Former Celgene and Medtronic CEOs Just Acquired This Maryland Biotech

This article was originally published here

February 14, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Sol J. Barer, the former chief executive officer of Celgene (CELG) and current chairman of the board of Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA), and William Hawkins, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic (MDT), led a consortium of investors in the acquisition of Johns Hopkins University spinout NexImmune.

NexImmune is focused on developing immuno-therapeutics based on the Artificial Immune nanotechnology platform developed by Jonathan Schneck and Mathias Oelke at Johns Hopkins University. The AIM technology deploys a novel process that simultaneously enriches, expands and activates multiple antigen-specific T cells that can be directed against a variety of tumor-relevant antigens, including shared tumor-associated antigens or patient-specific neoantigens, NexImmune said in a statement this morning. The technology will be used in development of immuno-oncology therapies.

NexImmune, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel immuno-therapeutics based on the Artificial Immune (AIM) nanotechnology platform, today announced the completion of the acquisition of the company by a consortium of private investors led by Sol J. Barer, William Hawkins, Joshua Barer (Managing Director, Sunflower Life Sciences), and other private investors.

The AIM technology uses nanoparticle-based artificial Antigen Presenting Cells (aAPC) that bypass the role of natural dendritic cells, a target for immunosuppression by cancers and directly engage endogenous T cells, NexImmune said. The AIM technology is designed to combine robust anti-tumor effector T cells with the generation of immunologic memory. By targeting T cells from the natural repertoire, which are not genetically manipulated, the potential for on-target, off-tumor toxicity may be greatly reduced and safety enhanced, the company said.

“I am excited to support NexImmune’s advancement of this important immunotherapy-based technology,” Barer, the lead investor in the acquisition, said in a statement. “I believe that the AIM nanotechnology platform has the potential to deliver the next generation of immuno-oncology treatment, bringing new hope to patients suffering from many types of malignancies.”

Barer is no stranger to developing small biotech companies. Endpoints reported four small biotech firms together under the name RestorGenex and then sold it to Diffusion. Barer also co-founded Centrexion and served as chairman of Cerecor until 2015. In addition to his new role as chairman of the board at Teva, he also sits on the boards of Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) and Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (AEGR), Endpoints noted.

In launching, NexImmune appointed a new board of directors:

Robert Spiegel, the former chief medical officer of Schering-Plough, was named Chairman

Alan Roemer, senior vice president of corporate development at Roivant Sciences

Graham Burton, former SVP of global regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance and corporate quality assurance and compliance at Celgene (CELG)

Paul D’Angio, former SVP of global technical operations at Celgene

Timothy Bertram, the CEO of RegenMed Therapeutics

Zhengbin (Bing) Yao, SVP of respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity at MedImmune

Scott Carmer, COO at NexImmune

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