Maze in­ter­im chief Charles Hom­cy pass­es ba­ton to Ja­son Colo­ma; William Col­lier tapped as CEO of Ar­bu­tus

Ja­son Colo­ma Third Rock

→ Four months in­to Maze Ther­a­peu­tics’ launch, Charles Hom­cy is pass­ing the start­up’s reins to an­oth­er Third Rock col­league. Ja­son Colo­ma, the cur­rent COO, is leav­ing his role at the VC firm to be­come full-time CEO on a mis­sion to trans­late ge­net­ic in­sights in­to new med­i­cines. Equipped with a whop­ping $191 mil­lion with sup­port from Arch, Maze’s big idea is to find and tar­get ge­net­ic mod­i­fiers that play a role in Mendelian dis­eases caused by an­oth­er gene. Colo­ma, a Roche/Genen­tech vet sea­soned in busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, was CBO at Corvus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals be­fore join­ing Third Rock in 2017.

Ar­bu­tus Bio­phar­ma has scooped William Col­lier from Vi­iV Health­care to suc­ceed Mark Mur­ray, who says it’s an op­por­tune time for him to re­tire con­sid­er­ing “the ef­fec­tive con­sol­i­da­tion of Ar­bu­tus’s op­er­a­tions and sci­en­tif­ic team in Warmin­ster, Penn­syl­va­nia, a pipeline fo­cused on a com­bi­na­tion ther­a­peu­tic reg­i­men to cure HBV, and a clear strate­gic busi­ness plan in place.” A Glax­o­SmithK­line vet, Col­lier spent the past nine years man­ag­ing Vi­iV’s North Amer­i­can op­er­a­tions, with launch­es for HIV, her­pes and bac­te­r­i­al in­fec­tions treat­ments un­der his belt.

Michael Stein Va­lo

Michael Stein has tran­si­tioned to the full-time CEO role at Va­lo Ther­a­peu­tics, which is look­ing to com­bine two ap­proach­es in can­cer im­munother­a­py: On­colyt­ic virus­es coat­ed with tu­mor-spe­cif­ic pep­tides. Stein has been serv­ing as Va­lo’s part-time co-chair­man since the biotech was spun out of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Helsin­ki in Jan­u­ary 2017. One of his most no­table achieve­ments was break­ing the UK record for a seed round as CEO of Ox­ford spin­out OxStem, a re­gen­er­a­tive med­i­cine com­pa­ny. His oth­er stints in­clude co-found­ing soft­ware start­up Map of Med­i­cine; it was lat­er sold to In­for­ma and then Hearst, where he land­ed an EVP role.

Robert For­rester Ve­rastem

Robert For­rester is step­ping down as CEO of Ve­rastem On­col­o­gy $VSTM just 8 months af­ter the com­pa­ny nabbed an ap­proval for du­velis­ib, a PI3K drug with a sto­ried past — and what ap­pears as not much of a fu­ture. The biotech put out word this morn­ing that For­rester will take an ad­vi­so­ry role with Ve­rastem while COO Dan Pa­ter­son steps up to take charge of the lead­er­ship team and the board looks around for a new CEO. The com­pa­ny says it will search for a new chief with sub­stan­tial com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

→ As N8 Med­ical moves its an­ti-in­fec­tive drug/de­vice in­to the clin­ic, it’s tapped Biocodex vet Marc Rohman as CEO. Laud­ed for his track record in launch­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar med­i­cine and in­ter­ven­tion­al de­vices, Rohman is now tasked with plan­ning the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of N8’s plat­forms, which are de­signed to pre­vent com­pli­ca­tions caused by oth­er med­ical de­vices such as ven­ti­la­tors by de­liv­er­ing a class of syn­thet­ic mol­e­cules dubbed cer­a­genins.

Dar­lene Dep­tu­la-Hicks Linkedin

→ While mov­ing in­to an of­fice in Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts will grow their fi­nan­cial, clin­i­cal and reg­u­la­to­ry pres­ence in the US, the an­ti­body de­sign ex­perts at the UK’s F-star Ther­a­peu­tics have added Dar­lene Dep­tu­la-Hicks to their team. As CFO, Dep­tu­la-Hicks will lead a tran­si­tion in­to the clin­i­cal stage — the biotech re­cent­ly be­gan test­ing its lead bis­pe­cif­ic in can­cer pa­tients — and po­ten­tial­ly the pub­lic mar­ket, if chief Eliot Forster gets his way turn­ing the biotech in­to a heavy­weight play­er. Jump­ing from North­ern Bi­o­log­ics, she suc­ceeds Tol­ga Has­san, who will tran­si­tion to a COO po­si­tion.

→ In a sign of just how se­ri­ous it is about in­ter­nal drug de­vel­op­ment, Schrödinger has wooed ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ecs from Mer­ck and Ei­sai to its pre­clin­i­cal and trans­la­tion­al re­search team. Dun­can Hamish Wright is join­ing as VP of trans­la­tion­al sci­ence, while George Lai will lead trans­la­tion­al PK/PD and drug me­tab­o­lism with a se­nior di­rec­tor ti­tle. While the com­pa­ny has his­tor­i­cal­ly been known for the drug dis­cov­ery and de­sign ser­vices it pro­vides to bio­phar­ma clients — us­ing a physics-based mol­e­c­u­lar mod­el­ing plat­form — chief bio­med­ical sci­en­tist Karen Akin­sanya is now spear­head­ing an ef­fort to build a whol­ly-owned pipeline, be­gin­ning with on­col­o­gy.

Sharath Hegde Busi­ness Wire

Re­cur­sion wel­comed Ther­a­vance vet Sharath Hegde to its team as CSO. At Ther­a­vance, Hegde served as its SVP and head of re­search. Dur­ing his 15-year stint at Ther­a­vance, Hegde par­tic­i­pat­ed in the dis­cov­ery of sev­er­al NCEs — in­clud­ing Yu­pel­ri and Vi­ba­tiv. Hegde had a pre­vi­ous stint at Syn­tex.

Nov­aBay Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — fo­cus­ing on com­mer­cial­iz­ing Aven­o­va for the do­mes­tic eye care mar­ket — has tapped Justin Hall as pres­i­dent and CEO and brought on Ja­son Raleigh as its CFO — both have served in in­ter­im po­si­tions since March 2019. Hall has been with the com­pa­ny for six years and Raleigh for more than three.

→ CMO Phar­is Mo­hideen is part­ing ways with Mil­len­do Ther­a­peu­tics  — de­vel­op­ing treat­ments for or­phan en­docrine dis­eases — to be clos­er to his fam­i­ly in New Jer­sey. A search for a new CMO is un­der­way and in the mean­time, SVP of de­vel­op­ment, Ryan Zei­dan, will help over­see the med­ical func­tion dur­ing the in­ter­im pe­ri­od as well as con­tin­u­ing with his own func­tions.

Teri Hei­land Im­mu­nom­ic

Teri Hei­land is mov­ing up the ranks at Im­mu­nom­ic Ther­a­peu­tics. She has been pro­mot­ed to the role of CSO at the com­pa­ny. Hei­land — a co-founder of the com­pa­ny — has ex­per­tise in DNA vac­cine de­sign. Pri­or to join­ing Im­mu­nom­ic, Hei­land was one of the founders at Mary­land-based bio­mark­er and drug dis­cov­ery com­pa­ny, Cap­i­tal Genomix, where she served as VP of re­search and de­vel­op­ment. She al­so served as a prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor on over $2M in grants from the De­part­ment of De­fense and NI­AID.

Abzena — spe­cial­iz­ing in ADC drug de­vel­op­ment ser­vices — has made two new ad­di­tions to its lead­er­ship team: An­drew Kraus as Chief Tech­nol­o­gy Of­fi­cer and Philip Payne as CMO.

Kraus “will im­ple­ment ad­vanced tech­nol­o­gy so­lu­tions to fur­ther en­hance da­ta in­tegri­ty con­trols, reg­u­la­to­ry com­pli­ance and ef­fec­tive elec­tron­ic da­ta shar­ing. He will al­so over­see a range of plat­forms to sup­port glob­al op­er­a­tions in­clud­ing Elec­tron­ic Lab­o­ra­to­ry Note­book and En­ter­prise Re­source Plan­ning sys­tems.” His pre­vi­ous stints in­clude serv­ing at Bio­Clin­i­ca, ICON Clin­i­cal Re­search and the Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Re­search Foun­da­tion. Payne “will lead glob­al busi­ness de­vel­op­ment with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on grow­ing the com­pa­ny’s busi­ness in the Eu­ro­pean and UK re­gions.” He joins the com­pa­ny from stints at Con­cept Life Sci­ences, Ap­tu­it and Catal­ent Phar­ma So­lu­tions.

Nkechi Azie Linkedin

SCYNEX­IS tapped Nkechi Azie as vice pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. In his new role, Azie will lead clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and strength­en med­ical af­fairs ef­forts in an­tic­i­pa­tion of ibrex­a­fungerp’s — an an­ti­fun­gal agent in Phase III clin­i­cal and pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for the treat­ment of in­va­sive fun­gal in­fec­tions caused by Can­di­da, As­pergillus and Pneu­mo­cys­tis species po­ten­tial ap­proval and com­mer­cial launch.

Pri­or to join­ing SCYNEX­IS, Azie served as SVP of med­ical af­fairs at The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny. Her oth­er stints in­clude serv­ing as se­nior di­rec­tor of med­ical af­fairs at Astel­las Phar­ma — where she was re­spon­si­ble for the an­ti­fun­gal fran­chise in­clud­ing mi­ca­fun­gin and isavu­cona­zole — and di­rec­tor of an­ti-in­fec­tive clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for Pfiz­er.

→ CRO George Clin­i­cal brought on Meel­ian Hoh on to its ex­ec­u­tive team as CFO. Hoh joins from Mi­tel, where she served as fi­nance di­rec­tor for the Asia-Pa­cif­ic re­gion. Some of her pre­vi­ous stints in­clude gen­er­al man­ag­er – fi­nance at Kin­care, CFO for Pe­lion Group, and oth­er se­nior-lev­el po­si­tions at Bell­wether Phar­ma, No­var­tis and Pfiz­er/Phar­ma­cia.

Vlad Coric (Biohaven)

In an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment for in­vestors, FDA slaps down Bio­haven’s re­vised ver­sion of an old ALS drug

Biohaven is at risk of making a habit of disappointing its investors. 

Late Friday the biotech $BHVN reported that the FDA had rejected its application for riluzole, an old drug that they had made over into a sublingual formulation that dissolves under the tongue. According to Biohaven, the FDA had a problem with the active ingredient used in a bioequivalence study back in 2017, which they got from the Canadian drugmaker Apotex.

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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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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Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

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H1 analy­sis: The high-stakes ta­ble in the biotech deals casi­no is pay­ing out some record-set­ting win­nings

For years the big trend among dealmakers at the major players has been centered on ratcheting down upfront payments in favor of bigger milestones. Better known as biobucks for some. But with the top 15 companies competing for the kind of “transformative” pacts that can whip up some excitement on Wall Street, with some big biotechs like Regeneron now weighing in as well, cash is king at the high stakes table.

We asked Chris Dokomajilar, the head of DealForma, to crunch the numbers for us, looking over the top 20 deals for the past decade and breaking it all down into the top alliances already created in 2019. Gilead has clearly tipped the scales in terms of the coin of the bio-realm, with its record-setting $5 billion upfront to tie up to Galapagos’ entire pipeline.

Dokomajilar notes:

We’re going to need a ‘three comma club’ for the deals with over $1 billion in total upfront cash and equity. The $100 million-plus club is getting crowded at 164 deals in the last decade with new deals being added towards the top of the chart. 2019 already has 14 deals with at least $100 million in upfront cash and equity for a total year-to-date of over $9 billion. That beats last year’s $8 billion and sets a record.

Add upfronts and equity payments and you get $11.5 billion for the year, just shy of last year’s record-setting $11.8 billion.

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Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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