With fresh com­pa­ny build­ing lessons from Abl­ynx, Ed­win Moses is ready to try it again as chair of neoanti­gen biotech Achilles

Ed­win Moses

Af­ter of­fi­cial­ly pass­ing off Abl­ynx to Sanofi in Ju­ly, Ed­win Moses took Au­gust off — the longest break the biotech CEO has had in about 20 years.

“By the end of that I was al­ready bored,” he says.

At the rec­om­men­da­tion of long­time friend and Syn­cona CEO Mar­tin Mur­phy, Moses has tak­en his first role since seal­ing the $4.8 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion deal about 10 months ago: board chair­man at Achilles Ther­a­peu­tics.

Iraj Ali

Moses is ex­pect­ed to play a steady­ing hand for the young Steve­nage, UK-based com­pa­ny — which, at 45 em­ploy­ees, is of sim­i­lar size as Abl­ynx in 2006 when he first took the reins — and sup­port Syn­cona man­ag­ing part­ner Iraj Ali as Ali moves in­to a full-time CEO po­si­tion.

“We want to be a ful­ly in­te­grat­ed biotech com­pa­ny in con­trol of com­mer­cial­iza­tion and our own des­tiny,” Ali tells me, “and that’s where the ap­point­ment of some­one like Ed­win is re­al­ly so per­fect for us be­cause he match­es the ex­pe­ri­ence and he brings the same vi­sion.”

Charles Swan­ton

Co-found­ed by Char­lie Swan­ton of the Fran­cis Crick In­sti­tute, Achilles is a play­er in the hot neoanti­gen for can­cer field, lever­ag­ing heavy se­quenc­ing to iden­ti­fy a pa­tient-spe­cif­ic set of tu­mor mu­ta­tions that it can tar­get. But un­like oth­er neoanti­gen pi­o­neers like Grit­stone On­col­o­gy, Neon Ther­a­peu­tics and BioN­Tech, Achilles is look­ing to di­rect­ly de­liv­er can­cer killing T cells rather than stim­u­lat­ing an im­mune re­sponse via a vac­cine.

By tak­ing a “tu­mor evo­lu­tion­ary ap­proach to se­lect­ing neoanti­gens” — ze­ro­ing in on a spe­cial group of neoanti­gens that’s present on every can­cer cell — Ali al­so be­lieves their cell ther­a­pies can de­liv­er a more po­tent and durable re­sponse.

“We’re look­ing to tar­get the most dif­fi­cult to treat metasta­t­ic can­cers where I think vac­cines would strug­gle,” Ali says of the ap­proach.

They are start­ing with a small tri­al in non-small cell lung can­cer ear­ly next year, with a sec­ond clin­i­cal pro­gram in melanoma to fol­low.

A re­sound­ing theme as the rapid­ly ex­pand­ing team ex­e­cutes all of this, Moses says, will be am­bi­tion.

“Iraj and his col­leagues have plen­ty of am­bi­tion but I think I can even add to that,” he says. “I think com­ing from the out­side you see what po­ten­tial is, and the po­ten­tial could be re­al­ly bold.”

Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Jean-Jacques Bienaime, BioMarin chairman and CEO

Bio­Marin holds the line on bleeds with 4-year val­rox up­date on he­mo­phil­ia A — but what's this about an­oth­er de­cline in Fac­tor 8 lev­els?

BioMarin has posted some top-line results for their 4-year followup on the most advanced gene therapy for hemophilia A — extending its streak on keeping a handful of patients free of bleeds and off Factor VIII therapy, but likely stirring fresh worries over a continued drop in Factor VIII levels.

We just don’t know how big a drop.

We’ll see more data when the results are presented at the World Federation of Hemophilia in a couple of weeks. But in a statement out Sunday night, BioMarin $BMRN reported that none of the patients required Factor VIII treatment, adding:

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Lynn Seely, Myovant CEO

My­ovant’s re­l­u­golix wins a piv­otal prostate can­cer show­down with an old stan­dard — com­ing down to the wire on ap­provals

Myovant $MYOV has rounded the final turn in its development race to get relugolix down to the regulatory wire at the FDA. And the biotech joined the virtual crowd at ASCO with the kind of data needed to keep the investor crowd’s attention.

Much of the attention on the drug has been focused on uterine fibroids, where AbbVie just scored a regulatory win for their rival drug Oriahnn (elagolix) as the biotech posted results in prostate cancer at the ASCO meeting.

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File photo (Endpoints News)

In a sting­ing set­back, Pfiz­er’s can­cer block­buster Ibrance flops in key ad­ju­vant set­ting

One of Pfizer’s top, long-running R&D catalysts has gone up in smoke, and it took an $11 billion bite of their market cap in the process.

The monitoring committee determined that Pfizer’s adjuvant study using Ibrance combined with standard endocrine therapy in an adjuvant setting for early-stage breast cancer has officially failed to make the cut. The combo failed to beat the standard alone, tripping over the futility analysis. And the Pfizer team will now wrap the study early after pumping up hopes that their blockbuster cancer therapy could find billions more by proving its efficacy for disease-free survival in a major area — something AstraZeneca just accomplished with Tagrisso to great fanfare.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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