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Celgene co-founder Sol Barer bags a Johns Hopkins immuno-oncology spinout in buyout

Sol Barer

A few weeks ago, Johns Hopkins Professor Jonathan Schneck published new research showing how the biomimetic nano beads he had created in the lab could work with a checkpoint inhibitor in fighting cancer. These beads were designed to act as antigen presenting cells aimed at whipping up a full scale killer T cell attack on cancer as the checkpoint stripped the cancer cells of their built-in defense system.

That work Schneck did is held by a Johns Hopkins biotech spinout he created called NexImmune, which Celgene co-founder and serial biotech startup master Sol Barer just acquired.

Barer, Joshua Barer and former Medtronic CEO William A. Hawkins got together with some other investors to acquire the company for an unspecified amount. And they brought in a new board to run the place. They include some key players in biotech:

  • Robert Spiegel, MD, Chairman — former Chief Medical Officer, Schering-Plough
  • Alan S. Roemer, MBA, MPH — SVP, Corporate Development, Roivant Sciences
  • Graham Burton, MD — former SVP, Global Regulatory Affairs, Pharmacovigilance and Corporate Quality Assurance and Compliance, Celgene
  • Paul D’Angio — former SVP, Global Technical Operations, Celgene
  • Timothy Bertram, PhD — CEO, RegenMed Therapeutics
  • Zhengbin (Bing) Yao, PhD — SVP, Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity, MedImmune
  • Scott Carmer — COO, NexImmune

Barer — who surfaced just days ago as the newly named chairman of Teva as the Israeli company struggles through its latest existential crisis — has been doing deals on a string of small, private biotechs with interesting tech.

He grouped four biotechs into a company called RestorGenex and quickly sold it to Diffusion, co-founded Centrexion with Jeff Kindler and chaired Cerecor before stepping down in 2015. He also sits on the boards of Amicus Therapeutics and Aegerion Pharmaceuticals.

“I am excited to support NexImmune’s advancement of this important immunotherapy-based technology,” Barer, the lead investor in the acquisition, said in a prepared statement. “I believe that the AIM nanotechnology platform has the potential to deliver the next generation of immuno-oncology treatment, bringing new hope to patients suffering from many types of malignancies.”


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