Tariq Kas­sum jumps from Ob­sid­i­an to Cel­sius helm; Quell Ther­a­peu­tics taps Iain McGill as new CEO

Tariq Kas­sum Linkedin

→ Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts-based Cel­sius Ther­a­peu­tics — which was launched in 2018 and backed by Third Rock Ven­tures and GV — has tapped Tariq Kas­sum to the helm. Kas­sum suc­ceed­ed Alex­is Borisy, who has been in­ter­im CEO and who stay as chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors.

Borisy re­cent­ly made an un­ex­pect­ed ex­it from Third Rock, be­fore their record $770 mil­lion fund for its next wave of in­vest­ments in the life sci­ence field.

Kas­sum was the COO at Ob­sid­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics, fol­low­ing stints at Mil­len­ni­um Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Take­da.

Alex Sapir Re­Vi­ral

Alex Sapir has suc­ceed­ed Ed­dy Lit­tler as CEO of Re­Vi­ral — a stick­ler in the tough res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­cy­tial virus (RSV) field — and been elect­ed to the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors. Lit­tler will as­sume the po­si­tion of COO in­stead. Pri­or to join­ing Re­Vi­ral, Sapir was CEO and pres­i­dent at Do­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, help­ing raise $160 mil­lion in an IPO and fol­low-on of­fer­ings. In ad­di­tion, Sapir has had stints at Unit­ed Ther­a­peu­tics and GSK.

Iain McGill Linkedin

Weeks af­ter launch­ing out of Syn­cona’s crib, Quell Ther­a­peu­tics — which is spe­cial­iz­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of en­gi­neered Treg cell ther­a­pies — wel­comes Iain McGill as its CEO. Pri­or to join­ing Quell, McGill served as se­nior vice pres­i­dent in Eu­rope and the rest of the world for Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Be­fore that, McGill had a stint at EU­SA Phar­ma and he al­so worked in var­i­ous po­si­tions in the field of trans­plan­ta­tion and im­munol­o­gy at Wyeth, No­var­tis and Roche Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

James Ward-Lil­ley, CEO of res­pi­ra­to­ry drug de­vel­op­er Vec­tura Group, is step­ping down from both his po­si­tion and the board. Cur­rent CFO Paul Fry will step in as in­ter­im CEO, in ad­di­tion to his cur­rent re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. A search for a new suc­ces­sor will be­gin im­me­di­ate­ly.  

Jes­si­ca Mar­tins­son Sprint Bio­science

Sprint Bio­science CEO An­ders Åberg is step­ping down from his po­si­tion af­ter 10 years in the role, and cur­rent op­er­a­tional man­ag­er and co-founder Jes­si­ca Mar­tins­son will re­place him as the act­ing CEO. Åberg will re­tain his share­hold­ing and re­main as a se­nior ad­vi­sor to the com­pa­ny.

Louis Kay­i­talire Linkedin

→  Cam­bridge, Eng­land-based F-star has ap­point­ed Big Phar­ma vet Louis Kay­i­talire as its CMO. Kay­i­talire will over­see the de­vel­op­ment of F-star’s lead prod­uct can­di­date FS118 — a LAG-3/PD-L1-tar­get­ing tetrava­lent bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body cur­rent­ly in a Phase I clin­i­cal tri­al. He will al­so lead the clin­i­cal strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions for F-star’s pipeline of bis­pecifics, in­clud­ing FS120 and FS222, which are on track for IND sub­mis­sions this year. Kay­i­talire has over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in on­col­o­gy and im­muno-on­col­o­gy ac­cu­mu­lat­ed over the years at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, Cel­gene and Eli Lil­ly.

Thomas Schi­neck­er Roche

→ Swiss gi­ant Roche has un­veiled the new head of its $13 bil­lion di­ag­nos­tics unit — one day af­ter the FDA sanc­tioned the ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval of the com­pa­ny’s lat­est an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate. Thomas Schi­neck­er — who has been with the com­pa­ny since 2003 — is be­ing pro­mot­ed to CEO of Roche Di­ag­nos­tics, and will be­gin his tenure from Au­gust 1, the com­pa­ny said. Schi­neck­er will re­place Roland Diggel­mann, who left his post last Au­gust.

In ad­di­tion, Roche board mem­ber Pe­ter Vos­er — who has been with the com­pa­ny since 2011 — has elect­ed to step down to fo­cus on his role as in­ter­im CEO of ABB. Fur­ther­more, Roche’s head of group com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Stephan Feld­haus, is al­so leav­ing and will be re­placed by Bar­bara Schaedler, who is cur­rent­ly head of pub­lic af­fairs at pri­vate en­er­gy com­pa­ny E.ON SE.

Unum Ther­a­peu­tics has en­list­ed sev­er­al C-suite mem­bers on its on­go­ing quest for a new kind of T cell ther­a­py. Matthew Os­borne, a for­mer VP of cor­po­rate af­fairs, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­vestors re­la­tions at Voy­ager Ther­a­peu­tics, is the new CFO. Take­da vet Jes­si­ca Sachs has been pro­mot­ed to CMO, re­plac­ing Michael Vas­con­celles. In ad­di­tion, Mert Ak­tar has been ap­point­ed to the new­ly cre­at­ed role of head of busi­ness and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment af­ter 8 years at Shire.

Michael Vas­con­celles has been re­cruit­ed by Flat­iron Health to serve as its CMO. Vas­con­celles just left the same po­si­tion at Unum Ther­a­peu­tics. Vas­con­celles’ pre­vi­ous stints in­clude serv­ing at Take­da/Mil­len­ni­um, Gen­zyme and Sanofi On­col­o­gy. Cur­rent­ly, he is as a clin­i­cal in­struc­tor in med­i­cine at Har­vard Med­ical School and is a prac­tic­ing on­col­o­gist and as­so­ciate physi­cian at the Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute and Brigham & Women’s Hos­pi­tal in Boston.

→ Af­ter a re­cent stint as vice pres­i­dent of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and qual­i­ty as­sur­ance at Charleston Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Mark Man­nebach is join­ing Eiger Bio­Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals as its vice pres­i­dent of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Mark Man­nebach Linkedin

“Eiger’s pipeline is now late-stage with planned glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing an NDA and MAA for Prog­e­ria and Progeroid Laminopathies, en­roll­ment of a glob­al Phase III study for Lon­a­farnib in HDV, and End of Phase 2 meet­ings for Pegin­ter­fer­on Lamb­da in HDV and Avex­i­tide in Post-Bariatric Hy­po­glycemia,” said David Cory, pres­i­dent and CEO of Eiger. “Mark’s glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence will strength­en our lead­er­ship team and ex­e­cu­tion.”

Some of Man­nebach’s pre­vi­ous stints in­clude roles at Sanofi, Pfiz­er, Co­vi­di­en and Mallinck­rodt Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Zy­la Life Sci­ences re­cruit­ed Jef­frey Wilkins as its CMO and se­nior vice pres­i­dent. Wilkins joins the com­pa­ny from the same po­si­tion at Lyc­era. Pri­or to his time at Lyc­era, Wilkins had stints at Nex­ep­tion Ther­a­peu­tics, Cep­taris Ther­a­peu­tics, Acte­lion and GSK.

Deepi­ka Jalota Linkedin

PMV Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — a biotech fo­cused on p53-tar­get­ed small mol­e­cule drugs for can­cer — an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Deepi­ka Jalota as its se­nior vice pres­i­dent and head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Pri­or to join­ing the com­pa­ny, Jalota served as vice pres­i­dent glob­al-reg­u­la­to­ry strat­e­gy head, on­col­o­gy at Bay­er Health­care. Be­fore that, Jalota had stints at Sanofi-Aven­tis, For­est Lab­o­ra­to­ries and Proc­tor and Gam­ble.

Chelsea Place John­son Linkedin

Chelsea Place John­son has joined the ear­ly-stage VC At­las Ven­ture as its se­nior as­so­ciate, fo­cus­ing on new com­pa­ny for­ma­tion across ar­eas of un­met med­ical need. John­son, who most re­cent­ly man­aged busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics, had pre­vi­ous­ly worked at Third Rock Ven­tures.

→ As Ac­celeron Phar­ma ap­proach­es the fin­ish line with lus­pa­ter­cept, co-founder Tom Ma­ni­atis is re­tir­ing from the board while con­tin­u­ing to ad­vise the com­pa­ny’s de­vel­op­ment of TGF-be­ta su­per­fam­i­ly ther­a­peu­tics. Ma­ni­atis co-found­ed the com­pa­ny in 2003 and has since tak­en up a CEO role at New York Genome Cen­ter, which he al­so helped start.

Do­main Ther­a­peu­tics — a bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny spe­cial­ized in the dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment of new drug can­di­dates tar­get­ing trans­mem­brane re­cep­tors, in par­tic­u­lar, G pro­tein-cou­pled re­cep­tors (GPCRs) — an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Sylvie Rycke­busch to its board of di­rec­tors.

Rycke­busch was most re­cent­ly the CBO the non­prof­it Es­peR­are Foun­da­tion. In ad­di­tion, her ex­pe­ri­ence spans to roles at Mer­ck Serono and as the founder of Oc­tave Biotech Con­sult­ing.

 

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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Ted Love. HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Bain’s biotech team has cre­at­ed a $1B-plus fund — with an eye to more Big Phar­ma spin­outs

One of the biggest investors to burst onto the biotech scene in recent years has re-upped with more than a billion dollars flowing into its second fund. And this next wave of bets will likely include more of the Big Pharma spinouts that highlighted their first 3 years in action.

Adam Koppel and Jeff Schwartz got the new life sciences fund at Bain Capital into gear in the spring of 2016, as they were putting together a $720 million fund with $600 million flowing in from external investors and the rest drawn from the Bain side of the equation. This time the external investors chipped in $900 million, with Bain coming in for roughly $180 million more.

They’re not done with Fund I, with plans to add a couple more deals to the 15 they’ve already posted. And once again, they’re estimating another 15 to 20 investments over a 3- to 5-year time horizon for Fund II.

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Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.

Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.


Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.


Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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Adding mar­quee in­vestors, Black­Thorn bags $76M to back an AI-dri­ven strat­e­gy for pre­ci­sion neu­ro med­i­cine

As ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing loom ever larg­er in drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment, a biotech op­er­at­ing at the “nexus” of tech­nol­o­gy and neu­ro­sciences has cashed in with $76 mil­lion in fresh fi­nanc­ing.

The big idea at Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics is to do for neu­robe­hav­ioral dis­or­ders what ge­net­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­py has done for on­col­o­gy: Re­de­fine pa­tient pop­u­la­tions by the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­o­gy — dys­reg­u­lat­ed brain cir­cuits, or neu­rotypes — in­stead of symp­toms, there­by find­ing the pa­tients who are most like­ly to ben­e­fit at en­roll­ment phase.

Fol­low­ing CAR-T pi­o­neer­s' foot­steps, Tes­sa launch­es Chi­na JV in $120M deal

These days just about every biotech se­ri­ous about glob­al de­vel­op­ment — and not just com­mer­cial­iza­tion — has a Chi­na strat­e­gy. Tes­sa Ther­a­peu­tics, a Bay­lor as­so­ci­at­ed out­fit based out of Sin­ga­pore, is no ex­cep­tion.

Tak­ing a page out of the CAR-T pi­o­neers’ play­book, Tes­sa is es­tab­lish­ing a joint ven­ture with Chi­na-Sin­ga­pore Guangzhou Knowl­edge City, which is ini­tial­ly putting down $40 mil­lion for a 13% stake with $40 mil­lion more to come in a sec­ond stage. The biotech, which now re­tains an 87% con­trol, is al­so rolling out its own con­tri­bu­tions in two phas­es, start­ing with $20 mil­lion and all its tech­nol­o­gy li­cense rights for Chi­na.

Sil­i­con Val­ley's most an­tic­i­pat­ed slide deck just dropped. What does it mean for bio­phar­ma's dig­i­tal teams?

These aren’t the typ­i­cal slides you’d see at End­points — no mol­e­cules, clin­i­cal pro­grams, or p-val­ues. In­stead, we’ll talk dig­i­tal and in­ter­net trends, fac­tors that elite glob­al brands — re­gard­less of in­dus­try — must first mea­sure and un­der­stand be­fore de­ploy­ing prod­ucts in­to the world. That’s a con­cept that most of our Big Phar­ma au­di­ence is in tune with. Dig­i­tal aware­ness is key to suc­cess in the dis­cov­ery, de­vel­op­ment, and mar­ket­ing of new bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, and most of the ma­jors now have a chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer: No­var­tis, Sanofi, and Pfiz­er, just to name a few.