On this Rare Dis­ease Day, let's all com­mit to help­ing rec­og­nize the life and work of biotech gi­ant Hen­ri A. Ter­meer

Last May the Cam­bridge com­mu­ni­ty and en­tire bio­phar­ma in­dus­try suf­fered a tremen­dous loss with the un­ex­pect­ed pass­ing of Hen­ri A. Ter­meer. Hen­ri was a for­mer chair­man, pres­i­dent and CEO of Gen­zyme Cor­po­ra­tion for near­ly three decades pri­or to its ac­qui­si­tion by the French drug mak­er Sanofi. Re­tir­ing from Gen­zyme in 2011, af­ter his 28-year tenure, Hen­ri led the com­pa­ny’s growth from a small start-up of 20 to 12,000 em­ploy­ees glob­al­ly serv­ing pa­tients in more than 90 coun­tries all while es­tab­lish­ing Mass­a­chu­setts as the mec­ca of biotech. He was known for his ser­vice to the rare dis­ease com­mu­ni­ty and his un­sur­passed en­tre­pre­neur­ial lead­er­ship that spurred the rise of an in­dus­try ded­i­cat­ed to in­no­v­a­tive treat­ments for or­phan dis­eases. Hen­ri set a stan­dard, al­ways putting pa­tients first, and he forged the path for build­ing a sus­tain­able rare dis­ease busi­ness, with many – in­clud­ing Al­ny­lam – fol­low­ing his foot­steps.  He was a men­tor, a col­league, and a friend.

John Maraganore

To hon­or Hen­ri’s lega­cy and cel­e­brate his many con­tri­bu­tions to the thriv­ing in­dus­try that he helped build, a num­ber of in­dus­try, aca­d­e­m­ic and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers have come to­geth­er to form the Hen­ri A. Ter­meer Trib­ute Com­mit­tee, which we have the priv­i­lege of co-chair­ing, work­ing close­ly with Be­lin­da and Adri­ana Ter­meer.

The fo­cus of every­thing Hen­ri did was to al­ways do what’s right for pa­tients. Fit­ting­ly, to­day on Rare Dis­ease Day, a time ded­i­cat­ed to rais­ing aware­ness for rare dis­eases and im­prov­ing ac­cess to treat­ment and med­ical rep­re­sen­ta­tion for in­di­vid­u­als with rare dis­eases and their fam­i­lies, we will be re-nam­ing a square in his hon­or as the “Hen­ri A. Ter­meer Square,” lo­cat­ed just op­po­site from the Gen­zyme Cen­ter in Kendall Square, Cam­bridge. To­day would have al­so been Hen­ri’s 72nd birth­day.

Robert Cough­lin

We have al­so com­mis­sioned renowned sculp­tor Pablo Ed­uar­do to cre­ate a life-size sculp­ture of Hen­ri to serve as a last­ing re­mem­brance of all he did for pa­tients, next gen­er­a­tion lead­ers and the com­mu­ni­ty – the sculp­ture will be in­stalled on the square in 2019.

Our cur­rent ef­forts and fu­ture ini­tia­tives fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of our biotech com­mu­ni­ty and on the men­tor­ship of fu­ture lead­ers are in­tend­ed to con­tin­ue Hen­ri’s re­mark­able lega­cy.

To learn more about these ef­forts, please vis­it ter­meer­tribute.org.

— John Maraganore and Robert Cough­lin


John Maraganore is the CEO of Al­ny­lam Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Robert Cough­lin is the pres­i­dent and CEO of Mass­Bio.


Im­age: Feb. 16, 2011: Hen­ri Ter­meer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Gen­zyme, lis­tens dur­ing a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the deal where France’s Sanofi-Aven­tis agreed to buy Ter­meer’s com­pa­ny, end­ing a nine-month pur­suit of Gen­zyme. Bloomberg via Get­ty Im­ages

In a sec­ond big set­back for Covid-19 an­ti­body treat­ment hopes, Re­gen­eron halts en­roll­ment for more se­vere pa­tients

Regeneron has just delivered more bad news for the hope that neutralizing antibodies could be used to treat patients with more severe forms of Covid-19.

The New York biotech said today that an independent monitoring committee recommended halting enrollment of patients who need high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation in one of the trials on their antibody cocktail, after finding “a potential safety signal” and “an unfavorable risk/benefit profile.” The news comes a week after the NIH scrapped a trial of Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody after finding it was having little effect on an initial cohort of hospitalized patients.

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Daphne Koller, Getty

Bris­tol My­er­s' Richard Har­g­reaves pays $70M to launch a neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion al­liance with a star play­er in the ma­chine learn­ing world

Bristol Myers Squibb is turning to one of the star upstarts in the machine learning world to go back to the drawing board and come up with the disease models needed to find drugs that can work against two of the toughest targets in the neuro world.

Daphne Koller’s well-funded insitro is getting $70 million in cash and near-term milestones to use their machine learning platform to create induced pluripotent stem cell-derived disease models for ALS and frontotemporal dementia.

Patrick Soon-Shiong at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Jan. 13, 2020 (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter falling be­hind the lead­ers, dissed by some ex­perts, biotech show­man Patrick Soon-Sh­iong fi­nal­ly gets his Covid-19 vac­cine ready for a tri­al. But can it live up to the hype?

In January, when dozens of scientists rushed to start making a vaccine for the then-novel coronavirus, they were joined by an unlikely compatriot: Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire doctor most famous for making big, controversial promises on cancer research.

Soon-Shiong had spent the last 4 years on his “Cancer Moonshot,” but part of his project meant buying a small Seattle biotech that specialized in making common-cold vectors, called adenoviruses, to train the immune system. The billionaire had been using those vectors for oncology, but the company had also developed vaccine candidates for H1N1, Lassa fever and other viruses. When the outbreak began, he pivoted.

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George Golumbeski (L) and Faheem Hasnain

George Golumbes­ki and Fa­heem Has­nain team up with Ver­tex Ven­tures HC in man­ag­ing $320M of biotech cash

Two longtime biotech veterans are joining a multibillion dollar VC firm in order to help steer its latest fund.

George Golumbeski and Faheem Hasnain have signed on to Vertex Ventures HC as executive advisors, the company announced Thursday, and will assist with their depth of experience in managing $320 million of capital. Both have had previous working relationships with managing partners Carolyn Ng and Lori Hu, which evolved “organically” to get to this point, Ng said.

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Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks (Evan Vucci/AP Images)

A p-val­ue of 0.38? NE­JM re­sults raise new ques­tions for Eli Lil­ly's vaunt­ed Covid an­ti­body

Generally, a p-value of 0.38 means your drug failed and by a fair margin. Depending on the company, the compound and the trial, it might mean the end of the program. It could trigger layoffs.

For Eli Lilly, though, it was part of the key endpoint on a trial that landed them a $1.2 billion deal with the US government to supply up to nearly 1 million Covid-19 antibodies.

So what does one make of that? Was the endpoint not so important, as Lilly maintains? Or did the US government promise a princely sum for a pedestrian drug?

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As­traZeneca sells off heart fail­ure and hy­per­ten­sion drugs to Chep­lapharm for $400M

Out with the old and in with the new: AstraZeneca is selling off two heart failure and hypertension drugs to Germany-based Cheplapharm, bagging $400 million and making way for development in other areas.

Cheplapharm paid $200 million for the European rights to Atacand (candesartan cilexetil) and Atacand Plus (candesartan cilexetil and hydrochlorothiazide) back in 2018. They’re now doubling that amount for commercial control in more than 70 countries.

News brief­ing: Ax­o­vant faces months of de­lay on lead Parkin­son's gene ther­a­py; Chi­nese CAR-T biotech nabs $100M

One of Axovant’s top gene therapy prospects for its second act is hitting a roadblock that could push its clinical timelines back by almost a year.

In an update, the biotech said it was informed about delays in CMC data and third-part fill-finish issues around mid-October by its manufacturing partner, Oxford Biomedica. Axovant has been developing a suspension-based process for the Parkinson’s drug; with that taking longer than expected, it now believes “it is unlikely that its planned randomized, sham-controlled trial of AXO-Lenti-PD will enroll patients by the end of calendar year 2021.”

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Flush with $486M con­tract, As­traZeneca signs Lon­za up to man­u­fac­ture an­ti­bod­ies; BioN­Tech's Ugur Sahin ex­pects vac­cine da­ta 'in a fort­night'

Days after scoring a $486 million BARDA contract to develop and manufacture its long-acting antibody combo for Covid-19, AstraZeneca has tapped Lonza to produce the drug substance at its mid-scale facility in Portsmouth, NH.

The drug, dubbed AZD7442, puts together two antibodies, first discovered by scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, derived from convalescent patients who recovered from a SARS-CoV-2 infection. AstraZeneca licensed them in June and has since further engineered them with half-life extension and reduced Fc receptor binding.

CEO Kenji Yasukawa (Astellas)

In ear­ly blow to Ken­ji Ya­sukawa's R&D re­vamp, Astel­las drops out of the TIG­IT race, cit­ing PhI fail­ure

Just after AstraZeneca jumped into the TIGIT race, Astellas quietly disclosed that it was leaving, dropping out of a hunt for an immunotherapy approach that has shown tantalizing promise but remains largely unproven.

Astellas revealed in their second quarter earnings today that they’ve ended development of the anti-TIGIT antibody they acquired in their up to $400 million buyout of Potenza in 2018. The Japanese pharma had been testing it in combination with Keytruda in a 300-person Phase I study on patients with advanced solid tumors. A smaller study testing the antibody alone was completed, 2 years ahead of schedule, in July.

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