UPDATED: Scoop: Arcus CMO Kartik Krishnan left for new opportunity ahead of big TIGIT readout
Arcus Biosciences chief medical officer Kartik Krishnan recently left the biotech to take another opportunity elsewhere, a company spokesperson confirmed to Endpoints News.
The company has begun a search process for his replacement. Krishnan told Endpoints he left the startup last month after seeing the clinical development team grow from three MDs to about 150 people hopping on clinical operations group meetings.
“I had put people in place in leadership roles, including in the development function, that I felt the shop would be well taken care of if there were no me there,” he said. He starts his next job, another CMO role at a smaller oncology-focused biotech, next month. “I’ve never taken a month off,” he added.
The move comes less than a year after Krishnan was elevated to the head of the biotech’s clinical development operations, which includes a multi-trial TIGIT asset, a drug that is likely to come under increased pressure and scrutinized eyes after Roche’s prized TIGIT failed a clinical trial earlier this week.
His job movement “didn’t have anything to do with the data,” Krishnan said, noting he was “surprised” by the Roche data and hadn’t seen it until everybody else did.
Krishnan assumed the post in July 2021 from Bill Grossman, who left to become Gilead’s SVP of oncology clinical research. The two worked together closely following the transition, given their employers’ partnership on the TIGIT asset, which is in multiple clinical trials.
“However, given the strongest signal of clinical activity was from [Roche’s] tiragolumab (Fc-competent TIGIT), we need to see supportive clinical data before assuming any other company has a better molecule or strategy than Roche. We expect the first such data will be the 2H22 readout of ARC-7 from Arcus / Gilead,” SVB Securities analysts wrote in a note this week after Roche’s TIGIT asset failed a Phase III study in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Arcus’ ARC-7 study is also a trial in NSCLC. The biotech’s stock $RCUS slid about $7 on Wednesday after Roche released its TIGIT data early that morning.
Krishnan joined Hayward, CA-based Arcus in 2019 as SVP of clinical development. Prior to Arcus, he was in various medical director roles at Aster Pharmaceuticals, Genentech, FivePrime Therapeutics, BioMarin Pharmaceutical and Amgen over the past decade.