Atara brings on No­var­tis vet to re­place founder Ciechanover as chief

Isaac Ciechanover Atara

Af­ter found­ing T-cell im­munother­a­py com­pa­ny Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics us­ing Am­gen $AMGN drug as­sets in 2012, Isaac Ciechanover made a sur­prise de­ci­sion to leave the com­pa­ny this Jan­u­ary. No­var­tis vet­er­an Pas­cal Tou­chon is set to re­place him as chief, the South San Fran­cis­co biotech said on Tues­day.

Ex­ist­ing CAR-T ther­a­pies — No­var­tis’ $GILD Kym­ri­ah and Gilead’s $GILD Yescar­ta — tar­get a sin­gle anti­gen called CD19. Atara — akin to oth­er play­ers in pur­suit of next-gen CAR-T drugs — is work­ing on en­gi­neer­ing T cells (a type of white blood cell) to tack­le mul­ti­ple tar­gets for ad­dress­ing can­cers with di­verse cell types that of­ten be­come re­sis­tant to treat­ment, such as acute myel­oge­nous leukemia and B cell ma­lig­nan­cies.

Pas­cal Tou­chon Co­gen

Kym­ri­ah was the first CAR-T drug to win ap­proval in the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope. The ther­a­py — an au­tol­o­gous prod­uct made from pa­tients’ own T cells — was ex­pect­ed to notch block­buster rev­enue, but sales have suf­fered due to man­u­fac­tur­ing wob­bles. Atara’s tech­nol­o­gy, mean­while, is pow­ered to cre­ate an al­lo­gene­ic, off-the-shelf CAR-T ther­a­py, com­pris­ing cells bio­engi­neered from donors with healthy im­mune func­tion.

Tou­chon is well versed in No­var­tis’ Kym­ri­ah woes. Most re­cent­ly, he worked with­in No­var­tis On­col­o­gy as glob­al head, cell & gene and as a mem­ber of the on­col­o­gy ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, where he was in charge of glob­al roll­out of Kym­ri­ah — se­cur­ing reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval and re­im­burse­ment in ma­jor mar­kets, ex­pand­ing glob­al CAR T man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions and over­see­ing mul­ti­ple new clin­i­cal stud­ies. Be­fore tak­ing on that role, Tou­chon served as glob­al head, strat­e­gy, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of on­col­o­gy at No­var­tis. Tou­chon has al­so pre­vi­ous­ly worked at Servi­er, Sanofi and Glaxo.

Tou­chon of­fi­cial­ly joins Atara $ATRA on June 24.

Di­et­mar Berg­er Atara

Di­et­mar Berg­er, who joined Atara last year as head of R&D to steer the com­pa­ny’s al­lo­gene­ic T cell im­munother­a­pies through the clin­ic, both in CAR-T and oth­er ap­pli­ca­tions, is step­ping down from his po­si­tion to pur­sue oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ties, Atara added.

Atara’s lead ex­per­i­men­tal drug, tab­ele­cleu­cel, is in late-stage de­vel­op­ment for pa­tients with Ep­stein-Barr virus-as­so­ci­at­ed post-trans­plant lym­pho­pro­lif­er­a­tive dis­or­der, and is in ear­li­er stage de­vel­op­ment for oth­er EBV-as­so­ci­at­ed hema­to­log­ic ma­lig­nan­cies and sol­id tu­mors.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Ear­ly sur­vival da­ta boost Zio­phar­m's 'con­trolled IL-12' im­munother­a­py for glioblas­toma

An unconventional pairing of a gene therapy and an oral drug that promises to attack recurrent or progressive glioblastoma with controlled release of IL-12 has turned up more promising — if early — overall survival data. On top of boosting its case as a monotherapy, the data can also bode well for a combination with Regeneron’s PD-1 inhibitor, Libtayo.

Both the treatment and its developer, Ziopharm Oncology, have come a long way. The stock price peaked in 2015 but cratered in 2016 following a patient death in a Phase I.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Look­ing to move past an R&D fi­as­co, Ipsen poach­es their new CEO from Sanofi

Ipsen has turned to another Paris-based biopharma company for its next CEO.

Sanofi Pasteur chief David Loew — who’s been leading one of the most advanced efforts to develop vaccines for Covid-19 — is making the journey to Ipsen, 5 months after David Meek jumped ship to run a startup in late-stage development.

Loew arrives as Ipsen works to get back on track with their rare bone disease drug palovarotene, picked up in the $1.3 billion Clementia buyout, which was slammed with a partial hold after researchers observed cases of “early growth plate closure” in patients under the age of 14. But they are pushing ahead with the over-14 crowd after writing down slightly more than half of its initial development.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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