Magenta's R&D head hits the exit just weeks after reading out mid-stage data for lead therapy, eyeing clinic for another
Cambridge, MA-based Magenta Therapeutics has had a mostly quiet few years as it steers its stem cell transplant hopefuls through early-stage human trials. For the past three years, that early clinical work was headed up by Pfizer veteran John Davis — but now, Davis is taking off right as the biotech’s lead drug preps for a late-stage test.
Davis, Magenta’s CMO and head of R&D, will leave the company as a full-time employee no later than July 30 for “family reasons,” leaving the biotech on the hunt for its next clinical lead, according to an SEC filing.
Davis joined up with Magenta in February 2018, coming aboard pedigreed with past work as head of early clinical development at Pfizer and formerly global area head of immunology at Baxalta. Davis also led early clinical work at Genentech in the inflammation and CV/metabolism group.
After the brief transition period, Davis will remain on Magenta’s scientific advisory board, helping steer the company’s stem cell transplant and gene therapy efforts, Magenta said. The biotech noted in the filing that “Davis’ departure was not related to any disagreements with the Company on any matter relating to its operations, policies, practices or any issues regarding financial disclosures, accounting or legal matters.”
As part of the departure, Magenta expects to cut a deal with Davis paying him during the transition, according to the filing, with all the usual confidentiality and non-solicitation handshakes attached.
It’s unfortunate timing for Magenta, which just wrapped a Phase II multiple myeloma study on one of its lead therapies, CXCR2 agonist MGTA-145, alongside bone marrow stimulant plerixafor for stem cell collection and mobilization prior to conditioning. Preliminary findings from that study released this month showed 10 out of 10 patients dosed with the combo met the primary endpoint for stem cell mobilization and collection, and all six transplanted patients successfully engrafted as of the data cutoff date, Magenta said.
The multiple myeloma study for autologous stem cells is a partnership with Stanford University, and follow-up results are expected at ASCO next month.
Meanwhile, the biotech also outlined plans this month to bring another program into the clinic after discussions with the FDA. That therapy, MGTA-117, will be tested as a conditioning regiment for transplants in patients with relapsed/refractory AML and MDS.
Conditioning is the phase of stem cell transplants in which patients’ bone marrow and sometimes immune cells are removed to make way for the transplant. Magenta thinks MGTA-117, if proven successful, could eventually replace high-intensity chemotherapy, which is the standard of care in conditioning patients for a transplant.