As biotech mar­ket re­mains chilly, Longeveron CEO steps down af­ter 18-month run

The Longeveron CEO who helped take the biotech pub­lic is now set to re­sign.

Ge­off Green

Ge­off Green, Longeveron’s chief ex­ec­u­tive since No­vem­ber 2020, will step down ef­fec­tive June 1 to pur­sue new op­por­tu­ni­ties, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Mon­day af­ter­noon. In his place, cur­rent CMO Chris Min will serve as in­ter­im CEO while Longeveron con­ducts a search for a per­ma­nent chief.

Green will re­main a con­sul­tant for an un­de­ter­mined time to help en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion, the com­pa­ny added. Shares $LGVN were down about 5% in post-mar­ket trad­ing. He joins a cadre of biotech ex­ec­u­tives leav­ing their posts in the wake of a bear mar­ket that con­tin­ues to bat­ter the sec­tor.

Longeveron has cen­tered its pitch on de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­pies to help treat ag­ing pa­tients un­able to walk for long dis­tances. Green hopped aboard in 2016, first as se­nior VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and then tran­si­tion­ing to pres­i­dent in Jan­u­ary 2019 be­fore tak­ing on the CEO role, per his LinkedIn page.

Chris Min

Short­ly af­ter the start of his CEO tenure in Feb­ru­ary 2021, Longeveron went pub­lic in a $26.6 mil­lion IPO. Though it came as a rel­a­tive­ly mod­est pric­ing com­pared to what the rest of the sec­tor was rais­ing at the time, Longeveron’s pub­lic de­but came as part of a wave of biotechs shoot­ing for Nas­daq at a record pace.

But just like many oth­er biotechs in re­cent months, Longeveron found that not every­thing is green­er on the pub­lic side. The com­pa­ny’s ex­per­i­men­tal drug lome­cel-B, a cell ther­a­py for ag­ing frailty, failed a key six-minute walk test end­point of a Phase IIb tri­al back in Au­gust 2021, show­ing no sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment com­pared to place­bo.

Ex­ecs point­ed to an ap­par­ent pos­i­tive “dose-re­sponse curve” and post-hoc analy­sis at nine months, but it didn’t as­suage in­vestor con­cerns. The com­pa­ny’s stock fell 25% at the time, and Longeveron soon be­came the fo­cus of an anony­mous short squeeze in No­vem­ber last year, see­ing shares shoot up from about $3 to more than $40 apiece.

Longeveron has since be­come a fo­cus of short sell­ers and re­tail in­vestors, akin to the GameStop and AMC craze from ear­ly 2021, though on a small­er scale. Though the squeeze ap­pears past its peak, the biotech’s stock re­mained well above its price be­fore it be­gan: As of Mon­day close, Longeveron stock was up 172% from mid-No­vem­ber.

Mov­ing for­ward, Min’s tem­po­rary role will like­ly see him con­tin­ue to shep­herd lome­cel-B for­ward in its three clin­i­cal stud­ies. In ad­di­tion to the Au­gust 2021 flop, Longeveron is al­so study­ing the pro­gram as a vac­cine ad­ju­vant for ag­ing frailty and in meta­bol­ic syn­drome for the con­di­tion. Min joined the biotech last month.

Bio­mark­er 'roadmap­s' and the fu­ture of can­cer R&D; Cur­tain rais­es on #AS­CO22; Pfiz­er, No­var­tis tack­le drug ac­cess; 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.

While this was not a week for earth-shattering news, there were certainly a lot of interesting tidbits. If you found this recap helpful, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues. We’ll see you on the other side of the long weekend.

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Keep­ing pres­sure on Am­gen, Mi­rati draws mixed re­views on lat­est cut of KRAS da­ta

As the close runner-up to Amgen’s Lumakras in the KRAS race, any data cut from Mirati’s adagrasib continues to draw scrutiny from analysts. And the latest batch of numbers from ASCO is a decidedly mixed bag.

While a quick comparison suggests that adagrasib spurred slightly more responses and led to a longer overall survival than Lumakras among a group of non-small cell lung cancer patients, its duration of response appears shorter and the safety profile continues to spark concern.

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Ann is one of ViiV Healthcare's newest spokespeople as the retired school administrator speaks up about her HIV status.

GSK's Vi­iV de­buts next evo­lu­tion in HIV med Dova­to cam­paign with new spokes­peo­ple and new mes­sage

When Ann saw the first TV commercials for HIV medicine Dovato, she didn’t see herself represented. So the 74-year-old retired school administrator who’s been living with HIV since 1998, reached out to GSK’s ViiV Healthcare and asked why not?

Now Ann is one of three people starring in ViiV’s latest Dovato campaign called “Detect This.” The next-step evolution in the branded campaign plays on the word “detect” — often used in describing HIV status under control as undetectable — but in this case, uses the word as a directive for people to understand they can use fewer medicines.

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Tran­si­tion to new Eu­ro­pean clin­i­cal tri­als in­fo sys­tem starts slow­ly

At the end of January, the European Medicines Agency officially launched its new clinical trials info system (CTIS), although the migration to the new platform has only really just begun, and sponsors have until the end of January 2023 before all initial trial applications must be submitted through CTIS.

Overall, 56 clinical trial applications have been submitted in CTIS during the first 3 months since the launch of the system on Jan. 31, according to new data posted by the EMA. By comparison, about 4,000 new trials are authorized each year across Europe.

Switzer­land to de­stroy over 600,000 ex­pired dos­es of Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine

As concerns related to uptake and distribution continue to linger, Switzerland is among the first countries that plans to destroy hundreds of thousands of expired and unused Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The European country said it plans to destroy more than 600,000 doses of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine as the doses have reached their expiration date.

However, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that he’s in the process of throwing 30 million doses in the garbage, exclaiming, “We have a big demand problem.”

Nassim Usman, Catalyst Biosciences CEO

Af­ter $60M Ver­tex deal, group of Cat­a­lyst share­hold­ers claims biotech could’ve sold as­sets three years ago

Catalyst Biosciences was down to five employees in March, and the biotech needed to do something after two rounds of layoffs, a nixed collaboration and a culling of its hemophilia program.

In came Vertex, with $60 million to buy up the South San Francisco biotech’s preclinical complement drugs, which target the system that bridges the body’s innate and adaptive immune response and a class most known for Ultomiris and Soliris. The deal includes CB 2782-PEG, the dry AMD drug that Biogen no longer wanted in March.

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Lina Khan, FTC chair (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP Images)

Pile-on over PBMs con­tin­ues with FTC com­ments and a new bi­par­ti­san Sen­ate bill

More than 500 stakeholders sent comments to the FTC on whether the commission should look further into pharma middlemen, known as PBMs, with many of the commenters calling for more federal oversight.

Similar to the critical open comment period in a deadlocked FTC session last February, pharmacies and pharmacy groups are continuing to call out the lack of transparency among the top 3 PBMs, which control about 80% of the market.

Pharma brands are losing their shine with US consumers who are now thinking about the economy and inflation instead of Covid. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Phar­ma brands fade in an­nu­al Har­ris con­sumer vis­i­bil­i­ty poll: Mod­er­na drops off and Pfiz­er dips

As Covid-19 concerns are fading in the US, so is biopharma visibility. The annual Axios Harris Poll survey to determine and rank the 100 most top-of-mind brands in the US finds Moderna, which was No. 3 last year, not on the list at all for 2022, and Pfizer sinking 37 spots.

However, it’s not that Moderna or Pfizer did anything wrong, it’s just that Americans have moved on to other worries beyond Covid.

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HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Images)

HHS fin­ish­es off Trump-era rule that would've erased ba­sic FDA regs with­out fre­quent re­views

HHS on Thursday finalized its decision to withdraw a rule, proposed just before former President Donald Trump left office, that would’ve caused thousands of HHS and FDA regulations to automatically expire if they weren’t reviewed within two years, and every 10 years thereafter.

The decision follows the filing of a lawsuit last March, in which several nonprofits alleged that the outgoing administration planted “a ticking timebomb” for HHS, essentially forcing it to devote an enormous amount of resources to the unprecedented and infeasible task of reviewing thousands of regulations regularly.