Moderna’s Ted Ashburn jumps to the helm at Oncorus; Arrowhead pockets $10M as Amgen doses first patient with its cardio drug

Oncorus, a Cambridge, MA-based biotech focused on oncolytic viruses, has snagged Moderna’s chief of oncology development for the helm. Ted Ashburn is taking the CEO’s spot while Oncorus’ co-founder and MPM Capital managing director Mitchell Finer will call the strategic shots as executive chairman. Ashburn got his MD at Harvard Med and went on to work at several big organizations, including Pfizer and Sanofi/Genzyme.

→ Almost two years after Amgen $AMGN sealed a cardio deal with Arrowhead Pharma $ARWR to bag what was then a preclinical asset, the biotech has received the first $10 million out of a potential $617 million in milestones. The payment follows the initiation of a Phase I study for AMG 890 (formerly ARO-LPA), the RNAi therapeutic Arrowhead had designed to slash lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a). “Importantly, AMG 890 represents the third drug candidate enabled by [Arrowhead’s tech platform] to enter clinical development this year, following ARO-AAT and ARO-HBV,” said Chris Anzalone, president and CEO of Pasadena, CA-based Arrowhead. Amgen also has an option to a second, undisclosed cardio program as part of the pact.

→ Theravance Biopharma $TBPH reported positive four-week data from a Phase II clinical trial testing TD-9855, a once-daily norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitor, in patients with symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension, a rare disorder characterized by low blood pressure when a person stands up. The Cayman Islands company, which has offices in San Francisco and Dublin, said the drug showed durable improvements in symptom severity after four weeks of treatment with TD-9855. Phase III trials are expected to start in late 2017 or Q1 of 2019. Theravance’s stock is up 9% Wednesday morning as of press time.

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VP Oncology Biology
Skyhawk Therapeutics Waltham, MA
Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT

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