Charles Ban­croft makes quick leap from Bris­tol My­ers ex­ec team to GSK; Medicxi adds two new part­ners to its team

Charles Ban­croft

→ Just a few days af­ter Bris­tol My­ers re­port­ed that Charles Ban­croft had “re­tired” from the ex­ec­u­tive team, he’s made a quick ca­reer shift to the board at Glax­o­SmithK­line. GSK re­port­ed to­day that Ban­croft is tak­ing a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor post at the gi­ant phar­ma out­fit. He’s slat­ed to chair GSK’s au­dit & risk com­mit­tee. Ban­croft has ex­ten­sive com­mer­cial and strat­e­gy ex­pe­ri­ence in the busi­ness.

Eu­ro­pean in­vest­ment firm Medicxi has tapped San­ford (Sandy) Zweifach and Paul Sekhri as ven­ture part­ners. Zweifach is cur­rent­ly chair­man of Pal­la­dio Bio­sciences and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Jan­pix — both port­fo­lio com­pa­nies of Medicxi. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Zweifach was the CEO and co-founder of Nu­ve­la­tion Phar­ma and As­cen­dan­cy Health­care. Sekhri, one of the best con­nect­ed ex­ecs in bio­phar­ma, is the pres­i­dent and CEO of eGe­n­e­sis and has pre­vi­ous­ly served as pres­i­dent and CEO of Lyc­era, as well as chief strat­e­gy of­fi­cer for Te­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals In­dus­tries and CBO and pres­i­dent of ARI­AD Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. As End­points News re­cent­ly re­port­ed, Sekhri has al­so al­lied him­self with ex-No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez, who’s been rais­ing mon­ey for a new ven­ture.

Paul Sekhri, Medicxi

→ Pe­ter Linde has been named CMO at Mass­a­chu­setts-based Mor­phic Ther­a­peu­tic, a bio­phar­ma do­ing work re­volv­ing around oral in­te­grin ther­a­pies out of Tim Springer’s lab at Har­vard. Linde will over­see de­vel­op­ment of small mol­e­cule in­te­grin in­hibitors as Mor­phic ad­vances its oral in­te­grin in­hibitors to­ward clin­i­cal tri­als. Be­fore join­ing Mor­phic, Linde was at Ac­celeron as VP, med­ical re­search and Ab­b­Vie as glob­al project leader, de­vel­op­ment.

Along with open­ing an of­fice in Boston, Gaithers­burg, MD-based Sen­sei Bio­ther­a­peu­tics has named Robert Pierce as CSO. Pierce joins the com­pa­ny from the Fred Hutchin­son Can­cer Re­search Cen­ter, where he served as sci­en­tif­ic di­rec­tor of the im­munopathol­o­gy lab in the clin­i­cal re­search di­vi­sion. Pri­or to that, Pierce was CSO of On­coSec Med­ical and held a post at Mer­ck de­vel­op­ing tis­sue-based bio­mark­er ap­proach­es for Mer­ck’s Keytru­da.

Pe­ter Linde

Cy­to­Dyn, de­vel­op­ing CCR5 an­tag­o­nist leron­limab (PRO 140), has en­list­ed Ja­cob Lalezari as in­ter­im CMO. Lalezari is cur­rent­ly lead­ing the com­pa­ny’s prepa­ra­tions to ini­ti­ate a coro­n­avirus clin­i­cal tri­al. Cur­rent­ly, Lalezari is the CEO and di­rec­tor of Quest Clin­i­cal Re­search.

→ Changes abound at Leap Ther­a­peu­tics, which fo­cus­es on im­muno-on­col­o­gy, with Chris Mirabel­li step­ping down as pres­i­dent and CEO. He will be re­placed by Dou­glas On­si, who will al­so stay on as Leap’s CFO. In oth­er reshuf­fling, John Lit­tlechild has stepped down from the board of di­rec­tors, Cyn­thia Sir­ard has been pro­mot­ed to CMO and Mark O’Ma­ho­ny has been pro­mot­ed to chief man­u­fac­tur­ing of­fi­cer. Sir­ard and O’Ma­ho­ny were for­mer­ly VP, clin­i­cal R&D and VP, man­u­fac­tur­ing at Leap, re­spec­tive­ly.

→ AI biotech Re­cur­sion, which added a $121 mil­lion C round last sum­mer, has wel­comed Shafique Vi­rani as its chief cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, serv­ing as both CBO and CEO of its new­ly-cre­at­ed De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion. Vi­rani will lead the in­ter­nal de­vel­op­ment of Re­cur­sion’s three clin­i­cal-stage as­sets. In a ca­reer in drug de­vel­op­ment that be­gan at Roche in 2004, he most re­cent­ly was the CEO of Navire Phar­ma and CoA Ther­a­peu­tics.

Shafique Vi­rani

Sasha Damouni El­lis has been ap­point­ed VP, in­vestor re­la­tions and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Penn­syl­va­nia-based Mar­i­nus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which fo­cus­es on the de­vel­op­ment of ther­a­peu­tics to treat or­phan seizure dis­or­ders. Damouni El­lis comes to Mar­i­nus from Bay­er, where she was the phar­ma gi­ant’s US di­rec­tor of ex­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tions and me­dia re­la­tions.

→ Cal­i­for­nia-based in­vest­ment man­ag­er Sofinno­va In­vest­ments has brought Jonathan Leff in­to the fold as ex­ec­u­tive part­ner. Leff’s ex­per­tise ranges from tar­get iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to FDA ap­proval and com­mer­cial­iza­tion. For­mer­ly the EVP, re­search and de­vel­op­ment at In­ter­Mune and the CMO at Kalo­Bios Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Leff al­so spent time at Roche, Mer­ck and Am­gen.

→ Deal savvy Zymeworks — who has had part­ner­ships with Cel­gene, BeiGene and J&J in the past — has wel­comed Kelvin Neu to its board of di­rec­tors. Neu is a part­ner at Bak­er Bros. Ad­vi­sors.

Bob Nelsen at the Milken Institute Global Conference on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

ARCH chief Bob Nelsen has $1.5B to prove 2 sim­ple points: ‘We’re in the most in­no­v­a­tive time ever’ and in­vestors are stay­ing

ARCH co-founder and managing director Bob Nelsen has a well known yen for the home run swing, betting big on potentially transformative meds and tech and the biotech teams he helps bring together. He thrives and bleeds on the cutting edge. And now Nelsen and the ARCH group have debuted 2 big funds to prove that this is the time for the best of biotech to shine — deadly pandemic be damned.

Two new funds, ARCH Venture Fund X and ARCH Venture Fund X Overage, gathered a combined $1.46 billion. And that’s a record. ARCH Venture Fund IX and ARCH Venture Fund IX Overage closed in 2016 with a combined $1.1 billion. ARCH Venture Fund VIII and ARCH Venture Fund VIII Overage closed in 2014 with a combined $560 million.

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Aaron Royston, venBio

In­vest­ing in the time of coro­n­avirus: the good, the bad and the hope­ful, as biotech VC firms close funds worth $3B

Apart from disrupting biopharma R&D and regulatory timelines, the coronavirus pandemic has inevitably ravaged financial markets and eroded investor risk appetite. Investing in the time of coronavirus feels reckless, but if biotech venture funds are any indication, the time is ripe.

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Covid-19 roundup: No­var­tis, In­cyte pitch Jakafi PhI­II to tack­le se­vere cas­es; Is coro­n­avirus spread­ing like measles?

Novartis, which has so far taken a supporting role in the global R&D campaign against Covid-19, is stepping up to launch its own clinical trial. Together with Incyte, the Swiss pharma giant will test their partnered Jakafi in patients who experience cytokine storm as a result of the coronavirus infection.

Marketed as Jakavi outside of the US, the JAK1/2 inhibitor is a blockbuster product that’s already approved for a number of cancers and graft versus host disease. Incyte noted that many Covid-19 patients with severe respiratory disease appear to have “increased activation of the JAK-STAT pathway.” Novartis added that preclinical evidence and preliminary reports form independent studies support their decision to go ahead with a Phase III.

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J&J gives pi­o­neer­ing stem cell biotech its first Big Phar­ma deal, part­ner­ing on iP­SC CAR-T and CAR-NK

Late last summer, one of the earliest stem cell therapy companies got two government decisions in the span of three weeks: The USPTO granted them a patent for iPSC-derived CAR-T cells, and then the FDA cleared them for their first-in-human CAR-NK trial.

Yesterday, the two technologies landed them an up-to $3.1 billion deal.

Fate Therapeutics and J&J announced a global collaboration that will pay Fate $100 million upfront and a trove of potential milestones to develop multiple CAR-T and CAR-NK therapies. It’s the first Big Pharma partnership Fate has announced in their 13-year existence and the largest, although at least one longtime follower thought they could have landed more.

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Drug dis­cov­ery in the age of coro­n­avirus

Developing new drugs is incredibly hard. That’s why, despite superhuman efforts from the industry, we’re still looking at 12-18 months minimum before we can realistically hope for a vaccine for Covid-19, and probably months before there’s a proven viable drug treatment.

But our increasing ability to begin to industrialize the drug discovery and development process through an engineering approach means that we have more hope for speeding up this process than ever before — and not just to defeat coronavirus, but to benefit the development of all new medicines in the future.

UP­DAT­ED: Have a new drug that promis­es to fight Covid-19? The FDA promis­es fast ac­tion but some de­vel­op­ers aren't hap­py

After providing an emergency approval to use malaria drugs against coronavirus with little actual evidence of their efficacy or safety in that setting, the FDA has already proven that it has set aside the gold standard when it comes to the pandemic. And now regulators have spelled out a new approach to speeding development that promises immediate responses in no uncertain terms — promising a program offering the ultimate high-speed pathway to Covid-19 drug approvals.

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Once fu­ri­ous over No­var­tis’ da­ta ma­nip­u­la­tion scan­dal, the FDA now says it’s noth­ing they need to take ac­tion on

Back in the BP era — Before Pandemic — the FDA ripped Novartis for its decision to keep the agency in the dark about manipulated data used in its application for Zolgensma while its marketing application for the gene therapy was under review.

Civil and criminal sanctions were being discussed, the agency noted in a rare broadside at one of the world’s largest pharma companies. Notable lawmakers cheered the angry regulators on, urging the FDA to make an example of Novartis, which fielded Zolgensma at $2.1 million — the current record for a one-off therapy.

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Covid-19 roundup: GSK, Am­gen tai­lor R&D work to fit the coro­n­avirus age; Doud­na's ge­nomics crew launch­es di­ag­nos­tic lab

You can add Amgen and GSK to the list of deep-pocket drug R&D players who are tailoring their pipeline work to fit a new age of coronavirus.

Following in the footsteps of a lineup of big players like Eli Lilly — which has suspended patient recruitment for drug studies — Amgen and GSK have opted to take a more tailored approach. Amgen is intent on circling the wagons around key studies that are already fully enrolled, and GSK has the red light on new studies while the pandemic plays out.

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In a stun­ning set­back, Amarin los­es big patent fight over Vas­cepa IP. And its high-fly­ing stock crash­es to earth

Amarin’s shares $AMRN were blitzed Monday evening, losing billions in value as reports spread that the company had lost its high-profile effort to keep its Vascepa patents protected from generic drugmakers.

Amarin had been fighting to keep key patents under lock and key — and away from generic rivals — for another 10 years, but District Court Judge Miranda Du in Las Vegas ruled against the biotech. She ruled that:
(A)ll the Asserted Claims are invalid as obvious under 35 U.S.C.§ 103. Thus, the Court finds in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s remaining infringementclaim, and in their favor on their counterclaims asserting the invalidity of the AssertedClaims under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

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