Art Krieg moves from CEO post to CSO at Checkmate; Indivior breathes sigh of relief after court ruling

Art Krieg

→ Art Krieg is turning in his spot in the CEO’s suite in exchange for the CSO’s job at Checkmate Pharmaceuticals. Barry Labinger, former CEO at Biothera, will take the top job as Krieg — who founded the company — spends a lot more time in the lab. Along with the switch-up in the executive offices, Checkmate also raised $22 million in a round led by Decheng Capital. Existing investors Sofinnova, venBio, and F-Prime all participated as well. “My initial goal in founding Checkmate was to determine if intratumoral TLR9 activation could induce tumor regression in anti-PD-1 refractory advanced cancer patients,” Krieg commented. “Now that we have achieved that goal, I am delighted to turn over Checkmate’s leadership to Barry, so that I can focus my own efforts on the further scientific development of our platform.” 

→ Opioid addiction treatment maker Indivior has another lease of life after a US court denied India’s Dr. Reddy’s Labs from launching a generic version of the London-listed company’s (LON: $INDV) top-selling drug, Suboxone film. The ongoing saga intensified last month when Dr. Reddy’s appeal to void a preliminary injunction thwarting it from selling its Suboxone generic was accepted by a US appeals court, eviscerating Indivior’s shares. On Wednesday, however, a separate ruling has mandated the preliminary injunction remain in place protecting the drug, which accounts for a bulk of Indivior’s revenue.

→ On a roll, WuXi Biologics has convinced its partners at Oxford BioTherapeutics to expand their immuno-oncology alliance to cover the development of five bispecific antibodies using the CRO’s WuXiBody platform and the biotech’s target discovery expertise. The unspecified upfront plus development, regulatory and commercial milestones could rack up as much as $450 million for WuXi. “Combining OBT’s novel second generation IO medicines with a major check-point pathway into a single entity, with potential broad utility across many solid and liquid tumor types, is designed to generate novel therapies for patients who do not benefit from existing IO medicines,” said OBT CEO Christian Rohlff in a statement.

→ AstraZeneca $AZN is not wasting precious time. Faced with two significant setbacks with its checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi in combination with its in-house CTLA-4, the company is continuing to shop for another drug that could vault its immuno-oncology program to greater heights. On Wednesday, the British drugmaker announced its plan to test Imfinzi with Aveo Oncology’s $AVEO Fotivda in a Phase I/II study involving treatment-naive patients with liver cancer.

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