Chair of FDA's vac­cine ad­comm — who's al­so a lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor of Mod­er­na's vac­cine — re­cus­es her­self from Covid-19 talks

When the FDA’s Vac­cines and Re­lat­ed Bi­o­log­i­cal Prod­ucts Ad­vi­so­ry Com­mit­tee meets next month to dis­cuss the de­vel­op­ment and au­tho­riza­tion of Covid-19 vac­cines, the chair­woman won’t be there.

Hana El Sahly

Hana El Sahly has re­cused her­self from the ex­pert pan­el’s re­view of the top­ic, cit­ing her role as a lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor in Mod­er­na’s Phase III tri­al, Reuters re­port­ed. An as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of vi­rol­o­gy and mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gy at Bay­lor Col­lege of Med­i­cine in Hous­ton, El Sahly was ap­point­ed the chair­woman last year.

The FDA has yet to re­lease the ros­ter for the Oct. 22 meet­ing. The vac­cine ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee cur­rent­ly con­sists of 15 vot­ing mem­bers; they are set to de­lib­er­ate on Covid-19 vac­cines gen­er­al­ly in­stead of de­bat­ing any spe­cif­ic ap­pli­ca­tion.

While this marks the first in­stance an FDA ad­vi­sor has stepped aside due to po­ten­tial or per­ceived con­flict of in­ter­est, it fol­lows two high-pro­file res­ig­na­tions from Mod­er­na’s board for the same rea­son.

Mon­cef Slaoui, the for­mer head of Glax­o­SmithK­line’s vac­cines de­part­ment, stepped off once the White House tapped him as the chief sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor of Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed. Two months lat­er, Brigham and Women’s pres­i­dent Eliz­a­beth Nabel fol­lowed in his foot­steps as her hos­pi­tal was set to be a site for Mod­er­na’s Phase III tri­al.

Work­ing on the broad­er, na­tion­al lev­el, El Sahly re­cent­ly de­scribed her role to the lo­cal af­fil­i­ate ABC13: “Re­view­ing the re­lat­ed doc­u­ments, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions that sort of laid the ground for the process of get­ting the study start­ed.”

Al­though reg­u­la­tors are not bound to fol­low the ad­comm’s rec­om­men­da­tions, this par­tic­u­lar meet­ing is spe­cial. FDA com­mis­sion­er Stephen Hahn has spot­light­ed the event — which will be open to the pub­lic — as an il­lus­tra­tion of the kind of trans­paren­cy and sci­ence-dri­ven ap­proach that his agency is striv­ing for.

For a look at all End­points News coro­n­avirus sto­ries, check out our spe­cial news chan­nel.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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Nick Leschly at Endpoints' JPM20 Breakfast Panel (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

2sev­en­ty: Nick Leschly brings a trio of top ex­ecs with him on top-speed flight from the blue­bird nest

After serving more than a decade as bluebird bio’s chief bluebird, Nick Leschly is switching it up.

At some point this year, Leschly will officially become the CEO of 2seventy — the new company that will house bluebird’s oncology business while Andrew Obenshain, the current president for severe genetic diseases, will take over as CEO to oversee the rare disease pipeline remaining at bluebird.

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Cynthia Butitta (L) and Joe Jimenez

Is that an­oth­er IPO in the mak­ing? Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez and a lead Kite play­er take up new posts at an off-the-shelf ri­val to 2 pi­o­neer­ing drugs

Right on the heels of taking on a $160 million crossover round in a likely leap to Nasdaq, Century Therapeutics CEO Lalo Flores is now pushing ahead with the high-profile ex-Novartis chief Joe Jimenez as chairman.

Jimenez’s greatest fame at Novartis was earned for one of its weakest products, as their pioneering personalized CAR-T Kymriah won the honors for the first such drug to make it to the market. Now a host of players, including Century, are barreling in behind the frontrunners with allogeneic rivals that can be created for off-the-shelf use.

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Ad­comm splits slight­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Chemo­Cen­tryx’s rare dis­ease drug

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee on Thursday voted 10 for and 8 against the approval of ChemoCentryx’s $CCXI investigational drug avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

The vote on whether the FDA should approve the drug was preceded by a split vote of 9 to 9 on whether the efficacy data support approval, and 10 to 8 that the safety profile of avacopan is adequate enough to support approval.

Aindrea Campbell, Zymergen

Q&A: Ain­drea Camp­bell goes small, step­ping away from Ap­ple to head man­u­fac­tur­ing at Zymer­gen — where am­bi­tions are big

Over the past 22 years, Aindrea Campbell has worked with just two corporate giants, Ford Motor Company and Apple, with generations of experience between them. But in her new role as Zymergen’s chief manufacturing officer, Campbell comes to a company with years — eight — of history, not decades.

This month, Campbell joined synthetic biology player Zymergen to lead manufacturing for the company’s “biofacturing” process, which ferments genetically engineered molecules to create products that can be used in a range of potential applications, including electronics, consumer health and agriculture, just to name a few. The process, Zymergen says, obviates the need for toxic chemicals and huge infrastructure demands in traditional manufacturing, potentially cutting costs by 90% in half the time.

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Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

OcuWho? Star deal­mak­er turned aes­thet­ics czar Brent Saun­ders flips back in­to biotech. But who’s he team­ing up with now?

Brent Saunders went on a tear of headline-blazing deals building Allergan, merging and rearranging a variety of big companies into one before an M&A pact with Pfizer blew up and sent him on a bout of biotech drug deals. That didn’t work so well, so under pressure, he got his buyout at AbbVie — which needed a big franchise like Botox. And it was no big surprise to see him riding the SPAC wave into a recent $1 billion-plus deal that left him in the executive chairman’s seat at an aesthetics outfit — now redubbed The Beauty Health Company — holding a big chunk of the equity.

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