Alan Fuhrman (L) and Barry Labinger (Checkmate)

Check­mate CEO hits the ex­it as Art Krieg's crew strug­gles to warm in­vestors to TLR9 strat­e­gy

Al­most three years af­ter pick­ing up the ba­ton from Art Krieg to help steer Check­mate’s TLR9 ag­o­nist deep­er in­to the clin­ic, CEO Bar­ry Labinger is out.

Alan Fuhrman, a board mem­ber and chair­man of the au­dit com­mit­tee, has stepped in to fill the in­ter­im pres­i­dent and CEO role, steady­ing the ship with his back­ground in fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions. A for­mer board di­rec­tor at Loxo On­col­o­gy, Fuhrman has al­so been CFO at Am­plyx, Mir­na and Am­bit.

The re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of work­ing with Krieg, the CSO, to pre­pare its mid-stage drug for ap­proval — and set up po­ten­tial com­mer­cial­iza­tion — will fall on a new per­ma­nent CEO whom Check­mate has be­gun a search for.

“Our strate­gic pri­or­i­ty is to rapid­ly ad­vance our vidu­tolimod clin­i­cal pro­gram to­ward mean­ing­ful clin­i­cal da­ta, and I am ex­cit­ed to lead the Com­pa­ny at this im­por­tant time,” Fuhrman.

Check­mate has es­sen­tial­ly all its eggs in the vidu­tolimod bas­ket, set­ting up com­bo tri­als over the years with PD-1 in­hibitors: Mer­ck’s Keytru­da, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb’s Op­di­vo and Re­gen­eron’s Lib­tayo. The idea is that ac­ti­vat­ing TLR9, a re­cep­tor that trig­gers a chain re­ac­tion re­sult­ing in pro-in­flam­ma­to­ry cy­tokine re­sponse, in tu­mors can fight can­cer even among pa­tients who are re­frac­to­ry to an­ti-PD-1 drugs.

Mike Pow­ell

Labinger led the biotech to Nas­daq with a $75 mil­lion IPO with that strat­e­gy, al­though many in­vestors ap­pear to have lost their pa­tience. The stock $CMPI, which de­buted at $15, now trades at $3.93.

No rea­son was giv­en for Labinger’s de­par­ture. Chair­man Mike Pow­ell wished him suc­cess in fu­ture en­deav­ors.

“Mr. Labinger’s res­ig­na­tion from the Board was not due to any dis­agree­ment with the Com­pa­ny’s op­er­a­tions, poli­cies or prac­tices,” the com­pa­ny wrote in a fil­ing.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Tempus Labs)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs from 2020.

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Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL CEO Paul Per­reault de­ter­mined to grow plas­ma col­lec­tion af­ter full-year sales dip

As the ink dries on CSL’s $11.7 billion Vifor buyout, the company posted a dip in profits, due in part to a drop in plasma donations amid the pandemic.

However, CEO Paul Perreault assured investors and analysts on the full-year call that the team has left “no stone unturned” when assessing options to grow plasma volumes. The chief executive also spelled out positive results for the company’s monoclonal antibody garadacimab in hereditary angioedema (HAE), though he isn’t revealing the exact numbers just yet.

Blaise Coleman, Endo International CEO

En­do files for Chap­ter 11 as it looks to fin­ish off its opi­oid lit­i­ga­tion

Irish drugmaker Endo International is entering into bankruptcy as it faces the weight of serious litigation related to its involvement in the opioid epidemic in the US.

The company has filed Chapter 11 proceedings in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, with the company expected to file recognition proceedings in Canada, the UK and Australia. The company’s bankruptcy filing showed the company had assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion.