Olivier Brandicourt (Romuald Meigneux, Sipa via AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED Dew­point nabs ex-Sanofi CEO Brandi­court and Bay­er VC chief Eck­hardt for board

Bay­er-part­nered Dew­point Ther­a­peu­tics is adding a pair of big-name phar­ma vets as it looks to make drugs tar­get­ing bio­mol­e­c­u­lar con­den­sates a re­al­i­ty.

Jür­gen Eck­hardt

The Boston biotech will add for­mer Sanofi CEO Olivi­er Brandi­court and the head of Bay­er’s ven­ture arm, Jür­gen Eck­hardt, to its board. Though both MDs, the pair has held long ca­reers on the busi­ness side of the in­dus­try, which is where their in­sight will be need­ed most, said Dew­point CEO Amir Nashat.

“The biggest is­sue for biotechs is, you know, your busi­ness,” Nashat told End­points News.

And, giv­en the long run­times in biotech, you need that ex­pe­ri­ence ear­ly. “It’s re­al­ly a game of try­ing to pre­dict what are the things that can hap­pen in this tri­al and that pro­gram and be pre­pared and hedge, be­cause every­thing’s so slow in biotech,” he said. “If you want to re­do an ex­per­i­ment, a Phase II, it’s go­ing to take 2 years and $50 mil­lion.”

Nashat al­so not­ed that a large part of Dew­point’s work in­volves part­ner­ing with phar­ma com­pa­nies. That was on dis­play in No­vem­ber, when they signed a $100 mil­lion deal with Bay­er to com­bine the biotech’s knowl­edge of the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­o­gy with the Ger­man phar­ma’s small mol­e­cule li­brary to find drugs for car­dio­vas­cu­lar and gy­ne­co­log­i­cal in­di­ca­tions. “So hav­ing two peo­ple with a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in that part of the busi­ness will be great,” he said.

Amir Nashat

Launched a lit­tle over a year ago by Po­laris, where Nashat is a part­ner, the com­pa­ny is built around the re­vived bi­ol­o­gy of bio­mol­e­c­u­lar con­den­sates — mem­brane­less, liq­uid-like droplets of RNA and pro­tein that can speed or slow down re­ac­tions. Al­though sci­en­tists have known about them for over a cen­tu­ry, on­ly re­cent­ly have re­searchers un­cov­ered their links to dis­eases, such as ALS.

Eck­hardt has led Leaps since 2016, af­ter serv­ing at a dif­fer­ent ven­ture firm, and is on the board of Blue­Rock, Joyn Bio, Khlo­ris, Oerth Bio, Im­mu­ni­tas and eGe­n­e­sis. He joins the board by virtue of Bay­er’s in­vest­ment in the com­pa­ny’s Se­ries A, not Bay­er’s drug dis­cov­ery part­ner­ship, Nashat said.

The ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist praised the com­pa­ny’s po­ten­tial but not­ed it was still ear­ly.

“This is open­ing up a whole new field of po­ten­tial tar­gets,” he told End­points. “But it will take time, the com­pa­ny start­ed re­al­ly on­ly last year.”

Brandi­court re­placed Chris Viehbach­er as Sanofi CEO in 2015 and tried to shake up its long-strug­gling R&D arm, but was ul­ti­mate­ly re­placed last year with Paul Hud­son, who, along­side the board, ex­e­cut­ed his own strate­gic shift. Orig­i­nal­ly trained as an in­fec­tious and trop­i­cal dis­ease spe­cial­ist, he joined Pfiz­er’s med­ical af­fairs team in 2000 and ran Bay­er from 2013 to 2015. In Feb­ru­ary, he joined Al­ny­lam’s board.

Dew­point put lab work on hold at the start of the pan­dem­ic, but is re­cent­ly back in full swing, both in Boston and at their fa­cil­i­ties in Berlin and Dres­den, where the coro­n­avirus has been brought un­der con­trol to a far greater de­gree. The biotech isn’t look­ing to have a drug in the clin­ic in the next year, but Nashat wouldn’t com­ment fur­ther. Be­yond a year, “a biotech is kind of guess­ing,” he said.

Still, Eck­hardt and Brandi­court’s ex­pe­ri­ence may be im­por­tant for a com­pa­ny that hopes to both spin­out and have com­mer­cial am­bi­tions. The pair will al­so be part of the board that re­cruits Nashat’s re­place­ment. In keep­ing with Po­laris’ phi­los­o­phy, the biotech will find a new CEO once it’s in a po­si­tion to at­tract a top tal­ent and Nashat will re­turn to Po­laris full-time.

“We want to be in­ten­tion­al about find­ing some­one who can map the fu­ture of the com­pa­ny, all the way through,” he said. “Un­til we find some­one who can do that, I’m able to per­form.”

The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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John Roberts, exiting Vyant Bio CEO

Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech Vyant warns of po­ten­tial wind-down

The CEO and chief scientific officer of Vyant Bio are out the door as the little-known but publicly-listed neurodegenerative biotech searches for an exit or, if all else fails, a wind-down.

The soul-searching bookends a winding journey for the biotech, which rebranded and transitioned from diagnostics company Cancer Genetics in 2021 after a merger with StemoniX. That came after a failed merger attempt with NovellusDx (now Fore Biotherapeutics) in 2018. In the last few years, units have been sold off and the stock price $VYNT has plummeted from the $30 range to penny stock territory.

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Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

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Medicago's vaccine greenhouse (Medicago via YouTube)

Cana­di­an plant-based vac­cine de­vel­op­er Med­ica­go shut­ters months af­ter lay­offs

Plant-based Covid-19 vaccine developer Medicago shut down this week with little fanfare. And its two subsidiaries, Medicago R&D and Medicago USA, are also closing their doors, according to a company news release.

The lone shareholder left standing, Japan-based Mitsubishi Chemical Group, “has determined not to make further investments in Medicago and to proceed with an orderly wind-up of its business and operations in Canada and in the United States.”

Af­ter 13 years, Ramy Mah­moud steps in­to CEO seat at Opti­nose; Ru­pert Vessey set to ex­it Bris­tol My­ers in Ju­ly

After 13 years as president and COO at Optinose, Ramy Mahmoud has stepped into a new role as its CEO. He is taking the place of Peter Miller, who stepped down earlier this week, though Miller is still staying with the company as a consultant.

In 2010, the two business partners joined Optinose to take it in a new direction, transforming it from a delivery platform to product company. They previously worked together at Johnson & Johnson, when Miller was president at Janssen and Mahmoud headed medical affairs. Miller said after he learned about Optinose, “I did what I always do, which is find people smarter than me to talk with about the idea. And the first person I called was Ramy … and I said, ‘Hey, Ramy, what do you think of this technology?’”

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Ma­gen­ta halts stem cell work and may sell it­self fol­low­ing pa­tient death, clin­i­cal hold

Magenta Therapeutics said it is halting work on its stem cell transplant drug pipeline and may sell itself, a week after the company reported the death of a patient in an early stage trial of its antibody-drug conjugate.

The Cambridge, MA-based company said it will conduct a “review of strategic alternatives,” and that could include an “acquisition, merger, business combination, or other transaction.”

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Simba Gill, Evelo Biosciences CEO

Sim­ba Gill stay­ing on at Evelo to weath­er lay­offs and a PhII fail

Simba Gill will be staying put as CEO of Evelo Biosciences for now.

Gill announced last year that he would be leaving the head position at Evelo to take on the role of executive partner at Flagship Pioneering. He was aiming to stay on until a successor was selected, but there’s a new course of action in the wake of a Phase II miss and a reduced headcount.

“I want to emphasize that I remain personally committed to Evelo and staying on to lead the organization. I continue to believe that Evelo is a remarkable opportunity in terms of the science, the platform, the type of products that we’re able to produce, and most importantly, the potential of millions of patients suffering from all stages of inflammatory disease,” Gill said on a conference call.

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