As Or­thofix Med­ical CEO Brad Ma­son steps in­to re­tire­ment, he’s pass­ing the ba­ton to sea­soned med­ical de­vice ex­ec Jon Ser­bousek. Aside from lead­ing the whole mus­cu­loskele­tal op­er­a­tion, Ser­bousek has al­so been named pres­i­dent of the spine unit.

Jon Ser­bousek

Aprea Ther­a­peu­tics, a can­cer biotech with head­quar­ters in both Boston and Stock­holm, has ap­point­ed Scott Coiante as the com­pa­ny’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent and CFO, join­ing from Ag­ile Ther­a­peu­tics where he held the same roles. Pri­or to his time at Ag­ile, Coiante served as the vice pres­i­dent of fi­nance and trea­sur­er at Medarex be­fore its ac­qui­si­tion in 2009 by Bris­tol My­ers Squibb.

Emalex Bio­sciences has en­list­ed At­ul Ma­h­ablesh­warkar on their mis­sion to de­vel­op ecopi­pam for pe­di­atric Tourette Syn­drome and child­hood-on­set flu­en­cy dis­or­der. As SVP of drug de­vel­op­ment, Ma­h­ablesh­warkar is tasked with every­thing from clin­i­cal af­fairs, phar­ma­covig­i­lance, reg­u­la­to­ry mat­ters to qual­i­ty as­sur­ance. The new role will draw on both his train­ing in psy­chi­a­try and years of de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence ac­crued at Take­da, Black­Thorn and most re­cent­ly Re­vance.

No­vo Nordisk vet Lars Green is switch­ing ship af­ter 27 years to take charge of fi­nance, IT, le­gal and in­vestors re­la­tions as CFO of Novozyme — the en­zyme shop split off from the No­vo con­glom­er­ate al­most two decades ago. In his last role at the Dan­ish in­sulin mak­er, he head­ed up busi­ness ser­vices and com­pli­ance af­ter a stint lead­ing fi­nance and op­er­a­tions. In con­junc­tion with his ap­point­ment, he’s re­sign­ing from Novozyme’s board, where he’s served as a di­rec­tor since 2014.

Col­in God­dard Hi­ber­Cell

Christoph Rentsch has re­signed from the CFO post at Swiss spe­cial­ty phar­ma San­thera. Rentsch, whose ca­reer has spanned Cred­it Su­isse, Lon­za, Roche and Polyphor, was cred­it­ed for sev­er­al cor­po­rate fi­nance trans­ac­tions at San­thera, which has been on a bumpy ride with its Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy drug.

→ Lead­ing can­cer im­munother­a­py pi­o­neer Alan Ko­r­man, who is cred­it­ed for his work at BMS and Medarex that led to the de­vel­op­ment of two of the first ap­proved can­cer im­munother­a­py drugs, ip­il­i­mum­ab (an­ti-CLTA-4) and nivolum­ab (an­ti-PD-1) and their com­bi­na­tion, has joined the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board of Drag­on­fly Ther­a­peu­tics

Steven Gillis Hi­ber­Cell

→ New York-based Hi­ber­Cell has ap­point­ed ex-OSI Phar­ma CEO Col­in God­dard to the board of di­rec­tors. God­dard will serve un­der new­ly mint­ed chair­man Steven Gillis, a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Arch who is prob­a­bly best known as founder of Im­munex.

Med­ical an­i­ma­tion: Mak­ing it eas­i­er for the site and the pa­tient to un­der­stand

Medical animation has in recent years become an increasingly important tool for conveying niche information to a varied audience, particularly to those audiences without expertise in the specialist area. Science programmes today, for example, have moved from the piece-to-camera of the university professor explaining how a complex disease mechanism works, to actually showing the viewer first-hand what it might look like to shrink ourselves down to the size of an ant’s foot, and travel inside the human body to witness these processes in action. Effectively communicating a complex disease pathophysiology, or the novel mechanism of action of a new drug, can be complex. This is especially difficult when the audience domain knowledge is limited or non-existent. Medical animation can help with this communication challenge in several ways.
Improved accessibility to visualisation
Visualisation is a core component of our ability to understand a concept. Ask 10 people to visualise an apple, and each will come up with a slightly different image, some apples smaller than others, some more round, some with bites taken. Acceptable, you say, we can move on to the next part of the story. Now ask 10 people to visualise how HIV’s capsid protein gets arranged into the hexamers and pentamers that form the viral capsid that holds HIV’s genetic material. This request may pose a challenge even to someone with some virology knowledge, and it is that inability to effectively visualise what is going on that holds us back from fully understanding the rest of the story. So how does medical animation help us to overcome this visualisation challenge?

Alice Shaw, Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Top ALK ex­pert and can­cer drug re­searcher Al­ice Shaw bids adieu to acad­e­mia, hel­lo to No­var­tis

Jay Bradner has recruited a marquee oncology drug researcher into the ranks of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Alice Shaw is jumping from prestigious posts intertwined through Mass General, Harvard and Dana-Farber to take the lead of NIBR’s translational clinical oncology group.

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Christine Bunt, Robert Langer. Verseau

Armed with Langer tech and $50M, Verseau hails new check­point drugs un­leash­ing macrophages against can­cer

The rising popularity of CD47 has propelled the “don’t-eat-me” signal to household name status in the immuno-oncology world. But just as PD-(L)1 merely represents the most fruitful of all checkpoints regulating T cells, Verseau Therapeutics is convinced that CD47 is one of many regulators one can modulate to stir up or tame the immune system.

“Macrophages are interesting because we were all educated probably 20 years ago that they are the big eaters in the immune system, but they’re really the orchestrators of the immune system,” CEO Christine Bunt said.

Hal Barron, GSK's president of R&D and CSO, speaks to Endpoints News founder and editor John Carroll in London at Endpoints' #UKBIO19 summit on October 8, 2019

[Video] Cel­e­brat­ing tri­al fail­ures, chang­ing the cul­ture and al­ly­ing with Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers: R&D chief Hal Bar­ron talks about a new era at GSK

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Hal Barron at Endpoints’ #UKBIO19 summit to discuss his views on R&D at GSK, a topic that has been central to his life since he took the top research post close to 2 years ago. During the conversation, Barron talked about changing the culture at GSK, a move that involves several new approaches — one of which involves celebrating their setbacks as they shift resources to the most promising programs in the pipeline. Barron also discussed his new alliances in the Bay Area — including his collaboration pact with Lyell, which we covered here — frankly assesses the pluses and minuses of the UK drug development scene, and talks about his plans for making GSK a much more effective drug developer.

This is one discussion you won’t want to miss. Insider and Enterprise subscribers can log-in to watch the video.

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Mi­rati preps its first look at their KRAS G12C con­tender, and they have to clear a high bar for suc­cess

If you’re a big KRAS G12C fan, mark your calendars for October 28 at 4:20 pm EDT.

That’s when Mirati $MRTX will unveil its first peek at the early clinical data available on MRTX849 in presentations at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston.

Mirati has been experiencing the full effect of a rival’s initial success at targeting the G12C pocket found on KRAS, offering the biotech some support on the concept they’re after — and biotech fans a race to the top. Amgen made a big splash with its first positive snapshot on lung cancer, but deflated sky-high expectations as it proved harder to find similar benefits in other types of cancers.

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The FDA will hus­tle up an ex­pe­dit­ed re­view for As­traZeneca’s next shot at a block­buster can­cer drug fran­chise

AstraZeneca paid a hefty price to partner with Daiichi Sankyo on their experimental antibody drug conjugate for HER2 positive breast cancer. And they’ve been rewarded with a fast ride through the FDA, with a straight shot at creating another blockbuster oncology franchise.

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Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.

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CSL ac­cus­es ri­val Pharm­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a scheme to rip off IP on HAE while re­cruit­ing se­nior R&D staffer

Pharming has landed in the middle of a legal donnybrook after recruiting a senior executive from a rival R&D team at CSL. The Australian pharma giant slapped Pharming with a lawsuit alleging that the Dutch biotech’s new employee, Joseph Chiao, looted a large cache of proprietary documents as he hit the exit. And they want it all back.
Federal Judge Juan Sanchez in the Eastern District Pennsylvania court issued an injunction on Tuesday prohibiting Chiao from doing any work on HAE or primary immune deficiency in his new job and demanding that he return any material from CSL that he may have in his possession. And he wants Pharming to tell its employees not to ask for any information on the forbidden topics.
For its part, Pharming fired off an indignant response this morning denying any involvement in extracting any kind of IP from CSL, adding that it’s cooperating in the internal probe that CSL has underway.

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Eli Lil­ly’s first PhI­II show­down for their $1.6B can­cer drug just flopped — what now?

When Eli Lilly plunked down $1.6 billion in cash to acquire Armo Biosciences a little more than a year ago, the stars seemed aligned in its favor. The jewel in the crown they were buying was pegilodecakin, which had cleared the proof-of-concept stage and was already in a Phase III trial for pancreatic cancer.

And that study just failed.

Lilly reported this morning that their cancer drug flopped on overall survival when added to FOLFOX (folinic acid, 5-FU, oxaliplatin), compared to FOLFOX alone among patients suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.

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