An­oth­er top Genen­tech ex­ec gets poached, this time tak­ing the helm at CAR-T play­er Bel­licum

One of the best com­pa­nies you can have on your re­sume in bio­phar­ma these days is Genen­tech. The com­pa­ny is cred­it­ed with 11 new drug ap­provals since Roche took over in 2009, in­clud­ing some block­buster ad­di­tions. And the re­sult­ing ex­o­dus of tal­ent now in­cludes Rick Fair, the head of on­col­o­gy glob­al prod­uct strat­e­gy, who is tak­ing over as CEO of the im­muno-on­col­o­gy play­er Bel­licum $BLCM.

Now ex-CEO Tom Far­rell is out, rel­e­gat­ed to a tem­po­rary role as com­pa­ny ad­vis­er dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

The Hous­ton-based Bel­licum is one of a group of biotechs look­ing to make a splash in CAR-T and TCRs, with reengi­neered T cells. It’s been some­thing of an al­so-ran, though, with Kite, No­var­tis and Juno gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered the lead­ers in the field. Bel­licum raised $140 mil­lion from its IPO two years ago.

The new job comes with stock op­tions. Bel­licum is pro­vid­ing an “in­duce­ment award,” which con­sists of an op­tion to pur­chase up to 500,000 shares of com­mon stock, with a per share ex­er­cise price equal to $11.87, the clos­ing price on the grant date of Jan­u­ary 30, 2016, and a ten-year term.

Fair, mean­while, be­comes the lat­est in the steady ex­o­dus of tal­ent from Genen­tech, one of the orig­i­nal found­ing fa­thers of the biotech in­dus­try.

Just a few days ago Troy Cox, the VP of on­col­o­gy sales at Genen­tech, took the helm at Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine, a close­ly al­lied com­pa­ny. Just be­fore that Bill An­der­son took over as pres­i­dent of Genen­tech from Ian Clark, trig­ger­ing some spec­u­la­tion about where Clark may land next. Sean Bo­hen was re­cruit­ed from Genen­tech to take a top R&D po­si­tion with As­traZeneca. And a group of Genen­tech vets found­ed De­nali, a neu­ro­science biotech which is one of the best fund­ed star­tups in the busi­ness.

Said Chair­man James Brown:

Rick’s depth and breadth of ex­pe­ri­ence in on­col­o­gy, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment strat­e­gy and com­mer­cial­iza­tion, both in the U.S. and in­ter­na­tion­al­ly, will be of great val­ue as we pre­pare for com­mer­cial­iza­tion of our lead prod­uct can­di­date BPX-501, ac­cel­er­ate our pipeline of CAR T and TCR prod­uct can­di­dates, and so­lid­i­fy our lead­er­ship in the de­vel­op­ment of con­trol­lable cell ther­a­pies.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Luciana Borio (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Bob Nelsen's ARCH adds FDA, biode­fense ex­per­tise with ap­point­ment of Lu­ciana Bo­rio

Once vetted by the Biden team to lead the FDA as commissioner, Luciana Borio is now compiling quite the résumé.

Borio has now been named a venture partner at Bob Nelsen’s ARCH Venture Partners, and Nelsen told Endpoints News, “She will be involved in projects across the portfolio, including ongoing projects in manufacturing, clinical trials, gene therapy and gene editing, cell therapy, and delivery. We are exploring multiple projects in infectious disease, and next generation manufacturing.”

Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Frank Pallone (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP Images)

House com­mit­tee seeks more from FDA on in­spec­tion back­log, when to restart work on for­eign sites

House Energy & Commerce committee leaders are raising fresh questions about the FDA’s ability to conduct foreign manufacturing site inspections and bring down its growing backlog.

“While we understand that the emergence of COVID-19 required the agency to suspend in-person inspection activities temporarily, we remain concerned that more than one year into the pandemic, the strategy for resuming all inspections and addressing the backlog of delayed inspections remains unclear,” E&C chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and a group of five other bipartisan leaders of the committee wrote to FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock.