Iron­wood re­cruits CMO on the eve of split-up; Roche vet Margrit Schwarz joins Genevant

Iron­wood Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals is fill­ing up its C-suite to pre­pare for the im­pend­ing split up in­to two en­ti­ties. Just a week af­ter tap­ping As­traZeneca’s Mark Mal­lon for the CEO job, the com­pa­ny has ap­point­ed Michael Shet­z­line as CMO of the com­mer­cial-fo­cused unit, tasked with stew­ard­ing ex­ist­ing gas­troin­testi­nal as­sets, in­clud­ing its fran­chise drug Linzess, as well as find­ing new prod­uct op­por­tu­ni­ties in the space. He will re­port to Thomas Mc­Court, the cur­rent chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer who’s get­ting pro­mot­ed to pres­i­dent as found­ing CEO Pe­ter Hecht leaves to run the R&D spin­out.  

Bo Rode Hansen is bring­ing a fel­low Roche alum to his team at Genevant, the RNA-fo­cused biotech birthed out of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Roivant and Ar­bu­tus. Margrit Schwarz, most re­cent­ly VP and glob­al head of ex­ter­nal in­no­va­tion at the Swiss phar­ma gi­ant fol­low­ing re­search roles at Am­gen and Boehringer In­gel­heim, joins as CSO and head of R&D. Al­so join­ing the Boston-based com­pa­ny is Pe­te Zorn, who has a back­ground as gen­er­al coun­sel and is tak­ing the COO post.

Pearl Huang, a founder and ear­ly ex­ec at BeiGene, is re­turn­ing to biotech as CEO of Cyg­nal Ther­a­peu­tics. Jump­ing from Roche — where she was the SVP and glob­al head of ther­a­peu­tic modal­i­ties, over­see­ing every­thing from small mol­e­cule to nu­cle­ic acid-based ther­a­pies. A prod­uct of Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing’s in­no­va­tion foundry, Cyg­nal is tar­get­ing mech­a­nisms and path­ways as­so­ci­at­ed with the pe­riph­er­al ner­vous sys­tem, a struc­ture of nerves work­ing out­side the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, plow­ing a field they call “ex­oneur­al bi­ol­o­gy.”

CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics has wooed se­nior FDA of­fi­cial John Mar­tin to be­come its head of gov­ern­ment af­fairs. Mar­tin, whose ti­tle was prin­ci­pal as­so­ciate com­mis­sion­er for leg­isla­tive af­fairs, led the agency’s ne­go­ti­a­tion with Con­gress over reau­tho­riza­tion of user fees and sup­port­ed leg­is­la­tion ad­dress­ing the opi­oid abuse epi­dem­ic.

Clau­dia D’Au­gus­ta is the new CFO at Basel, Switzer­land-based Ther­a­chon, a Ver­sant-backed start­up fo­cused on rare ge­net­ic dis­eases. D’Au­gus­ta held the same role at stem cell play­ers TiGenix (un­til Take­da bought it out) and Cel­ler­ix (be­fore it merged with TiGenix).

→ Fol­low­ing some dra­ma with ex-CEO Carsten Thiel — who was oust­ed a mere six months in­to the job — Abeona Ther­a­peu­tics $ABEO has made a pair of pro­mo­tions to “bol­ster fi­nan­cial strat­e­gy and con­trols.” Chris­tine Sil­ver­stein, for­mer­ly SVP of fi­nance and in­vestor re­la­tions, will be­come CFO; Ed­ward Carr will be the chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cer.

→ As de­vel­op­ment of um­bil­i­cal cord blood-de­rived T-reg­u­la­to­ry cel­lu­lar ther­a­pies gets un­der way at Cel­lenkos, the MD An­der­son spin­out has ap­point­ed Eliz­a­beth Read as chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer to over­see chem­istry, man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­trols as well as reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs. Read comes to the Hous­ton op­er­a­tion from a slate of roles in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area, capped by a brief stint at Adicet Bio.

Gavin Ling is sup­ple­ment­ing his PhD in he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­pies with a job as chief med­ical of­fi­cer of As­cen­sion Health­care, steer­ing de­vel­op­ment of new he­mo­phil­ia A treat­ments. This marks the first biotech role for Ling, a con­sul­tant hema­tol­o­gist at Guy’s and St Thomas Hos­pi­tal, Lon­don.

Bioa­sis has hired Chris­tine An­ta­lik as CFO, with great ex­pec­ta­tions on her knowl­edge about fi­nanc­ing, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and growth plan­ning — all cru­cial to li­cens­ing plans for its xB3 plat­form tech­nol­o­gy, which is de­signed to de­liv­er drugs across the blood-brain bar­ri­er.

→ In case you missed it, Paul-Pe­ter Tak has left the lead­ing role in Glax­o­SmithK­line’s im­munol­o­gy unit to be­come a ven­ture part­ner at Flag­ship Pi­o­neer­ing. Ac­cord­ing to his LinkedIn pro­file, the tran­si­tion hap­pened last Oc­to­ber.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

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Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

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Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.

Den­mark's Gen­mab hits the jack­pot with $500M+ US IPO as small­er biotechs rake in a com­bined $147M

Danish drugmaker Genmab A/S is off to the races with perhaps one of the biggest biotech public listings in decades, having reaped over $500 million on the Nasdaq, as it positions itself as a bonafide player in antibody-based cancer therapies.

The company, which has long served as J&J’s $JNJ key partner on the blockbuster multiple myeloma therapy Darzalex, has asserted it has been looking to launch its own proprietary product — one it owns at least half of — by 2025.

FDA over­rides ad­comm opin­ions a fifth of the time, study finds — but why?

For drugmakers, FDA advisory panels are often an apprehended barometer of regulators’ final decisions. While the experts’ endorsement or criticism often translate directly to final outcomes, the FDA sometimes stun observers by diverging from recommendations.

A new paper out of Milbank Quarterly put a number on that trend by analyzing 376 voting meetings and subsequent actions from 2008 through 2015, confirming the general impression that regulators tend to agree with the adcomms most of the time — with discordances in only 22% of the cases.

UP­DAT­ED: With loom­ing ‘apoc­a­lypse of drug re­sis­tance,’ Mer­ck’s com­bi­na­tion an­tibi­ot­ic scores FDA ap­proval on two fronts

Merck — one of the last large biopharmaceuticals companies in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Wednesday said the FDA had sanctioned the approval of its combination antibacterial for the treatment of complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections.

To curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the efficacy of the therapy, Recarbrio (and other antibacterials) — the drug must be used to treat or prevent infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by susceptible gram-negative bacteria, Merck $MRK said.

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