Stephen Dilly, new Codexis president and CEO

Short­ly af­ter sell­ing Sier­ra to GSK, Stephen Dil­ly heads to en­zyme en­gi­neer Codex­is as new CEO

On Feb. 22, Stephen Dil­ly had no clear am­bi­tions of sell­ing Sier­ra On­col­o­gy to GSK. But that quick­ly changed over the sub­se­quent weeks, and since sell­ing the biotech for near­ly $2 bil­lion in the spring, he’s made a quick leap to an­oth­er com­pa­ny’s C-suite.

Dil­ly heads to Codex­is on Aug. 9 to take over as pres­i­dent and CEO of the en­zyme en­gi­neer­ing shop, where he’s been on the board since June 2020. The com­pa­ny dis­closed the news af­ter the clos­ing bell on Mon­day.

He’ll join the 20-year-old Red­wood City, CA, com­pa­ny next month as 10-year CEO John Nicols re­tires to fo­cus on fam­i­ly and de­vote his time to Solve ME/CFS, the non­prof­it he chairs that is ded­i­cat­ed to myal­gic en­cephalomyelitis/chron­ic fa­tigue syn­drome.

John Nicols

“We are de­light­ed that Stephen will serve as Codex­is’ next CEO. He is a proven leader with a long track record of suc­cess build­ing in­no­v­a­tive com­pa­nies. With Stephen tak­ing over the helm, I can step back and pro­vide the need­ed fo­cus and sup­port to my wife who has suf­fered for years from a de­bil­i­tat­ing post-vi­ral in­fec­tion dis­or­der,” Nicols said in a state­ment.

Codex­is makes en­zymes for a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries and ap­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing bio­ther­a­peu­tics, life sci­ence tools, phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ing and food and bev­er­ages. The com­pa­ny makes an en­zyme used in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of Mer­ck’s type 2 di­a­betes meds Janu­via and Janu­met.

Nicols took over in 2012, short­ly af­ter Codex­is went pub­lic in 2010, af­ter a 22-year ca­reer at spe­cial­ty chem­i­cals com­pa­ny Albe­mar­le Cor­po­ra­tion. He will stay on the board through the an­nu­al meet­ing in June 2023 and serve as a strate­gic ad­vi­sor in a mul­ti-year role.

For his part, Dil­ly be­came CEO of Sier­ra in May 2020, a few years af­ter lead­ing Aim­mune Ther­a­peu­tics pri­or to the com­pa­ny se­cur­ing the first FDA nod for a peanut al­ler­gy treat­ment and a $2.6 bil­lion ex­it to Nestlé Health Sci­ence. As CEO, Dil­ly had at­tract­ed the food gi­ant’s fi­nan­cial in­ter­est mul­ti­ple times pri­or to the buy­out, reel­ing in more than $400 mil­lion from the con­glom­er­ate via var­i­ous fund­ing av­enues.

That Nestlé con­nec­tion will be crit­i­cal to Codex­is’ biotech busi­ness op­er­a­tions, as the com­pa­ny is part­nered with the Swiss heavy­weight on mul­ti­ple oral en­zyme ther­a­pies, in­clud­ing two in Phase I de­vel­op­ment: one for phenylke­tonuria and an­oth­er for ex­ocrine pan­cre­at­ic in­suf­fi­cien­cy.

Dil­ly’s R&D chops will al­so come in­to play with a Take­da deal ex­plor­ing mul­ti­ple gene ther­a­pies for Fab­ry dis­ease, Pompe dis­ease, lyso­so­mal stor­age dis­or­der and oth­ers.

“I have been deeply im­pressed by the strength and pas­sion of the team that John has built, and I am hon­ored to suc­ceed him and lead Codex­is on the next phase of our im­por­tant jour­ney to im­prove the health of peo­ple and the plan­et. I look for­ward to fur­ther ac­cel­er­at­ing the val­ue we bring to all our stake­hold­ers,” Dil­ly said in a state­ment.

At the time of first quar­ter earn­ings in May, Codex­is pre­dict­ed to­tal rev­enue of $152 mil­lion to $158 mil­lion for full-year 2022. Dil­ly’s an­nu­al base salary will be $710,000, with a tar­get bonus of 75% of that salary and a sign-on bonus of $200,000. He has the op­tion to buy 700,000 shares of com­mon stock and 340,000 per­for­mance stock units, ac­cord­ing to the em­ploy­ment agree­ment filed with the SEC.

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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Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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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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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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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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Astel­las, Pan­th­er­na add or­gan to mR­NA tie-up; Rock­et launch­es sale of six fig­ures worth of stock

Astellas and Pantherna have expanded their November 2021 pact surrounding the latter’s mRNA platform to include a new target organ, the duo announced Tuesday morning, though they did not specify what that target is.

German biotech Pantherna is home to two platform technologies — one that designs mRNAs for non-vaccine therapies and another that designs LNPs. Astellas and Pantherna’s deal appears to mainly revolve around the first platform, which Astellas said it is using to research direct reprogramming, or turning cells from one kind into another without an intermediate stem cell phase.