Arcus Biosciences CMO Jumps to Gilead Sciences After 10-Year Oncology Pact

Executives

Shares of Arcus Biosciences dipped sharply in post-market trading Monday after it was learned that the company’s chief medical officer was departing for a role at Gilead Sciences.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Arcus announced CMO Bill Grossman, M.D., Ph.D., was leaving to take on the position of senior vice president of oncology clinical research at Gilead Sciences. Grossman resigned from Arcus on July 16 and is expected to assume his new duties on July 26.

In his new role, Grossman will oversee Gilead’s clinical-stage oncology portfolio. One of those programs includes an ongoing collaboration with Arcus to develop several cancer drugs within that company’s pipeline. Gilead struck the deal with Arcus as the company continues to shift its strategy to include oncology as a core focus. 

Last year, Gilead and Arcus forged a 10-year partnership to co-develop and co-commercialize Arcus’ oncology products. Part of the deal included Gilead taking a $200 million stake in California-based Arcus. When the two companies began working together, Grossman worked as a consultant with Gilead while also handling his CMO duties at Arcus.

One of Arcus’ developmental assets is the investigational anti-TIGIT antibody domvanalimab (AB154), which has the potential merits of becoming a backbone therapy in oncology. The company has been assessing domvanalimab in a three-arm randomized Phase II study dubbed ARC-7. The company is assessing domvanalimab in combination with its checkpoint inhibitor candidate zimberelimab in non-small cell lung cancer. The study is also assessing domvanalimab and etrumadenant, a dual A2a/A2b adenosine receptor antagonist, with zimberelimab.

Last month, Arcus announced promising interim data from the ARC-7 study that showed encouraging clinical activity from the combination therapy. At the time, Grossman called the ongoing analysis of ARC-7 “encouraging.” He also noted that data from the company’s own checkpoint inhibitor zimberelimab showed similar activity to currently-marketed anti-PD-1 drugs.

In the June announcement, Arcus said Gilead Sciences has an exclusive option for the co-development and commercialization of domvanalimab under the 10-year partnership and is expected to determine if it will option those rights later this year. In the meantime, the companies are preparing for Phase III studies of domvanalimab.

When Grossman assumes his new role at Gilead, he will become the primary point of contact between the two companies as they develop the oncology assets.

Following Grossman’s departure from Arcus, Kartik Krishnan, the senior vice president, clinical development at Arcus, will take over as head of the company’s clinical program and work closely with his counterpart at Gilead. Krishnan joined Arcus in 2019 as vice president of clinical development and has been responsible for contributing to the company’s strategy associated with Arcus’s clinical programs. As his role with the company expands, it’s expected that Krishnan will assume additional strategic and operational responsibilities and will continued to work with Grossman.

“Arcus is thrilled to welcome Krishnan to its executive team and thanks Grossman for his outstanding work in building a world-class development organization that has executed extraordinarily well on Arcus’s combinatorial development strategy and placed the company in strong position to fully leverage the opportunities inherent in its five clinical-stage molecules,” the company said in its filing.

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