Rhythm CEO Keith Gottesdiener hits the exit; Takeda sets up an AI discovery program at MIT
→ Rhythm Pharmaceuticals $RYTM CEO Keith Gottesdiener is planning to stay at the helm until the biotech completes its new drug application, and then head out. He says it’s the right time to hand over the reins and the company plans to organize a search for his replacement. His last task should be done by the end of Q1. “For the more than eight years that I have been CEO, it has been an honor to lead the talented Rhythm team, and I am immensely proud of our work to advance setmelanotide and bolster the understanding of rare genetic disorders of obesity,” said Gottesdiener in a statement.
→ A couple of years after Celgene shrugged off its $44 million investment and option for PharmAkea and its fibrosis pipeline projects, the little biotech is selling off its last remaining drug. There are no terms mentioned, but Denmark’s Galecto is getting the LOXL2 assets at the San Diego biotech in what is technically being called a merger. Last fall Blade bought up PharmAkea’s autotaxin inhibitor project. Xconomy has more of the details here.
→ Takeda is going to MIT in search of some expert help in shaping a new AI initiative focused on drug discovery and related fields. The global player is bankrolling a 3-year plan — with a built-in extension opportunity — to set up 6 to 10 projects per year focused on the intersection of machine learning and health. That gives them an AI alliance in Cambridge neighboring their main R&D facilities under Andy Plump. The big idea here is to put MIT professors and students on a field that has attracted the rapt attention of a pharma world in search of a more efficient approach to drug development.
→ Slowly recovering from a Phase IIb disaster in 2018, Protagonist Therapeutics has reached a milestone under its research collaboration with J&J’s Janssen to co-develop oral, gut-restricted IL-23 receptor antagonist PTG-200 (JNJ-67864238) and second-generation peptides for all indications including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The nomination of a new second-generation development candidate triggers a $5 million milestone payment to Protagonist $PGTX.
→ Last August, GlycoMimetics‘ shares took a nosedive after Pfizer‘s team dismissed their lead drug as a Phase III failure. The company is now inking a deal with Apollomics for the development and commercialization of two other drugs, uproleselan and GMI-1687, in Greater China. GlycoMimetics will receive an upfront cash payment of $9 million and will be eligible to receive potential milestone payments totaling approximately $180 million, as well as tiered royalties on net sales.
→ Dutch biotech Synaffix has expanded its existing collaboration with Shanghai Miracogen — which first tied up in a $125 million licensing pact last April — to include a second product candidate. Financials details were not disclosed, but Miracogen has been granted non-exclusive rights to Synaffix’s proprietary GlycoConnect and HydraSpace ADC technologies for use in the second clinical candidate.