Peer Re­view: Don Hay­den com­mits to CEO role at Wind­MIL; X4 nabs new CMO Lynne Kel­ley from His­to­gen­ics ex­ile

→ Since leav­ing a 25-year ca­reer and the pres­i­dent of glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals ti­tle at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb in 2005, Don Hay­den has kept him­self busy as a con­sul­tant and ad­vis­er to bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies, some­times jug­gling sev­en or eight board ap­point­ments. But af­ter a few months as in­ter­im CEO of Wind­MIL Ther­a­peu­tics, he’s ready to “sub­stan­tial­ly pull back” on all those com­mit­ments as he tran­si­tions to a full-time role.

Don Hay­den

“Every now and then in one’s ca­reer you come across a com­bi­na­tion of cir­cum­stances that con­vince you you just want to be a part of it, and that’s re­al­ly what hap­pened at Wind­MIL,” he told me.

The Bal­ti­more-based start­up was spun out of Johns Hop­kins and got its name, in part, from mar­row in­fil­trat­ing lym­pho­cytes, or MILs. These mem­o­ry T cells re­sid­ing in the bone mar­row have an in­nate abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize tu­mors, ren­der­ing them a po­tent can­cer killing agent both on its own and as a “base” for oth­er treat­ments like CAR-T.

His fo­cus now, Hay­den said, is to po­si­tion the com­pa­ny for a “very big year” in 2020, when the first da­ta read­out from a mul­ti­ple myelo­ma tri­al is due. Wind­MIL al­so plans to delve deep­er in­to sol­id tu­mor, fol­low­ing a non-small cell lung can­cer tri­al (in PD-1 re­frac­to­ry/re­lapsed pa­tients) it hopes to start this year.

Gra­ham Kel­ly

→ In prepa­ra­tion for a Nas­daq list­ing, Aus­tralian drug­mak­er Nox­opharm has re­as­signed some hats in top lead­er­ship. Founder Gra­ham Kel­ly is mov­ing up to the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man role, tap­ping Greg van Wyk — the cur­rent CMO — to dou­ble as chief ex­ec­u­tive. This way, the com­pa­ny says, Kel­ly can spend more time “look­ing to raise the com­pa­ny’s pro­file in the US cap­i­tal mar­kets,” where he’s led two IPOs al­most two decades ago.

No­var­tis’ Vas Narasimhan has raid­ed Glaso­SmithK­line’s se­nior ex­ec­u­tive crew for his new San­doz chief. Richard Saynor is mak­ing the leap from his last post as SVP clas­sic & es­tab­lished prod­ucts, com­mer­cial & dig­i­tal plat­forms at a time spec­u­la­tion about the fu­ture of San­doz has been ram­pant. But he may have some ideas on what can be done bet­ter. Ac­cord­ing to his LinkedIn page, he’s been at GSK for close to 9 years — af­ter jump­ing over from San­doz.

Jim Robin­son

→ Af­ter a stint at Alk­er­mes $ALKS that took him to Boston area for a lit­tle over a year, Jim Robin­son is mov­ing home. Re­port­ing at Paragon Bio­sciences’ Chica­go of­fice this week, Robin­son keeps the same ti­tle: pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer. But in­stead of over­see­ing one en­ti­ty, he will run a host of func­tion­al ser­vices to sup­port Paragon’s six and count­ing port­fo­lio com­pa­nies.

X4 Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $XFOR has re­cruit­ed Lynne Kel­ley to steer a Phase III pro­gram for a rare ge­net­ic, pri­ma­ry im­mun­od­e­fi­cien­cy dis­ease known as WHIM syn­drome. The new CMO is one of the His­to­gen­ics ex­ecs who were dis­band­ed af­ter the mi­cro­cap es­sen­tial­ly sold its shell to Ocu­gen in a re­verse merg­er.

John Cur­nutte

John Cur­nutte is hang­ing up his R&D boots at Por­to­la Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $PT­LA, trad­ing a lead role for a con­sul­tant po­si­tion. His re­tire­ment comes al­most a year af­ter that of ex-CEO William Lis, which put Cur­nutte in charge briefly as a co-pres­i­dent. In their time, the two ex­ecs shep­herd­ed Beyvexxa — an an­ti­co­ag­u­lant — and An­dexxa — an an­ti-an­ti­co­ag­u­lant — to FDA ap­provals, de­spite some hic­cups along the way. Pamela Con­ley, a 15-year vet­er­an of the com­pa­ny and cur­rent SVP of re­search, will take over the re­search team while Jeff My­ers serves as in­ter­im CMO.

→ Af­ter kick­ing off its Phase III pro­gram, En­ta­sis Ther­a­peu­tics, the biotech spun out from As­traZeneca to house its an­tibi­otics group, is plan­ning for its com­mer­cial fu­ture — and hir­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced hand. Er­ic Kim­ble joins the biotech $ET­TX as the field is still rat­tling from Achao­gen’s bank­rupt­cy, yet an­oth­er stark re­minder of the grim con­di­tions that face an­tibi­otics de­vel­op­ers even when they man­age to bring their drugs to the mar­ket. Kim­ble, a Cu­bist Phar­ma alum who’s spent the past five years con­sult­ing for an­tibi­otics star­tups, said he wel­comes the chal­lenge.

→ A trou­bled Aduro has re­cruit­ed Pfiz­er can­cer R&D ex­ec to take the chief med­ical of­fi­cer’s job. Dim­it­ry Nuyten is mov­ing from his job as vice pres­i­dent and im­muno-on­col­o­gy clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment leader to the biotech. His stint at Pfiz­er put Nuyten in charge of its Baven­cio work, part­nered with Mer­ck KGaA. “We are ex­treme­ly pleased to wel­come Dim­it­ry as we pre­pare to broad­en our de­vel­op­ment plans for STING ag­o­nist ADU-S100 and ini­ti­ate our first in hu­man study of an­ti-APRIL an­ti­body BION-1301 in IgA nephropa­thy,” not­ed CEO Stephen Isaacs in a state­ment.

→ The crew at Ju­ve­nes­cence has brought on David El­lam on their an­ti-ag­ing cru­sade. El­lam jumps from the same role at Lon­don-based Si­lence Ther­a­peu­tics, which he joined af­ter stints at Bio­Marin and Ark Ther­a­peu­tics. With over $110 mil­lion to spend on ex­ist­ing and fu­ture port­fo­lio com­pa­nies, El­lam will work along­side CEO Greg Bai­ley to build up Ju­ve­nes­cence’s in­fra­struc­ture and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance as it ex­plores “a list­ing on an in­ter­na­tion­al ex­change.”

Thomas Le­ung is the new CFO at Men­lo Park, CA-based Ad­verum Biotech­nolo­gies $AD­VM, play­ing a big role in shap­ing the com­pa­ny as it charts a clin­i­cal path for its gene ther­a­py for the eye. A for­mer VP at TPG Cap­i­tal, Le­ung’s most re­cent job was in busi­ness op­er­a­tions at a women’s health ge­net­ic test­ing com­pa­ny.

→ Keen on get­ting its wet age-re­lat­ed mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion drug ap­proved around the world next year, Out­look Ther­a­peu­tics $OTLK has ap­point­ed Jen­nifer Kiss­ner as SVP clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. As CMO Ken­neth Bahrt heads out the door (with no re­place­ment planned), Kiss­ner will ef­fec­tive­ly take up the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to work with con­tract­ed ser­vices to dri­ve ONS-5010 for­ward, lever­ag­ing lessons she learned at Al­con, Acucela and most re­cent­ly Clear­side Bio­med­ical.

→ Hav­ing learned the ins and outs of can­cer di­ag­nos­tics at Foun­da­tion Med­i­cine, Al­fred “Fred­di” Bowie is bring­ing his busi­ness skillset to Ve­r­a­cyte $VCYT. As VP, cor­po­rate and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, Bowie is tasked with as­sess­ing and man­ag­ing part­ner­ships, li­cens­ing and ac­qui­si­tions. One of them will be a lung can­cer de­tec­tion project al­lied with J&J in an al­liance an­nounced this Jan­u­ary.

→ Rare dis­ease-fo­cused Log­icBio Ther­a­peu­tics $LOGC has hired five se­nior ex­ecs to help man­age its ex­pand­ed lab op­er­a­tions, from CMC and tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­op­ment to pro­gram and clin­i­cal man­age­ment. They in­clude Matthias Hebben, VP of tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­op­ment, jump­ing from Genethon; Marie Pay­ton, VP of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions, for­mer­ly of Mil­len­ni­um; Sanofi Gen­zyme vet Car­ol Sher­ako, se­nior di­rec­tor, pro­gram man­age­ment; Sven Loe­brich, a CMC ex­pert with ex­pe­ri­ence at Im­muno­Gen; and Voy­ager’s Lau­ren Drouin, who will fo­cus on an­a­lyt­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. To­geth­er, they will push Log­icBio’s first drug in­to clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment while re­fin­ing its gene edit­ing plat­form.

Yposke­si, a French CD­MO spe­cial­iz­ing in gene ther­a­py vi­ral vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing, has ap­point­ed Morad El Gued­dari as pro­duc­tion di­rec­tor of its core op­er­a­tion. A vet­er­an of Cell­for­Cure — now a No­var­tis sub­sidiary — El Gued­dari joins as the com­pa­ny is dou­bling its glob­al foot­print.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.

As­traZeneca, Dai­ichi Sanky­o's ADC En­her­tu blows away Roche's Kad­cy­la in sec­ond-line ad­vanced breast can­cer

AstraZeneca and Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo think they’ve struck gold with their next-gen ADC drug Enhertu, which has shown some striking data in late-stage breast cancer trials and early solid tumor tests. Getting into earlier patients is now the goal, starting with Enhertu’s complete walkover of a Roche drug in second-line breast cancer revealed Saturday.

Enhertu cut the risk of disease progression or death by a whopping 72% (p=<0.0001) compared with Roche’s ADC Kadcyla in second-line unresectable and/or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer patients who had previously undergone treatment with a Herceptin-chemo combo, according to interim data from the Phase III DESTINY-Breast03 head-to-head study presented at this weekend’s #ESMO21.

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