Jason Campagna, Q32 Bio CMO (file photo)

Ex­clu­sive: For­mer In­ter­cept CMO lands new gig at Q32 Bio, two weeks af­ter leav­ing the NASH biotech

Just two weeks ago, In­ter­cept CMO Ja­son Cam­pagna fol­lowed the biotech’s found­ing CEO out the door to pur­sue oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ties, per an SEC fil­ing, as an­a­lysts sense a ma­jor shift tak­ing place at the com­pa­ny. Now, that new op­por­tu­ni­ty has come to light.

Cam­pagna is tak­ing the same CMO po­si­tion at Q32 Bio, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Tues­day morn­ing, join­ing CEO Mike Brox­son’s team in Cam­bridge, MA as they ex­plore the next gen­er­a­tion of com­ple­ment drugs. The move comes af­ter Q32 pulled in two fundrais­ing rounds in 2020 to­tal­ing more than $100 mil­lion and as the biotech is in IND-en­abling stud­ies for its lead pro­gram, dubbed ADX-097.

Cam­pagna wouldn’t com­ment on the spec­u­la­tion around In­ter­cept’s in­ner-work­ings or fu­ture. Through a Q32 spokesper­son, Cam­pagna pre­emp­tive­ly de­clined com­ment Tues­day on all mat­ters re­lat­ed to his old com­pa­ny.

Brox­son and Cam­pagna live fair­ly close to one an­oth­er — “we could prob­a­bly throw a rock at each oth­er’s hous­es,” Cam­pagna told End­points News. They start­ed meet­ing for cof­fee some­time last fall, tak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate pan­dem­ic pre­cau­tions, and Cam­pagna said he was very di­rect with Brox­son in ask­ing how Q32’s pro­grams would ap­peal to pa­tients and doc­tors.

But what ul­ti­mate­ly stood out to the now-CMO was the da­ta Q32 had pro­duced in a mouse mod­el for its sys­temic drugs. The ques­tion sur­round­ing such pro­grams, Cam­pagna said, al­ways in­volves whether or not the drugs can get to the in­jured tis­sue when de­liv­ered sys­tem­i­cal­ly.

So as Cam­pagna re­calls it, Brox­son pulled out his iPad dur­ing one of their cof­fee meet­ings and showed him the goods. Not on­ly did the Q32 da­ta il­lus­trate a lack of off-site tox­i­c­i­ty, but they demon­strat­ed that the com­pounds can stay in the in­jured mouse tis­sue for about 10 days. That be­came the “linch­pin” of Cam­pagna’s think­ing, he said.

“If tis­sues in the body are not be­ing ex­posed to the com­pound, and pri­mar­i­ly ac­cu­mu­lat­ing where the in­jury is oc­cur­ring, you don’t get bet­ter than that in terms of get­ting a shot on goal,” Cam­pagna said. “I nev­er saw any­thing that ap­prox­i­mat­ed that kind of phar­ma­co­ki­net­ics. That was the mag­ic mo­ment.”

Q32 is shoot­ing for a reg­is­tra­tional fil­ing for ADX-097 some­time at the be­gin­ning of next year, but Brox­son told End­points it could come at the end of 2021. They’re look­ing at sev­er­al dis­eases to start, in­clud­ing some in the kid­neys as well as lu­pus. The goal with an ul­ti­mate Phase I tri­al is to es­tab­lish the same proof-of-mech­a­nism in hu­mans that Q32 saw in the mice.

Cam­pagna’s de­par­ture from In­ter­cept came rough­ly two and a half months af­ter the biotech abrupt­ly an­nounced found­ing CEO Mark Pruzan­s­ki had been re­placed at the helm. In­ter­cept em­pha­sized there was no “dis­agree­ment re­gard­ing any mat­ter re­lat­ed to the Com­pa­ny’s op­er­a­tions, poli­cies, or prac­tices” when Cam­pagna left.

Though an In­ter­cept spokesper­son de­nied to End­points two weeks ago that there was any shift, an­a­lysts are ask­ing whether the ex­its of Pruzan­s­ki and now Cam­pagna have prompt­ed the com­pa­ny to move away from its sig­na­ture NASH pro­grams in the wake of an FDA re­jec­tion last June. Cam­pagna had led In­ter­cept’s NASH ef­forts af­ter he was hired from The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny in 2016, be­fore be­ing pro­mot­ed to CMO in 2019.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Kristen Hege, Bristol Myers Squibb SVP, early clinical development, oncology/hematology and cell therapy (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: Bris­tol My­er­s' Kris­ten Hege on cell ther­a­py, can­cer pa­tients and men­tor­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

Kristen Hege leads Bristol Myers Squibb’s early oncology discovery program carrying on from the same work at Celgene, which was acquired by BMS in 2019. She’s known for her early work in CAR-T, having pioneered the first CAR-T cell trial for solid tumors more than 25 years ago.

However, the eminent physician-scientist is more than just a drug developer mastermind. She’s also a practicing physician, mother to two young women, an avid backpacker and intersecting all those interests — a champion of young women and people of color in STEM and life sciences.

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Gossamer Bio CEO Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Gos­samer’s Fa­heem Has­nain de­fends a round of pos­i­tive PAH da­ta as a clear win. But can these PhII re­sults stand up to scruti­ny?

Gossamer Bio $GOSS posted a statistically significant improvement for its primary endpoint in the key Phase II TORREY trial for lead drug seralutinib on Tuesday morning. But CEO Faheem Hasnain has some explaining to do on the important secondary of the crucial six-minute walk distance test — which will be the primary endpoint in Phase III — as the data on both endpoints fell short of expectations, missing one analyst’s bar on even modest success.

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US sup­ports ex­ten­sion for Covid-19 IP waiv­er de­ci­sion

After much debate, the US government is now calling for a deadline extension to discuss a controversial potential IP waiver for Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.

Over the last five months, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said it has consulted with members of Congress, public health advocates, organized labor groups, academics, think tanks, companies and trade associations on the WTO’s recent TRIPS agreement, which established a 5-year waiver of certain patent requirements on Covid-19 vaccines.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: Phar­mas lay off Twit­ter ads for an­oth­er week; WPP un­cov­ers LGBTQ+ mar­ket­ing find­ings

When Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk tweeted this weekend, “Just a note to thank advertisers for returning to Twitter,” he likely wasn’t talking about big pharma companies. The vast majority of the top spending pharma advertisers had not returned last week, according to updated tracking data Pathmatic for Endpoints News.

Only three pharma advertisers spent any money at all, which is about the same as the past several weeks. AstraZeneca rejoined the active advertiser list, although at $700 spent hardly worth a personal Musk expression of gratitude. GSK remained active with $3,500 spent ad much lower than its previous spending, according to the Pathmatics data. Only Bayer spent any significant amount in advertising, with $244,000 spent last week, but that’s a considerable drop from almost $500,000 spent on OTC, prescription and corporate Twitter ads in each of the previous two weeks.

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Rick Modi, Affinia Therapeutics CEO

Ver­tex-part­nered gene ther­a­py biotech Affinia scraps IPO plans

Affinia Therapeutics has ditched its plans to go public in a relatively closed-door market that has not favored Nasdaq debuts for the drug development industry most of this year. A pandemic surge in 2020 and 2021 opened the doors for many preclinical startups, which caught Affinia’s attention and gave the gene therapy biotech confidence in the beginning days of 2022 to send in its S-1.

But on Friday, Affinia threw in the S-1 towel and concluded now is not the time to step onto Wall Street. The biotech has put out few public announcements since the spring of this year. Endpoints News picked the startup as one of its 11 biotechs to watch last year.

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Bob Duggan, Summit Therapeutics co-CEO

Bounc­ing from ma­jor set­back, Sum­mit hands out $500M cash for can­cer drug — thanks to a loan from bil­lion­aire CEO

After hitting a dead end with Summit Therapeutics’ lead program, Bob Duggan has found the drug that he believes will usher into a compelling second act. So compelling, in fact, that it involves $500 million cash — and he’s taking money out of his own pocket to fund the deal.

Striking a partnership with Akeso Therapeutics out of China, Summit is bringing in a bispecific antibody that blocks both PD-1 and VEGF called ivonescimab. Akeso, which has a PD-1/CTLA-4 bispecific approved in China, has already taken ivonescimab into multiple clinical trials, including a Phase III in lung cancer.

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Jay Lichter, Arialys Therapeutics CEO (Avalon Ventures)

Scoop: Aval­on, MPM back new CNS biotech with sci­en­tif­ic chops from Astel­las

A preclinical central nervous system biotech is in the works in La Jolla, CA, and the drug developer has reeled in capital from a syndicate of investors, Endpoints News has learned.

Arialys Therapeutics filed incorporation documents in the Golden State last December and applied its name for trademark protection with the US Patent and Trademark Office the week prior to that. Paperwork with the SEC also outlines plans to offer up equity in exchange for $55 million.

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Daniel Gold, MEI Pharma CEO (via website/Vimeo)

As FDA door shuts on its PI3K, MEI Phar­ma throws in the tow­el, lays off staff

Having steered a PI3K inhibitor from preclinical studies all the way to Phase II, San Diego’s MEI Pharma is all but washing its hands of the drug as the FDA raises the bar on the class.

The biotech is discontinuing development of zandelisib everywhere except Japan, where its partner Kyowa Kirin will move forward with ongoing trials and explore an approval based on Phase II data. While MEI Pharma had originally hoped to do the same in the US, the FDA put its foot down and asked for a new clinical trial — which it decided isn’t worth the effort.

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