BeiGene hematology CMO Jane Huang makes a quick jump to a struggling biotech now juggling pipeline projects
Just days after we learned that BeiGene CMO of hematology Jane Huang was planning her exit, we now know what she’s doing next. Prelude Therapeutics, a little biotech focused on cancer R&D, has recruited Huang as its next president and CMO — and they’re backing up the play with a chunk of equity.
According to an SEC filing, the Genentech vet is getting a $525,000 a year in salary, a bonus worth up to half of that and 150,000 shares that vest over 4 years — a classic combo for top execs. She also gets an option on 460,000 shares that will vest over time.
Like a lot of biotechs that went public in 2020, though, those shares $PRLD are only worth a fraction of the $89 peak achieved after the IPO. Shares have shed 90% of their value since late 2020, with an 85% tumble in the past year.
Founding CEO Kris Vaddi out of Incyte raised $158 million for the biotech in the IPO, but its market cap had shrunk to $400 million as of the start of the day. Vaddi started the company in 2016.
Huang’s focus will now shift to PRMT5 — protein arginine methyltransferase 5 — a target that OrbiMed backed in a big way during the startup phase. PRMT5, they hope, plays a big role in cancer, linked to cell proliferation and apoptosis resistance.
Back in the summer of 2019, Prelude had hired David Mauro as its CMO to follow up on the lead drug: PRT543. Another Big Pharma vet, Mauro had come over from Checkmate but departed last fall.
But PRT543 is evidently being downgraded in the pipeline. In a separate release out today, Prelude says that it has decided to prioritize PRT811 over the old lead because of its “superior safety profile, higher level of target engagement, and unique brain penetrant properties.” According to clinicaltrials.gov, PRT543 is in an ongoing dose-escalation study.
GSK just recently signaled that it’s killing its early-stage PRMT5 program, followed by a similar move by Pfizer while Amgen continues to focus there.
We asked the company to clarify the fate of PRT543 but did not get an immediate response.
Prelude also has an MCL1 inhibitor in the clinic combined with venetoclax. The drug, dubbed PRT1419, should have a readout later this year.