An­tho­ny Quinn ce­ments Ae­glea CEO spot; Hu­man Longevi­ty bumps David Karow up to the top

An­tho­ny Quinn

→ Af­ter prov­ing him­self in one year as in­ter­im CEO at Ae­glea Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics $AGLE, An­tho­ny Quinn is of­fi­cial­ly tak­ing on the post per­ma­nent­ly. Since he joined the Austin-based com­pa­ny as a board mem­ber in 2016, he’s seen it through an IPO and ini­ti­a­tion of sev­er­al Phase I tri­als for its rare dis­ease drug, AEB1102. A for­mer pro­fes­sor at Barts and the Lon­don School of Med­i­cine, Quinn pre­vi­ous­ly worked as CMO at Synage­va Bio­phar­ma un­til Alex­ion came along to snap it up. He will be helped at the helm by Bri­an Lawlis, Itero founder and ex-CEO, who’s just been ap­point­ed to the board.

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→ As Ape­iron Bi­o­log­ics’ found­ing CEO Hans Loib­n­er re­tires, Pe­ter Llewellyn-Davies has been pro­mot­ed from the dual CFO/CBO role to fill his shoes. Loib­n­er di­rect­ed the Aus­tri­an biotech’s piv­ot to im­muno-on­col­o­gy, which proved to be a boon lead­ing to two out-li­cens­ing deals and an ap­proved pe­di­atric can­cer drug named Qarz­i­ba. He will con­tin­ue to be an ad­vi­sor to Llewellyn-Davies, who joined the com­pa­ny on­ly months ago af­ter spend­ing some time in both biotech ex­ec and con­sult­ing roles. Mov­ing for­ward, the new CEO com­ment­ed, ex­pect to see Ape­iron ex­tend the de­vel­op­ment port­fo­lio, ex­pand their head­quar­ters in Vi­en­na and do more in­ter­na­tion­al­ly in way of part­ner­ships.

David Karow

→ At­tempt­ing to put a stop to the con­fus­ing se­ries of ex­ec­u­tive shake­ups, Hu­man Longevi­ty has pro­mot­ed chief of ra­di­ogenomics David Karow all the way to the top. To­geth­er with CTO/in­ter­im COO Scott Sorensen, Karow will over­see the an­ti-ag­ing com­pa­ny’s busi­ness strat­e­gy, try­ing to re­al­ize founder J. Craig Ven­ter’s vi­sion of “in­cor­po­rat­ing ge­nom­ic an­a­lyt­ics, ma­chine learn­ing and ad­vanced clin­i­cal imag­ing.” Ven­ter re­tired from the com­pa­ny about two months ago.

Ja­son Han­son has been tapped as CEO and pres­i­dent at gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny en­Gene, free­ing co-founder An­tho­ny Che­ung up for the chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer role. Fresh off a two-year run at the helm of Flag­ship-launched Ohana Bio­sciences (and equipped with plen­ty of op­er­a­tional, le­gal and strate­gic ex­pe­ri­ence from stints at the likes of GE Health­care and Medicis), Han­son is tasked with lead­ing the biotech’s oral gene de­liv­ery plat­form in­to clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

→ Seat­tle biotech Presage Bio­sciences added some fresh cap­i­tal to its cof­fers Tues­day, al­low­ing the can­cer com­pa­ny to work on the de­sign of a de­vice it cre­at­ed to con­duct its ear­ly clin­i­cal work. At the same time, Presage an­nounced its CSO Rich Kling­hof­fer is tak­ing over as CEO, while for­mer CEO Nathan Caf­fo steps in­to an ad­vi­so­ry role. “When Nathan and I joined Presage as the first two em­ploy­ees of the com­pa­ny, it was be­cause we rec­og­nized the trans­for­ma­tive po­ten­tial of the CI­VO plat­form to en­able faster proof-of-con­cept stud­ies for ear­ly stage drug can­di­dates,” Kling­hof­fer said in a state­ment. “Giv­en the well-known lack of trans­la­tion of an­i­mal mod­els to the hu­man clin­ic, we are ex­cit­ed to pro­vide an ap­proach that al­lows our part­ners to test as­sets in the con­text where they are ul­ti­mate­ly in­tend­ed to be used – the hu­man can­cer pa­tient.”

→ Af­ter a brief stint as An­thera Phar­ma’s CEO, Craig Thomp­son is jump­ing to the same job at Neu­rana Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, div­ing in­to the new area of neu­ro­mus­cu­lar con­di­tions. As the San Diego com­pa­ny heads in­to Phase II with tolperisone — a wide­ly used drug in Eu­rope and Asia — it’s al­so hired Toni Fos­ter to run med­ical op­er­a­tions. The drug, which now tar­gets acute, painful mus­cle spasms, “has the po­ten­tial to be the first skele­tal mus­cle re­lax­ant with­out se­da­tion,” Thomp­son said in a state­ment.  

→ Fol­low­ing a rocky few months at Bel­licum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $BLCM, the Hous­ton biotech an­nounced that CFO Alan Mus­so is ex­it­ing at the end of Au­gust, leav­ing VP of fi­nance and con­troller Rose­mary Williams in charge while the search for his suc­ces­sor takes place. This marks his fourth run at the top fi­nan­cial role, and it seems like­ly he’s head­ing to an­oth­er one. CEO Rick Fair em­pha­sized that Bel­licum is “well cap­i­tal­ized” to con­tin­ue ex­e­cut­ing on its lead cell ther­a­py, which is now back in de­vel­op­ment af­ter be­ing halt­ed for three months by a clin­i­cal hold.

→ Three months in­to his tenure, Cere­cor CEO Pe­ter Green­leaf is build­ing out his own man­age­ment team to help dri­ve the Bal­ti­more biotech to­ward the pe­di­atric busi­ness and push its cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem drugs in or­phan and spe­cial­ty in­di­ca­tions. He’s brought in Joe Miller as CFO, Per­ry Calias as CSO, and James Har­rell as EVP of mar­ket­ing and in­vestors re­la­tions. Both Miller and Calias are old col­leagues from Green­leaf’s Su­cam­po days, be­fore he led the com­pa­ny to a merg­er with Mallinck­rodt. Mean­while, Mari­am Mor­ris, the CFO who over­saw Cere­cor’s IPO and a cou­ple of BD deals, is out.

Sara Bon­stein

Sara Bon­stein is the new CFO and COO at On­coSec $ONCS, where she will have a broad man­date over fi­nan­cial and cap­i­tal mar­ket ac­tiv­i­ties, as well as ad­min­is­tra­tive func­tions and tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions. Most re­cent­ly at Ad­vax­is — a bit of a mixed bag these days — Bon­stein be­gan her ca­reer in fi­nan­cial roles at J&J and branched out to project man­age­ment at Eli Lil­ly’s Im­clone. She suc­ceeds Richard Slanky.

Yann Maz­abraud

Tre­vi Ther­a­peu­tics has poached long­time Sanofi Gen­zyme ex­ec Yann Maz­abraud to head up its com­mer­cial strat­e­gy and in­ter­na­tion­al op­er­a­tions as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. The New Haven, CT biotech is ap­proach­ing piv­otal tri­als for its syn­thet­ic opi­oid, Nal­buphine ER, in both of its pru­rit­ic pro­grams. And they are trust­ing Maz­abraud — most re­cent­ly US gen­er­al man­ag­er and North Amer­i­ca re­gion head for the French drug­mak­er — to build the sales and mar­ket­ing team from scratch.

→ Mov­ing up the lad­der at the CRO de­part­ment of Gen­e­sis Biotech­nol­o­gy Group, Ole­sia Buiako­va has been tapped as the CSO of Gen­e­sis Drug Dis­cov­ery & De­vel­op­ment. The move will re­quire her to step up from her cur­rent role as CSO of In­viv­otek, co­or­di­nat­ing pre­clin­i­cal plat­forms in on­col­o­gy, im­munol­o­gy, meta­bol­ic and oc­u­lar dis­eases.

Turn­stone Bi­o­log­ics is wel­com­ing a par­ty of five sea­soned ex­ecs in­to its lead­er­ship ranks, topped by the ap­point­ment of new CFO Jane Hen­der­son, who left Voy­ager Ther­a­peu­tics to take the role. Oth­er new hires are Kite Phar­ma vet Kristin Gustafson, SVP of hu­man re­sources and fa­cil­i­ties; Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb staffer Steve Bern­stein, SVP of clin­i­cal R&D; pro­fes­sor and re­searcher David Sto­jdl, SVP of dis­cov­ery re­search; and clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions pro Ad­i­na Pelu­sio, VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions. Turn­stone is de­vel­op­ing a vi­ral ther­a­py that com­bines the func­tions of a on­colyt­ic virus and an im­mune stim­u­lat­ing T cell vac­cine.

→ Look­ing to emerge from the scan­dal that’s en­gulfed the com­pa­ny for weeks, MiMedx has in­stalled UCB vet Mark Graves as chief com­pli­ance of­fi­cer. Graves will now han­dle all reg­u­la­to­ry and le­gal com­pli­ance mat­ters re­lat­ed to risk man­age­ment, sales op­er­a­tions and fi­nan­cial re­port­ing — things that, if you re­call, got MiMedx $MXDG in­to trou­ble with the Jus­tice De­part­ment as well as in­vestors.

Avid Bioser­vices $CD­MO has brought in Daniel Hart, a fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sion­al whose em­ploy­ers have spanned med­ical de­vice, man­age­ment con­sult­ing and re­al es­tate, as its CFO. Look­ing to “ag­gres­sive­ly” grow and di­ver­si­fy its client base, the con­tract de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny has al­so ap­point­ed Michael Faugh­nan as the se­nior di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for the west­ern re­gion, cov­er­ing the US west coast as well as Cana­da. Faugh­nan jumps from WuXi Bi­o­log­ics.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

Once again Bischofberger and his old boss, former Gilead chief John Martin, added their own money to the new $105 million raise aimed at building up their R&D engine and the team who’s doing the drug discovery work — on both coasts. Also coming back is Arie Belldegrun, the biotech builder who sold Kite to Gilead for $12 billion, and now plays the role of global wheeler dealer who’s taking a shot at cracking the off-the-shelf CAR-T challenge at Allogene.

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Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

H1 analy­sis: The high-stakes ta­ble in the biotech deals casi­no is pay­ing out some record-set­ting win­nings

For years the big trend among dealmakers at the major players has been centered on ratcheting down upfront payments in favor of bigger milestones. Better known as biobucks for some. But with the top 15 companies competing for the kind of “transformative” pacts that can whip up some excitement on Wall Street, with some big biotechs like Regeneron now weighing in as well, cash is king at the high stakes table.

We asked Chris Dokomajilar, the head of DealForma, to crunch the numbers for us, looking over the top 20 deals for the past decade and breaking it all down into the top alliances already created in 2019. Gilead has clearly tipped the scales in terms of the coin of the bio-realm, with its record-setting $5 billion upfront to tie up to Galapagos’ entire pipeline.

Dokomajilar notes:

We’re going to need a ‘three comma club’ for the deals with over $1 billion in total upfront cash and equity. The $100 million-plus club is getting crowded at 164 deals in the last decade with new deals being added towards the top of the chart. 2019 already has 14 deals with at least $100 million in upfront cash and equity for a total year-to-date of over $9 billion. That beats last year’s $8 billion and sets a record.

Add upfronts and equity payments and you get $11.5 billion for the year, just shy of last year’s record-setting $11.8 billion.

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UP­DAT­ED: With loom­ing ‘apoc­a­lypse of drug re­sis­tance,’ Mer­ck’s com­bi­na­tion an­tibi­ot­ic scores FDA ap­proval on two fronts

Merck — one of the last large biopharmaceuticals companies in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Wednesday said the FDA had sanctioned the approval of its combination antibacterial for the treatment of complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections.

To curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the efficacy of the therapy, Recarbrio (and other antibacterials) — the drug must be used to treat or prevent infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by susceptible gram-negative bacteria, Merck $MRK said.

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John McHutchison in 2012. Getty Images

The $1.1M good­bye: Gilead CSO John McHutchi­son is out as Daniel O’Day shakes up the se­nior team

Just a little more than a year after John McHutchison grabbed a promotion to become CSO at Gilead in the wake of Norbert Bischofberger’s exit, he’s out amid a shakeup of the senior team that is also triggering the departure of two other top execs.

Gilead stated that McHutchison “has decided to step down” from the job as of August 2nd. And their SEC filing notes that he’ll be getting a $1.1 million check to settle up on his contract.

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Thomas Gajewski, David Steinberg. (CRI, Pyxis)

Bay­er, Long­wood back star re­searcher's deep dive in­to the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment for new I/O tar­gets

From PD-1 targeting to the RAS pathway to the STING complex, Thomas Gajewski has spent the past two decades of his career decoding the various ways the immune system can be unleashed to defend against cancer. So when the University of Chicago professor comes around to putting all his findings into a new platform for finding new targets, VCs and pharma groups alike pay attention.

“He’s been studying T cells for 20 years, plus he’s one of the world’s leaders if not the world leader in the space,” David Steinberg, partner at Longwood Fund, said. “Furthermore, let me add he did a lot of the foundational research and also some of the seminal clinical trials in the existing set of I/O agents. He understands the space really well, he understands the current strengths, and I think he understood really well what was missing, so he knew where to look.”

Kamala Harris speaking yesterday at the Des Moines Register Iowa Presidential Candidate Forum [via Getty]

Who’s the tough­est on drug prices? A game of po­lit­i­cal one-up­man­ship is dri­ving the pol­i­cy de­bate in Wash­ing­ton

Earlier this week we got a look at Senator Kamala Harris’ position on drug prices. She’s proposing that HHS take an average price from single-payer systems like the UK, Germany and Canada — which leverage market access for lower prices — and use that to set the US price. Anything drug companies collect above that would be taxed at a rate of 100%.

And the rhetoric is scathing:
While families struggle to make it to the end of the month, pharmaceutical companies are turning record profits. They’re spending nearly as much on advertising as R&D. They’re manipulating their market power to hike prices on lifesaving generic drugs. They’re making twice the profit of the average industry in America and still increased drug prices by 10.5% over the past six months alone. Meanwhile, they are charging dramatically higher prices to American consumers.
That’s an escalation on Joe Biden’s plan, which includes drug importation from those cheaper markets as well as allowing Medicare to negotiate prices — something that virtually all Dems agree on now.

SJ Lee [File photo]

Go­ing in­side cells, Sung Joo Lee has sketched some big goals for his small — but glob­al — team of drug hunters

For a small biotech based in South Korea with a research arm in Cambridge, MA, Orum Therapeutics has sketched out some big goals aimed at developing antibodies for intracellular targets. And now they have a new $30 million round to push the work forward, aiming at a slate of currently undruggable quests.

Orum has been working on a platform tech out of Ajou University that relies on endocytosis to smuggle antibodies and their cargo inside a cell. They’ve published work in Nature that illustrates its preclinical potential in RAS mutations, and KRAS is on their list of targets. 

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