Jorge Gomez, incoming Moderna CFO

Hours af­ter Pfiz­er, Mod­er­na names its own new CFO with den­tal, health­care and au­to chops

Rough­ly two hours af­ter Pfiz­er named its new CFO, its Covid-19 vac­cine com­peti­tor Mod­er­na chalked up its own new CFO with a ré­sumé steeped in health­care, den­tal equip­ment and au­to man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Mod­er­na’s cur­rent CFO, David Meline, “has de­cid­ed to re­tire,” the Spike­vax mak­er said Mon­day as Jorge Gomez takes over the com­pa­ny’s fi­nances on May 9. For 21 months, Meline led the fi­nan­cial du­ties at the Flag­ship-found­ed biotech dur­ing its mas­sive rise as one of the key play­ers in the world’s pan­dem­ic re­sponse. He’ll re­main as a con­sul­tant for the tran­si­tion.

David Meline

Gomez comes to the Cam­bridge, MA biotech with re­cent chops in lead­ing the fi­nances of den­tal equip­ment mak­er Dentsply Sirona, which he joined in Au­gust 2019. He ap­pears to have just a week­end break be­tween jobs: Dentsply said he de­parts May 6.

Dur­ing his tenure at Dentsply, the $10.5 bil­lion mar­ket cap com­pa­ny’s stock $XRAY went on a ride from $52 per share to a low of $38, up to $67.51 last April and back down to $48 to­day.

He’ll join a biotech with a mar­ket cap mag­ni­tudes larg­er, at $63.6 bil­lion, thanks large­ly to Mod­er­na’s suc­cess at de­liv­er­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of Covid-19 vac­cine dos­es and work build­ing up part­ner­ships across the globe with the likes of IAVI, fed­er­al gov­ern­ments and in­dus­try peers As­traZeneca, Mer­ck and Ver­tex.

Stéphane Ban­cel

“As we grow and scale the com­pa­ny glob­al­ly, Jorge’s ex­pe­ri­ence lead­ing the fi­nan­cial func­tions of multi­na­tion­al health­care com­pa­nies will be an as­set to our team. Jorge’s pas­sion for sus­tain­abil­i­ty and ESG aligns close­ly with Mod­er­na’s vi­sion to make cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­i­ty a crit­i­cal part of who we are and what we do,” Mod­er­na CEO Stéphane Ban­cel said in the news re­lease. Mod­er­na’s ESG day is slat­ed for Nov. 10, the com­pa­ny said in Feb­ru­ary.

Gomez steps in­to a 3,000 em­ploy­ee-com­pa­ny with $17.6 bil­lion in cash, cash equiv­a­lents and in­vest­ments at the end of 2021.

Like Pfiz­er’s new CFO, Lowe’s fi­nance chief David Den­ton, Gomez’s ré­sumé has a re­cent gap in phar­ma work. Pri­or to the den­tal equip­ment mak­er, Gomez was CFO for near­ly two years at Car­di­nal Health. Dur­ing his near­ly 14-year ca­reer at Car­di­nal, Gomez worked up to the top CFO post af­ter serv­ing as CFO of the med­ical seg­ment from 2015 to 2017 and fi­nance chief of the phar­ma seg­ment from 2012 to 2015.

Be­fore join­ing Car­di­nal Health in 2006, he was in var­i­ous po­si­tions at Gen­er­al Mo­tors — across New York, Sin­ga­pore, Bel­gium and Brazil — for the pre­ced­ing nine years.

Gomez is al­so on the boards of wa­ter tech­nol­o­gy provider Xylem and video game ther­a­peu­tics mak­er Pear Ther­a­peu­tics.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

Editor’s note: This is a live story and will be updated.

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Alec­tor cuts 11% of work­force as it dou­bles down on late-stage neu­ro pro­grams part­nered with GSK, Ab­b­Vie

A month after revealing plans to concentrate on its late-stage immuno-neurology pipeline, Alector is trimming its headcount by 11%.

The layoffs will impact around 30 employees across the organization, the company disclosed in an SEC filing, adding that the plan will “better align the company’s resources” with the new strategy. With $712.9 million in cash, cash equivalents and investments as of the end of 2022, Alector believes the reserves will now get it through 2025.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

See­los Ther­a­peu­tics 'tem­porar­i­ly' stops study in rare neu­ro dis­or­der for busi­ness rea­sons

Microcap biotech Seelos Therapeutics is halting enrollment of its study in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (also known as Machado-Joseph disease) because of “financial considerations,” and in order to focus on other studies, the company said today, adding that the pause would be temporary.

The study will continue with the patients who have already enrolled, and the data from them will be used to decide whether to continue enrolling others in the future.

Boehringer re­ports ro­bust sales led by type 2 di­a­betes and pul­monary drugs, promis­es more to come high­light­ing obe­si­ty

Boehringer Ingelheim reported human pharma sales of €18.5 billion on Wednesday, led by type 2 diabetes and heart failure drug Jardiance and pulmonary fibrosis med Ofev. Jardiance sales reached €5.8 billion, growing 39% year over year, while Ofev took in €3.2 billion, notching its own 20.6% annual jump.

However, Boehringer is also looking ahead with its pipeline, estimating “In the next seven years the company expects about 20 regulatory approvals in human pharma.”

FDA ap­proves Nar­can opi­oid over­dose re­ver­sal spray for over-the-counter sale

The FDA today approved Emergent BioSolutions’ Narcan brand naloxone nasal spray for over-the-counter sales. The nod was expected and comes on the heels of a unanimous 19-0 advisory committee vote in favor of approval last month.

The move to OTC means the opioid overdose reversal agent will now be available on grocery, convenience and gas stations shelves, as well as potentially for purchase online.