David Meek­er starts a new biotech chap­ter in his ca­reer; Sam Kulka­rni takes the helm at CRISPR

David Meek­er left Gen­zyme last April af­ter a 23-year run, in­clud­ing six years as pres­i­dent af­ter Sanofi stepped in to buy the land­mark biotech six years ago. Five months lat­er, af­ter adding a string of biotech board po­si­tions to his sched­ule, Meek­er has land­ed his next big gig in biotech run­ning KSQ Ther­a­peu­tics in Cam­bridge, MA. At KSQ, he says, you can start an ex­per­i­ment us­ing cut­ting edge tech­nol­o­gy and no bias about out­comes. With CRISPR,“we can study all 20,000 genes in the genome across a mul­ti­tude of dis­ease mod­els and find out which of those tar­gets has the biggest im­pact in mod­u­lat­ing the dis­ease. We can do it one shot, 20,000 genes at a time.”

Sam Kulka­rni

→ Af­ter steer­ing CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics to an IPO last year as the last of the big three gene edit­ing com­pa­nies to make the leap in­to the pub­lic mar­kets, found­ing CEO Rodger No­vak is step­ping down and hand­ing the reins over to the orig­i­nal chief busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, Samarth Kulka­rni. There’s no spe­cif­ic rea­son giv­en for No­vak’s de­par­ture, oth­er than the gener­ic “per­son­al rea­sons” of­ten cit­ed dur­ing these kinds of change­ups. No­vak is stay­ing on the board.

Shafique Vi­rani, a busi­ness de­vel­op­ment ex­ec at Roche/Genen­tech, has been named the new CEO of Navire Phar­ma. Part­ner­ing with MD An­der­son, the biotech will work on in­hibit­ing SHP2 in fight­ing can­cer tu­mors. “Navire’s com­pounds po­tent­ly bind SHP2 and pre­vent ac­ti­va­tion of the pro­tein, block­ing its abil­i­ty to pro­mote tu­mor growth,” said Vi­rani. Bridge­Bio is bankrolling the start­up to the tune of $30 mil­lion.

Loan Hoang-Sayag is ex­it­ing her post as CMO at Cel­lec­tis, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ate­ly. Math­ieu Si­mon, the COO/EVP of the im­munother­a­py com­pa­ny, will be step­ping in as the in­ter­im.

An­ge­lo Moess­lang has joined In­Gen­eron as their new CEO. For­mer­ly, Moess­lang was the CFO at Fre­se­nius Med­ical Care North Amer­i­ca, where he worked his way up start­ing in 1995.

Halozyme Ther­a­peu­tics‘ chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Mark Ger­gen is leav­ing to “pur­sue pro­fes­sion­al op­por­tu­ni­ties out­side the Com­pa­ny.”

Sumi­ta Ray is the new gen­er­al coun­sel of Calithera Bio­sciences.

→ Ad­verum Biotech­nolo­gies has added Lin­da Neu­man as VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. She hails from Sune­sis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

→  Ste­fan Oel­rich worked his way up and is now the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of Sanofi’s di­a­betes & car­dio­vas­cu­lar unit.

Ganesh Kaun­dinya has been pro­mot­ed to the COO/CSO gig at Mo­men­ta. He is one of the co-founders of the Cam­bridge, MA-based com­pa­ny.

Im­muno­core has ap­point­ed An­drew Hotchkiss as their new chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Pre­vi­ous­ly, he worked at Eli Lil­ly, be­gin­ning in ’96.

→  Mar­go Heath-Chiozzi is now SVP of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs at Celldex Ther­a­peu­tics.

→  Amit Shah is the CFO at Ma­ri­na Biotech.

Con­tra­Fect’s new COO is Lisa Ric­cia­r­di.

Oxitec biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil in 2016 [credit: Getty Images]

In­trex­on unit push­es back against claims its GM mos­qui­toes are mak­ing dis­ease-friend­ly mu­tants

When the hysteria of Zika transmission sprang into the American zeitgeist a few years ago, UK-based Oxitec was already field-testing its male Aedes aegypti mosquito, crafted to possess a gene engineered to obliterate its progeny long before maturation.

But when a group of independent scientists evaluated the impact of the release of these genetically-modified mosquitoes in a trial conducted by Oxitec in Brazil between 2013 and 2015, they found that some of the offspring had managed to survive — prompting them to speculate what impact the survivors could have on disease transmission and/or insecticide resistance.

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[via AP Images]

Pur­due threat­ens to walk away from set­tle­ment, asks to pay em­ploy­ees mil­lions in bonus­es

There are two updates on the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma over its role in fueling the opioid epidemic, as the Sackler family threatens to walk away from their pledge to pay out $3 billion if a bankruptcy judge does not stop outstanding state lawsuits against them. At the same time, the company has asked permission to pay millions in bonuses to select employees.

Purdue filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week as part of its signed resolution to over 2,000 lawsuits. The deal would see the Sackler family that owns Purdue give $3 billion from their personal wealth and the company turned into a trust committed to curbing and reversing overdoses.

Aerial view of Genentech's campus in South San Francisco [Credit: Getty]

Genen­tech sub­mits a plan to near­ly dou­ble its South San Fran­cis­co foot­print

The sign is still there, a quaint reminder of whitewashed concrete not 5 miles from Genentech’s sprawling, chrome-and-glass campus: South Francisco The Industrial City. 

The city keeps the old sign, first erected in 1923, as a tourist site and a kind of civic memento to the days it packed meat, milled lumber and burned enough steel to earn the moniker “Smokestack of the Peninsula.” But the real indication of where you are and how much has changed both in San Francisco and in the global economy since a couple researchers and investors rented out an empty warehouse 40 years ago comes in a far smaller blue sign, resembling a Rotary Club post, off the highway: South San Francisco, The Birthplace of Biotech.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.