An­to­nio Gual­ber­to starts post-Ku­ra ca­reer at Ei­sai sub­sidiary H3; eF­FEC­TOR co-founder Siegfried Re­ich jumps to Turn­ing Point

→ Days af­ter Ku­ra On­col­o­gy an­nounced the de­par­ture of co-founder An­to­nio Gual­ber­to, we fi­nal­ly know where he wound up. Ei­sai sub­sidiary H3 Bio­med­i­cine has re­cruit­ed him as CMO to find­ing the right pa­tients to its four clin­i­cal-stage small mol­e­cule as­sets hit­ting ge­nom­ic dri­vers of can­cer.

“Chal­lenges of these and many oth­er pre­ci­sion med­i­cine ap­proach­es are on one hand tech­ni­cal — a need for ro­bust and pre­cise di­ag­nos­tics — and on the oth­er hand de­rived by the chal­lenge to al­ter stan­dard clin­i­cal prac­tice in set­tings where pa­tient screen­ing, e.g. by tu­mor DNA se­quenc­ing, is not stan­dard prac­tice,” he wrote to End­points News on his way back to Boston from Ei­sai’s Tokyo of­fices. “On­ly com­pelling clin­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ty can dri­ve clin­i­cians and pathol­o­gists to mod­i­fy stan­dard clin­i­cal prac­tice.”

Gual­ber­to was cred­it­ed with fig­ur­ing out the mech­a­nism of ac­tion for Ku­ra’s far­ne­syl trans­ferase in­hibitors and steer­ing them to the clin­ic. By dis­cov­er­ing CX­CL12 as a tar­get of their lead drug, tip­i­farnib, he an­swered a ques­tion that had been “unan­swered for more than a decade.”

“Tip­i­farnib is a great ex­am­ple of clin­i­cal dis­cov­ery that start­ed with the ob­ser­va­tion from tri­al da­ta from the pri­or Janssen pro­gram that AML pa­tients with high bone mar­row tu­mor bur­den and low cir­cu­lat­ing blasts were par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive to tip­i­farnib,” he said.

His pre­vi­ous stints span EMD Serono, Take­da and Pfiz­er.

→ Sea­soned drug hunter Siegfried Re­ich has left eF­FEC­TOR, the biotech he co-found­ed to dis­cov­er se­lec­tive trans­la­tion reg­u­la­tors, to take up the CSO role at Turn­ing Point Ther­a­peu­tics.

“I have fol­lowed the progress Turn­ing Point has made, and was drawn to its fo­cus on drug dis­cov­ery and its work to ad­vance the pipeline,” Re­ich told End­points. “I was al­so im­pressed by the depth of its man­age­ment team and board, many of whom I have worked with be­fore.”

Turn­ing Point re­cent­ly got some val­i­da­tion in its next-gen­er­a­tion ki­nase in­hibitor plat­form in the form of an im­pres­sive over­all re­sponse rate among TKI-naïve ROS1+ non-small cell lung can­cer pa­tients, al­though there were lin­ger­ing safe­ty con­cerns.

Re­ich, an in­ven­tor of the TKI In­ly­ta from his Agouron days who’s al­so worked in the an­tivi­ral space at Pfiz­er (in­vent­ing the pro­tease in­hibitor Vira­cept) and lat­er jumped to Lil­ly Biotech Cen­ter, said he would hit the ground run­ning to iden­ti­fy new tar­gets and churn out new projects on the macro­cyclic plat­form.

He will build on four drug can­di­dates in the San Diego start­up’s pipeline that tar­get ROS1/TRK, MET/CSF1R/SRC, RET/SRC and ALK, re­spec­tive­ly.

— Am­ber Tong


→ Gilead has snagged for­mer Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb on­col­o­gy ex­ec Michael Quigley as SVP, re­search bi­ol­o­gy. In ad­di­tion to his time at Bris­tol-My­ers, Quigley al­so held po­si­tions at Janssen and Med­Im­mune. At the same time, the com­pa­ny has pro­mot­ed Lin­da Hig­gins, who joined the com­pa­ny in 2010, to the po­si­tion of SVP and head of ex­ter­nal in­no­va­tion.

Géral­dine Hon­net Bio­ther­a­pies In­sti­tute

→ French biotech Sen­so­ri­on — fo­cused on the treat­ment of hear­ing loss dis­or­ders — has tapped Géral­dine Hon­net as CMO. Hon­net joins the com­pa­ny from Généthon, where she was al­so CMO. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Hon­net held posts at Parex­el In­ter­na­tion­al, Janssen-Cilag (John­son & John­son) and Trans­gene.

Tay­lor Schreiber has tak­en over the reins as CEO at Take­dapart­nered I/O play­er Shat­tuck Labs, suc­ceed­ing Josi­ah Horn­blow­er. Schreiber, a co-founder of the com­pa­ny, was pre­vi­ous­ly CSO. Pri­or to Shat­tuck, Schreiber was the co-founder and sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­sor of Pel­i­can Ther­a­peu­tics. Horn­blow­er will re­main with the com­pa­ny as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the board.

→ AskBio has en­list­ed AAV gene ther­a­py ex­pert An­na Tre­ti­ako­va as SVP of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. Tre­ti­ako­va has spent near­ly a decade con­duct­ing re­search at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Gene Ther­a­py Pro­gram, Pfiz­er Rare Dis­ease Re­search Unit and Swan­Bio Ther­a­peu­tics.

Pe­ter Hecht Cy­cle­ri­on

→ Nan­cy Thorn­ber­ry-led Kally­ope — fo­cused on the gut-brain ax­is — has wel­comed Pe­ter Hecht to the board of di­rec­tors. Hecht re­cent­ly left his po­si­tion as CEO of Iron­wood Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to head the com­pa­ny’s spin­out Cy­cle­ri­on Ther­a­peu­tics as CEO.

For­mer Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine CEO Troy Cox has hopped aboard the board of di­rec­tors at SOPHiA GE­NET­ICS as chair­man, re­plac­ing An­toine Duchateau, who will con­tin­ue to serve as a board mem­ber. Cox served as CEO for Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine be­gin­ning in 2017 up un­til the com­pa­ny was snatched up by Roche.

Af­ter scor­ing a new glau­co­ma drug ap­proval last March, Aerie Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has named Ni­na Ohara as di­rec­tor, mar­ket­ing. Most re­cent­ly, Ohara served at Ot­su­ka Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals sub­sidiary Avanir Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. In ad­di­tion, the com­pa­ny wel­comed Gre­go­ry Jones as di­rec­tor, tax. Jones pre­vi­ous­ly served at De­loitte Tax.

→ Bolt Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb vet Nils Lon­berg to its sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board. Lon­berg cur­rent­ly serves as ex­ec­u­tive-in-res­i­dence at Canaan Part­ners.

→ Soft­ware de­vel­op­er for drug dis­cov­ery Optib­ri­um has ap­point­ed Tim Hohm as di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial busi­ness strat­e­gy and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. Hohm hops over from No­vo Nordisk, where he was se­nior com­pet­i­tive in­tel­li­gence man­ag­er.

→ Ca­li­di Bio­ther­a­peu­tics — work­ing on on­colyt­ic virus-based im­munother­a­pies for can­cer — has en­list­ed Hee­hy­oung Lee to their board of di­rec­tors. Lee cur­rent­ly serves as a man­ag­ing part­ner at Lume­Bio and has held po­si­tions at Han­mi Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Sor­ren­to Ther­a­peu­tics in the past.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Capitol Hill earlier this week (Getty Images)

As FDA buck­les un­der the strain of a pan­dem­ic work­load, Trump again ac­cus­es the agency of a po­lit­i­cal hit job

Peter Marks appeared before a virtual SVB Leerink audience yesterday and said that his staff at FDA’s CBER is on the verge of working around the clock. Manufacturing inspections, policy work and sponsor communications have all been pushed down the to-do list so that they can be responsive to Covid-related interactions. And the agency’s objective right now? “To save as many lives as we can,” Marks said, likening the mortality on the current outbreak as equivalent to “a nuclear bomb on a small city.”

Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Play-by-play of Gilead­'s $21B Im­munomedics buy­out de­tails a fren­zied push — and mints a new biotech bil­lion­aire

Immunomedics had not really been looking for a buyout when the year began. Excited by its BLA for Trodelvy, submitted to the FDA in late 2019, executive chairman Behzad Aghazadeh started off looking for potential licensing deals and zeroed in on four potential partners, including Gilead, following January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Such talks advanced throughout the year, with discussions advancing to the second round in mid-August.

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The win­dow is wide open as four more biotechs join the go-go IPO class of 2020

It’s another day of hauling cash in the biopharma world as four more IPOs priced Friday and a fifth filed its initial paperwork.

The biggest offering comes from PMV Pharma, an oncology biotech focusing on p53 mutations, which raised $211.8 million after pricing shares at $18 apiece. Prelude Therapeutics, developing PRMT5 inhibitors for rare cancers, was next with a $158 million raise, pricing shares at $19 each. Graybug Vision raised $90 million after pricing at $16 per share for its wet AMD candidates, and breast cancer biotech Greenwich Lifesciences brought up the rear with a small, $7 million raise after pricing shares at $5.75.

Sil­ver­back dish­es out two pro­mo­tions in C-suite; Leg­end CEO post changes hands again

→ Accompanying the news that they just scored an $85 million Series C round, Laura Shawver-led Silverback Therapeutics has promoted two execs, with Valerie Odegard adding president to her CSO duties and Naomi Hunder moving to CMO. A Novo Nordisk alum, Odegard has been with the Seattle-based biotech since 2016 and the CSO the last 2 years. Before Silverback, she was VP of research at Juno Therapeutics.

J&J of­fers PhI/IIa da­ta show­ing its sin­gle-dose vac­cine can stir up suf­fi­cient im­mune re­sponse

Days after J&J dosed the first participants of its Phase III ENSEMBLE trial, the pharma giant has detailed the early-stage data that gave them confidence in a single-dose regimen.

Testing two dose levels either as a single dose or in a two-dose schedule spaced by 56 days in, the scientists from Janssen, the J&J subsidiary developing its vaccine, reported that the low dose induced a similar immune response as the high dose. The interim Phase I/IIa results were posted in a preprint on medRxiv.

President Donald Trump reacts after signing an executive order following his remarks on his healthcare policies yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina (Getty Images)

Op-ed: Will phar­ma re­al­ly pay for Trump’s lat­est law­less promise to 33 mil­lion Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries? Not like­ly

Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.

What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo (AP Images)

An­drew Cuo­mo says New York will un­der­take its own vac­cine re­view process, and wouldn’t rec­om­mend trust­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment

The concerns keep mounting over President Donald Trump’s politicization of the FDA and other federal agencies guiding the development of a safe and effective vaccine. And today, the telegenic New York governor Andrew Cuomo appeared to introduce even more politics into the matter — latest in an ongoing series of incidents that have cast the proudly independent FDA in starkly political terms.

During his daily press conference Cuomo said that the state will review any coronavirus vaccines approved by the federal government, citing a lack of trust in the Trump administration. The announcement comes one day after Trump accused the FDA of making an “extremely political” move in proposing stricter vaccine guidance.

President Donald Trump and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn (AP Images)

FDA is­sues fi­nal rule al­low­ing im­por­ta­tion of drugs from Cana­da — but al­so keeps the pow­er to re­voke it

Just over a month away from the presidential election, the FDA has issued a final regulation fulfilling President Trump’s promise to let states import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

On Thursday, Trump told a crowd in North Carolina that the new rule goes into effect “today.” But the published regulation states that it won’t take effect for 60 days. And even then, it could be a while before cheaper drugs make it across the border.