Nick Haining, Arsenal Bio

Sean Park­er-backed cell ther­a­py start­up Ar­se­nal­Bio plucks Mer­ck VP as new CSO

Mer­ck’s im­muno-on­col­o­gy su­per­star Nicholas Hain­ing has been ap­point­ed CSO at Ar­se­nal­Bio, which is work­ing on an ap­proach to pro­gram­ma­ble cell ther­a­pies.

The ad­di­tion of a high-pro­file ap­point­ment like Hain­ing, who co-found­ed the com­pa­ny but has been serv­ing as VP of dis­cov­ery on­col­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries and al­so did work on pe­di­atric hema­tol­ogy/on­col­o­gy at the famed Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute, comes as Ar­se­nal­Bio may set its sights on an IPO in the near fu­ture.

Hain­ing re­places Genen­tech vet Jane Gro­gan, who in April moved over to be Graphite Bio’s CSO af­ter serv­ing as Ar­se­nal’s CSO since the biotech’s launch in Oc­to­ber 2019.

“Ar­se­nal­Bio has laid out a vi­sion and a roadmap for en­gi­neer­ing the fate and func­tion of T cells to help cure can­cer,” Hain­ing said in a state­ment. “It will be a priv­i­lege to be part of the mis­sion of trans­form­ing the best sci­ence in­to ef­fec­tive ther­a­pies for pa­tients who need them most.”

The new se­nior lead­er­ship fits right in with Ar­se­nal’s re­cent­ly an­nounced col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bris­tol My­ers Squibb. Back in Jan­u­ary, Ar­se­nal teamed up with BMS to find, de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize tar­get­ed T cell ther­a­pies for sol­id tu­mors. Ar­se­nal will han­dle the ear­ly dis­cov­ery work in the deal while Bris­tol will pay $70 mil­lion up­front with an op­tion to li­cense pre­clin­i­cal can­di­dates and bring them to mar­ket.

Ar­se­nal has sharp­ened its fo­cus in the near­ly two years since its in­cep­tion, with new work on us­ing a “stack” of bi­ol­o­gy com­po­si­tions to cre­ate de­sign­er T cells that can be ad­min­is­tered at low­er dos­es, bet­ter tar­get sol­id tu­mors and pre­vent the se­ri­ous side ef­fects com­mon in oth­er im­munother­a­pies. The biotech says its can­di­dates may be eas­i­er to man­u­fac­ture too, giv­en the fact they’re not ad­min­is­tered through in­ac­ti­vat­ed virus­es.

Ken Drazan

Led by Ken Drazan, a J&J vet and for­mer pres­i­dent of Grail, the South San Fran­cis­co-based biotech has a for­mi­da­ble group of in­vestors, in­clud­ing the bil­lion­aire and for­mer Nap­ster head Sean Park­er, who sits on Ar­se­nal’s board of di­rec­tors, and his Park­er In­sti­tute for Can­cer Im­munother­a­py, along with oth­ers like West­lake Vil­lage BioPart­ners, Klein­er Perkins, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co Foun­da­tion In­vest­ment Com­pa­ny, Eu­clid­ean Cap­i­tal, and Os­age Uni­ver­si­ty Part­ners.

“Ar­se­nal­Bio al­lows us to rewrite vast stretch­es of code to give T cells dra­mat­ic new func­tions — that means they can be made to be more ef­fec­tive at killing can­cer and a broad spec­trum of oth­er dis­eases,” Park­er said in a state­ment. “It’s al­so very re­ward­ing to see Ar­se­nal­Bio born from the deep col­lab­o­ra­tion of PI­CI in­ves­ti­ga­tors — who worked to­geth­er across re­search cen­ters, hos­pi­tals and uni­ver­si­ties on the sci­ence be­hind these tech­nolo­gies.”

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Kite Phar­ma gets FDA to sign off on new Cal­i­for­nia-based vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

Kite Pharma just got FDA approval to kick off operations at a new manufacturing campus.

The cancer-focused, CAR-T cell therapy player made the announcement Monday, saying that the federal regulatory agency gave the green light to Kite’s 100,000 square-foot, retroviral vector manufacturing facility in Oceanside, CA.

Kite’s global head of technical operations Chris McDonald tells Endpoints News that the facility has been in the works for about four years, after Kite teamed up with its parent company Gilead. Gilead acquired Kite Pharma for just shy of $12 billion in 2017.

Christophe Bourdon, Leo Pharma CEO

Leo Phar­ma looks 'be­yond the skin' in atopic der­mati­tis aware­ness cam­paign

As Leo Pharma aims to take on heavyweight champ Dupixent in atopic dermatitis, the company is launching “AD Days Around the World,” an awareness campaign documenting real patient stories across Europe.

The project, unveiled on Monday, spotlights four patients: Marjolaine, Laura, Julia and África from France, Italy, Germany and Spain, respectively, in short video clips on the challenges of living with AD, the most common form of eczema.

New Chroma Medicine board member Jeff Marrazzo

Jeff Mar­raz­zo has found a buzzy new biotech cause to cham­pi­on. And once again, he's all in

Jeff Marrazzo is one of those biotech execs who has always been focused on the next big goal. He has a track record for meeting objectives, relentlessly staying on message, and breaking new ground.

The fact that he stayed around for a couple of years after Roche’s $4.3 billion Spark buyout, making sure the organization he founded weathered Covid-19, is one example. And that came after he carefully guided the company to the first-ever US approval of a gene therapy — no easy task.

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Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

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Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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