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.
→ 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 Takeda–partnered 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.
→ 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.