The un­der­dog cham­pi­on of Roche’s huge pRED group is out. John Reed is com­ing home to Amer­i­ca

John Reed’s 5-year ef­fort to re­vamp Roche’s big, un­pro­duc­tive pRED re­search group is over.

Re­cruit­ed from his po­si­tion as head of the pres­ti­gious San­ford-Burn­ham Med­ical Re­search In­sti­tute in La Jol­la, CA, Reed’s job was to bind up the wounds and ral­ly pRED af­ter a ma­jor re­or­ga­ni­za­tion that led Roche to sev­er its sprawl­ing cam­pus in Nut­ley, NJ. To­day, Roche CEO Sev­erin Schwan said he was out, leav­ing for “per­son­al rea­sons” and re­turn­ing to the US.

William Pao

William Pao is tak­ing his place, mov­ing up from his role as head of pRED’s on­col­o­gy dis­cov­ery and trans­la­tion­al area.

Roche is unique among the top 10 phar­ma play­ers to di­vide its re­search group in two. But af­ter it ac­quired com­plete con­trol of Genen­tech, the ma­jor fo­cus was pre­vent­ing the can­cer re­search pow­er­house from los­ing its leg­endary mo­jo and dis­in­te­grat­ing in­to an emp­ty shell. Roche bad­ly need­ed Genen­tech to pro­vide a slate of new, block­buster drugs, and that is ex­act­ly what the South San Fran­cis­co biotech group has ac­com­plished as a sep­a­rate or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Reed, though, was based in Basel, tak­ing the reins of a group that in­clud­ed all its Eu­ro­pean op­er­a­tions as well as a base camp of sur­vivors from Nut­ley who were moved in­to Man­hat­tan.

“This will be the last of the moves for some time,” Reed as­sured me as they cut the rib­bon on their new digs in New York back in 2013. Moves, he added, “are just poi­son.”

Reed’s ar­rival pro­vid­ed some sta­bil­i­ty. But his tenure ends with­out any string of ma­jor suc­cess­es to re­flect on.

One stand­out, Gazy­va, hasn’t per­formed spec­tac­u­lar­ly well so far on the mar­ket­ing side of things. And some of the drugs that Reed men­tioned to me back in 2013 — like RG7116 and emac­tuzum­ab — ap­pear to have ei­ther been lost along the way or still face a long clin­i­cal path. And even in­side Roche there ap­pears to have been some grow­ing frus­tra­tions, pleas­ant­ly waved off by Schwan in a re­cent in­ter­view with Reuters when he said:

You can’t pro­gram to have a cer­tain num­ber of mol­e­cules com­ing through the pipeline every year in each unit.

The group does have its spot­light pro­grams, in­clud­ing a bis­pe­cif­ic called CEA-TCB that en­gages T cells for an at­tack on can­cer cells, a fol­low-up drug for Lu­cen­tis, ida­sunut­lin for AML and an autism drug called RG7314 (balo­vap­tan), which won a “break­through” ther­a­py wor­thy of VIP treat­ment at the agency.

Some of that may yet help high­light Reed’s tenure in one of the top jobs in drug re­search. But 5 years is a long time for the ju­ry to be out.


Im­age: John Reed. ROCHE

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Roche and Genen­tech re­searchers plot $53M dis­cov­ery quest aimed at spark­ing a 'Holy moly' piv­ot in neu­ro R&D

Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.

Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.

Am­gen, As­traZeneca speed to­ward fil­ing next-gen an­ti­body for asth­ma af­ter un­cork­ing full late-stage da­ta

On the hunt for a novel competitor to Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent in severe asthma, Amgen and AstraZeneca posted “exciting” results from their next-gen antibody late last year. Now, the partners are showing their hands, and the results look good enough for approval.

Amgen and AstraZeneca’s tezepelumab plus standard of care cut the rate of severe asthma attacks by 56% at the one-year mark compared with SOC alone, according to full data from the Phase III NAVIGATOR study presented Friday at the virtual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting. And those significant results were consistent regardless of patients’ baseline eosinophil counts.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 102,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.