Col­in Fre­und takes new CEO job at Mod­ra Phar­ma; Com­pass re­cruits Pfiz­er, Bio­gen vets to C-suite

Col­in Fre­und

→ Am­s­ter­dam-based Mod­ra Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has tapped a per­ma­nent CEO to guide its pipeline of oral chemother­a­pies as it wraps up a Phase Ib/IIa study for the lead pro­gram — a tablet for­mu­la­tion of do­c­etax­el. Col­in Fre­und comes with fresh CEO ex­pe­ri­ence at Que On­col­o­gy as well as a pre­vi­ous stints at Trangene and GPC Biotech. Er­ic van der Put­ten, the Agla­ia Bio­med­ical Ven­tures part­ner who was fill­ing the role ad in­ter­im, will re­cede to a board di­rec­tor role. Mean­while Ed­win De Wit has al­so joined the com­pa­ny as head of on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment.

No­var­tis’ in­sis­tence on cen­tral­iz­ing top ex­ecs in its Swiss head­quar­ters has cost the phar­ma gi­ant a key leader: Liz Bar­rett has put in her no­tice just 10 months af­ter tak­ing on the on­col­o­gy chief role.

“Af­ter much per­son­al re­flec­tion, it be­came clear that my fam­i­ly would be un­able to re­lo­cate to Basel where the on­col­o­gy head­quar­ters is based,” Bar­rett said in a state­ment.

Su­sanne Schaf­fert, pres­i­dent of No­var­tis sub­sidiary Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions, is re­plac­ing Bar­rett as CEO of the on­col­o­gy busi­ness unit. Bar­rett is mov­ing to the helm of a US-based biotech, though she told End­points she can’t say which just yet.

Or­biMed– and Thiel-backed Com­pass Ther­a­peu­tics has scooped Pfiz­er’s head of ear­ly clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, Yu Liu, to over­see the slate of pro­grams gen­er­at­ed from its an­ti­body dis­cov­ery plat­form. The new CMO will have a chance to work on tar­gets in can­cer, in­flam­ma­tion and au­toim­mune dis­ease. lever­ag­ing a di­verse range of ex­pe­ri­ence ac­crued over the years at Bio­gen, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, Es­sen­tialis Ther­a­peu­tics and Am­gen. Fel­low Bio­gen vet Lynne Sul­li­van — who al­so han­dled tax­es for Mer­ck KGaA is com­ing on board as CFO.

No­var­tis may still have big plans for CAR-T, but the phar­ma gi­ant con­tin­ues to bleed top tal­ent from the group ex­pect­ed to car­ry out the work. Cam­bridge, MA-based Sem­ma Ther­a­peu­tics — which is de­vel­op­ing a hoped-for stem cell cure for Type 1 di­a­betes — said that they have re­cruit­ed No­var­tis CAR-T chief David Leb­wohl as their new chief med­ical of­fi­cer. Sem­ma has al­so re­cruit­ed David DiGius­to as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer and Ann Dar­da as head of hu­man re­sources. Last fall in­vestors put up $114 mil­lion to fund a pi­o­neer­ing hu­man study that will put a new de­liv­ery tech to the test in di­a­betes.

Daphne Qui­mi just got a pro­mo­tion at Am­i­cus Ther­a­peu­tics $FOLD, where she will be­come CFO in the be­gin­ning of next year as Chip Baird leaves for a new job. The hand­off caps the first year Am­i­cus be­came a com­mer­cial com­pa­ny with a con­tro­ver­sial OK for its Fab­ry dis­ease drug Galafold. Sev­er­al oth­er ex­ecs are get­ting new roles: Al­iba­ba alum­nus David Clark has been ap­point­ed chief peo­ple of­fi­cer; Ellen Rosen­berg has been pro­mot­ed to chief le­gal of­fi­cer; An­drew Mul­berg is now SVP, glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs; and An­tho­ny Sileno will be SVP, clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and trans­la­tion­al sci­ences.

Sono­ma Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a spe­cial­ty phar­ma now fo­cused on der­ma­tol­ogy, has hired Fred­er­ick (Bub­ba) Sand­ford to ex­e­cute the com­pa­ny’s turn­around plan. He will take the roles of both CEO Jim Schutz and CFO Bob Miller, who re­signed from the com­pa­ny $SNOA.

→ As Johns Hop­kins spin­out Wind­MIL Ther­a­peu­tics opens a new of­fice to con­sol­i­date its cell ther­a­py work and at­tract tal­ent in Philadel­phia, two ex­ecs are join­ing the out­post. Monil Shah, chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, comes with a string of roles at Brook­lyn Im­munoTher­a­peu­tics, Ven­trus Bio­sciences, Cel­gene, Fi­bro­Gen, Am­gen and oth­ers on his re­sume. New VP of op­er­a­tions Patrick Dougher­ty was the chief of staff to the SVP of R&D at Glax­o­SmithK­line. Wind­MIL closed a $32.5 mil­lion round ear­li­er this year for its work on mem­o­ry T cells re­sid­ing in the bone mar­row and a “sig­nif­i­cant ex­pan­sion” of its team.

→ The first snap­shot of ef­fi­ca­cy for Avro­bio’s lead gene ther­a­py to treat Fab­ry dis­ease might have spooked in­vestors, but the Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech $AVRO is keen to re­gain their con­fi­dence with four new hires. Bir­gitte Vol­ck, a rare dis­ease ex­pert for­mer­ly of So­bi and GSK, has been tapped as pres­i­dent of R&D; Erik Os­trows­ki joins as CFO from the same role at Sum­mit Ther­a­peu­tics; for­mer FDA staffer Josie Yang is the new head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs; while Bio­gen vet Steven Avruch be­comes gen­er­al coun­sel.

→ Parisian biotech Bio­phytis has pro­mot­ed Jean-Christophe Mon­tigny to COO, from his pre­vi­ous role of su­per­vis­ing all things fi­nan­cial and le­gal for the com­pa­ny. Mean­while, Bio­phytis has al­so named Daniel Schnei­der­man as CFO. Schnei­der­man, who served most re­cent­ly as VP of fi­nance and con­troller at Boston-based pre­ci­sion med­i­cine com­pa­ny Meta­S­tat, will be based at the com­pa­ny’s Cam­bridge of­fice in the Unit­ed States as Bio­phytis ex­pands its op­er­a­tions in the re­gion. “We plan to con­tin­ue build­ing…in­fra­struc­ture in Boston with ad­di­tion­al key hires in 2018 and 2019, as we ex­e­cute the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of SAR­CO­NEOS through our…clin­i­cal phase 2b tri­al for the treat­ment of sar­cope­nia in both the Unit­ed States and Eu­rope, as well as progress SAR­CO­NEOS…in Duchenne mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy (DMD) and MA­CU­NEOS…in dry age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion (AMD), CEO Stanis­las Veil­let said. 

Ed Kaye has re­cruit­ed two for­mer Sarep­ta col­league to his team as he moves Stoke Ther­a­peu­tics in­to a larg­er R&D space in Bed­ford, MA. Shamim Ruff, pre­vi­ous­ly Sarep­ta’s chief reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs of­fi­cer and SVP, head of qual­i­ty, will have the ti­tle SVP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and qual­i­ty. Nan­cy Wyant comes on board as VP, head of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions af­ter con­sult­ing with Stoke for the past few months fol­low­ing stints at Idera and BeiGene.

→ Ahead of a Phase III read­out of its NSCLC treat­ment, OSE Im­munother­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed for­mer Sanofi $SNY ex­ec­u­tive Julien Per­ri­er as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Per­ri­er most re­cent­ly served as the head of Ab­b­Vie’s $AB­BV im­munol­o­gy di­vi­sion in France, where he was in charge of the com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions for Hu­mi­ra, as well as prep­ping the launch of two oth­er im­munol­o­gy prod­ucts. “Julien’s ex­pe­ri­ence in im­munol­o­gy and bi­o­log­ics will al­so prove es­sen­tial as we plan next steps for FR104, a Phase 2-ready, first-in-class CD28 an­tag­o­nist with ex­cit­ing po­ten­tial to treat au­toim­mune dis­ease,” OSE chief Alex­is Pey­roles said.

Boehringer In­gel­heim’s Hen­ning Ger­schews­ki is head­ing over to an­oth­er Ger­man firm where he will serve as as vice pres­i­dent of man­u­fac­tur­ing, sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy. The com­pa­ny, Rentschler Bio­phar­ma SE, fo­cus­es on con­tract de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing for bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.  


With con­tri­bu­tion by Na­tal­ie Grover.

BY­OD Best Prac­tices: How Mo­bile De­vice Strat­e­gy Leads to More Pa­tient-Cen­tric Clin­i­cal Tri­als

Some of the most time- and cost-consuming components of clinical research center on gathering, analyzing, and reporting data. To improve efficiency, many clinical trial sponsors have shifted to electronic clinical outcome assessments (eCOA), including electronic patient-reported outcome (ePRO) tools.

In most cases, patients enter data using apps installed on provisioned devices. At a time when 81% of Americans own a smartphone, why not use the device they rely on every day?

Image: Shutterstock

Eli Lil­ly asks FDA to re­voke EUA for Covid-19 treat­ment

Eli Lilly on Friday requested that the FDA revoke the emergency authorization for its Covid-19 drug bamlanivimab, which is no longer as effective as a combo therapy because of a rise in coronavirus variants across the US.

“With the growing prevalence of variants in the U.S. that bamlanivimab alone may not fully neutralize, and with sufficient supply of etesevimab, we believe now is the right time to complete our planned transition and focus on the administration of these two neutralizing antibodies together,” Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s CSO, said in a statement.

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No­vavax CFO Greg Covi­no makes a quick ex­it as lead­er­ship carousel keeps turn­ing; Kite ex­ecs fly away to a cell ther­a­py up­start team­ing up with Lyell

→ If it seems like Covid-19 vaccine bridesmaid Novavax is shuttling staffers in and out, you’re not alone. This week, Greg Covino announced he’s leaving the biotech after holding the CFO job for a blink-and-you-miss-it tenure. An advisory role within the company awaits for Covino, who came to Novavax just five months ago from Bristol Myers Squibb, while CCO and CBO John Trizzini juggles even more executive responsibility by taking on the interim CFO title.

J&J faces CDC ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee again next week to weigh Covid-19 vac­cine risks

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices punted earlier this week on deciding whether or not to recommend lifting a pause on the administration of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine, but the committee will meet again in an emergency session next Friday to discuss the safety issues further.

The timing of the meeting likely means that the J&J vaccine will not return to the US market before the end of next week as the FDA looks to work hand-in-hand with the CDC to ensure the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks for all age groups.

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Osman Kibar (Samumed, now Biosplice)

Os­man Kibar lays down his hand at Sa­mumed, step­ping away from CEO role as his once-her­ald­ed an­ti-ag­ing biotech re­brands

Samumed made quite the entrance back in 2016, when it launched with some anti-aging programs and a whopping $12 billion valuation. That level of fanfare was nowhere to be found on Thursday, when the company added another $120 million to its coffers and quietly changed its name to Biosplice Therapeutics.

Why the sudden rebrand?

“We did that for obvious reasons,” CFO and CBO Erich Horsley told Endpoints News. “The name Biosplice echoes our science much more than Samumed does.”

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Ex­clu­sive in­ter­view: Pe­ter Marks on why full Covid-19 vac­cine ap­provals could be just months away

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, took time out of his busy schedule last Friday to discuss with Endpoints News all things related to his work regulating vaccines and the pandemic.

Marks, who quietly coined the name “Operation Warp Speed” before deciding to stick with his work regulating vaccines at the FDA rather than join the Trump-era program, has been the face of vaccine regulation for the FDA throughout the pandemic, and is usually spotted in Zoom meetings seated in front of his wife’s paintings.

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Near­ly a year af­ter Au­den­tes' gene ther­a­py deaths, the tri­al con­tin­ues. What hap­pened re­mains a mys­tery

Natalie Holles was five months into her tenure as Audentes CEO and working to smooth out a $3 billion merger when the world crashed in.

Holles and her team received word on the morning of May 5 that, hours before, a patient died in a trial for their lead gene therapy. They went into triage mode, alerting the FDA, calling trial investigators to begin to understand what happened, and, the next day, writing a letter to alert the patient community so they would be the first to know. “We wanted to be as forthright and transparent as possible,” Holles told me late last month.

The brief letter noted two other patients also suffered severe reactions after receiving a high dose of the therapy and were undergoing treatment. One died a month and a half later, at which point news of the deaths became public, jolting an emergent gene therapy field and raising questions about the safety of the high doses Audentes and others were now using. The third patient died in August.

“It was deeply saddening,” Holles said. “But I was — we were — resolute and determined to understand what happened and learn from it and get back on track.”

Eleven months have now passed since the first death and the therapy, a potential cure for a rare and fatal muscle-wasting disease called X-linked myotubular myopathy, is back on track, the FDA having cleared the company to resume dosing at a lower level. Audentes itself is no more; last month, Japanese pharma giant Astellas announced it had completed working out the kinks of the $3 billion merger and had restructured and rebranded the subsidiary as Astellas Gene Therapies. Holles, having successfully steered both efforts, departed.

Still, questions about precisely what led to the deaths of the 3 boys still linger. Trial investigators released key details about the case last August and December, pointing to a biological landmine that Audentes could not have seen coming — a moment of profound medical misfortune. In an emerging field that’s promised cures for devastating diseases but also seen its share of safety setbacks, the cases provided a cautionary tale.

Audentes “contributed in a positive way by giving a painful but important example for others to look at and learn from,” Terry Flotte, dean of the UMass School of Medicine and editor of the journal Human Gene Therapy, told me. “I can’t see anything they did wrong.”

Yet some researchers say they’re still waiting on Astellas to release more data. The company has yet to publish a full paper detailing what happened, nor have they indicated that they will. In the meantime, it remains unclear what triggered the events and how to prevent them in the future.

“Since Audentes was the first one and we don’t have additional information, we’re kind of in a holding pattern, flying around, waiting to figure out how to land our vehicles,” said Jude Samulski, professor of pharmacology at UNC’s Gene Therapy Center and CSO of the gene therapy biotech AskBio, now a subsidiary of Bayer.

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Pascal Soriot (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Af­ter be­ing goad­ed to sell the com­pa­ny, Alex­ion's CEO set some am­bi­tious new goals for in­vestors. Then Pas­cal So­ri­ot came call­ing

Back in the spring of 2020, Alexion $ALXN CEO Ludwig Hantson was under considerable pressure to perform and had been for months. Elliott Advisers had been applying some high public heat on the biotech’s numbers. And in reaching out to some major stockholders, one thread of advice came through loud and clear: Sell the company or do something dramatic to change the narrative.

In the words of the rather dry SEC filing that offers a detailed backgrounder on the buyout deal, Alexion stated: ‘During the summer and fall of 2020, Alexion also continued to engage with its stockholders, and in these interactions, several stockholders encouraged the company to explore strategic alternatives.’

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Emmanuel Hanon (Viome)

Glax­o­SmithK­line’s head of vac­cine R&D is jump­ing to a well­ness com­pa­ny con­cen­trat­ing on the mi­cro­bio­me as re­ports of an ex­o­dus start to spread

Back in the fall of 2019, GlaxoSmithKline vaccine R&D chief Emmanuel Hanon had plenty of good things to say about a wellness company called Viome and CEO Naveen Jain. He was particularly interested in Viome’s technology for analyzing the gut microbiome and how that could intersect with new vaccine research.

Today, Hanon is jumping ship to join his collaborator as R&D chief as reports circulate of an exodus at GSK’s big vaccine group.

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