Lab­Corp se­lects its new CEO; Pfiz­er names ex-Genen­tech vet as new head of on­col­o­gy R&D

Adam Schechter The Org

→ Long­time Mer­ck ex­ec­u­tive Adam Schechter will be tak­ing over as CEO and pres­i­dent of Lab­Corp with the re­tire­ment of David King on Oc­to­ber 31— when he will be­come ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. The com­pa­ny says that “the board ex­pects to choose one of its mem­bers to be lead in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor at a lat­er date.”

Schechter has been on Lab­Corp’s board since April 1, 2013, serv­ing as the lead in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor since Jan­u­ary of this year. Dur­ing his long-time stint at Mer­ck, Schechter helped lead the in­te­gra­tion of Mer­ck and Scher­ing-Plough and held ex­ec­u­tive roles in the com­pa­ny, in­clud­ing pres­i­dent of glob­al hu­man health and pres­i­dent of Mer­ck’s glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal busi­ness.

Pa­tri­cia Hurter Busi­ness Wire

King has served as CEO for 13 years, start­ing in Jan­u­ary 1, 2007. Pri­or to his ap­point­ment to CEO at Lab­Corp, King was ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, COO and ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of strate­gic plan­ning and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. When King first joined the com­pa­ny in 2001 — he pre­vi­ous­ly served as the prin­ci­pal out­side le­gal coun­sel for sev­er­al years to the com­pa­ny — he served as SVP, gen­er­al coun­sel and chief com­pli­ance of­fi­cer.

Pa­tri­cia Hurter will be at the helm of Lyn­dra Ther­a­peu­tics — which is work­ing on an “ul­tra-long-act­ing oral de­liv­ery sys­tem” — as its CEO ef­fec­tive Sep­tem­ber 3, 2019. Hurter will be suc­ceed­ing co-founder Amy Schul­man, a VC who is be­com­ing ex­ec­u­tive chair. Pri­or to join­ing Lyn­dra, Hurter had a stint at Ver­tex as the com­pa­ny’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and pre­clin­i­cal sci­ences and in­ter­im head of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Leif Jo­hans­son As­traZeneca

On­co­Cyte Cor­po­ra­tion — a de­vel­op­er of non-in­va­sive tests for the ear­ly de­tec­tion of lung can­cer — an­nounced that Ronald An­drews will take charge of the com­pa­ny as its CEO, ef­fec­tive Ju­ly 1. On­co­Cyte’s cur­rent CEO, William An­nett, will re­main with the com­pa­ny in an ad­vi­so­ry role dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

With over 30 years in the field, An­drews has had var­i­ous stints, in­clud­ing CEO and founder of Bethes­da Group, CEO of Clar­i­ent (for­mer­ly Chro­maV­i­sion Med­ical Sys­tems), CEO of GE Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics, ex­ec­u­tive roles at Roche Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics and he sits on the board of di­rec­tors for three com­pa­nies.

Jeff Set­tle­man Cal­i­co

Leif Jo­hans­son’s time as As­traZeneca chair­man is com­ing to an end as re­tire­ment looms. Jo­hans­son has had sev­en event­ful years with the com­pa­ny — sur­viv­ing a takeover bid by Pfiz­er, a turn­around mis­sion and some po­lit­i­cal tur­moil. Un­der FTSE-100 reg­u­la­tions, board mem­bers are not con­sid­ered “in­de­pen­dent” if they re­main in their po­si­tions be­yond nine years.

Jo­hans­son was re­cruit­ed to As­traZeneca’s board in 2012, af­ter stints at AB Elec­trolux and LM Er­ic­s­son. Soon af­ter join­ing the com­pa­ny, he brought on Pas­cal So­ri­ot from Roche to serve as the com­pa­ny’s chief. The two worked to­geth­er to help As­traZeneca bounce back from a raft of patent ex­pi­ra­tions and suc­cess­ful­ly fend­ed off Pfiz­er’s at­tempt to ex­e­cute a $118 bil­lion hos­tile takeover in 2014.

Scott Biller Agios

His pay to­taled £690,000 in 2018, mak­ing him one of the best-paid chairs of an FTSE-100 com­pa­ny ac­cord­ing to Sky News.

Pfiz­er scooped up Cal­i­co ex­ec Jeff Set­tle­man to head its on­col­o­gy R&D ops in La Jol­la. Set­tle­man steps in as the com­pa­ny pre­pares for the re­tire­ment of Robert Abra­ham — whose ex­pe­ri­ence stretch­es back to his ear­ly years at Wyeth.

Set­tle­man is now man­ag­ing 800 em­ploy­ees di­vid­ed be­tween tu­mor cell bi­ol­o­gy, can­cer im­munol­o­gy dis­cov­ery and tar­get ther­a­peu­tics, each with their own lead­ers.

Robert Ian­none Linkedin

Set­tle­man served as a Har­vard fac­ul­ty mem­ber for 18 years and his first en­try to the in­dus­try was in 2010 when he took up a dis­cov­ery po­si­tion at Genen­tech, which has seed­ed the Bay Area biotech hub with sea­soned tal­ent.

Pfiz­er’s on­col­o­gy unit has seen quite a bit of change in re­cent years. Just a few weeks ago, Dim­it­ry Nuyten, clin­i­cal head in im­muno-on­col­o­gy, jumped to Aduro. Charles Hugh-Jones left last Au­gust for Al­ler­gan af­ter a 16-month stint as CMO; on the com­mer­cial side, Liz Bar­rett was snatched up by No­var­tis be­fore mov­ing on to lead the biotech Uro­Gen.

John Oyler BeiGene

→ The CSO of Agios Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Scott Biller, has an­nounced his re­tire­ment — af­ter be­ing with the com­pa­ny for near­ly a decade. Biller will re­tire at the end of 2019, but will con­tin­ue to serve as a strate­gic ad­vi­sor through the end of 2020. The com­pa­ny has ini­ti­at­ed a search for his suc­ces­sor.

→ Ear­li­er in April Rob Ian­none an­nounced that he was leav­ing his po­si­tion as CMO of Im­munomedics to head to Penn­syl­va­nia to be “close to his fam­i­ly.” Well, it looks like Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — a com­pa­ny sell­ing and de­vel­op­ing drugs for sleep dis­or­ders and can­cer — has snatched the for­mer As­traZeneca ex­ec to lead its glob­al R&D team. Pri­or to his stint at As­traZeneca, Ian­none worked for Mer­ck, where he helped de­vel­op its PD-1 in­hibitor star, Keytru­da.

Alex­is Borisy Third Rock Ven­tures

→ As Chi­na’s in­flu­ence on glob­al biotech con­tin­ues to grow, Beigene CEO and chair­man John Oyler, who co-found­ed the com­pa­ny in 2010, has been elect­ed to BIO’s board of di­rec­tors as well as the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s health sec­tion gov­ern­ing board.

→ Ahead of Third Rock’s record $770 mil­lion fund for its next wave of in­vest­ments in the life sci­ences field, one key in­vestor, Alex­is Borisy, made an un­ex­pect­ed ex­it from the com­pa­ny. Borisy, who head­ed up in­vest­ments in Ma­gen­ta, Rev­o­lu­tion, Blue­print and more, is head­ed for parts cur­rent­ly un­known. He was not in­volved in rais­ing the last round and won’t be han­dling the in­vest­ment deals.

Robert Pe­tit Ad­vax­is

Caris­ma Ther­a­peu­tics — a bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­py plat­forms based on en­gi­neered macrophages — has wel­comed Robert Pe­tit as its CSO. Pe­tit joins the biotech af­ter his most re­cent stint as CSO of Ad­vax­is. Pe­tit has a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence, co-found­ing an im­muno-on­col­o­gy pro­gram in the ear­ly days of cell ther­a­py, work­ing as a part of the pi­o­neer­ing team at BMS to es­tab­lish the first check­point in­hibitor ther­a­py, es­tab­lish­ing aca­d­e­m­ic IL-2 LAK and TIL cell treat­ment pro­grams — among oth­er things.

Samuel Zhang NeoIm­muneTech

NeoIm­muneTech (NIT) wel­comed Samuel Zhang to the com­pa­ny as its CBO. Zhang’s most re­cent stint was as VP, prod­uct and port­fo­lio strat­e­gy at Merus. Pri­or to that Zhang held po­si­tions at Eli Lil­ly, Pfiz­er, Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb and No­var­tis On­col­o­gy.

→ While its lead pro­gram ETH42 ad­vances to­ward clin­i­cal tri­als, Ethris — a com­pa­ny spe­cial­iz­ing in mR­NA ther­a­peu­tics, with specifics in pul­monary dis­ease — an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Thomas Lan­genick­el as CMO.  The No­var­tis vet was pre­vi­ous­ly the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and head of res­pi­ra­to­ry pro­fil­ing with­in the trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine group. Pri­or to No­var­tis AG, Lan­genick­el held po­si­tions in dis­cov­ery med­i­cine at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb.

Thomas Lan­genick­el Ethris

Ned Sharp­less has named Kea­gan Leni­han as the FDA chief of staff, re­plac­ing Lau­ren Sil­vis — who is leav­ing the agency some­time this month af­ter join­ing in May 2017 as deputy cen­ter di­rec­tor for pol­i­cy at the FDA’s Cen­ter for de­vices and ra­di­o­log­i­cal health. Pri­or to join­ing the FDA in Jan­u­ary 2018 as as­so­ciate com­mis­sion­er for strate­gic ini­tia­tives and ex­ter­nal af­fairs, Leni­han served as se­nior coun­selor to then-HHS sec­re­tary Tom Price and se­nior leg­isla­tive as­sis­tant to Price while he rep­re­sent­ed Geor­gia in the House as well as leg­isla­tive di­rec­tor for rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pe­te Ses­sions (R-Texas).

Kea­gan Leni­han FDA

→ Chi­na and US-based can­cer com­pa­ny Zai Lab has wel­comed Va­le­ria Fan­tin as its first-ever CSO. She will be based in the com­pa­ny’s US head­quar­ters in San Fran­cis­co, lead­ing the com­pa­ny’s in­ter­nal drug dis­cov­ery ef­fort on a glob­al ba­sis. Pri­or to join­ing Zai Lab, Fan­tin served as CSO at Oric Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals – where she helped dri­ve its GR an­tag­o­nist ORIC-101 to clin­ic. Pri­or to that Fan­tin has held stints at Pfiz­er, Agios and Mer­ck re­search lab­o­ra­to­ries. Saman­tha Du, Zai Lab’s founder and CEO said that Fan­tin’s over 20-year ex­pe­ri­ence in on­col­o­gy drug dis­cov­ery will help lead with the in­ter­nal dis­cov­ery pipeline — which has a goal to an­nounce one to two INDs per year start­ing in 2020.

Va­le­ria Fan­tin Linkedin

→ Over the last year, BIO has sep­a­rat­ed its pub­lic af­fairs func­tions in­to two new de­part­ments. The in­dus­try or­ga­ni­za­tion an­nounced that ef­fec­tive June 17, Rich Mas­ters will head one de­part­ment as EVP for pub­lic af­fairs. Mas­ters joins from pub­lic af­fairs firm Qorvis com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Last sum­mer, the com­pa­ny named Jeanne Hag­ger­ty as EVP for gov­ern­ment af­fairs and ex­ter­nal re­la­tions of the oth­er de­part­ment. In ad­di­tion, BIO has an­nounced the de­par­ture of Ken Li­saius, the cur­rent SVP for com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ef­fec­tive June 14.  

Rich Mas­ters Qorvis

Leo Phar­ma, who spe­cial­izes in der­ma­tol­ogy, an­nounced that its pres­i­dent and CEO, Gitte Aabo, will be step­ping down af­ter 27 years — 11 as CEO — with the com­pa­ny. Cather­ine Maz­za­c­co will suc­ceed Aabo, ef­fec­tive Au­gust 1. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Maz­za­c­co was the head of glob­al com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions at the bio­phar­ma di­vi­sion of the GE Health­care unit of Gen­er­al Elec­tric.

Cather­ine Maz­za­c­co Busi­ness Wire

Flu­idigm Cor­po­ra­tion an­nounced the ap­point­ment of its first-ever CSO, An­drew Quong, who joins from the Fred­er­ick Na­tion­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry for Can­cer Re­search — which is spon­sored by the Na­tion­al Can­cer In­sti­tute (NIC) — as its di­rec­tor of strate­gic sci­en­tif­ic ini­tia­tives and part­ner­ships. Pri­or to his time at Fred­er­ick Na­tion­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, Quong served as a fac­ul­ty mem­ber in the De­part­ment of Can­cer Bi­ol­o­gy at Thomas Jef­fer­son Uni­ver­si­ty and the De­part­ment of On­col­o­gy at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty.

Ther­a­vance Ther­a­peu­tics — who J&J gam­bled $1 bil­lion last year in a part­ner­ship with the com­pa­ny in hopes of the next block­buster JAK for Crohn’s, ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis — has brought on An­drew Hind­man as se­nior vice pres­i­dent and CFO of the com­pa­ny.

An­drew Quong Linkedin

Most re­cent­ly Hind­man served as CBO of Acor­da Ther­a­peu­tics, where he led the com­pa­ny’s ac­qui­si­tions Civ­i­tas Ther­a­peu­tics and Bi­otie Ther­a­pies. Be­fore that, Hind­man was CEO and mem­ber of the board of pri­vate­ly-held biotech­nol­o­gy, To­bi­ra Ther­a­peu­tics, which was ac­quired by Al­ler­gan in 2016. Hind­man has al­so held stints at Nodal­i­ty, Onyx Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Gilead Sci­ences.

→  Ei­sai — the US sub­sidiary of Tokyo-based Ei­sai Co — an­nounced Patrick Coyle as vice pres­i­dent and CFO of the com­pa­ny. He will serve on the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. Coyle will be re­spon­si­ble for the fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions of the com­pa­ny in the US and Cana­da. Pri­or to join­ing Ei­sai, Coyle was vice pres­i­dent, fi­nan­cial plan­ning and analy­sis at IN­SMED. In ad­di­tion, he’s had stints in the fi­nance de­part­ments of No­var­tis, Bay­er Health­Care Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Sun Chem­i­cal and Com­put­er Hori­zons Cor­po­ra­tion.

An­drew Hind­man Linkedin

→  Stephen Kennedy joins gene-edit­ing biotech Case­bia Ther­a­peu­tics as its SVP, head of tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions. With 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the field un­der his belt, Kennedy will over­see the com­pa­ny’s re­la­tion­ships with CROs and CMOs and will di­rect all man­u­fac­tur­ing and sup­port sup­ply chain, qual­i­ty and reg­u­la­to­ry. He will al­so es­tab­lish the process de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing strat­e­gy for new gene-edit­ing based prod­ucts, both ex vi­vo cell-based and in vi­vo ther­a­pies. Most re­cent­ly, Kennedy served as the COO for restora­tive cell ther­a­py com­pa­ny His­to­gen­ics Cor­po­ra­tion. He’s al­so had stints at Mas­co­ma Corp., The No­var­tis/MIT Cen­ter for Con­tin­u­ous Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Gen­zyme.

Patrick Coyle Cis­ton

→  Eiger Bio­Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cls ap­points Jey­sen Yo­g­a­rat­nam — who spe­cial­izes in He­pati­tis B and C — as vice pres­i­dent of glob­al HDV clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. At his re­cent stint as se­nior med­ical di­rec­tor at Janssen Bio­phar­ma, Yo­g­a­rat­nam led drug de­vel­op­ment of he­pati­tis B virus (HBV) cap­sid as­sem­bly mod­u­la­tors.

“Jey­sen’s back­ground and ex­pe­ri­ence in liv­er dis­ease and an­tivi­ral drug de­vel­op­ment align well with our cur­rent and fu­ture HDV pro­gram needs as we ad­vance Lon­a­farnib in the first-ever Phase III glob­al study for HDV and Pegin­ter­fer­on Lamb­da to­ward Phase III for HDV,” said David Cory, pres­i­dent and CEO of Eiger. In ad­di­tion to his time at Janssen, Yo­g­a­rat­nam has had stints at MIF­COR, Ver­tex – where he was the med­ical lead on the an­ti-HCV pro­tease in­hibitor, telapre­vir (In­civek) and Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb.

Stephen Kennedy Linkedin

→ Cel­lu­lar and im­mune ther­a­peu­tics com­pa­ny, Gami­da Cell, has strength­ened its man­age­ment team with the ad­di­tion of Tracey Lodie as CSO. Lodie will suc­ceed Tony Peled, who is tran­si­tion­ing to the new­ly cre­at­ed role of chief tech­nol­o­gy of­fi­cer at the com­pa­ny.

“We are de­light­ed to wel­come Tracey to Gami­da Cell. Her deep ex­pe­ri­ence in au­toim­mu­ni­ty and im­muno-on­col­o­gy re­search will be crit­i­cal as we con­tin­ue to de­vel­op GDA-201 an in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al, nat­ur­al killer cell-based im­munother­a­py in Phase I de­vel­op­ment with the po­ten­tial to treat hema­to­log­ic ma­lig­nan­cies and sol­id tu­mors,” said Ju­lian Adams, CEO of Gami­da Cell.

Jey­sen Yo­g­a­rat­nam Linkedin

Pri­or to join­ing Gami­da Cell, Lodie served as SVP, trans­la­tion­al im­munol­o­gy at Blue­Rock Ther­a­peu­tics and has had stints at Sy­ros Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Sanofi-Gen­zyme.

Tracey Lodie Linkedin

Mi­rati preps its first look at their KRAS G12C con­tender, and they have to clear a high bar for suc­cess

If you’re a big KRAS G12C fan, mark your calendars for October 28 at 4:20 pm EDT.

That’s when Mirati $MRTX will unveil its first peek at the early clinical data available on MRTX849 in presentations at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston.

Mirati has been experiencing the full effect of a rival’s initial success at targeting the G12C pocket found on KRAS, offering the biotech some support on the concept they’re after — and biotech fans a race to the top. Amgen made a big splash with its first positive snapshot on lung cancer, but deflated sky-high expectations as it proved harder to find similar benefits in other types of cancers.

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Eli Lil­ly’s first PhI­II show­down for their $1.6B can­cer drug just flopped — what now?

When Eli Lilly plunked down $1.6 billion in cash to acquire Armo Biosciences a little more than a year ago, the stars seemed aligned in its favor. The jewel in the crown they were buying was pegilodecakin, which had cleared the proof-of-concept stage and was already in a Phase III trial for pancreatic cancer.

And that study just failed.

Lilly reported this morning that their cancer drug flopped on overall survival when added to FOLFOX (folinic acid, 5-FU, oxaliplatin), compared to FOLFOX alone among patients suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer.

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UCB tries to win some re­spect in the crowd­ed pso­ri­a­sis mar­ket with a dual IL-17 ap­proach — and it won't be easy

For a pharma company with about $5 billion in revenue, a couple of respectably sized blockbuster drugs on the market and some high-profile partners like Amgen, Belgium’s UCB has kept an unusually low profile on the pipeline side of things over the years.
Until now.
Just days after striking a $2.1 billion deal to buy Ra Pharmaceuticals and its C5 rival to Soliris, UCB is posting positive top-line Phase III results for a dual IL-17 inhibitor that it’s steering into one of the most competitive commercial spaces in the industry. And despite plenty of obvious challenges as they struggle to roll out Evenity with Amgen and patent expirations loom on its franchise drugs, including Cimzia, the company just may be ready to tackle some of the biggest players on the planet.
In their first of 3 Phase III studies for bimekizumab, researchers touted top-line wins on statistically significant results on clearing plaque psoriasis, including a victory over J&J’s IL-23 contender Stelara on key endpoints. The drug targets both IL-17A and IL-17F, a modification on the IL-17A strategy laid out for Taltz (Eli Lilly) and Cosentyx (Novartis). And the new group also includes J&J’s Tremfya and AbbVie’s Skyrizi.
We don’t know the PASI90 and IGA scores — but UCB knows that with the kind of heavyweight competition it faces with Novartis and others, marginal gains for patients won’t stack up. So we’ll be watching for the hard numbers. And there’s another head-to-head with Cosentyx that will play a big role in pushing up analysts’ projections on peak sales, which currently fall well short of blockbuster status.
UCB hasn’t exactly been in the spotlight for the last few years, but it’s in a position now that the company has to win some respect in R&D, with blockbuster projects that can keep investors’ attention at a time the industry is experiencing booming R&D development efforts around the planet.
It hasn’t been easy. There was a setback on a lupus drug partnered with Biogen. But there have been some advances, with a deal to buy Proximagen’s NDA-ready nasal spray therapy USL261, designed as a rescue therapy for acute repetitive seizures, for $150 million in cash and another $220 million in sales and regulatory milestones. There was even a report that the company was kicking the deflated tires at Acorda, though nothing came of that.
Late last year UCB also committed to spend up to £200 million on a new R&D hub in the UK.
That may not translate into a lot of excitement right now, but they’re trying. And there’s a subtle promise that more deals may be in the works.

The FDA will hus­tle up an ex­pe­dit­ed re­view for As­traZeneca’s next shot at a block­buster can­cer drug fran­chise

AstraZeneca paid a hefty price to partner with Daiichi Sankyo on their experimental antibody drug conjugate for HER2 positive breast cancer. And they’ve been rewarded with a fast ride through the FDA, with a straight shot at creating another blockbuster oncology franchise.

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Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.
The biotech started by putting together an “arsenal” of technologies aimed at making cell therapies for cancer much, much better than the rather crude first-generation drugs that hit the market from Novartis and Kite.
Their drugs have become the baseline against which all others are being measured.
“The technology set we’re developing is independent of the chassis,” Drazan tells me. “It doesn’t have to be autologous (extracted from the patient) or allogeneic (off the shelf). It doesn’t have to be a T cell, it could be a B cell.” But they are starting out on the autologous side, where they have the most knowledge and insight into manufacturing techniques.
It also doesn’t have to be close to the clinic.
Drazan expects the biotech will be working its way through preclinical operations for “a few years,” with enough money from the $85 million launch round to get into humans.
By today’s superheated fundraising standards, that’s not a huge amount of cash. Lyell, another cell therapy 2.0 startup we featured last week, raised $600 million in a year, including a big chunk of cash from GlaxoSmithKline. Drazan is interested in dealmaking as well, but he also knows he has the cash necessary to support the company for a good run — a key part of what it takes to bring together a stellar team of top players.

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Hal Barron, GSK's president of R&D and CSO, speaks to Endpoints News founder and editor John Carroll in London at Endpoints' #UKBIO19 summit on October 8, 2019

[Video] Cel­e­brat­ing tri­al fail­ures, chang­ing the cul­ture and al­ly­ing with Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers: R&D chief Hal Bar­ron talks about a new era at GSK

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Hal Barron at Endpoints’ #UKBIO19 summit to discuss his views on R&D at GSK, a topic that has been central to his life since he took the top research post close to 2 years ago. During the conversation, Barron talked about changing the culture at GSK, a move that involves several new approaches — one of which involves celebrating their setbacks as they shift resources to the most promising programs in the pipeline. Barron also discussed his new alliances in the Bay Area — including his collaboration pact with Lyell, which we covered here — frankly assesses the pluses and minuses of the UK drug development scene, and talks about his plans for making GSK a much more effective drug developer.

This is one discussion you won’t want to miss. Insider and Enterprise subscribers can log-in to watch the video.

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Swamy Vijayan. Plexium

San Diego up­start de­buts dis­cov­ery en­gine that puts a twist to pro­tein degra­da­tion

For years, the idea of protein degradation — utilizing the cell’s natural garbage disposal system to mark problematic proteins for destruction — remained an elegant but technically difficult concept. But now established as a promising clinical strategy, with major biopharma players such as Bayer, Gilead and Vertex trying to grab a foothold via partnership deals, a San Diego startup is looking to exploit it and push its limits.

Med­ical an­i­ma­tion: Mak­ing it eas­i­er for the site and the pa­tient to un­der­stand

Medical animation has in recent years become an increasingly important tool for conveying niche information to a varied audience, particularly to those audiences without expertise in the specialist area. Science programmes today, for example, have moved from the piece-to-camera of the university professor explaining how a complex disease mechanism works, to actually showing the viewer first-hand what it might look like to shrink ourselves down to the size of an ant’s foot, and travel inside the human body to witness these processes in action. Effectively communicating a complex disease pathophysiology, or the novel mechanism of action of a new drug, can be complex. This is especially difficult when the audience domain knowledge is limited or non-existent. Medical animation can help with this communication challenge in several ways.
Improved accessibility to visualisation
Visualisation is a core component of our ability to understand a concept. Ask 10 people to visualise an apple, and each will come up with a slightly different image, some apples smaller than others, some more round, some with bites taken. Acceptable, you say, we can move on to the next part of the story. Now ask 10 people to visualise how HIV’s capsid protein gets arranged into the hexamers and pentamers that form the viral capsid that holds HIV’s genetic material. This request may pose a challenge even to someone with some virology knowledge, and it is that inability to effectively visualise what is going on that holds us back from fully understanding the rest of the story. So how does medical animation help us to overcome this visualisation challenge?

CSL ac­cus­es ri­val Pharm­ing of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a scheme to rip off IP on HAE while re­cruit­ing se­nior R&D staffer

Pharming has landed in the middle of a legal donnybrook after recruiting a senior executive from a rival R&D team at CSL. The Australian pharma giant slapped Pharming with a lawsuit alleging that the Dutch biotech’s new employee, Joseph Chiao, looted a large cache of proprietary documents as he hit the exit. And they want it all back.
Federal Judge Juan Sanchez in the Eastern District Pennsylvania court issued an injunction on Tuesday prohibiting Chiao from doing any work on HAE or primary immune deficiency in his new job and demanding that he return any material from CSL that he may have in his possession. And he wants Pharming to tell its employees not to ask for any information on the forbidden topics.
For its part, Pharming fired off an indignant response this morning denying any involvement in extracting any kind of IP from CSL, adding that it’s cooperating in the internal probe that CSL has underway.

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