Former Akcea president makes the leap to CEO seat at Avidity Biosciences; Astellas invests $12.5M into two incubators
→ After it was announced last week, in a surprise twist, that Akcea president Sarah Boyce along with her two top exec colleagues, CEO Paula Soteropoulos and COO Jeffrey Goldberg were hitting the exit at the Ionis spinoff, Boyce has found a new home. Boyce has been tapped to the helm of Avidity Biosciences — a company pioneering antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates (AOCs) — as their new CEO, president and board member. Boyce will draw from experience from her previous stints at Ionis, Forest Laboratories, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Oncology and Roche.
→ ElevateBio — the cell and gene therapy umbrella company run by former Alexion chief David Hallal — on Tuesday unveiled the launch of HighPassBio, which is focused on developing T-cell immunotherapies. The startup’s lead experimental product, developed by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is engineered to treat and potentially prevent relapse of leukemia following hematopoietic stem cell transplant. The therapy is currently in early-stage development.
→ A little after Astellas secured approval for Roxadust, which was co-developed with FibroGen, in Japan for patients with chronic kidney disease, the Tokyo-based company is now investing $12.5 million into two innovation incubators operated by LabCentral — a US-based laboratory facility for biotech startups focused on cell and gene therapies.
The investment will make Astellas “the only pharmaceutical/biotechnology company among five Founding Sponsors of a new incubator, which will feature a core lab space where companies can easily conduct process development studies and a non-GMP pilot plant, being developed by LabCentral” in Cambridge. The new incubator is expected to be operational in 2021.
In addition, Astellas will invest at least $450,000 over three years to become a Gold Sponsor of LabCentral’s existing incubator located in Cambridge.