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.

The Times cov­er­age not­ed that DeAn­ge­lis sought to as­sure staffers that MSK rec­og­nized their con­cerns, but added that she was quick to high­light any up­beat news about their ac­com­plish­ments, in­clud­ing the ap­proval of Vi­t­rakvi — which they played a role in — and their han­dling of Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg’s can­cer care.

Craig Thomp­son MSKCC

“Her ex­per­tise and unique un­der­stand­ing of MSK’s mis­sion make her the ide­al per­son to lead MSK’s clin­i­cal en­ter­prise in­to the fu­ture,” said MSK CEO Craig Thomp­son in a state­ment.

It al­so se­cures a promi­nent po­si­tion at one of the most high-pro­file re­search cen­ters in the world, where in­ves­ti­ga­tors have played a big role in the rapid­ly evolv­ing world of can­cer drug re­search.

Al­most ex­act­ly a year ago, Basel­ga was swept up in con­tro­ver­sy when The Times pub­lished a sto­ry out­lin­ing fre­quent cas­es when he ig­nored list­ing his ex­ten­sive ties to the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try. Soon af­ter the sto­ry hit he bowed out of MSK as well as the board of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, and then a few months lat­er was back as the new can­cer R&D chief at As­traZeneca, which has been mak­ing ma­jor strides with its on­col­o­gy group. 

Though con­tro­ver­sial at the time, Basel­ga al­so re­ceived con­sid­er­able sup­port for his stance that he hadn’t in­tend­ed to de­ceive any­one, and of­ten de­light­ed in dis­cussing the same high-pro­file ties that he ne­glect­ed to list when nec­es­sary. As for MSK, the em­bar­rass­ment of be­ing in the crosshairs of The Times trig­gered a wide-rang­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which de­ter­mined that many of its re­searchers had done the same. And the aca­d­e­m­ic re­search cen­ter adopt­ed new rules bar­ring top ex­ecs from sit­ting on the boards of for-prof­it com­pa­nies.

That led Thomp­son to cut his ties to Mer­ck’s board, which paid about $300,000 a year.

DeAn­ge­lis will have plen­ty to do with­out the high-lev­el in­dus­try ties that once came with her po­si­tion.

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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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 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 for a CGRP drug aimed at cutting back the number of crippling migraines patients experience each month.

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Penn team adapts CAR-T tech, reengi­neer­ing mouse cells to treat car­diac fi­bro­sis

After establishing itself as one of the pioneer research centers in the world for CAR-T cancer therapies, creating new attack vehicles to eradicate cancer cells, a team at Penn Medicine has begun the tricky transition of using the basic technology for heart repair work.

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Tal Zaks. Moderna

The mR­NA uni­corn Mod­er­na has more ear­ly-stage hu­man da­ta it wants to show off — reach­ing new peaks in prov­ing the po­ten­tial

The whole messenger RNA field has attracted billions of dollars in public and private investor cash gambled on the prospect of getting in on the ground floor. And this morning Boston-based Moderna, one of the leaders in the field, wants to show off a few more of the cards it has to play to prove to you that they’re really in the game.

The whole hand, of course, has yet to be dealt. And there’s no telling who gets to walk with a share of the pot. But any cards on display at this point — especially after being accused of keeping its deck under lock and key — will attract plenty of attention from some very wary, and wired, observers.

“In terms of the complexity and unmet need,” says Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer, “this is peak for what we’ve accomplished.”

Moderna has two Phase I studies it wants to talk about now.

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It's not per­fect, but it's a good start: FDA pan­elists large­ly en­dorse Aim­mune's peanut al­ler­gy ther­a­py

Two days after a fairly benign review from FDA staff, an independent panel of experts largely endorsed the efficacy and safety of Aimmune’s peanut allergy therapy, laying the groundwork for approval with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS).

Traditionally, peanut allergies are managed by avoidance, but the threat of accidental exposure cannot be nullified. Some allergists have devised a way to dose patients off-label with peanut protein derived from supermarket products to wean them off their allergies. But the idea behind Aimmune’s product was to standardize the peanut protein, and track the process of desensitization — so when accidental exposure in the real world invariably occurs, patients are less likely to experience a life-threatening allergic reaction.

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Rit­ter bombs fi­nal PhI­II for sole lac­tose in­tol­er­ance drug — shares plum­met

More than two years ago Ritter Pharmaceuticals managed to find enough silver lining in its Phase IIb/III study — after missing the top-line mark — to propel its lactose intolerance toward a confirmatory trial. But as it turned out, the enthusiasm only set the biotech and its investors up to be sorely disappointed.

This time around there’s little left to salvage. Not only did RP-G28 fail to beat placebo in reducing lactose intolerance symptoms, patients in the treatment group actually averaged a smaller improvement. On a composite score measuring symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, bloating and gas, patients given the drug had a mean reduction of 3.159 while the placebo cohort saw a 3.420 drop on average (one-sided p-value = 0.0106).

Ear­ly snap­shot of Ad­verum's eye gene ther­a­py sparks con­cern about vi­sion loss

An early-stage update on Adverum Biotechnologies’ intravitreal gene therapy has triggered investor concern, after patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) saw their vision deteriorate, despite signs that the treatment is improving retinal anatomy.

Adverum, on Wednesday, unveiled 24-week data from the OPTIC trial of its experimental therapy, ADVM-022, in six patients who have been administered with one dose of the therapy. On average, patients in the trial had severe disease with an average of 6.2 anti-VEGF injections in the eight months prior to screening and an average annualized injection frequency of 9.3 injections.

Alex Ar­faei trades his an­a­lyst's post for a new role as biotech VC; Sanofi vet heads to Vi­for

Too often, Alex Arfaei arrived too late. 

An analyst at BMO Capital Markets, he’d meet with biotech or pharmaceutical heads for their IPO or secondary funding and his brain, trained on a biology degree and six years at Merck and Endo, would spring with questions: Why this biomarker? Why this design? Why not this endpoint? Not that he could do anything about it. These execs were coming for clinical money; their decisions had been made and finalized long ago.

Arde­lyx bags its first FDA OK for IBS, set­ting up a show­down with Al­ler­gan, Iron­wood

In the first of what it hopes will be a couple of major regulatory milestones for its new drug, Ardelyx has bagged an FDA approval to market Ibsrela (tenapanor) for irritable bowel syndrome.

The drug’s first application will be for IBS with constipation (IBS-C), inhibiting sodium-hydrogen exchanger NHE3 in the GI tract in such a way as to increase bowel movements and decrease abdominal pain. This comes on the heels of two successful Phase III trials.