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.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; 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.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.