CRISPR upstart Casebia picks Sanofi vet Burns as new CEO; On the heels of a trial debacle, Opexa sheds staffers

Jim Burns Casabia Jim Burns, who had headed Sanofi’s R&D ops in Boston, is jumping ship to take the helm of Casebia Therapeutics, the $335 million gene editing JV created by Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics $CRSP. Casebia recently inked a big lease in the heart of Kendall Square. “With access to cutting-edge gene-editing CRISPR/Cas9 technology, protein engineering expertise, a strong financial foundation, and with Boston’s incredible network of talent and partners, we have all the tools needed to create a potentially transformative new class of therapies for patients,” Burns said.

Five days after Opexa $OPXA triggered a meltdown in its share price by announcing true failure of its Phase IIb study for an experimental drug for multiple sclerosis, the company has come back with a reorganization that will cost 40% of the jobs at The Woodlands, TX-based biotech. Joining the exodus is Donna Rill, Opexa’s chief development officer, and Scott Seaman, a member of the board as Opexa scouts for a survival plan.

Denmark’s Acesion Pharma has raised a 9.1 million euro round from Novo Seeds and Wellcome Trust. The biotech is developing a small molecule for atrial fibrillation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that cash-strapped Valeant is in advanced talks to sell its stomach drug business Salix to Takeda for $10 billion. The sale would help ease Valeant’s debt while giving a resurgent Takeda new drugs to expand its revenue.

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