Jessica Richman, Zach Apte. uBiome

In an­oth­er shake­up, uBio­me brings in out­side help to re­vamp a mi­cro­bio­me test­ing op­er­a­tion un­der FBI scruti­ny

Soon af­ter word got out about an FBI probe in­to uBio­me’s billing prac­tices, the mi­cro­bio­me test­ing start­up put its gen­er­al coun­sel in charge as the co-founders stepped aside from their roles as co-CEOs. John Rakow, the in­ter­im CEO, vowed to “co­op­er­ate ful­ly with gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties and pri­vate pay­ors to sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly re­solve the ques­tions that have been raised.”

John Rakow uBio­me

Turns out that was not good enough.

The San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny is now in­stalling new lead­er­ship from the con­sult­ing firm Goldin As­so­ci­ates to re­place Rakow two months af­ter he was first ap­point­ed, the Wall Street Jour­nal re­port­ed. The new, in­ter­im man­age­ment team con­sists of CEO Cur­tis Solsvig, CFO Robin Chu and COO Karthik Bhavara­ju. The turn­around ex­perts from Goldin have been work­ing with uBio­me for the last month.

In ad­di­tion, Jes­si­ca Rich­man and Zach Apte — the co-founders — are turn­ing their sus­pen­sion to a full-on res­ig­na­tion from the com­pa­ny’s board, ac­cord­ing to an in­vestor let­ter re­viewed by the Jour­nal.

Rich­man and Apte launched uBio­me 6 years ago af­ter rais­ing $350,000 from a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign. It has since scored VC back­ing to­tal­ing $83 mil­lion from Y Com­bi­na­tor, An­dreessen Horowitz, 8VC and oth­ers as well as aca­d­e­m­ic part­ner­ships with the likes of UCSF and Har­vard. The biotech al­so boost­ed its pro­file by re­cruit­ing star di­rec­tors to its board, in­clud­ing ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jiminez, whom it said would con­tribute ex­per­tise for a piv­ot to the drug busi­ness.

Cur­tis Solsvig Goldin

The ex­ecs fol­lowed up their ini­tial con­sumer test, Ex­plor­er, with more tar­get­ed tests de­signed to eval­u­ate gut health, vagi­nal health and the mi­crobes that may be im­pli­cat­ed in pa­tients’ flu symp­toms. SmartGut and Smart­Jane were pulled from the mar­ket in May af­ter the FBI searched uBio­me’s of­fice — though the com­pa­ny didn’t spec­i­fy the rea­son.

In­sid­ers lat­er told the Jour­nal that in­sur­ers had large­ly stopped pay­ing for the tests as uBio­me was sus­pect­ed of us­ing im­prop­er billing codes and charg­ing for un­nec­es­sary tests.

The de­ci­sion to put new lead­ers in place re­port­ed­ly came from a spe­cial board com­mit­tee that was formed in the wake of the FDA raid to con­duct an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Deborah Dunsire, Lundbeck CEO

Af­ter a 5-year re­peat PhI­II so­journ, Lund­beck and Ot­su­ka say they're fi­nal­ly ready to pur­sue OK to use Rex­ul­ti against Alzheimer's ag­i­ta­tion

Five years after Lundbeck and their longtime collaborators at Otsuka turned up a mixed set of Phase III data for Rexulti as a treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia-related agitation, they’ve come through with a new pivotal trial success they believe will finally put them on the road to an approval at the FDA. And if they’re right, some analysts believe they’re a short step away from adding more than $500 million in annual sales for the drug, already approved in depression and schizophrenia.

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Chris Anzalone, Arrowhead CEO

Take­da, Ar­row­head spot­light da­ta from small tri­al show­ing RNAi works in a rare liv­er con­di­tion

Almost two years after Takeda wagered $300 million cash to partner with Arrowhead on an RNAi therapy for a rare disease, the companies are spelling out Phase II data that they believe put them one step closer to their big dreams.

In a small, open label study involving only 16 patients who had liver disease associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), Arrowhead’s candidate — fazirsiran, previously ARO-AAT — spurred substantial reductions in accumulated mutant AAT protein in the liver, a hallmark of the condition. Investigators also tracked improvements in symptoms, with seven out of 12 who received the high, 200 mg dose seeing regression of liver fibrosis.

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Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.

Alex­ion puts €65M for­ward to strength­en its po­si­tion on the Emer­ald Isle

Ireland has been on a roll in 2022, with several large pharma companies announcing multimillion-euro projects. Now AstraZeneca’s rare disease outfit Alexion is looking to get in on the action.

Alexion on Friday announced a €65 million ($68.8 million) investment in new and enhanced capabilities across two sites in the country, including at College Park in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown and the Monksland Industrial Park in the central Irish town of Athlone, according to the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland.

State bat­tles over mifepri­s­tone ac­cess could tie the FDA to any post-Roe cross­roads

As more than a dozen states are now readying so-called “trigger” laws to kick into effect immediate abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, these laws, in the works for more than a decade in some states, will likely kick off even more legal battles as states seek to restrict the use of prescription drug-based abortions.

Since Friday’s SCOTUS opinion to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, reproductive rights lawyers at Planned Parenthood and other organizations have already challenged these trigger laws in Utah and Louisiana. According to the Guttmacher Institute, other states with trigger laws that could take effect include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

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