Gold­man Sach­s' Ankang Li heads to biotech Terns as new CFO; SV re­cruits new part­ner for De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund

Ankang Li Busi­ness Wire

→ Fresh off a NASH deal with French drug­mak­er Gen­fit, Terns Phar­ma has ap­point­ed Ankang Li as CFO. The Chi­nese biotech scooped Li from Gold­man Sachs, where he led high pro­file biotech IPOs as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of health­care in­vest­ment bank­ing. A law school grad­u­ate with a back­ground in bio­med­ical re­search — his ca­reer has tak­en him to Salk In­sti­tute and Mer­ck’s Asia Pa­cif­ic in­no­va­tion hub — Li will hold ex­ten­sive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in cor­po­rate fi­nanc­ing and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

→ Ven­ture Cap­i­tal SV Health In­vestors an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Jonathan Behr as part­ner in the De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund — which at the com­ple­tion of its fundrais­ing in 2018 raised £250 mil­lion ($350 mil­lion). Behr joins the fund from JDRF T1D fund, where he served as its first man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. He brings ex­pe­ri­ence from var­i­ous roles at PureTech Ven­tures, En­light Bio­sciences and more than 13 oth­er com­pa­nies. 

Mitchell Chan Linkedin

Viela Bio has pro­mot­ed Mitchell Chan, one of the As­traZeneca ex­ecs who mi­grat­ed to the spin­out, to CFO. Hav­ing as­sist­ed in rais­ing cap­i­tal as head of fi­nance and cor­po­rate strat­e­gy, he will now add trea­sury, in­vestor re­la­tions and oth­er re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to his plate. His place­ment in the C-suite comes at a time Viela is gear­ing up to bring its lead drug, inebi­lizum­ab, to the FDA.

→ The mak­er of the wide­ly-abused opi­oid drug Oxy­con­tin, Pur­due Phar­ma is try­ing to leave its bad rep­u­ta­tion be­hind and re­build its R&D sec­tor with the ap­point­ment of Julie Ducharme as the com­pa­ny’s vice pres­i­dent and CSO. The com­pa­ny says that Ducharme will al­so “sup­port the com­pa­ny’s on­go­ing ef­forts to help ad­dress the opi­oid ad­dic­tion cri­sis.” Ducharme has 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence un­der her belt and brings skills from her time at As­traZeneca, Mu­nid­phar­ma and the Na­tion­al Re­search Coun­cil (Cana­da). Pur­due Phar­ma is re­port­ed­ly con­sid­er­ing bank­rupt­cy — a route tak­en by Sub­sys-mak­er In­syswhich is re­port­ed­ly con­sid­er­ing bank­rupt­cy — a route tak­en by Sub­sys-mak­er In­sys.

Julie Ducharme Linkedin

→ Swiss-based Ob­sE­va — a com­pa­ny fo­cus­ing on ther­a­pies for con­di­tions that com­pro­mise the fe­male re­pro­duc­tive health and preg­nan­cy — wel­comed Eliz­a­beth Gar­ner to the ranks as its CMO. The cur­rent CMO and head of phar­ma­covig­i­lance, Elke Bestel, will be nom­i­nat­ed as the com­pa­ny’s vice pres­i­dent, head of drug safe­ty and phar­ma­covig­i­lance and re­main on Ob­sE­va’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. Most re­cent­ly, Gar­ner served as CMO and SVP clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Ag­ile Ther­a­peu­tics. Her pre­vi­ous stints in­clude roles at Myr­i­ad Ge­net­ics Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries and Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries — where she was the clin­i­cal lead of the en­dometrio­sis pro­gram for the now FDA-ap­proved elagolix (Orilis­sa).

→ CEO and pres­i­dent of Arch On­col­o­gy — a clin­i­cal-stage im­muno-on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny de­vel­op­ing an­ti-CD47 mAbs — Julie Cher­ring­ton, has joined the board of di­rec­tors at Mi­rati Ther­a­peu­tics — a biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny fo­cused on can­cer ther­a­pies. Cher­ring­ton was the key con­trib­u­tor to the de­vel­op­ment of FDA-ap­proved prod­ucts Su­tent, Pal­la­dia, Vis­tide, Viread and Hep­sera. Cher­ring­ton has a wealth of ex­ec­u­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and has served at Gilead Sci­ences, Zenith Epi­ge­net­ics and Path­way Ther­a­peu­tics among oth­ers. 

Eliz­a­beth Gar­ner Linkedin

In­Med Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — a com­pa­ny fo­cused on cannabi­noids — has ap­point­ed Take­da vet Cather­ine Saz­danoff to its board of di­rec­tors. Saz­danoff joined Take­da in 2006 and pri­or to that, she served in var­i­ous roles at Ab­bott Lab­o­ra­to­ries since 1984. Saz­danoff is al­so the in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor of the board of Merid­i­an Bio­science and the cur­rent pres­i­dent and CEO of Saz­danoff Con­sult­ing

Squarex, a low-pro­file biotech work­ing on a pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment for cold sores, has tapped a sea­soned CEO to suc­ceed its founder at the helm. Jack Tal­ley joins just past his four-year an­niver­sary with Izun Phar­ma, which fol­lowed pre­vi­ous stints at Alis­sa, Ac­tini­um and Epi­Cept. He is charged with steer­ing SQX770, a top­i­cal for­mu­la­tion of the im­munomod­u­la­tor squar­ic acid dibutyl es­ter, from Phase II tri­als to­ward an ap­proval. Hugh Mc­Tavish, who co-in­vent­ed the com­pa­ny’s tech­nol­o­gy with hopes of one-up­ping cur­rent drugs for her­pes labi­alis, is tran­si­tion­ing to an ex­ec­u­tive chair­man role.

Julie Cher­ring­ton Linkedin

SOPHiA GE­NET­ICS — a health tech com­pa­ny who de­vel­oped the AI SOPHiA for health­care pro­fes­sion­als — wel­comed Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine vet Troy Cox to its board of di­rec­tors. Pri­or to serv­ing at the Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine, Cox held roles at Genen­tech, UCB Bio­Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Sanofi-Aven­tis and Scher­ing-Plough.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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San Diego cou­ple charged with steal­ing trade se­crets, open­ing Chi­nese biotech as DOJ crack­down con­tin­ues

A San Diego couple has been charged with stealing trade secrets from a US hospital and opening a business based off those secrets in China as the controversial industry-wide crackdown on alleged corporate espionage continues. On the same day, the Department of Justice announced they had arrested Beijing representative Zhongsan Liu for allegedly trying to obtain research visas for government recruiters.

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UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen pulls the plug on prized IPF drug from $562M+ Stromedix buy­out

One of Biogen’s attempts to branch out has flopped as the biotech scraps a mid-stage program for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

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Deborah Dunsire. Lundbeck

UP­DAT­ED: Deb­o­rah Dun­sire is pay­ing $2B for a chance to leap di­rect­ly in­to a block­buster show­down with a few of the world's biggest phar­ma gi­ants

A year after taking the reins as CEO of Lundbeck, Deborah Dunsire is making a bold bid to beef up the Danish biotech’s portfolio of drugs in what will likely be a direct leap into an intense rivalry with a group of giants now carving up a growing market for new migraine drugs.

Bright and early European time Monday morning the company announced that it will pay up to about $2 billion to buy Alder, a little biotech that is far along the path in developing a quarterly IV formulation of a CGRP drug aimed at cutting back the number of crippling migraines patients experience each month. In a followup call, Dunsire also noted that the company will likely need 200 to 250 reps for this marketing task on both sides of the Atlantic. And analysts were quick to note that the dealmaking at Lundbeck isn’t done, with another $2 billion to $3 billion available for more deals to beef up the pipeline.

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Tower Bridge in London [Shutterstock]

#UK­BIO19: Join GSK’s Hal Bar­ron and a group of top biotech ex­ecs for our 2nd an­nu­al biotech sum­mit in Lon­don

Over the past 10 years I’ve made a point of getting to know the Golden Triangle and the special role the UK biopharma industry plays there in drug development. The concentration of world class research institutes, some of the most accomplished scientists I’ve ever seen at work and a rising tide of global investment cash leaves an impression that there’s much, much more to come as biotech hubs are birthed and nurtured.

Warts for the win: Aclar­is' lead drug clears piv­otal study

Aclaris Therapeutics has found a way to get rid of the warts and all.

The company — which earlier this month decided to focus on its arsenal of kinase inhibitors — on Monday unveiled positive data from a pivotal study testing its lead experimental drug for use in common warts.

The drug, A-101, was tested in a 502-patient study called THWART-2 — patients enrolled had one to six warts before qualifying for the trial. Patients either self-administered A-101 topical solution or a vehicle twice a week over a two-month period. A higher proportion of patients on the drug (a potent hydrogen peroxide topical solution) saw their warts disappear at day 60, versus the vehicle (p<0.0001) — meeting the main goal of the study.  Each secondary endpoint also emerged in favor of A-101, the company said.

Charles Nichols, LSU School of Medicine

Could psy­che­delics tack­le the obe­si­ty cri­sis? A long­time re­searcher in the field says his lat­est mouse study sug­gests po­ten­tial

Psychedelics have experienced a renaissance in recent years amid a torrent of preclinical and clinical research suggesting it might provide a path to treat mood disorders conventional remedies have only scraped at. Now a preclinical trial from a young biotech suggests at least one psychedelic compound has effects beyond the mind, and — if you believe the still very, very early hype — could provide the first single remedy for some of the main complications of obesity.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Ac­celeron drops a de­vel­op­ment pro­gram as #2 drug fails to spark func­tion­al ben­e­fits in pa­tients with a rare neu­ro­mus­cu­lar ail­ment

Acceleron is scrapping a muscular dystrophy development program underway for its number 2 drug in the pipeline after pouring over some failed mid-stage secondary data.

Gone is the ACE-083 project in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Their drug hit the primary endpoint on building muscle but flopped on key secondaries for functional improvements in patients, which execs felt was vital to the drug’s success.