Microcap Aridis recruits Takeda vet Paul Mendelman to steer late-stage antibody programs in infectious diseases
A month ago one of Aridis Pharma’s anti-infective antibodies flunked a Phase II test in ventilator-associated pneumonia, forcing the team to abandon the program but leaving chief medical officer Wolfgang Dummer in charge of combing through the data for any insight. But now that responsibility will fall on Paul Mendelman, who’s stepping into the role on an interim capacity as Dummer leaves for personal reasons.
The recruitment of Mendelman — an alumni of Takeda Vaccines, MedImmune and Merck — spells good news for the microcap biotech, whose stock suffered a rout after last month’s setback. It’s up 19.5% to $7.11 this morning.
Despite the mid-stage failure of AR-105 (it failed to beat out a placebo and was associated with more deaths and serious adverse events, Mendelman voiced his confidence in Aridis’ approach of harvesting antibodies from patients who’ve managed to overcome infections on their own and deploying them as add-on treatments to the standard antibiotics.
His top priority will be to manage the ongoing Phase III for AR-301, which targets VAP caused by a different strain of bacteria: gram-positive S. aureus alpha-toxin.
“His expertise comes at a critical juncture for the company given we are advancing multiple clinical programs, including our lead Phase 3 antibody program, AR-301, which can benefit from additional infectious disease expertise particularly in critical care (ICU) settings,” CEO Vu Truong said in a statement.
While Dummer’s stint at the San Francisco company — which followed roles at Genentech and BioMarin — was relatively short, it was an eventful one year and eight months that saw an IPO and the advancement of several other programs, including one for cystic fibrosis.