New Direction and New Leadership for Sio, LEO Pharma

This week, two biotechnology firms announced new leadership, David Nassif, J.D., and Christophe Bourdon.

Two biotechnology firms announced new leadership this week.

Sio Gene Therapies has named David Nassif, J.D. as its interim chief executive officer following the departure of Dr. Pavan Cheruvu to pursue other opportunities. Nassif assumes this position until the Sio Board search committee finds a permanent replacement from a pool of internal and external candidates under consideration. He also joins the Sio Board of Directors.

Nassif has served as Sio’s general counsel and chief financial officer since July 2019 and brings over 25 years of life sciences industry experience to his new post. Before Sio, he was the executive vice president, chief financial officer and general counsel of SteadyMed Therapeutics.

The transition comes at a high time for Sio, which recently announced that it is focusing more of its efforts and resources toward AXO-AAV-GM1 and AXO-AAV-GM2. Both are clinical-stage AAV gene therapy programs to address GM1 and GM2 gangliosidosis, or Tay-Sachs/Sandhoff disease. This move effectively extends the firm’s cash runway into the second half of 2023. Sio reported around $82 million in cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2021.

The shift in focus also means that Sio is ending its licensing deal with Oxford BioMedica for AXO-Lenti-PD, its lentiviral gene therapy program to treat Parkinson’s disease. The company expects the rights to return to Oxford Biomedica by March 31 this year.

In other news, LEO Pharma announced that Christophe Bourdon will be its new chief executive officer effective April 1, 2022.

Bourdon steps in after a challenging one-year stint as CEO at Orphazyme A/S. Prior to that, he was the senior vice president and general manager of Amgen‘s oncology arm in the U.S. He also served as president of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Canada at Alexion.

His move comes when LEO Pharma is preparing to launch Adbry (tralokinumab) for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis in the U.S. Bourdon takes over from Anders Kronborg, the firm’s chief financial officer who has been assuming the CEO post on an interim basis since Catherine Mazzacco left in November last year. His senior role at Orphazyme will be taken by Anders Vadsholt, the company’s CFO.

Orphazyme had a rough 2021 after the FDA turned down its application for arimoclomol, a drug designed to treat Niemann-Pick disease type C, after failing to meet primary and secondary endpoints. The rejection bore down on the company’s bottom line, forcing it to slash about two-thirds of its staff.