MIT’s fabled billionaire scientist Robert Langer is stepping in to offer a key assist to Ovid CEO Jeremy Levin
Jeremy Levin’s biotech startup Ovid suffered a crippling blow late last year when the CEO was forced to concede that the critics were right all along and his lead drug was a bust in a late-stage test. But he’s gained an important assist in getting back up again and refocusing on other drugs in the pipeline.
Fabled MIT investigator and serial entrepreneur Robert Langer has signed on to chair the scientific board for Ovid, offering some guidance a day after Levin officially iced both programs for OV101. Ovid licensed out their second drug in the pipeline to Takeda, leaving a preclinical effort in place for a slate of drugs that includes OV882, a short hairpin RNA therapy targeting UBE3A gene expression in neurons.
It turns out, that’s a sweet spot for Langer, one of the most decorated scientists in the drug hunting business. I asked Langer about it via email. His reply:
I’ve always been interested in brain diseases. I hate to see people suffer. So if I can help – even a little – that’s really important to me. I’ve also been very impressed with Jeremy – ever since I spent time with him in Israel a number of years ago – when I received the Wolf Prize in chemistry and he was CEO of Teva.
Anyone even slightly familiar with biotech will recognize Langer’s name. From his perch at MIT he’s helped start more than 30 biotechs, often helmed by one of his postdocs. He was an early backer of Moderna’s, alongside Harvard scientist Tim Springer, acting as an academic co-founder of the mRNA upstart. And like Springer, he garnered an early stake in Moderna that has made him a billionaire.
That may not carry a lot of weight with investors, though. Ovid’s shares are down 4% after the opening bell on Tuesday.