Ex-Cel­gene deal­mak­er George Golumbes­ki joins up to guide Car­rick on its can­cer drug quest — and maybe an IPO as well

George Golumbes­ki

Dublin-based Car­rick Ther­a­peu­tics has picked up a clin­i­cal stage can­cer drug, as well as a well-con­nect­ed new chair­man of the board.

Ex-Cel­gene deal­mak­er George Golumbes­ki has added to his con­sid­er­able range of ac­tiv­i­ties by tak­ing the chair at Car­rick, which hit the scene two years ago with a $95 mil­lion start­up round and plans to scoop up a pipeline through a se­ries of part­ner­ing deals.

Speak­ing of which.

The biotech al­so bagged rights to CT900 from BTG, a com­bi­na­tion of tar­get­ing fo­late re­cep­tor α and in­hibit­ing thymidy­late syn­thase. The drug had been in a small, very ear­ly-stage study for ovar­i­an can­cer, with 7 of 10 mol­e­c­u­lar­ly marked pa­tients demon­strat­ing a re­sponse to the drug.

Terms weren’t dis­closed, but the drug is go­ing in­to the pipeline along­side CT7001, an oral CDK7 in­hibitor they got from Can­cer Re­search UK.

Golumbes­ki — now pres­i­dent of Grail — is po­si­tioned to use some of his con­sid­er­able skills and con­nec­tions to help guide Car­rick along. The biotech gained its back­ing from Arch and Wood­ford In­vest­ments, the co-lead­ers of the big A round, with more cash com­ing in from Google’s GV, Cam­bridge En­ter­prise Seed Funds, Cam­bridge In­no­va­tion Cap­i­tal, Evotec AG and Light­stone Ven­tures.

Elaine Sul­li­van

Their mon­ey has been com­mit­ted to build­ing up a new can­cer com­pa­ny by tap­ping Eu­ro­pean sources, where the sci­ence is great and the hunt­ing may be some­what less in­tense than in the US.

The goal at Car­rick re­mains the same as it was at the be­gin­ning, says CEO Elaine Sul­li­van: “Build a sus­tain­able, lead­ing on­col­o­gy biotech based in Eu­rope.”

In Car­rick’s case that meant build­ing a core team of 12, with about 40 FTEs from out­side shops ded­i­cat­ed to their drugs. CT900 has the po­ten­tial to fol­low a rapid route to mar­ket, she tells me, through a piv­otal pro­gram. They have more drugs on the pre­clin­i­cal side as well to beef up the pipeline as the biotech pon­ders a pos­si­ble IPO.

Sul­li­van met Golumbes­ki through her work at Evotec, where she’s on the board. Golumbes­ki — a deal­mak­er with ex­ten­sive glob­al con­nec­tions — helped shape re­search pacts be­tween Cel­gene and Evotec, giv­ing them a chance to get to know one an­oth­er.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

FDA un­veils new draft guid­ance to help with oligonu­cleotide ther­a­peu­tics de­vel­op­ment

While oligonucleotides, a wide variety of synthetically modified RNA or RNA/DNA hybrids that bind to a target RNA sequence to alter RNA and/or protein expression, have been winning approvals in recent years (e.g. Novartis’ cholesterol drug Leqvio), the regulatory agency is offering new draft guidance for those looking to follow a similar path.

The non-binding guidance, titled “Clinical Pharmacology Considerations for the Development of Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Guidance for Industry” deals with pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and safety assessments required as part of oligonucleotide therapeutics R&D.

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Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.