Eric Lander (Matt Slocum/AP Images)

Er­ic Lan­der to re­turn to Broad In­sti­tute, one year af­ter White House ex­it over bul­ly­ing al­le­ga­tions

Er­ic Lan­der is re­turn­ing to the Broad In­sti­tute, the pres­ti­gious ge­nom­ic re­search cen­ter he helped launch and led for 16 years, a year af­ter he re­signed from the White House’s top sci­ence po­si­tion fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of de­mean­ing and dis­re­spect­ful con­duct to­ward sub­or­di­nates.

Todd Gol­ub

Todd Gol­ub, who suc­ceed­ed Lan­der as Broad’s di­rec­tor, an­nounced Lan­der’s re­turn, ear­ly next month, on the in­sti­tute’s in­tranet. Lan­der will al­so re­sume the tenured fac­ul­ty po­si­tions he left be­hind at MIT and Har­vard, Gol­ub added.

When Joe Biden tapped Lan­der — one of the biggest names in sci­ence, hav­ing spear­head­ed the Hu­man Genome Pro­ject and pi­o­neered oth­er ar­eas of ge­net­ic re­search — to serve as di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Pol­i­cy and el­e­vat­ed that of­fice to Cab­i­net-lev­el back in 2021, the pres­i­dent-elect used the ap­point­ment to pledge his promise that “sci­ence will be at the fore­front” of his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

To serve in the gov­ern­ment po­si­tion, Lan­der took a two-year leave from Broad.

But his tenure last­ed just a year. As re­vealed lat­er, a whistle­blow­er com­plaint from Lan­der’s for­mer gen­er­al coun­sel at OSTP sparked an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion at the White House re­gard­ing how he treat­ed his staff. Politi­co picked up on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion — which found “cred­i­ble ev­i­dence” of women in the of­fice com­plain­ing about be­ing treat­ed by Lan­der in a de­mean­ing or abra­sive man­ner in front of oth­er staff — and re­port­ed, based on its own in­ter­views with anony­mous staffers, that Lan­der presided over a tox­ic work­place and bul­lied col­leagues.

With­out nam­ing the probe or re­port, Gol­ub ac­knowl­edged how Lan­der’s de­par­ture from Wash­ing­ton “stim­u­lat­ed im­por­tant and of­ten tough dis­cus­sions” about aca­d­e­m­ic cul­ture and pow­er dy­nam­ics, and said he’s been proud of how peo­ple at Broad (or “Broad­ies” as he calls them) have wres­tled with those is­sues, while al­so work­ing on press­ing bio­med­ical prob­lems with sci­en­tif­ic rig­or.

“At Broad, we have high ex­pec­ta­tions for all Broad­ies to fos­ter an in­clu­sive cul­ture of re­spect, re­gard­less of role, stature, or iden­ti­ty,” he wrote. “Er­ic al­so deeply val­ues this cul­ture and is com­mit­ted to up­hold­ing it.”

Lan­der will re­turn to run­ning his lab and as­sume the ti­tles of core in­sti­tute mem­ber and found­ing di­rec­tor emer­i­tus at Broad; he has al­so been asked to “do what he does best: el­e­vate Broad­ies’ sci­ence by help­ing us imag­ine what might be pos­si­ble,” Gol­ub added, and spend time out­side of Broad build­ing a non­prof­it named Sci­ence for Amer­i­ca, which Lan­der helped launch just a few months ago.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Mod­er­na so­lid­i­fies deal with Kenya to build mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

The mRNA player Moderna is further cementing its presence on the African continent.

Moderna announced on Thursday that it has finalized an agreement with Kenya’s government to partner up and bring an mRNA manufacturing facility to the east African nation. The new facility aims to manufacture up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually. Moderna also said the new facility will have the ability to spike its production capabilities to respond to public health emergencies on the continent or globally.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing roundup: Catal­ent to pro­duce low-cost ver­sion of nalox­one; CSL opens R&D site

Catalent will be manufacturing a low-cost version of the opioid overdose treatment naloxone as part of a contract with Harm Reduction Therapeutics.

Catalent plans to manufacture the treatment at its facility in Morrisville, NC. No financial details on the deal were disclosed.

Harm Reduction was granted priority review status for the NDA on its spray last year. The company has been working on a naloxone product since 2017. It is anticipating approval in July of this year and a US launch in early 2024.

As­pen looks to re­bound in pro­duc­tion and rev­enue af­ter Covid-19

Last year, South African-based vaccine manufacturer Aspen Pharmacare was facing reports that it had not received a single order for its manufactured Covid-19 shots and that manufacturing lines were sitting idle. But now the vaccine producer is looking to turn things around.

Aspen’s disclosure of its financial results in March unveiled that manufacturing revenue had decreased by 12% to R 603 million ($33.8 million), which Lorraine Hill, Aspen Group’s COO, said is attributable to lower Covid vaccine sales.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for Thermo Fisher's new cell therapy manufacturing site in San Francisco

Ther­mo Fish­er moves on cam­pus with new cell man­u­fac­tur­ing site in San Fran­cis­co

Thermo Fisher Scientific is putting down more roots in the Bay Area.

The manufacturer opened the doors to a new cell therapy manufacturing facility next to the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center’s Mission Bay campus and on the university’s campus.

UCSF and Thermo Fisher have had a partnership since 2021, with the new site focusing on manufacturing cell therapeutics for certain cancers, including glioblastoma and multiple myeloma. The new site plans to use Thermo Fisher’s expertise in manufacturing services to help UCSF accelerate the development of cell therapies and eventually get them into the clinic, said Dan Herring, the general manager of cell therapy services at Thermo Fisher, in an interview with Endpoints News.

Sulagna Bhattacharya, Nanoscope Therapeutics CEO

Nanoscope’s eye dis­ease gene ther­a­py shows mixed re­sults in PhII

Dallas-based biotech Nanoscope Therapeutics unveiled Phase II results on its gene therapy for a rare eye disease Thursday morning.

In the RESTORE trial, 18 patients with retinitis pigmentosa got a gene therapy called MCO-010 while nine got placebo. On a vision test called the MLYMT, the treatment group had a one-point greater change over one year in their score compared to the placebo group, the primary endpoint of the study. However, the 95% confidence interval was 0.0 to 3.0, meaning the result was not statistically significant. The p-value was not provided.