Sanofi vet Kather­ine Bowdish named CEO of PIC Ther­a­peu­tics; As the world Terns: Liv­er dis­ease biotech makes ex­ec­u­tive changes

Kather­ine Bowdish

PIC Ther­a­peu­tics hasn’t raised much mon­ey, yet. But the fledg­ling biotech has at­tract­ed a high-pro­file play­er to the helm.

The Boston-based biotech has hand­ed the reins to Kather­ine Bowdish as its pres­i­dent and CEO. Bowdish will al­so join the board of di­rec­tors of PIC. Bowdish joins from Sanofi where she served as VP and head of R&D strat­e­gy, as well as help­ing launch and lead Sanofi Sun­rise, a ven­ture in­vest­ment and part­ner­ing ve­hi­cle at Sanofi. Be­fore that, Bowdish held sev­er­al ex­ec roles at Per­me­on Bi­o­log­ics, Anaphore, Alex­ion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Pro­li­faron (ac­quired by Alex­ion).

PIC, in its own words, is fo­cused on trans­form­ing the treat­ment of can­cer through the se­lec­tive mod­u­la­tion of onco­gene trans­la­tion, which you can think more broad­ly about as con­trol­ling the ex­pres­sion of large banks of genes at a time in or­der to si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly mod­u­late mul­ti­ple onco­genic dri­vers — a very am­bi­tious goal for a com­pa­ny that just raised a $5 mil­lion seed round.

Back in April Ad­vent Life Sci­ences led the launch round, with Be­lin­da Ter­meer, wid­ow of leg­endary Gen­zyme CEO Hen­ri Ter­meer, as well as “sev­er­al bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives and oth­er in­di­vid­ual in­vestors” chip­ping in. We’re like­ly to hear more on that score in the not-too-dis­tant fu­ture.

Senthil Sun­daram

→ The C-suite has shuf­fled con­sid­er­ably at liv­er dis­ease-fo­cused Terns Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals out of Fos­ter City, CA. Senthil Sun­daram now as­sumes the CEO post, re­plac­ing Wei­dong Zhong, who was at the helm since Terns was found­ed and is now mov­ing in­to two new roles: CSO and chair­man of the board. Sun­daram makes his way to Terns af­ter 2 years as CFO of Night­star Ther­a­peu­tics, which would lat­er be ac­quired by Bio­gen. He was al­so VP and head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at NASH play­er In­ter­cept af­ter 13 years in in­vest­ment bank­ing.

Else­where at Terns, Erin Quirk has added pres­i­dent to her CMO ti­tle and Mark Vi­g­no­la is their new CFO. A for­mer clin­i­cal re­search ex­ec at Gilead and Mer­ck, Quirk has been CMO since Jan­u­ary 2019. Vi­g­no­la comes to Terns from his CFO gig at Ap­plied Ther­a­peu­tics and, like Sun­daram, was an ex­ec at In­ter­cept.

→ There’s a change at the top at Is­raeli-based En­tera Bio, which fo­cus­es on oral­ly-de­liv­ered macro­mol­e­cule ther­a­pies, with Sanofi vet Roger Garceau get­ting the call as in­ter­im CEO af­ter Adam Gri­d­ley re­signed “to pur­sue an­oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ty.” Garceau, En­tera’s chief de­vel­op­ment ad­vi­sor since De­cem­ber 2016, will al­so con­tin­ue as a di­rec­tor. Pri­or to join­ing the board at En­tera in March 2016, he was CMO and EVP of R&D at NPS Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Garceau filled sev­er­al ex­ec­u­tive roles at Sanofi, in­clud­ing VP of US new prod­uct mar­ket­ing.

Chris­t­ian Hen­ry

→ Men­lo Park, CA gene se­quenc­ing com­pa­ny Pa­cif­ic Bio­sciences, which Il­lu­mi­na at­tempt­ed to buy out un­til the deal fiz­zled at the start of this year, has cho­sen Chris­t­ian Hen­ry to lead the way as pres­i­dent and CEO, ef­fec­tive next month. Michael Hunkapiller, who an­nounced his re­tire­ment in June, has been at the helm since 2012 and will be­come a se­nior fel­low fo­cused on tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­op­ment once Hen­ry takes over. Hen­ry has been on PacBio’s board of di­rec­tors since 2018 and board mem­ber John Mil­li­gan will suc­ceed him as chair­man of the board, where Hen­ry had served since March. Hen­ry spent 12 years at Il­lu­mi­na and was both their CCO and CFO at sep­a­rate junc­tures.

In oth­er PacBio news, Su­san Barnes has re­tired from her CFO post, as Ben Gong has been named to re­place her on an in­ter­im ba­sis. Gong has been at PacBio for the past decade as their VP, fi­nance and trea­sur­er.

Janet Ham­mond

Janet Ham­mond has been in­stalled in the new­ly-cre­at­ed po­si­tion of chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Jean-Pierre Som­ma­dos­si’s vi­ral dis­ease com­pa­ny Atea Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which threw their hats in the Covid-19 ring and scored a $215 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round in May. An ex-SVP at Roche, Ham­mond comes over from Ab­b­Vie, where she was their VP, in­fec­tious dis­eases and gen­er­al med­i­cine. She’s al­so been CMO, SVP and head of med­ical af­fairs at Valeant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→ Nor­we­gian hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy play­er Nordic Nanovec­tor has se­cured Chris­tine Wilkin­son Blanc as their CMO a few months af­ter sev­er­al oth­er ex­ec­u­tive changes. Wilkin­son Blanc, who got her start at Roche as a clin­i­cal re­search physi­cian, had been med­ical di­rec­tor of PhiMedics for the last decade and, from 2013-16, was CMO of Psioxus Ther­a­peu­tics.

Punit Dhillon

→ Fo­cused on cannabi­noid-based ther­a­pies, Cal­i­for­nia-based Emer­ald Bio­science has changed CEOs, vault­ing for­mer On­coSec CEO Punit Dhillon to the top spot af­ter Bri­an Mur­phy re­signed both as CEO and a board mem­ber. Dhillon, who al­so co-found­ed On­coSec in 2011, had been Emer­ald’s chair­man and is their found­ing di­rec­tor. Be­fore his time at On­coSec, he was In­ovio’s VP of fi­nance and op­er­a­tions.

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with Roche on im­muno-on­col­o­gy ther­a­pies, with mile­stones po­ten­tial­ly to the tune of $1.7 bil­lion, Bi­cy­cle Ther­a­peu­tics has steered to­ward a new CMO with Do­minic Smethurst, who has his share of ex­pe­ri­ence in the same po­si­tion at sev­er­al oth­er biotechs. Smethurst heads to UK-based Bi­cy­cle af­ter a few months as in­ter­im CMO at Nordic Nanovec­tor. He briefly held the CMO post at BerGen­Bio, and be­fore that, had a 2-year tenure as CMO at Tusk Ther­a­peu­tics.

Gal­lia Levy

→ As not­ed ear­li­er in the week, Gal­lia Levy has left her post at Genen­tech to be­come CMO of Roche sub­sidiary Spark Ther­a­peu­tics, whose he­mo­phil­ia A gene ther­a­py SPK-8011 is one of four pro­grams in clin­i­cal tri­als. Levy led glob­al de­vel­op­ment on Hem­li­bra for he­mo­phil­ia A, and was al­so Genen­tech’s VP, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and glob­al head of the rare blood dis­or­ders fran­chise.

Adri­an Hep­n­er has been tapped as CMO of Pharnext, a French drug de­vel­op­er fo­cused on neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases us­ing ge­nomics da­ta and AI. Be­fore head­ing to Pharnext, Hep­n­er was EVP and CMO of Ea­gle Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals from 2015-20, had a short stint at UCB at their se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor, and spent 6 years as a clin­i­cal re­search ex­ec at Avanir Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Wilco Groen­huy­sen

→ UK-based on­col­o­gy play­er Novo­cure, which re­ceived an FDA OK in May 2019 with its NovoT­TF-100L Sys­tem for ma­lig­nant pleur­al mesothe­lioma, has an­nounced a hand­ful of per­son­nel moves, ef­fec­tive Sept 1. Wilco Groen­huy­sen is tran­si­tion­ing to COO af­ter 8 years as Novo­cure’s CFO, and as a re­sult, Ash­ley Cor­do­va has been pro­mot­ed from SVP, fi­nance and in­vestor re­la­tions to the CFO post. Frank Leonard has al­so been pro­mot­ed to the new­ly-cre­at­ed chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer po­si­tion, as the 10-year Novo­cure vet moves on up from his pre­vi­ous role as their SVP, cor­po­rate strat­e­gy and health pol­i­cy.

→ AAV-based gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny Stride­Bio, part­ner­ing with Sarep­ta on four cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem tar­gets, has brought on William Mon­tei­th to be their COO. A pre-Pfiz­er deal Wyeth Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals vet and a Den­dreon ex­ec from 2009-15, Mon­tei­th heads over to Stride­Bio from Cel­lec­tis, where he spent the last year as EVP, tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions.

→ Psy­che­del­ic-in­spired med­i­cine de­vel­op­er MindMed is ex­pand­ing its Eu­ro­pean hori­zons and has cho­sen Miri Halperin Wern­li to lead the clin­i­cal and sci­en­tif­ic team in Eu­rope as pres­i­dent. Halperin Wern­li, the co-founder of Aus­tralian med­ical cannabis com­pa­ny Cre­so Phar­ma, is an Acte­lion vet who was their VP, deputy head of glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and glob­al head, busi­ness & sci­ence af­fairs.

Ellen Lub­man

Ellen Lub­man is on board as CBO of Long­wood-backed Cam­bridge, MA on­col­o­gy play­er Were­wolf Ther­a­peu­tics, which launched in No­vem­ber with a $56 mil­lion Se­ries A round. A Bris­tol My­ers Squibb vet well versed in M&A, Lub­man leaves her CBO post at Im­pel Neu­roPhar­ma, a role she filled for near­ly 2 years. Be­fore that, she was at Al­ler­gan from 2014-18 as their VP, ex­ter­nal sci­ence and in­no­va­tion.

→ On the rec­om­men­da­tion of prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor Manuel Hi­dal­go, La­gu­na Hills, CA-based Phar­ma­Cyte has brought in José Igle­sias as a con­sult­ing CMO for a Phase IIb clin­i­cal tri­al in lo­cal­ly ad­vanced, in­op­er­a­ble pan­cre­at­ic can­cer (LAPC). Igle­sias, who helped de­vel­op Abrax­ane while he was with Abrax­is and Cel­gene, is the cur­rent CMO at Sen­ti Bio­sciences.

Roger Sawh­ney

Flag­ship biotech Omega Ther­a­peu­tics, which hauled in $85 mil­lion a cou­ple weeks ago with its am­bi­tion to cre­ate an epi­ge­net­ic pro­gram­ming plat­form for what CEO Ma­hesh Karande calls the “con­trol room of hu­man bi­ol­o­gy,” has snagged Roger Sawh­ney as CFO. A for­mer SVP and head of glob­al cor­po­rate strat­e­gy at No­var­tis, Sawh­ney was most re­cent­ly di­rec­tor of KKR and Co’s health­care in­vest­ment team in the Amer­i­c­as.

→ Try­ing to dig out from the mess of their con­tro­ver­sy over busi­ness prac­tices, Ma­ri­et­ta, GA-based wound care com­pa­ny MiMedX has ap­point­ed Robert Stein their EVP of R&D. Stein’s work in the area of R&D goes back 30 years when he was SVP of R&D and CSO of Lig­and Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and lat­er at DuPont-Mer­ck Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. The ex-pres­i­dent and CSO of In­cyte and the ex-CEO at KineMed, Stein’s most re­cent ex­ec­u­tive gig in R&D was at Agenus.

Jeff Aronin’s Paragon Bio­sciences has tapped Keren­sa Jimenez as the new CEO of the com­pa­ny’s cap­i­tal mar­kets group, Paragon Health. Jimenez hops aboard the com­pa­ny from Oc­ta­gon Cap­i­tal Group, where she served as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. In ad­di­tion, she’s was a di­rec­tor at Far­lie Turn­er.

Michael Levitz has as­sumed the CFO role at Bed­ford, MA or­tho­pe­dic med­i­cines biotech Ani­ka Ther­a­peu­tics. Pri­or to his ar­rival at Ani­ka, Levitz, who got his start at Arthur An­der­sen, had been SVP, CFO and trea­sur­er of two oth­er com­pa­nies: In­sulet Cor­po­ra­tion and Ana­log­ic Cor­po­ra­tion.

Az­iz Mot­ti­wala

→ Af­ter nam­ing Se­sha Neer­van­nan and Leo Green­stein last month to the COO and CFO posts, re­spec­tive­ly, Irvine, CA-based Tar­sus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has fur­ther re­tooled its ex­ec­u­tive team with Az­iz Mot­ti­wala step­ping in as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Be­fore join­ing Tar­sus, whose lead drug TP-03 tar­gets the eye dis­ease De­mod­ex ble­phar­i­tis, Mot­ti­wala held the same role at Opi­ant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and be­fore that was SVP and head of com­mer­cial at Avanir Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. He al­so spent more than a decade in nu­mer­ous po­si­tions at Al­ler­gan, leav­ing as their VP, US eye care mar­ket­ing.

Neil Bell has been se­lect­ed as chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Avac­ta Life Sci­ences out of the UK. Bell start­ed out at Ei­sai and Pfiz­er be­fore as­sum­ing the role of ther­a­peu­tic area head for gas­troen­terol­o­gy and neu­rol­o­gy at Ipsen. Since then, he has led clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions at Te­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Dai­ichi Sankyo and, most re­cent­ly, Au­to­lus.

Kevin Heller has signed on as EVP of R&D of Jasper Ther­a­peu­tics, which launched out of Stan­ford in De­cem­ber with a $50 mil­lion Se­ries A and is fo­cused on hematopoi­et­ic cell trans­plant ther­a­pies. Heller had pre­vi­ous­ly held the CMO post at NextCure and was al­so VP, head of an­ti­body clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for In­cyte. He’s al­so a Big Phar­ma vet, fill­ing on­col­o­gy roles at Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and As­traZeneca.

Man­asi Sin­ha Jaiman

→ Long­time stem cell play­er Vi­a­Cyte has snagged Man­asi Sin­ha Jaiman as VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Jaiman jumps from Co­v­ance Clin­i­cal De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices, where she served as se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor. She was al­so an at­tend­ing physi­cian at Har­vard Med­ical School and Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal.

→ Matthew Metivi­er has hopped aboard Is­raeli biotech Gami­da Cell as VP, hu­man re­sources. Metivi­er hails from Sage Ther­a­peu­tics, where he served in the same role. Pri­or to that, he held roles at In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Idenix Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (ac­quired by Mer­ck & Co).

→ Basel, Switzer­land biotech NBE-Ther­a­peu­tics just grabbed a new CEO in Bertrand Damour, and now Erich Schlick has been elect­ed chair­man of the board. Schlick is cur­rent­ly a gen­er­al part­ner and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Mu­nich VC Welling­ton Part­ners.

Suzanne Hoop­er

→ Bridge­Bio sub­sidiary Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics, which was near­ly re­claimed by Bridge­Bio un­til di­rec­tors spurned three of­fershas ap­point­ed Suzanne Sawochka Hoop­er and Duke Rohlen as in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors to its board. Hoop­er is a for­mer EVP and gen­er­al coun­sel of Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, while Rohlen is CEO and man­ag­ing part­ner of Ajax Health.

→ Led by Kel­ly Mar­tin, Waltham, MA-based Ra­dius Health has giv­en Sean Mur­phy a spot on their board of di­rec­tors. Cur­rent­ly a board mem­ber at Po­sei­da Ther­a­peu­tics and Xenex Cor­po­ra­tion, Mur­phy was in cor­po­rate busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and M&A for more than 30 years at Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries.

John Jenk­ins

John Jenk­ins is now on the board of di­rec­tors at Proven­tion Bio. The cur­rent prin­ci­pal for drug and bi­o­log­i­cal prod­ucts at Green­leaf Health, the long­time FDA vet was di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of New Drugs at CDER from 2002-17.

Karuna Ther­a­peu­tics, fo­cused on neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders, has wel­comed Lau­rie Ol­son to their board of di­rec­tors. A long­time Pfiz­er ex­ec, Ol­son was their EVP, strat­e­gy and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions from 2012-18.

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos (via Getty Images)

With ad­u­canum­ab caught on a cliff, Bio­gen’s Michel Vounatsos bets bil­lions on an­oth­er high-risk neu­ro play

With its FDA pitch on the Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab hanging perilously close to disaster, Biogen is rolling the dice on a $3.1 billion deal that brings in commercial rights to one of the other spotlight neuro drugs in late-stage development — after it already failed its first Phase III.

The big biotech has turned to Sage Therapeutics for its latest deal, close to a year after the crushing failure of Sage-217, now dubbed zuranolone, in the MOUNTAIN study.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter Ko­dak de­ba­cle, US lends $1.1B to a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy com­pa­ny and their big Covid-19, mR­NA plans

In mid-August, as Kodak’s $765 million government-backed push into drug manufacturing slowly fell apart in national headlines, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly got a message from his company’s government liaison: HHS wanted to know if they, too, might want a loan.

The government’s decision to lend Kodak three quarters of a billion dollars raised eyebrows because Kodak had never made drugs before. But Ginkgo, while not a manufacturing company, had spent the last decade refining new ways to produce materials inside cells and building automated facilities across Boston.

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Jef­frey Hat­field takes over from Diego Mi­ralles as CEO of Vi­vid­ion; Drag­on­fly scores a new ex­ec with COO Alex Lu­gov­skoy

→ San Diego protein degradation startup Vividion Therapeutics has made a change at the top with Jeffrey Hatfield taking the helm as CEO, replacing Diego Miralles six months after Roche forked over $135 million to collaborate with Vividion on their small molecule degraders. Hatfield is chairman of the board at miRagen Therapeutics and previously held the CEO job at Zafgen and Vitae Pharmaceuticals. He also had a series of leadership roles at Bristol Myers Squibb from 1996-2004, including SVP, immunology and virology divisions.

The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

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John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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