Peer Re­view: Anil Sing­hal as­sumes lead­er­ship of Adicet Bio; Adap­tive Biotech woos Genen­tech vet as CMO

→ More than a year af­ter Aya Jakobovits abrupt­ly va­cat­ed the CEO of­fice, Adicet Bio has found her per­ma­nent suc­ces­sor just ahead of its first IND. Anil Sing­hal takes over from Don­ald San­tel, the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man who’s been fill­ing the role. An Ab­b­Vie vet, Sing­hal joins the im­munother­a­py com­pa­ny with some fresh biotech ex­pe­ri­ence as ex­ec­u­tive-in-res­i­dence at Canaan Part­ners and CSO of On­coRe­sponse.

Lance Bal­do

→ At the be­gin­ning of this year, Adap­tive Biotech­nolo­gies scored $300 mil­lion in up­front cash from Roche’s Genen­tech for ac­cess to its T cell re­cep­tor iden­ti­fy­ing plat­form. Four months lat­er, the Seat­tle-based biotech has poached one of its top ex­ecs, too. Lance Bal­do, who had a hand in launch­ing Hem­li­bra and Ocre­vus as Genen­tech’s head of US med­ical af­fairs, is com­ing on board as CMO. Aside from its cell ther­a­py plat­form, Bal­do said he’s al­so drawn to Adap­tive’s po­ten­tial in di­ag­nos­ing and mon­i­tor­ing dis­ease of the im­mune sys­tem.

Rob Ian­none

→ CMO Rob Ian­none an­nounced Mon­day that he’s leav­ing Im­munomedics to move to a new ca­reer in Penn­syl­va­nia so that he can be clos­er to his fam­i­ly. His plans come as the com­pa­ny is suf­fer­ing from set­backs and de­par­tures. CEO Michael Pehl left two months ear­li­er af­ter ac­cu­sa­tions of a da­ta in­tegri­ty breach and when the com­pa­ny’s lead drug — the an­it­body drug con­ju­gate IM­MU-132, or sac­i­tuzum­ab govite­can — was re­ject­ed by the FDA.

→ The Cana­di­an pen­ny stock biotech Tril­li­um Ther­a­peu­tics has an­nounced that CEO Niclas Stiern­holm has abrupt­ly re­signed from the com­pa­ny. As they search for a re­place­ment, Robert Kirk­man, the cur­rent chair­man of the board, will act as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man. CSO Bob Uger will as­sume the role of in­ter­im pres­i­dent.

Robin Wash­ing­ton

→ Ahead of re­leas­ing its first-quar­ter re­sults on Thurs­day, Gilead dis­closed yet an­oth­er se­nior ex­ec­u­tive de­par­ture: long­time CFO Robin Wash­ing­ton, who un­veiled plans to ex­it come March 2020. In par­al­lel with the drug­mak­er’s an­nounce­ment on Tues­day, Google’s par­ent com­pa­ny Al­pha­bet un­veiled Wash­ing­ton was set to serve on its board.

Amy Pott

→ As it looks to ex­pand its US foot­print, Swedish rare dis­ease spe­cial­ist So­bi has wooed Amy Pott from Shire to head up its North Amer­i­can op­er­a­tions. Hav­ing over­seen com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions, strat­e­gy and plan­ning for both Shire and Bax­al­ta, Pott joins So­bi af­ter a pe­ri­od of rapid growth — qua­dru­pling its work­force in two years — over­seen by Ra­mi Levin.

Joanne Smith-Far­rell

Joanne Smith-Far­rell is get­ting pro­mot­ed to chief busi­ness of­fi­cer at blue­bird bio. The Mer­ck vet spent the past two years hus­tling deals and bring­ing in new tools and part­ners for the CAR-T and gene ther­a­py pipeline, blue­bird said, while build­ing a team to sup­port the on­col­o­gy fran­chise. She will con­tin­ue to lead that group while as­sum­ing more re­spon­si­bil­i­ty in cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and strat­e­gy.

Tama­ra Sey­mour

→ San Diego-based Im­mu­nic $IMUX has ap­point­ed Tama­ra Sey­mour as in­ter­im CFO, bank­ing on her decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in cor­po­rate fi­nance and biotech fundrais­ing as it moves its im­munol­o­gy drugs along the clin­ic. Most re­cent­ly, Sey­mour has been as­sist­ing life sci­ences com­pa­nies with M&A and oth­er needs on an ad­vi­so­ry ba­sis af­ter mul­ti­ple CFO stints at Sig­nal Ge­net­ics, Hemaque­st Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Favrille and more. Im­mu­nic’s lead com­pound is a Phase II drug for ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis and re­laps­ing-re­mit­ting mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

Vivera Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has re­cruit­ed Stephen Mc­Col­gan to its mis­sion of har­ness­ing cannabid­i­ol as a non-ad­dic­tive way to man­age pain. “Over the course of my 30-year ca­reer as a sur­geon, I’ve watched opi­oids cause to­tal and com­plete dev­as­ta­tion in pa­tients who had orig­i­nal­ly sought on­ly pain re­lief,” said the new CMO. Based in New­port Beach, CA, Vivera sells a num­ber of CBD for­mu­la­tions.

Maria Koehler

→ Fol­low­ing a brief stint at Bi­cy­cle Ther­a­peu­tics, Maria Koehler has jumped to an­oth­er on­col­o­gy start­up in the Boston area. Re­pare Ther­a­peu­tics drug dis­cov­ery ef­forts are guid­ed by a com­bi­na­tion of DNA dam­age re­sponse and syn­thet­ic lethal­i­ty, aid­ed by CRISPR screen­ing. Koehler is now tasked with test­ing those com­pounds in the clin­ic. Al­so join­ing the com­pa­ny is CFO Kati­na Dor­ton, who had the same role in Avro­bio.

Kati­na Dor­ton

→ Poised to be­gin a piv­otal study, can­cer drug de­vel­op­er Rainier Ther­a­peu­tics (you might re­mem­ber it as Bio­Clin) has scooped Gary Chris­tian­son from Nohla Ther­a­peu­tics, where he was COO. In his new po­si­tion of chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer, Chris­tian­son will over­see man­u­fac­tur­ing of vo­fa­tam­ab, an an­ti-FGFR3 drug for blad­der can­cer. Pri­or to Nohla, Chris­tian­son honed his com­mer­cial prod­uct de­vel­op­ment ex­per­tise at Cas­ca­di­an Ther­a­peu­tics (ac­quired by Seat­tle Ge­net­ics) and Corixa (lat­er Glax­o­SmithK­line).

William Gross­man

→ With a new PD-1 in the pipeline and a bio­mark­er al­liance with Stra­ta On­col­o­gy in place, Ar­cus Bio­sciences has wooed the ex­pe­ri­enced I/O vet William Gross­man as their new CMO from Bel­licum. Gross­man is cred­it­ed with a lead­ing role in 50 clin­i­cal tri­als, with a big hand in the de­vel­op­ment of Tecen­triq at Genen­tech. Gross­man will be step­ping in­to an ac­tive, clin­i­cal-stage on­col­o­gy pro­gram, with an on­go­ing Phase I monother­a­py dose-es­ca­la­tion tri­al in pa­tients with ad­vanced tu­mors and oth­er com­bi­na­tion stud­ies.

→ Hav­ing cut back on its urol­o­gy and CNS ef­forts and de­cid­ed to stay laser fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing its lead drug for sleep dis­or­ders, Avadel Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $AVDL has hired neu­ro­log­i­cal ex­pert Jor­dan Dubow as CMO. He is now tasked with re­fin­ing clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and reg­u­la­to­ry plans for FT218, a treat­ment Avadel hopes to mar­ket as a more con­ve­nient op­tion for ex­ces­sive day­time sleepi­ness and cat­a­plexy in nar­colep­sy pa­tients. Pri­or to this ap­point­ment, Dubow served in a num­ber of sim­i­lar roles at Es­teve, Clin­trex, Marathon and Ab­b­Vie.

Gra­ham Coop­er

Gra­ham Coop­er is leav­ing As­sem­bly Bio­sciences af­ter one year, leav­ing open the CFO and COO roles passed on by co-founder David Bar­rett. Michael Samar, the cur­rent VP of fi­nance and busi­ness op­er­a­tions, will take on the ac­count­ing and cer­tain oth­er tasks as the hep B biotech $ASMB hunts for a new CFO. Mean­while, Aptinyx alum and bio­phar­ma vet David Houck is join­ing as SVP of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and port­fo­lio man­age­ment to lead a nascent clin­i­cal ef­fort for both HBV and a few Al­ler­gan-part­nered mi­cro­bio­me pro­grams.

→ Fresh off a $100 mil­lion round, Guo-Liang Yu has added a CMO to the trans-Pa­cif­ic team he’s build­ing for Apol­lomics. Fabio Benedet­ti brings a back­ground in on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio man­age­ment from Tai­ho, Geron, Onyx and Mil­len­ni­um. Be­tween Apol­lomics’ Cal­i­for­nia and Chi­na of­fices, Benedet­ti will over­see a pipeline of can­cer com­bi­na­tion ther­a­pies part­nered with a host of Chi­nese biotechs.

CAN­bridge Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has tapped sea­soned health­care banker Glenn Has­san for a dual po­si­tion of CFO and chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. Has­san was most re­cent­ly at Chi­na Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal but pre­vi­ous­ly held in­vest­ment and an­a­lyst roles at Leerink, Citadel and Fi­deli­ty In­vest­ments. The Chi­nese rare dis­ease play­er has al­so en­list­ed for­mer Ed­i­tas Med­i­cines CMO Ger­ald Cox as chief de­vel­op­ment strate­gist and in­ter­im CMO to tem­porar­i­ly re­place May Or­fali, who re­signed for per­son­al rea­sons.

→ In the mid­dle of an IPO at­tempt, Ap­plied Ther­a­peu­tics has named Mark Vi­g­no­la its CFO, tasked with find­ing friends for the com­pa­ny in the fi­nan­cial com­mu­ni­ty. Vi­g­no­la was head of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and in­vestor re­la­tions at In­ter­cept, his first biotech gig af­ter an eq­ui­ty re­search job at Need­ham & Com­pa­ny. The New York-based biotech is de­vel­op­ing a drug for di­a­bet­ic car­diomy­opa­thy as well as di­a­bet­ic pe­riph­er­al neu­ropa­thy.

→ The genome en­gi­neer­ing ex­perts at In­scrip­ta has brought in an Il­lu­mi­na vet on their jour­ney to pop­u­lar­ize their ver­sion of the CRISPR edit­ing plat­form. Ron Mc­Grath’s ti­tle is CFO, but he will like­ly play a big­ger role in scal­ing the com­pa­ny’s in­fra­struc­ture as it pre­pares to com­mer­cial­ize its prod­uct.

Amy­lyx has ap­point­ed Patrick Yerami­an as CMO and Tom Holmes as glob­al head, sup­ply chain for the com­pa­ny. Both be­gan their re­spec­tive po­si­tions in March 2019. Yerami­an pre­vi­ous­ly held the role of con­sult­ing med­ical di­rec­tor for Amy­lyx and Holmes was the se­nior di­rec­tor of ex­ter­nal man­u­fac­tur­ing at Bio­gen for 10 years.

Zymeworks an­nounced Tues­day that the com­pa­ny is ex­pand­ing its glob­al clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment team by hir­ing three new vice pres­i­dents. The three in­clude: Mark Hol­ly­wood, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of tech­ni­cal and man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions; Neil Joseph­son, vice pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal re­search; and Bruce Hart, vice pres­i­dent of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs. David Poon was al­so pro­mot­ed to vice pres­i­dent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and al­liance man­age­ment with­in the com­pa­ny.


By Am­ber Tong and Kathy Wong.

Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

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Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

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On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

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Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.