Intellia Promotes R&D Head To CEO

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Intellia Therapeutics has appointed John Leonard, M.D., as its new president and chief, as its former leader and founder Nessan Bermingham, Ph.D., ends his role.

The biotech said in a statement: “In recognition of the company’s growth and expanding pipeline, the board of directors and Dr. Bermingham agreed that Dr. Leonard should lead the company as it progresses toward clinical development, given his experience in successfully developing biopharmaceutical products and leading large scientific organizations.”

Leonard will become the gene-editing biotech’s new head in the new year as Bermingham is “returning to the venture capital industry,” according to the biotech. The biotech stated that Leonard “will continue to oversee R&D until his replacement has been named,” but did not touch on Bermingham move.

“After nearly four years of building Intellia and this exceptional team, the company is now poised to begin development of CRISPR/Cas9-based therapies,” said Bermingham.

“At this stage, Intellia requires a CEO with a track record of successful drug development. John was the first to join me in starting Intellia, and was an ideal partner because of his unmatched R&D expertise and biopharmaceutical leadership experience. As I return to my roots in biotech venture capital, I am confident that Intellia, the science and our employees are in great hands.”

Intellia, Editas and CRISPR Therapeutics are all competing to bring the CRISPR technology into the clinic, with the goal of generating one-dose therapies to cure a multitude of gene-related diseases.
One of the biotech’s in vivo candidates, that targets transthyretin amyloidosis (ATTR), a life-threatening disease triggered by misfolded transthyretin proteins that accumulate as amyloid fibrils in multiple organs, is being co-developed with Regeneron. Intellia has also partnered with Novartis for a knockout repair insertion technology using hematopoietic stem cells, with a first IND anticipated to be submitted sometime next year.

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