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.

Deborah Dunsire. Lundbeck

UP­DAT­ED: Deb­o­rah Dun­sire is pay­ing $2B for a chance to leap di­rect­ly in­to a block­buster show­down with a few of the world's biggest phar­ma gi­ants

A year after taking the reins as CEO of Lundbeck, Deborah Dunsire is making a bold bid to beef up the Danish biotech’s portfolio of drugs in what will likely be a direct leap into an intense rivalry with a group of giants now carving up a growing market for new migraine drugs.

Bright and early European time Monday morning the company announced that it will pay up to about $2 billion to buy Alder, a little biotech that is far along the path in developing a quarterly IV formulation of a CGRP drug aimed at cutting back the number of crippling migraines patients experience each month. In a followup call, Dunsire also noted that the company will likely need 200 to 250 reps for this marketing task on both sides of the Atlantic. And analysts were quick to note that the dealmaking at Lundbeck isn’t done, with another $2 billion to $3 billion available for more deals to beef up the pipeline.

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Tower Bridge in London [Shutterstock]

#UK­BIO19: Join GSK’s Hal Bar­ron and a group of top biotech ex­ecs for our 2nd an­nu­al biotech sum­mit in Lon­don

Over the past 10 years I’ve made a point of getting to know the Golden Triangle and the special role the UK biopharma industry plays there in drug development. The concentration of world class research institutes, some of the most accomplished scientists I’ve ever seen at work and a rising tide of global investment cash leaves an impression that there’s much, much more to come as biotech hubs are birthed and nurtured.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Ac­celeron drops a de­vel­op­ment pro­gram as #2 drug fails to spark func­tion­al ben­e­fits in pa­tients with a rare neu­ro­mus­cu­lar ail­ment

Acceleron is scrapping a muscular dystrophy development program underway for its number 2 drug in the pipeline after pouring over some failed mid-stage secondary data.

Gone is the ACE-083 project in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Their drug hit the primary endpoint on building muscle but flopped on key secondaries for functional improvements in patients, which execs felt was vital to the drug’s success.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb has a new board po­si­tion to add to the re­sume — and this one is fo­cused on a fa­vorite sub­ject

Scott Gottlieb has another position to add to his lengthy roster of boards and advisory roles in the wake of his departure from the helm of the FDA.

He’ll be joining the advisory board of FasterCures, a think tank which former junk bond king Michael Milken set up to help drive more drugs to the market, looking to accelerate drug R&D. That’s a subject close to the heart of Gottlieb, who blazed a trail at the FDA focused on hustling up the process. That helped endear him to the industry, making him one of the most popular commissioners in FDA history.

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Karyopharm lines up $150 mil­lion cash in­jec­tion to back con­tro­ver­sial drug launch

Karyopharm has entered into a royalty agreement worth up to $150 million to back the launch of their multiple myeloma drug — recently approved by the FDA over the objections of a majority of the agency’s outside experts.

The deal with HealthCare Royalty Partners, worth $75 million now and $75 million once certain regulatory and commercial milestones have been reached, will fund the commercialization of Karyopharm’s oral SINE compound Xpovio (selinexor) for patients with multiple myeloma who have already had at least four prior therapies. The money will help Karyopharm as it markets its newly approved drug and pushes through clinical trials testing the drug on refractory multiple myeloma patients with one to three therapies and patients with treatment-resistant diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. It will give Karyopharm a cushion through mid-2021.

Af­ter a run of CT­LA-4 com­bo fail­ures, sci­en­tists spot­light a way to make it work — in se­lect pa­tients

CTLA-4/PD-(L)1 combinations have been one of the El Dorados of oncology, its promise forever behind that next hill but apparently unattainable after a series of pivotal clinical failures. But researchers at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Technical University of Munich think they may know how to fix what’s wrong and boost the drive to next-gen cancer combos.

In a preclinical animal research program, researchers found that within a cell, checkpoints rely on a specific molecule — RNA-sensing molecule RIG-I — to work. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it has already been identified as a target for boosting immune responses and was subject to at least one Phase I/II trial. Pfizer in December allied itself with Kineta with $15 million upfront and $505 million in potential milestones to develop RIG-I immunotherapies, and three years ago Merck purchased German upstart Rigontec for $137 million upfront and over $400 million in potential milestones for the same purpose.

Pur­due Phar­ma files for bank­rupt­cy as first step in $10B opi­oid set­tle­ment

It’s settled. Purdue Pharma has filed for bankruptcy as part of a deal that would see the OxyContin maker hand over $10 billion in cash and other contributions to mitigate the opioid crisis — without acknowledging any wrongdoing in the protracted epidemic that’s resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The announcement came two weeks after news of a proposed settlement surfaced and largely confirm what’s already been reported.

Lisa M. DeAngelis, MSKCC

MSK picks brain can­cer ex­pert Lisa DeAn­ge­lis as its next CMO — fol­low­ing José Basel­ga’s con­tro­ver­sial ex­it

It’s official. Memorial Sloan Kettering has picked a brain cancer expert as its new physician-in-chief and CMO, replacing José Baselga, who left under a cloud after being singled out by The New York Times and ProPublica for failing to properly air his lucrative industry ties.

His replacement, who now will be in charge of MSK’s cutting-edge research work as well as the cancer care delivered by hundreds of practitioners, is Lisa M. DeAngelis. DeAngelis had been chair of the neurology department and co-founder of MSK’s brain tumor center and was moved in to the acting CMO role in the wake of Baselga’s departure.