Sector News

Scangos recruits Washington University prof Virgin for Vir CSO role

November 28, 2017
Life sciences

George Scangos has lined up top-tier scientific leadership for his new venture Vir Biotechnology, enticing eminent infectious disease and immunology specialist Herbert W. “Skip” Virgin M.D., Ph.D., from his current position at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

Virgin is known for his expertise in teasing out the relationships between pathogens and the immune system, with a particular emphasis on viral diseases but also covering bacterial and parasitic infections.

Former Biogen CEO Scangos—who has headed the Fierce15 company since it emerged in January—said Virgin is “an internationally renowned scientist and leader who has made major contributions to the field of immunology and infectious diseases.”

“His vision and passion for science will be invaluable to Vir as we pursue our mission of transforming the care of people with serious infectious diseases.”

Virgin will assume the twin roles of executive vice president of research and chief scientific officer on Jan. 1. The R&D role at Vir has been fulfilled to date by ex-Vertex Pharma executive Vicki Sato, who will now focus on her other role as chairman of the company.

Trained at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, for more than a decade Virgin has been the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and head of the department of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine, which has been recognized for pioneering work in immunobiology.

His background in the use of genetic, structural, computational and sequencing methods to understand viral pathogenesis and immunity dovetails with Vir’s focus on using immune programming to manipulate the processes by which pathogens interact with the hosts they infect.

The biotech intends to target three areas: chronic infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis and HIV; viral respiratory diseases; and infections acquired in healthcare settings. Vir bought a portfolio of 15 antibody candidates at a stroke recently when it acquired Swiss biotech Humabs BioMed.

License deals with Visterra for another six antibodies—including an option on a candidate for influenza A in phase 2—and with Alnylam for up to five RNA interference candidates headed by a hepatitis B drug, have also fleshed out Vir’s pipeline.

When Vir first burst onto the scene—backed with a $150 million war chest from ARCH Venture Partners and another undisclosed block of cash from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—Scangos said the aim is to take on “some of the world’s most challenging infectious diseases for which solutions are nonexistent or inadequate.”

The startup said last month it has amassed financing of $500 million to date and expects to move several compounds into clinical development in the next year and a half.

By Phil Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

comments closed

Related News

June 24, 2022

Echosens and Novo Nordisk announce partnership to increase awareness and advance early diagnosis of NASH

Life sciences

Echosens, a high-technology company offering liver diagnostic solutions, and Novo Nordisk A/S, a leading global healthcare company, announced a partnership to advance early diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and increase awareness of the disease among patients, healthcare providers and other stakeholders.

June 24, 2022

argenx receives positive CHMP opinion for Efgartigimod for the treatment of adult patients with Generalized Myasthenia Gravis in Europe

Life sciences

Positive opinion based on Phase 3 ADAPT trial showing efgartigimod provided clinically meaningful improvements in strength and quality of life measures. If approved, efgartigimod will be the first neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) blocker for the treatment of adults in Europe living with rare neuromuscular disease generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG).

June 24, 2022

Galapagos finally takes M&A plunge, spending $251M for 2 biotechs in CAR-T push

Life sciences

Galapagos CEO Paul Stoffels, M.D., has finally taken the plunge on M&A. The newly minted chief executive has signed not one but two deals in an attempt to right the ship, bringing two small biotechs aboard for a combined 239 million euros ($251.4 million).