Bay Area's Harpoon Therapeutics Taps Former Kolltan Pharma Exec as New CEO

Bay Area's Harpoon Therapeutics Taps Former Kolltan Pharma Exec as New CEO December 14, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BRISBANE, Calif. – The leadership at venture capital-backed preclinical biotech company Harpoon Therapeutics continues to shape up with the appointment of Gerald (Jerry) McMahon, as president and chief executive officer.

McMahon takes over the reins of the company from founder Patrick Baeuerle, who will continue to serve on Harpoon’s board of directors. Baeuerle is a managing director at MPM Capital, the founding company of Harpoon Therapeutics.

McMahon has a long history in the biotech and pharma industry. Most recently he helmed immuno-oncology company Kolltan Pharmaceuticals until it was acquired by Celldex . Prior to his time with Kolltan, McMahon served as senior vice president of R&D Oncology at MedImmune , the biologics subsidiary of AstraZeneca . McMahon was also director at Sandoz, serving in various R&D roles prior to the company’s merger with Ciba-Geigy to form Novartis , Harpoon said in its statement.

The appointment of McMahon follows the naming of Hans-Peter Gerber as the company’s chief scientific officer in November. Gerber came to Harpoon from Pfizer where he most recently served as chief scientific officer of Bioconjugates Discovery and Development at its Oncology Research Unit. Gerber also spent 11 years at Genentech studying the mechanisms involved in regulating blood vessel formation and developing therapeutic antibodies interfering with tumor growth.

Harpoon Therapeutics is slowly emerging from a stealth role. Although the company has a website, it is currently under construction. The web page at MPM Capital only notes that the company is developing novel T-cell recruiting antibody therapies for treating cancer patients. What those novel T-cell antibody therapies are, or what cancers they are targeting is not mentioned.

In a statement about the appointment of McMahon, Luke Evnin, cofounder and managing director of MPM, said the new CEO has “proven experience with a focus on oncology and immuno-oncology therapeutics” that will “enable Harpoon’s growth as we advance the development of our novel T-cell recruiting cancer treatments for patients in need.”

MPM Capital is an early-stage life sciences venture firm. The companies founded by MPM are developing treatments for multiple areas including cancer, diabetes, obesity and pain. MPM invested in Harpoon from its two funds—the BV2014 and UBS Oncology Impact Funds. How much those investments were, were not disclosed in the release. However, an Xconomy report shows Harpoon Therapeutics received $15 million in financing in March from MPM Capital. The purpose of the financing was not listed on the document, but the funds are likely going into the development of a company pipeline.

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