Ex-As­traZeneca ex­ec Lisa An­son to lead do-over at Redx; Ad­vax­is shakes up C-suite

Lisa An­son

Redx $REDX has en­list­ed es­teemed British ex­ec Lisa An­son to lead the com­pa­ny’s do-over as its CEO. Hav­ing held man­age­ment roles at As­traZeneca for 20 years — serv­ing as As­traZeneca UK’s pres­i­dent for the last six — An­son, who’s al­so the pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of the British Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­dus­try, in­spires con­fi­dence about turn­ing things around for the bat­tered biotech. If the hopes are high, so are the stakes. Redx saw its shares sus­pend­ed al­most a year ago af­ter the city of Liv­er­pool said it went delin­quent on a £2 mil­lion loan, and was hit by a safe­ty cri­sis just last month that forced it to halt a PhI/II tri­al. An­son, how­ev­er, is up­beat about the work cut out for her: “The team have im­pressed me and the com­pa­ny now has a clear fo­cus on some very ex­cit­ing ar­eas of sci­ence in both fi­bro­sis and can­cer where there are a num­ber of on­go­ing pro­grams.” When she comes on the job on June 1, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Iain Ross will re­vert to a non-ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion.

Ad­vax­is$ADXS C-suite is buzzing with ac­tiv­i­ty as it names two new ex­ecs while part­ing ways with an­oth­er. Ken­neth Berlin, a J&J vet jump­ing from the helm of di­ag­nos­tics com­pa­ny Roset­ta Ge­nomics, is tak­ing over the roles of pres­i­dent and CEO from in­ter­im chief ex­ec­u­tive An­tho­ny Lom­bar­do. He will be as­sist­ed on the clin­i­cal side by new CMO An­dres Gutier­rez, who’s tak­ing charge of all de­vel­op­ment and reg­u­la­to­ry ac­tiv­i­ties for Ad­vax­is’ Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes-based anti­gen de­liv­ery plat­form. Bring­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a slate of can­cer im­munother­a­pies at On­colyt­ics Biotech and Sel­l­as, where he held the same role, Gutier­rez in­her­its a lead drug — ax­al­imo­gene filolis­bac — that’s well in­to Phase III de­vel­op­ment but haunt­ed by an FDA clin­i­cal hold on a PhI/II tri­al eval­u­at­ing a com­bo treat­ment with the drug and As­traZeneca’s Imfinzi, is­sued weeks ago. Con­cur­rent­ly, CFO Sara Bon­stein is leav­ing the Prince­ton, NJ-based com­pa­ny for an­oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ty. While she is leav­ing al­most im­me­di­ate­ly, Lom­bar­do will stay for a while for the tran­si­tion.

→ Al­most two decades af­ter co-found­ing Pro­bio­drug, Kon­rad Glund has de­cid­ed it’s time to pass on the reins — and he’s se­lect­ed a fel­low en­tre­pre­neur-ex­ec­u­tive. Ul­rich Dauer had worked 14 years as chief ex­ec­u­tive of 4SC, a can­cer drug de­vel­op­er he helped start, be­fore tak­ing more re­cent stints at Ven­ta­le­on and Ome­icos Ther­a­peu­tics. As CEO, Dauer will work close­ly with long­time chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Inge Lues to push Pro­bio­drug’s Alzheimer’s dis­ease can­di­date in­to Phase IIb stud­ies, tak­ing ad­van­tage of FDA’s new guide­lines for the no­to­ri­ous­ly hard to treat dis­ease. The hope is that the re­sults would be good enough to war­rant con­di­tion­al ap­proval of the drug, dubbed PQ912. Al­so step­ping down from the front line: CFO Hen­drik Liebers, who will be­come an ad­vis­er along­side Glund.

→ With ear­ly-stage clin­i­cal tri­als un­der­way at gas­troin­testi­nal spe­cial­ist Or­phoMed, Gary Phillips has been tapped as CEO so that founder Nikhilesh Singh can tran­si­tion to a new­ly cre­at­ed CSO po­si­tion. The ap­point­ment brings Phillips to San Fran­cis­co af­ter four years in Lon­don, where he worked as EVP and chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer for Mallinck­rodt Phar­ma. That was af­ter al­most 20 years of mov­ing back and forth across the At­lantic for a se­ries of jobs at com­pa­nies like Bausch & Lomb, No­var­tis and Mer­ck KGaA. While he steers strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions, Singh will de­vote his time to a pipeline of dimer ther­a­peu­tics.

→ Af­ter 7 years as head of Sanofi R&D, for­mer NIH chief Elias Zer­houni is step­ping down and hand­ing the job to John Reed, who spent the last 5 years run­ning Roche’s pRED re­search group based in Basel. Reed, like Zer­houni, will have of­fices in Cam­bridge, MA. The change at the top of the Paris-based phar­ma gi­ant’s re­search arm marks the lat­est in a se­ries of switch-ups in the world’s biggest phar­ma R&D or­ga­ni­za­tions. Both Reed and Zer­houni are known as in­flu­en­tial sci­en­tists with a keen un­der­stand­ing of trans­la­tion­al re­search. But they’ve nev­er made the leap to be­come known for mas­ter­ing de­vel­op­ment on their own. Reed is join­ing Sanofi April 30, two months be­fore Zer­houni leaves Sanofi.

→ As Dermtreat makes its sec­ond home in San Diego, it has tapped an Amer­i­can CEO, Nis­han de Sil­va, to ad­vance late-stage clin­i­cal tri­als for its mu­cos­al patch. Riv­elin, de­vel­oped by founder Jens Hansen and backed by Sofinno­va, treats the au­toim­mune dis­ease oral lichen planus by di­rect­ly de­liv­er­ing a drug to mouth sur­faces. In his new role as pres­i­dent of R&D, Hansen will con­tin­ue to over­see­ing the com­pa­ny’s Den­mark-based op­er­a­tions. With a back­ground in health­care con­sult­ing and pri­vate eq­ui­ty in­vest­ing, de Sil­va joins Dermtreat from the pres­i­dent and COO seat at Po­sei­da Ther­a­peu­tics. His top march­ing or­der is to chart a com­mer­cial path for Riv­elin, which is set for PhI­Ib tri­als in mid-2018 us­ing the drug clo­be­ta­sol.

→ Cana­da’s Scythi­an Bio­sciences has brought in Eu­ro­pean med­ical cannabis ex­pert Rob Reid to re­place CEO Jonathan Gilbert, who’s now tasked with a more fo­cused role man­ag­ing the com­pa­ny’s part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mi­a­mi. Es­tab­lished in 2016, the part­ner­ship seeks to eval­u­ate Scythi­an’s cannabi­noid-based pill in con­cus­sion in­juries, with both ro­dent and hu­man stud­ies planned.

→ Two-time biotech CEO Matthias Schroff is now the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Ex­i­cure, where he gets to flex all his im­muno-on­col­o­gy, TLR9 bi­ol­o­gy and RNAi mus­cles. The Ger­man ex­ec ar­rives at a time the Chica­go-based biotech is wrap­ping up Phase I stud­ies for its lead sol­id tu­mor drug and an­oth­er pso­ri­a­sis treat­ment. He is ex­pect­ed to put the deep clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence he honed dur­ing his runs at Vax­imm and Molo­gen to use, help­ing break new grounds with the spher­i­cal nu­cle­ic acid de­liv­ery tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­oped in part by CEO David Giljo­hann.

Kei­th Katkin has as­sem­bled a star-stud­ded team in prepa­ra­tion for piv­otal tri­als and even­tu­al com­mer­cial­iza­tion at Urovant Sci­ences. Three of the five new hires share roots in Al­ler­gan: CMO Cor­nelia Haag-Molken­teller led clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of on­abot­u­linum­tox­i­nA for neu­ro­genic de­tru­sor over­ac­tiv­i­ty and over­ac­tive blad­der there; gen­er­al coun­sel Bryan Smith was chief coun­sel a num­ber of busi­ness units in­clud­ing urol­o­gy; and Nori Eber­sole, now Urovant’s SVP and chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer, was re­spon­si­ble for sev­er­al com­mer­cial and R&D ex­pan­sions at the Botox mak­er. Katkin al­so wooed Michael Mc­Fad­den from Avanir to be chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, and Chris­tine Ocam­po from Novus Ther­a­peu­tics to be chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cer. High pro­file ex­ec teams are a hall­mark of Roivant sub­sidiaries, as are as­sets from Big Phar­ma — Urovant’s lead drug for over­ac­tive blad­der, vide­gron, was in-li­censed from Mer­ck.

→ As Third Rock start­up Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines opens a new chap­ter in its his­to­ry with a $56 mil­lion ven­ture round aimed at mov­ing its first ex­per­i­men­tal ther­a­py in­to the clin­ic, it has al­so been re­cruit­ing new ex­ecs for the top team. Ryan Mar­tins joined as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, sug­gest­ing some added at­ten­tion for cap­i­tal for­ma­tion that will like­ly in­clude fresh strate­giz­ing that could lead to an IPO. Xi­aolin Wang jumped in as se­nior vice pres­i­dent, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and Hird­esh Up­pal joined as vice pres­i­dent, de­vel­op­ment sci­ences. Thi­lo Schroed­er, a part­ner at can­cer spe­cial­ist Nex­tech In­vest, and Bar­bara We­ber, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics, joined the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors.

Sanofi has lost its glob­al di­a­betes R&D chief and re­gion­al CSO Philip Just Larsen to Ger­man phar­ma gi­ant Grü­nen­thal, leav­ing the com­pa­ny in a lurch to fill his shoes at the com­pa­ny’s Frank­furt of­fice. At Grü­nen­thal, Larsen will serve as chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer, where he will get to flex his neu­ro back­ground. “As an MD PhD with clin­i­cal neu­rol­o­gy ex­per­tise, I have first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence in pain man­age­ment, the core com­pe­tence at Grü­nen­thal,” Larsen said in a state­ment. “I am thrilled to con­tribute to the de­vel­op­ment of in­no­v­a­tive med­i­cines for high un­met med­ical needs in pain.” Be­fore join­ing Grü­nen­thal, Larsen spent six years at Sanofi — first as SVP and glob­al head of its di­a­betes di­vi­sion, and lat­er as CSO of the Ger­man hub in ad­di­tion to his for­mer role. By ex­it­ing Sanofi for the Ger­man drug­mak­er, Larsen gets to helm an ac­tive R&D group. Grü­nen­thal plans to in­tro­duce four or five new prod­ucts by 2022 with hopes of be­com­ing a $2 bil­lion busi­ness. Larsen will like­ly stay busy as the com­pa­ny dumps more in­vest­ment in R&D — along with buy­ing up spe­cial­ty drug pro­grams.

Alder Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $AL­DR is piec­ing to­geth­er its in­ter­im team in the lead-up to an NDA for their CGRP mi­graine drug eptinezum­ab. Er­ic Carter, a biotech vet who’s been con­sult­ing for the com­pa­ny, is step­ping in as in­ter­im CMO. He’ll be re­port­ing to in­ter­im CEO Paul Cleve­land, who took the top spot fol­low­ing the abrupt de­par­ture a few weeks ago of CEO Randy Schatz­man, who found­ed the com­pa­ny. Alder is wide­ly viewed as a big step be­hind the lead­ers in this field, with Am­gen/No­var­tis in the lead.

→ Fresh off a job han­dling ear­ly-stage clin­i­cal pro­grams at In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma, Clau­dio Dan­sky Ull­mann has signed on to ad­vance Max­Cyte’s very first au­tol­o­gous CAR drug can­di­dates. The cell en­gi­neer­ing ser­vice provider was in des­per­ate need for an ex­pert to spear­head its jump in­to drug de­vel­op­ment, and Dan­sky Ull­mann, a for­mer clin­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tor who got his in­dus­try start at Take­da, fits the bill. He will over­see the en­try of Max­Cyte’s lead drug, MCY-M11, in­to the clin­ic.

Janssen vet An­ish Suri has land­ed his first biotech job as CSO of Cue Bio­phar­ma $CUE. The im­munol­o­gy ex­pert will chan­nel his sci­en­tif­ic ex­per­tise to guide dis­cov­ery, pre­clin­i­cal and trans­la­tion­al re­search ef­forts at the Cam­bridge, MA-based com­pa­ny, which har­ness­es im­munother­a­py for can­cer and au­toim­mune dis­eases. An­oth­er part of his job is to build new teams to work on ap­pli­ca­tions of Cue’s pre­cise im­mune mod­u­la­tion tech­nolo­gies.

→ Al­most a year af­ter launch­ing out of X-Chem, X-Bi­otix Ther­a­peu­tics has brought in a key ex­ec, two board di­rec­tors and $7 mil­lion in Se­ries A fund­ing. As chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer, Do­minic Ryan — a for­mer dis­cov­ery di­rec­tor at Cu­bist Phar­ma — will steer the biotech’s re­search strat­e­gy as it pur­sues an­tibi­ot­ic scaf­folds for mul­ti-drug re­sis­tant Gram-neg­a­tive pathogens. Waltham, MA-based X-Bi­otix is build­ing a pipeline based up­on X-Chem’s DNA en­cod­ing tech­nol­o­gy and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with sev­er­al mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gy spe­cial­ists at Har­vard. Al­so join­ing the com­pa­ny are Aduro Biotech CEO Stephen Isaacs and pri­vate eq­ui­ty part­ner Christo­pher Ray, ap­point­ed to help grow the ear­ly-stage com­pa­ny.

Gary Chris­tian­son is the new COO at Nohla Ther­a­peu­tics, with a man­date to build a com­mer­cial-ready op­er­a­tion for its pipeline of off-the-shelf cell ther­a­pies. Most re­cent­ly, Chris­tian­son worked at Cas­ca­di­an Ther­a­peu­tics, where he had the same ti­tle be­fore it got ac­quired by Seat­tle Ge­net­ics. At Nohla, Chris­tian­son will once again deal with im­munother­a­pies for au­toim­mune dis­eases — some­thing he spent plen­ty of time with at Corixa.

→ Fol­low­ing a four-year run at an ad­vi­so­ry firm, Josh Hamer­mesh is back scout­ing deals for Gami­da Cell’s epi­ge­net­ic reg­u­la­tion tech­nolo­gies. As CBO, Hamer­mesh will lead the busi­ness op­er­a­tions and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment strate­gies at the Is­raeli biotech’s Cam­bridge, MA of­fice. The new job adds to a slate of BD roles on his re­sume, span­ning Gen­zyme, Per­va­sis Ther­a­peu­tics and In­fin­i­ty Phar­ma. He will be joined at Gami­da Cell by Paul Nee, a for­mer Sunovion Phar­ma staffer who will take charge of mar­ket re­search, an­a­lyt­ics and com­mer­cial strate­gies as VP of mar­ket­ing.

→ Crav­ing a piece of the ac­tion, in­vestor Joep Mui­jr­ers has joined PureTech Health as CFO. Giv­en that his pri­or in­vest­ments in­clud­ed Kite Phar­ma, Abl­ynx and Juno Ther­a­peu­tics, it’s not hard to imag­ine where he’s com­ing from. At the Boston-based com­pa­ny, Mui­jr­ers will have broad au­thor­i­ty over all as­pects of its fi­nances, in­clud­ing cap­i­tal mar­kets strat­e­gy and ex­e­cu­tion, dri­ving growth for its af­fil­i­ates, strate­gic and fi­nan­cial plan­ning, and fi­nan­cial re­port­ing.

→ In a recog­ni­tion of his con­tri­bu­tions, Aaron Berg has been pro­mot­ed to chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer at Amarin $AM­RN, re­plac­ing Mark Saly­er, who left af­ter less than a year in the job. Build­ing up­on his du­ties as VP of mar­ket­ing and sales, it is now his job to en­sure com­mer­cial growth for Vas­cepa, the triglyc­eride-low­er­ing drug cur­rent­ly in a land­mark car­dio­vas­cu­lar tri­al with re­sults an­tic­i­pat­ed in Q3.

Gos­samer Bio is wel­com­ing for­mer Leerink di­rec­tor and in­vest­ment banker Bryan Gi­rau­do to the oth­er side of the ta­ble. Gi­rau­do will lead all fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tive func­tions for the biotech, found­ed by ex-Re­cep­tos ex­ecs. With the $100 mil­lion round it got in Jan­u­ary and a built-in deal-heavy mod­el, the new CFO will like­ly stay busy.

→ Now that Sel­l­as has gained its foothold in the pub­lic mar­ket, Alek­sey Krylov, the in­ter­im CFO over­see­ing its re­verse merg­er with Gale­na, is giv­ing way to a per­ma­nent suc­ces­sor. Gene Mack brings a com­bi­na­tion of fi­nance con­sult­ing, biotech ex­pe­ri­ence and eq­ui­ty re­search to his new job. His re­sume al­so boasts of a num­ber of M&A and prod­uct li­cens­ing trans­ac­tions, some­thing that Sel­l­as — which is look­ing for part­ners on a can­cer vac­cine with a mixed record while prep­ping an­oth­er piv­otal Phase III can­cer study — could re­al­ly use.

→ In a boost to its cus­tomer-fac­ing units, Parex­el has re­cruit­ed Pey­ton How­ell from drug dis­trib­u­tor Amerisource­Ber­gen to be­come its chief com­mer­cial strat­e­gy of­fi­cer. Glob­al sales, cus­tomer ser­vice and sales op­er­a­tions will all be un­der her purview as How­ell takes her first crack at the bio­phar­ma ser­vice in­dus­try. She will work with CEO Jamie Mac­don­ald, who him­self joined the com­pa­ny just weeks ago.

→ East Ly­me, CT-based CRO Ph­e­si has named Paul Chew its chief med­ical of­fi­cer. A car­di­ol­o­gist by train­ing, Chew cut his teeth at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb be­fore as­sum­ing a slate of clin­i­cal roles at Sanofi. His most re­cent gig at dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics start­up Oma­da Health makes for a nat­ur­al tran­si­tion to Ph­e­si, which likes to tout its clin­i­cal tri­als data­base and pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics tools.

→ An­tic­i­pat­ing a com­mer­cial launch for its an­ti-in­fec­tive drug, Den­mark’s Xel­lia Phar­ma has ap­point­ed Craig Boyd to the pres­i­dent seat of its US busi­ness. His hir­ing co­in­cides with a plan to open a new of­fice in Chica­go, pro­vid­ing an an­chor for the man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties in Cleve­land that’s sched­uled to come in­to full op­er­a­tion this year. A for­mer No­var­tis sales ex­ec­u­tive, Boyd jumps from con­tract re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion En­vi­go. That ex­pe­ri­ence might come in­to play as he seeks part­ner­ships and in­creas­es Xel­lia’s man­u­fac­tur­ing foot­print in the US.

→ Af­ter get­ting a sev­en-year in­tro­duc­tion to bio­phar­ma at con­tract re­search and man­u­fac­tur­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion AM­RI, Lori Hen­der­son is now Mod­er­na’s gen­er­al coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary. Her new col­leagues like her blend of reg­u­la­to­ry, gov­er­nance and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, sug­gest­ing that she will play a sim­i­lar role in com­pa­ny growth and part­ner­ships at the biotech uni­corn ad­vances its mes­sen­ger RNA ther­a­peu­tics.

Re­cro Gainesville, a CD­MO based out of Geor­gia, has hired Heather Sug­rue to lead its busi­ness de­vel­op­ment team, con­vinced by a track record she’s es­tab­lished at Pan­theon, Ricer­ca Bio­sciences and MDS Phar­ma Ser­vices.

Te­va vet Mau­reen Ca­vanaugh has been named se­nior vice pres­i­dent and chief com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer at gener­ic drug man­u­fac­tur­er Lan­nett, trig­ger­ing a shuf­fle in the C-suite. COO John Ko­zlows­ki will now be­come chief of staff and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer, while John Abt, VP of qual­i­ty and an old col­league of Ca­vanaugh’s, is pro­mot­ed to chief qual­i­ty and op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer.

→ In a bid to strength­en its Alder­ley Park site, Con­cept Life Sci­ences has ap­point­ed Mer­ck vet Matil­da Bing­ham as site di­rec­tor and David Hig­ton as prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist, with a fo­cus on bioin­for­mat­ics. Both were re­cent­ly at UK bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies — Bing­ham at Redx Phar­ma and Hig­ton at Cypro­tex.

A New Fron­tier: The In­ner Ear

What happens when a successful biotech venture capitalist is unexpectedly diagnosed with a chronic, life-disrupting vertigo disorder? Innovation in neurotology.

That venture capitalist was Jay Lichter, Ph.D., and after learning there was no FDA-approved drug treatment for his condition, Ménière’s disease, he decided to create a company to bring drug development to neurotology. Otonomy was founded in 2008 and is dedicated to finding new drug treatments for the hugely underserved community living with balance and hearing disorders. Helping patients like Jay has been the driving force behind Otonomy, a company heading into a transformative 2020 with three clinical trial readouts: Phase 3 in Ménière’s disease, Phase 2 in tinnitus, and Phase 1/2 in hearing loss. These catalysts, together with others in the field, highlight the emerging opportunity in neurotology.
Otonomy is leading the way in neurotology
Neurotology, or the treatment of inner ear neurological disorders, is a large and untapped market for drug developers: one in eight individuals in the U.S. have moderate-to-severe hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo disorders such as Ménière’s disease.1 With no FDA-approved drug treatments available for these conditions, the burden on patients—including social anxiety, lower quality of life, reduced work productivity, and higher rates of depression—can be significant.2, 3, 4

Joe Jimenez, Getty

Ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez is tak­ing an­oth­er crack at open­ing a new chap­ter in his ca­reer — and that in­cludes a new board seat and a $250M start­up

Joe Jimenez is back.

The ex-CEO of Novartis has taken a board seat on Century Therapeutics, the Versant and Bayer-backed startup focused on coming up with a brand new twist on cell therapies for cancer — a field where Jimenez made his mark backing the first personalized CAR-T approved for use.

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Can we make the an­tibi­ot­ic mar­ket great again?

The standard for-profit model in drug development is straightforward. Spend millions, even billions, to develop a medicine from scratch. The return on investment (and ideally a tidy profit) comes via volume and/or price, depending on the disease. But the string of big pharma exits and slew of biotech bankruptcies indicate that the model is sorely flawed when it comes to antibiotics.

The industry players contributing to the arsenal of antimicrobials are fast dwindling, and the pipeline for new antibiotics is embarrassingly sparse, the WHO has warned. Drugmakers are enticed by greener pastures, compared to the long, arduous and expensive path to antibiotic approval that offers little financial gain as treatments are typically priced cheaply, and often lose potency over time as microbes grow resistant to them.

Top Har­vard chemist caught up in FBI’s 'T­hou­sand Tal­ents' drag­net, ac­cused of ly­ing about Chi­nese con­nec­tions, pay

The FBI’s probe into the alleged theft of R&D secrets by Chinese authorities has drawn Harvard’s top chemist into its net.

The agency accused Charles M. Lieber, who chairs the university’s chemistry and chemical biology department, with lying about his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents campaign, which was established as a way of drawing in innovators from around the world. And the scientist, 60, was charged with making false statements about his ties to China.

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Eye­ing a trio of tri­al ini­ti­a­tions, Jim Wilson's gene ther­a­py start­up woos Bruce Gold­smith from Deer­field as CEO

Passage Bio — Jim Wilson’s self-described “legacy company” — has wooed a seasoned biotech executive to steer the clinical entry of its first three gene therapy programs.

Bruce Goldsmith jumps to the helm of Passage after a brief CEO stint at Civetta, a cancer-focused startup he helped launch while a venture partner at Deerfield. He takes over from OrbiMed partner and interim chief Stephen Squinto, who will now lead the R&D team.

The FTC and New York state ac­cuse Mar­tin Shkre­li of run­ning a drug mo­nop­oly. They plan to squash it — and per­ma­nent­ly ex­ile him

Pharma bro Martin Shkreli was jailed, publicly pilloried and forced to confront some lawmakers in Washington riled by his move to take an old generic and move the price from $17.50 per pill to $750. But through 4 years of controversy and public revulsion, his company never backed away from the price — left uncontrolled by a laissez faire federal policy on a drug’s cost.

Now the FTC and the state of New York plan to pry his fingers off the drug once and for all and open it up to some cheap competition. And their lawsuit is asking that Shkreli — with several years left on his prison sentence — be banned permanently from the pharma industry.

UP­DAT­ED: Ac­celeron res­ur­rects block­buster hopes for so­tater­cept with pos­i­tive PhII — and shares rock­et up

Acceleron $XLRN says that its first major trial readout of 2020 is a success.

In a Phase II study of 106 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), Acceleron’s experimental drug sotatercept hit its primary endpoint: a significant reduction in pulmonary vascular resistance. The drug also met three different secondary endpoints, including the 6-minute walking test.

“We’re thrilled to report such positive topline results from the PULSAR trial,” Acceleron CEO Habib Dable said in a statement. The company said in a conference call they plan on discussing a Phase III trial design with regulators.

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Short at­tack­er Sahm Ad­ran­gi draws crosshairs over a fa­vorite of Sanofi’s new CEO — with PhII da­ta loom­ing

Sahm Adrang Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale chief Sahm Adrangi took a lengthy break from his series of biotech short attacks after his chief analyst in the field pulled up stakes and went solo. But he’s making a return to drug development this morning, drawing crosshairs over a company that’s one of new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson’s favorite collaborators.

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Amber Saltzman (Ohana)

Flag­ship's first ven­ture of 2020 is out, and it's all about sperm

A couple years ago, Amber Salzman got a call as she was returning East full-time after a two-year stint running a gene therapy company in California.

It was from someone at Flagship Pioneering, the deep-pocketed biotech venture firm. They had a new company with a new way of thinking about sperm. It had been incubating for over a year, and now they wanted her to run it.

“It exactly fit,” Salzman told Endpoints News. “I just thought I had to do something.”