Vertex CFO Thomas Graney exits abruptly; Eli Lilly touts a head-to-head win over Humira
→ Vertex CFO Thomas Graney has abruptly resigned. The bellwether Boston biotech says that COO Ian Smith will fill in on a temporary basis. There was no explanation for the departure — Graney handed in his resignation letter on December 13 — outlined in an SEC filing Monday morning. UPDATE: After we reported this Monday, a startup named Generation Bio — helmed by Geoff McDonough — put out a notice that Graney had decided to jump over to become their CFO. So mystery solved.
→ Eli Lilly $LLY is boasting about a big win in a head-to-head study pitting their drug Taltz against AbbVie’s $ABBV powerhouse drug Humira. Researchers say their drug beat out the world’s top selling drug on the primary — the proportion of patients simultaneously achieving at least a 50% reduction in disease activity…as well as complete skin clearance — and all major secondary endpoints. Lilly recruited 566 active PsA patients for the Phase IIIb study.
→ Daiichi Sankyo has out-licensed its Phase I ROS1/NTRK inhibitor DS-6051 to Basking Ridge, NJ-based AnHeart Therapeutics for an unspecified upfront and milestones. The two companies will complete two ongoing Phase I studies, after which AnHeart will be in control.
→ The promise of RNA splicing is enticing high-profile names. Eisai’s US unit, H3 Biomedicine, and Bristol-Myers Squibb $BMY are joining hands to see whether therapeutics leveraging H3’s RNA splicing platform can provide a more powerful response against cancer. The deal comes months after antisense startup Stoke Therapeutics — whose experimental drug is designed to up-regulate production of a protein missing in patients with Dravet syndrome by targeting RNA splicing — raked in $90 million in a Series B round.
→ London’s White City hub has attracted another life sciences player — GammaDelta Therapeutics — to the party. The West London region, which borders Imperial College London’s research and innovation campus, has become a British biotech favorite, most recently luring Novartis $NVS to set up shop in the WestWorks, part of the rebirth of the old BBC Media Village campus in the area . GammaDelta has also relocated to WestWorks from the London BioScience Innovation Centre near St Pancras.
→ Shanghai Henlius Biotech, the Fosun/Henlius joint venture that was once tipped to be the first company to take advantage of Hong Kong’s new listing rules for pre-revenue biotechs, has applied for an IPO at the HKEX. Its pipeline is divided between biosimilars and novel biologics targeting cancer and other diseases.