The Atlas portfolio welcomed six new executive hires in recent months.
Gerhard Koenig has landed the top job at Quartet Medicine, just a few months after Merck grabbed a buyout option in its $575 million pain drug partnership deal. The former CSO at Forum, which was shut down recently in the wake of a key trial failure and clinical hold, Koenig takes the reins after founding investor Atlas Venture arranged a $23 million Series A.
After five very strong years, biotech as a sector has struggled to catalyze positive investor sentiment so far for the past twelve months. In a disastrous start to the year, the NASDAQ Biotech Index shed 30% in just the first forty days. The carnage of this winter’s market was captured in a Feb 2016 post. Since then, the stock market has bounced around considerably, amplified by macro volatility with #Brexit, security, and other issues, but closed the first-half of 2016 largely sideways since March.
A new type of medicine was approved in Europe at the end of May that culminated from the successful convergence of two fields of science: stem cell transplantation and gene therapy. Strimvelis, a patient-specific gene-modified stem cell medicine for ADA-SCID (a fatal immunometabolic disorder similar to the bubble-boy disease), was developed by scientists at the San Raffaele Hospital and Telethon Institute (TIGET) in Milan, then later partnered with GSK. The journey took over 25 years of dedicated work from many groups and involved a pivotal trial with 12 children and their brave families. I was fortunate to be involved on the GSK side of the TIGET alliance from 2010-2015, building upon my previous experiences in gene-modified stem cells during a post-doctoral fellowship in the mid-1990s and at Chiron, which had acquired Viagene, an early gene therapy biotech. I thought it was timely to pick out a couple of observations from the development of Strimvelis to see how these might apply not only for the future of stem cell gene therapy but also be the shoulders for the adjacent CAR-T and gene editing technologies to stand on.
This post was written by Jason Gardner, Atlas EIR and CEO of Magenta Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.
About three weeks ago, I attended a dinner organized by a good friend and former sell-side competitor, Dr. Yaron Werber (CBO & CFO at Ovid Therapeutics). Attendees included about a dozen former Wall Street-ers now working in the biotech industry. We were sell-side analysts, investment bankers and hedge-fund managers, and many of us had crossed paths somehow. Some of us worked together, while others were once fierce competitors. Regardless, we all had a genuine curiosity as to why the person sitting next to us left positions on Wall Street that might pay more, provide greater visibility or continue to build on some well-established healthcare franchises on the sell-side or as investment bankers.
This blog was written by Ron Renaud, CEO of RaNA Therapeutics, as part of the From The Trenches feature of LifeSciVC.