When CEO and president at Bind Therapeutics, Andrew Hirsch had to swing the ax to his workforce, file for bankruptcy and in the end sell off its remaining assets to Pfizer.
Hirsch, who after that was chief financial officer at Agios for a few years, is now back at the helm of a biotech: C4 Therapeutics, a quiet biotech working on disease-causing proteins for a range of diseases including cancer and neurodegenerative conditions.
Marc Cohen, co-founder of C4 and its interim CEO, will step down as chief but remain as executive chairman of the company.
While some of the details of C4’s work on specific targets and the like have been kept close to the chest, the former Fierce 15 winner has formed collaborations with Roche, Calico and most recently Biogen—with a deal inked last January totaling up to $415 million for research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
C4’s platform aims to develop small-molecule treatments that harness the body’s naturally occurring pathways for dismantling and eliminating proteins within the cell. By tagging disease-causing proteins for demolition by the cell’s own proteasomes, the company aims to reach classes of targets that have been difficult to reach with traditional means.
Last year it hired Adam Crystal, M.D., Ph.D., a senior director at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, to be its new chief medical officer and help carry its targeted protein degraders closer to the clinic.
And three months back it also nabbed $150 million in series B equity co-led by existing investor Cobro Ventures and new investor Perceptive Advisors, while also getting $20 million in venture debt from Perceptive Advisors.
Hirsch will now take ultimate charge, but he comes with a mixed CV in biotech.
He came on board at Bind in 2015, two years after its IPO, and came out as one of the many brainchildren of MIT’s Bob Langer. But just a year later, Bind’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. Its lead asset, BIND-014, put up mixed data in a pair of trials testing it in non-small cell lung cancer and in cervical and head and neck cancers.
Though the treatment did OK in the lung cancer trial—logging a 52.5% disease control rate over six weeks—it flopped in the second trial. It shrank no tumors in patients with cervical cancer and did so in only 10% of those with head and neck cancer. Bind halted the second study.
Though it chalked up the lung cancer data as a success, it sought a Big Pharma partner to push that program forward because it simply didn’t have enough cash, despite announcing it would cut 38% of its workforce, leaving only 61 staffers. Ideally, Bind’s next step would be a combination trial with an immuno-oncology partner, Hirsch told Fierce Biotech at the time.
That I-O deal never materialized, and Bind found itself seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while it figured out what to do next. A major licensing deal was still on the table for Bind, as was selling the company or some of its assets.
Pfizer, its early partner, came knocking in July with a $20 million stalking horse offer. An auction later that month pushed the Big Pharma’s bid to $40 million. And with around $13 million of that sale going to its increasingly impatient lender Hercules Technology, it’s not clear how much—if anything—ended up in the pockets of Bind shareholders.
Hirsch will now move into a new chapter with C4. “I am thrilled to be joining C4T, which is a leader in developing this exciting new modality of medicines,” said Hirsch.
“I am passionate about improving the lives of patients and believe that C4T’s proprietary technology platform has the ability to develop novel therapeutic candidates to target and eliminate disease-causing proteins for the treatment of cancer, neurodegenerative conditions and other diseases. This approach offers a tremendous opportunity to make a lasting impact on patient outcomes.”