Relay Therapeutics Appoints Key Leadership Members Following Acquisition
Clinical-stage precision medicine company Relay Therapeutics has brought two new senior level management team members into the fold, including Tara O’Meara, who has been appointed to senior vice president of clinical development operations.
O’Meara previously served at bluebird bio, first as a leader in the development and execution of the clinical program for rare genetic disorders and then, most recently, as the clinical development operations department leader overseeing development programs across severe genetic disease and oncology.
Charles Ferté, M.D., Ph.D., another new hire at Relay, was appointed to vice president of global medical lead for RLY-4008, the company’s highly selective FGFR2 Inhibitor that’s being studied for the treatment of certain cancers. Ferté is the former senior director and global project leader at AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D division, overseeing the development of several immune-oncology assets.
Ferté will be overseeing Relay’s lead candidate, RLY-4008, which recently demonstrated durable activity against several on-target resistance mutations in both cellular and in vivo preclinical studies, which were presented at this year’s virtual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tara and Charles to our growing clinical team at Relay Therapeutics,” said Relay Therapeutics’ President and Chief Executive Officer, Sanjiv Patel, M.D., in a statement. “Over the last few years, we believe we have validated our approach of integrating computational and experimental techniques across multiple areas of drug discovery and have successfully advanced two products to the clinic with another one close behind. The leadership of Tara and Charles will fortify our clinical team and continue to strengthen what we intend to be a robust pipeline going forward.”
The new appointments immediately follow an acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based ZebiAI, a deal that saw Relay making an upfront payment of $85 million to acquire the ZebiAl. According to Relay, the new acquisition should accelerate the company’s ability to use machine learning across its own platform to facilitate the discovery of new treatments against certain intractable targets.
“We have built a unique ability over the past five years to combine diverse computational and experimental technologies to create new medicines,” said Patel in a statement. “The combination of ZebiAI’s approach with our Dynamo platform has the potential to predict more drug-like chemical starting points, reduce cycle time to compound optimization, and ultimately, increase the number and range of programs that can be developed in parallel. We aim to continue to tackle the toughest drug discovery problems to have an even greater impact on patients, and ZebiAI will help us achieve this goal.”
Late last year, Relay also entered into a global license and collaboration agreement with Genentech for RLY-1971, a potent SHP2 inhibitor that “has the potential to serve as a backbone for combination therapy across numerous solid tumors and therefore represents an encouraging approach for cancer patients,” according to a statement by Patel.
The Genetech collaboration agreement saw Relay receiving an upfront fee of $75 million and up to another $25 million in near-term payments as well as $695 million in possible milestones. Additionally, Relay was made eligible to also receive royalties on net product sales earned worldwide. Relay noted in an announcement on the collaboration that it will now have funding available to sustain its research and development operations through the year 2024.