Bill Lund­berg takes over the reins at Merus; For­mer Akcea COO Jef­frey Gold­berg takes the helm of Im­mu­ni­tas

Bill Lund­berg

→ Dutch biotech Merus, who struck up a $200 mil­lion bis­pe­cif­ic de­vel­op­ment deal with In­cyte in 2016,  is los­ing their CEO Ton Logten­berg. Mean­while, the com­pa­ny has nom­i­nat­ed Sven (Bill) Ante Lund­berg to be Logten­berg’s suc­ces­sor. Lund­berg, most re­cent­ly served as CSO at CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics — help­ing es­tab­lish the com­pa­ny in Cam­bridge, MA and lead­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the com­pa­ny’s first clin­i­cal tri­al ap­pli­ca­tion. Pri­or to CRISPR, Lund­berg was the head of trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine at Alex­ion Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and CMO of Tal­i­gen Ther­a­peu­tics. His oth­er stints in­clude roles at Xan­thus/Anth­so­ma, Wyeth and Gen­zyme.

→ Ear­li­er this year, Hep B vac­cine mak­er Dy­navax Tech­nolo­gies was look­ing to un­load its im­muno-on­col­o­gy pro­gram, slash­ing jobs and de­vot­ing its re­sources to its vac­cine Hep­lisav-B. Now, the com­pa­ny has an­nounced the pro­mo­tion of Ryan Spencer to the role of CEO and David No­vack to the po­si­tion of pres­i­dent and COO. Spencer hopped aboard the com­pa­ny in 2006, and most re­cent­ly served as com­mer­cial vice pres­i­dent and since May 2019 has served as in­ter­im co-pres­i­dent with No­vack. No­vack joined Dy­navax in 2013. He pre­vi­ous­ly served in var­i­ous roles at No­var­tis

Jef­frey Gold­berg

→ Af­ter be­ing swept out with two oth­er top ex­ecs at Akcea, Jef­frey Gold­berg has found a new home at the helm of Im­mu­ni­tas Ther­a­peu­tics, where he will serve as the com­pa­ny’s CEO and di­rec­tor. Gold­berg will suc­ceed found­ing CEO, Christoph West­phal, who is mov­ing to the role of chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. Dur­ing his time at Akcea, Gold­berg served as COO. Pri­or to that, he was the VP of busi­ness op­er­a­tions at Pro­teosta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics. His oth­er roles in­clude stints at Sanofi and Gen­zyme.

Ac­cel­er­a­tor Life Sci­ences start­up Lo­do Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Dale Pfost to head the com­pa­ny as CEO and chair­man. Pfost draws from his ex­pe­ri­ence of pre­vi­ous­ly run­ning five biotech com­pa­nies — Mi­cro­Bio­me Ther­a­peu­tics, Acu­ity Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (lat­er merged to form OP­KO Health), Ox­ford Gly­co­Sciences, Or­chid Bio­Sciences and Re­cep­tor Bi­oLogix (lat­er ac­quired by Sym­phogen). Pfost was al­so a gen­er­al part­ner at VC firm Ad­vent Life Sci­ences. In ad­di­tion to Pfost’s ap­point­ment, Lo­do wel­comed Mer­ck vet Steve Col­let­ti as SVP of R&D, co-founder of Bloom Sci­ence An­tho­ny Co­lasin as SVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, prin­ci­pal at BLL Part­ners Bar­bara Lind­heim as con­sult­ing vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­vestor re­la­tions and pres­i­dent of The Macken­zie Con­sult­ing Group Sara­jane Macken­zie as con­sult­ing vice pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources and or­ga­ni­za­tion de­vel­op­ment.

Bone Ther­a­peu­tics — who saw their shares plum­met 26% af­ter hit­ting the brakes on a Phase III study of their cell ther­a­py for os­teonecro­sis — has snagged Miguel Forte to the helm of the com­pa­ny as CEO, suc­ceed­ing Thomas Lien­ard, who is hit­ting the ex­it. Forte makes the leap to the com­pa­ny af­ter serv­ing as the CEO of Zel­lu­na Im­munother­a­py and is cur­rent­ly serv­ing as CCO and chair of the com­mer­cial­iza­tion com­mit­tee of the In­ter­na­tion­al So­ci­ety of Cel­lu­lar Ther­a­py (ISCT). His pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes roles at the EMA, UCB and Tx­Cell.

→ CRISPR-fo­cused Mam­moth Bio­sciences — co-found­ed by Jen­nifer Doud­na and backed by Tim Cook and Jeff Hu­ber — has ex­pand­ed its lead­er­ship team with the ap­point­ments of Pe­ter Nell to the role of CBO and head of ther­a­peu­tics and Ted Tisch as COO. Nell joins the with ex­pe­ri­ence from his time at Case­bia Ther­a­peu­tics and Bay­er Health­Care. Tisch joins the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint at Syn­thego, where he es­tab­lished the de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions and com­mer­cial pro­gram of two CRISPR-based prod­uct lines.

Lantern Phar­ma — fo­cused on can­cer drug de­vel­op­ment with the help of AI and ge­nomics — has tapped David Mar­grave to the role of CFO and Kishor Gopal­das Bha­tia as CSO. Mar­grave joins the com­pa­ny af­ter serv­ing at BioN­u­merik Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he spent time in the roles of pres­i­dent, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer and gen­er­al coun­sel. Bha­tia, whose re­search fo­cus­es on lym­phoma and EBV makes the hop over to Lantern from the di­rec­tor’s chair at Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute’s AIDS Ma­lig­nan­cy Pro­gram. 

Flag­ship-backed Cyg­nal Ther­a­peu­tics — which is fo­cused on ex­oneur­al bi­ol­o­gy — has ap­point­ed Elaine Caugh­ey to the role of CBO. Caugh­ey joins the com­pa­ny af­ter a stint as a con­sul­tant at The Black­stone Group. Her pre­vi­ous roles in­clude serv­ing as se­nior di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Bio­gen and a role in busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and cor­po­rate ven­ture at CY­TYC Cor­po­ra­tion, lat­er ac­quired by Ho­log­ic

Joanne Beck Boston

Nim­bus Ther­a­peu­tics — who, back in Ju­ly, had Cel­gene, ahead of $74 bil­lion Bris­tol-My­ers buy­out, bag an op­tion for the com­pa­ny’s HPK1 in­hibitor pro­gram — has pro­mot­ed CMO An­nie Chen to be pres­i­dent of the com­pa­ny’s Tyk2 sub­sidiary, Nim­bus Lak­sh­mi. Along with her new role, Chen will still con­tin­ue her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as CMO to the com­pa­ny. Chen has served in the role of CMO since 2015 and pri­or to her time at Nim­bus, was ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal re­search and sec­tion head of vac­cines at Mer­ck. Be­fore that, Chen held stints at Genen­tech and Cel­era Ge­nomics.

Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — who, last Oc­to­ber, inked two big in-li­cens­ing deals with No­var­tis and GSK has wel­comed Joanne Beck as COO. Beck makes the hop over af­ter a stint as EVP of glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions at Cel­gene. In her new role, Beck will draw from ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing her time at Shire — serv­ing as SVP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment — Ab­bott’s Glob­al Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Op­er­a­tions, Ab­bott Vas­cu­lar, Genen­tech and Am­gen

Im­muneer­ing — whose cur­rent pipeline fo­cus­es on dis­eases such as can­cer cachex­ia and metas­ta­sis — has tapped Scott Bar­rett as CMO. Pri­or to join­ing the com­pa­ny, Bar­rett was the glob­al med­ical af­fairs lead for Tar­get­ed Ther­a­peu­tics at In­cyte Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. In ad­di­tion, he has al­so held stints at In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Ei­sai Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and at the Janssen di­vi­sion of J&J.

Scott Bar­rett Im­muneer­ing

→ Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease-fo­cused E-Scape Bio has named Tony Ri­mac as CFO and Ann Ka­poun as SVP of R&D. Ri­mac joins the com­pa­ny from Chrono Ther­a­peu­tics, where he served as CFO and CBO. Pri­or to that, he served as CFO of Aldea Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Adamas Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — lead­ing the com­pa­ny’s IPO — and Aerovance. Most re­cent­ly, Ka­poun served as SVP of trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine at On­coMed Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and has pre­vi­ous­ly held roles at ALZA and Scios, a bio­phar­ma unit of J&J.

→ Cell en­gi­neer­ing ser­vice provider Max­cyte — who re­cent­ly inked a deal with KSQ Ther­a­peu­tics has named Shru­ti Ab­ba­to as EVP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment as the com­pa­ny con­tin­ues with a Phase I tri­al of its can­cer drug, MCY-M11. Pri­or to his new role at Max­cyte, Ab­ba­to was the VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at treat­ment de­vel­op­er Cel­dara Med­ical and was the own­er of Per­spicere.

→ Not long af­ter seal­ing a li­cens­ing deal with Emory Uni­ver­si­ty, Neu­ro­trau­ma Sci­ences has wel­comed Todd Ver­doorn as VP of re­search and de­vel­op­ment. Ver­doorn, most re­cent­ly, served as CSO of Di­aMed­ica.

→ Months af­ter the FDA lift­ed its par­tial hold on Xen­cor’s CD123 x CD3 bis­pe­cif­ic, XmAb14045 — af­ter the drug caused one of two deaths —  the com­pa­ny has ap­point­ed Allen Yang to the role of SVP and CMO. In his new role, Yang will be re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and strat­e­gy and over­see­ing op­er­a­tions for Xen­cor’s port­fo­lio of XmAb an­ti­body drug can­di­dates. Yang joins the com­pa­ny from Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, where he served as VP, head of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and act­ing CMO. Be­fore Jazz, Yang held roles at Spec­trum Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Am­gen — where he was the glob­al de­vel­op­ment leader for Arane­sp in on­col­o­gy and clin­i­cal re­search med­ical di­rec­tor for Blin­cy­to.

→ Af­ter re­cent­ly bag­ging an $85 mil­lion round, Zen­tal­is Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has tapped Melis­sa Ep­per­ly as CFO. Ep­per­ly makes the jump to Zen­tal­is af­ter a stint in the same role at PsiOxus Ther­a­peu­tics. Pri­or to that, she was the CFO and head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at R-Pharm US. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Ep­per­ly has held stints at An­chor­age Cap­i­tal Group, Gold­man Sachs, Bain & Com­pa­ny and Mor­gan Stan­ley

Michael Hef­fer­nan In­da­lo

Pfiz­er and My­lan an­nounced that for­mer CEO and pres­i­dent of Pfiz­er Ian Read and for­mer chair­man and CEO of The Gillette Com­pa­ny James Kilts will join the Vi­a­tris board of di­rec­tors up­on the com­ple­tion of the planned merg­er of My­lan and Up­john — which is ex­pect­ed to oc­cur mid-2020. 

Jen­nifer Cook — who was the CEO of can­cer test­ing start­up Grail, but stepped down for fam­i­ly health rea­sons — has joined the board of di­rec­tors of Neil Ku­mar-led Bridge­Bio.

Mil­len­do Ther­a­peu­tics — who, last Au­gust, merged with strug­gling fer­til­i­ty com­pa­ny Ova­Sciencehas wel­comed cur­rent CMO of Bio­Marin Ge­off Nichol to the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors. 

In­da­lo Ther­a­peu­tics — fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of in­te­grin an­tag­o­nists for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from se­ri­ous fi­brot­ic dis­eases such as id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis (IPF) and non­al­co­holic steato­hep­ati­tis (NASH) — has ap­point­ed for­mer CEO of Col­legium Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Michael Hef­fer­nan as chair­man to the board of di­rec­tors.

→ Life sci­ences in­dus­try group RI Bio has ap­point­ed cur­rent CEO, pres­i­dent and co-founder of Med­ley Ge­nomics Patrice Mi­los as chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. In ad­di­tion, the board ap­point­ed two new mem­bers, Bank of Amer­i­ca SVP and pri­vate client ad­vi­sor with Guy Asado­ri­an and VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for The Al­lied Group Bri­an But­ler.

Patrice Mi­los Ri Bio

Pathios’ search for small mol­e­cule drugs that hit “or­phan” GCPR has been backed by Canaan. The com­pa­ny bagged $8.8 mil­lion in Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing and brought on Stu­art Hugh­es as the com­pa­ny’s CEO. Pri­or to join­ing Pathios, Hugh­es served as a se­nior di­rec­tor at Ver­tex and be­fore that held a stint at Eli Lil­ly

David Meeks has hand­ed in his res­ig­na­tion as CEO to Ipsen and is mak­ing the leap across the At­lantic to head start­up Fer­Gene. The 30-year bio­phar­ma vet­er­an has trav­eled the world through­out his ca­reer. He spent a lit­tle more than 3 years at the helm of Paris-based Ipsen, ar­riv­ing af­ter a stint run­ning the on­col­o­gy di­vi­sion at Bax­al­ta be­fore it was snapped up by Shire (which was lat­er bought by Take­da). Be­fore that, he was the top com­mer­cial of­fi­cer at En­do­cyte and ear­li­er he com­plet­ed a glob­al stint at No­var­tis.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

Photo: Shutterstock

Bio­phar­ma's suc­cess rate in bring­ing drugs to mar­ket has long been abysmal. Can new tools help rewrite that trou­bled past?

In 2011, a team of researchers at British drugmaker AstraZeneca had a problem they were looking to solve.

For years, drug discovery and development were a wasteland for innovation. Novel drugs largely fell into one of two categories — monoclonal antibodies and small molecules — and new therapeutic modalities were hard to come by. After a rush of promising approvals in the late 1990s — including then-Biogen’s CD20 targeting antibody breakthrough Rituxan — the field stagnated and attrition rates stayed sky-high. What exactly is the industry doing wrong? AstraZeneca asked itself.

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