Chris Car­pen­ter joins the R&D ex­o­dus out of phar­ma; George Church's eGe­n­e­sis se­lects Jodie Mor­ri­son as new CEO

⇨ Af­ter spend­ing the last decade in Big Phar­ma R&D, Chris Car­pen­ter is mak­ing the leap to biotech, join­ing the ris­ing star Ru­bius as chief med­ical of­fi­cer. Car­pen­ter — a for­mer as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med, where he ran a lab for years — spent the last six years at GSK, where he wrapped up his stint as a se­nior VP and head of can­cer epi­ge­net­ics. He jumped from Har­vard to Mer­ck to GSK, where he was cred­it­ed with lead­ing the de­vel­op­ment of Votri­ent. And at Mer­ck he worked on MK-4827, which went on to be­come Tesaro’s PARP drug Ze­ju­la. He’s go­ing to one of the best fi­nanced up­starts in biotech. Just a few months ago, Cam­bridge, MA-based Ru­bius lined up a $120 mil­lion round, with plans to de­vel­op a full pipeline of new drugs.

 


⇨  Jodie Mor­ri­son has been named the new CEO at eGe­n­e­sis, which is work­ing in xeno­trans­plan­ta­tion. Mor­ri­son is the for­mer CEO at Tokai. The start­up was spun out of the lab of Har­vard’s George Church, shoot­ing at har­vest­ing or­gans for hu­man trans­plan­ta­tion from an­i­mals.

⇨ Spark Ther­a­peu­tics $ONCE has re­cruit­ed Fed­eri­co Min­gozzi, a not­ed gene ther­a­py ex­pert at IN­SERM and Genethon in France, as chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer. Min­gozzi picked up his PhD at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Fer­rara, Italy and an MBA from Drex­el Uni­ver­si­ty in Philadel­phia.

⇨ The for­mer SVP for di­a­betes mar­ket­ing at No­vo Nordisk has been poached by Bio­gen to take the same lead on their Alzheimer’s fran­chise. Camille Lee will be in charge of mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy on Alzheimer’s, pro­vid­ed Bio­gen gets any through the reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval process. She re­ports now to Al San­drock.

⇨ The Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Re­gen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine (CIRM) is mak­ing in­ter­im chief Maria Mil­lan the per­ma­nent re­place­ment to Ran­dal Mills, who left in June. CIRM has fu­eled bil­lions of dol­lars in re­search work, with lit­tle to show for it in terms of ac­tu­al new drugs.

Gilead COO Kevin Young is re­tir­ing — for the sec­ond time.

Sarep­ta Ther­a­peu­tics named Guriqbal S. Basi, an Elan vet­er­an, as its new chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer.

Zio­pharm On­col­o­gy ap­point­ed David Mauney as its new ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and CBO. Mauney had been man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Har­vest Cap­i­tal Strate­gies.

⇨  Pa­lo Al­to, CA-based Sci­ence Ex­change named Jim Emerich as its CFO. Most re­cent­ly, Emerich was the CFO of Bright­Edge Tech­nolo­gies.

Al­ler­gan says that Tes­sa Hi­la­do is leav­ing her post as EVP and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

Lau­ra Sepp-Loren­zi­no is jump­ing in­to a new gig at Ver­tex:

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Christian Itin, Autolus CEO (UKBIO19)

Au­to­lus tips its hand, bags $220M as CAR-T show­down with Gilead looms

The first batch of pivotal data on Autolus Therapeutics’ CAR-T is in, and execs are ready to plot a path to market.

With an overall remission rate of 70% at the interim analysis featuring 50 patients, the results set the stage for a BLA filing by the end of 2023, said CEO Christian Itin.

Perhaps more importantly — given that Autolus’ drug, obe-cel, is going after an indication that Gilead’s Tecartus is already approved for — the biotech highlighted “encouraging safety data” in the trial, with a low percentage of patients experiencing severe immune responses.

Dipal Doshi, Entrada Therapeutics CEO

Ver­tex just found the next big ‘trans­for­ma­tive’ thing for the pipeline — at a biotech just down the street

Back in the summer of 2019, when I was covering Vertex’s executive chairman Jeff Leiden’s plans for the pipeline, I picked up on a distinct focus on myotonic dystrophy Type I, or DM1 — one of what Leiden called “two diseases (with DMD) we’re interested in and we continue to look for those assets.”

Today, Leiden’s successor at the helm of Vertex, CEO Reshma Kewalramani, is plunking down $250 million in cash to go the extra mile on DM1. The lion’s share of that is for the upfront, with a small reserve for equity in a deal that lines Vertex up with a neighbor in Seaport that has been rather quietly going at both of Vertex’s early disease targets with preclinical assets.

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WIB22: Am­ber Salz­man had few op­tions when her son was di­ag­nosed with a rare ge­net­ic dis­ease. So she cre­at­ed a bet­ter one

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

Amber Salzman’s life changed on a cold, damp day in Paris over tiny plastic cups of lukewarm tea.

She was meeting with Patrick Aubourg, a French neurologist studying adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, a rare genetic condition that causes rapid neurological decline in young boys. It’s a sinister disease that often leads to disability or death within just a few years. Salzman’s nephew was diagnosed at just 6 or 7 years old, and died at the age of 12.

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Ahead of ad­comm, FDA rais­es un­cer­tain­ties on ben­e­fit-risk pro­file of Cy­to­ki­net­ic­s' po­ten­tial heart drug

The FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee will meet next Tuesday to discuss whether Cytokinetics’ potential heart drug can safely reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure in patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.

The drug, known as omecamtiv mecarbil and in development for more than 15 years, has seen mixed results, with a first Phase III readout from November 2020 hitting the primary endpoint of reducing the odds of hospitalization or other urgent care for heart failure by 8%. But it also missed a key secondary endpoint analysts had pegged as key to breaking into the market.

Ab­b­Vie slapped with age dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit, fol­low­ing oth­er phar­mas

Add AbbVie to the list of pharma companies currently facing age discrimination allegations.

Pennsylvania resident Thomas Hesch filed suit against AbbVie on Wednesday, accusing the company of passing him over for promotions in favor of younger candidates.

Despite 30 years of pharma experience, “Hesch has consistently seen younger, less qualified employees promoted over him,” the complaint states.

Rami Elghandour, Arcellx CEO

Up­dat­ed: Gilead, Ar­cel­lx team up on an­ti-BC­MA CAR-T as biotech touts a 100% re­sponse rate at #ASH22

Gilead and Kite are plunking down big cash to get into the anti-BCMA CAR-T game.

The pair will shell out $225 million in cash upfront and $100 million in equity to Arcellx, Kite announced Friday morning, to develop the biotech’s lead CAR-T program together. Kite will handle commercialization and co-development with Arcellx, and profits in the US will be split 50-50.

Concurrent with the deal, Arcellx revealed its latest cut of data for the program known as CART-ddBCMA, ahead of a full presentation at this weekend’s ASH conference — a 100% response rate among patients getting the therapy. Investors jumped at the dual announcements, sending Arcellx shares $ACLX up more than 25% in Friday’s morning session.

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WIB22: Lead­ing NK cell re­searcher re­flects on roots in Iran, the UK and Texas

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

In a small but widely-cited 11-person study published in NEJM in 2020, seven patients saw signs of their cancer completely go away after getting a new therapy made from natural killer cells. The study was one of the earliest to provide clinical proof that the experimental treatment method had promise.

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WIB22: Chas­ing af­ter ever-evolv­ing sci­ence takes a drug hunter across the pond

This profile is part of Endpoints News’ 2022 special report about Women in Biopharma R&D. You can read the full report here.

Like many scientists, Fiona Marshall would tell you that she loved the natural world growing up — going to look at crabs running around the beach near her childhood home, pondering about the tides. But one thing about biology, in particular, stood out: It was constantly changing, and changing very quickly.

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