Ex-Immunomedics CEO takes the wheel at Danish ADC player

Ex-Immunomedics CEO takes the wheel at Danish ADC player

On the heels of a $62 million funding round, Denmark’s Adcendo has a new CEO: Michael Pehl, formerly Celgene’s oncology chief and CEO of Immunomedics, the company behind Gilead’s potential blockbuster breast cancer drug Trodelvy.

Pehl takes over from Adcendo’s founding CEO Henrik Stage, who now becomes chief financial officer. Armed with the recent funding, Adcendo is working on a pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), including a program aimed at uPARAP, a new cancer target.

UPARAP is a collagen scavenger receptor found in high levels in a range of cancers, such as brain cancer and triple-negative breast cancer. The receptor’s job is to bring collagen into cells, so Adcendo plans to use it as a “drug internalization pump” that transports drug payloads into cancer cells.

“This comes at a critical inflection point in Adcendo’s development and we are very pleased to have someone with such a unique blend of proven scientific and commercial experience, including taking drugs from bench to market, to build on the company’s momentum and help maximize the potential of our unique biologic insights and novel ADCs,” said John Haurum, chairman of Adcendo’s board, in a statement.

Pehl arrives from GEMoaB, a German biotech developing two switchable, universal CAR-T platforms that became part of a new CAR-T company set up by its parent, Cellex Cell Partners, Blackstone Life Sciences and Intellia Therapeutics just last month. The new startup launched with $250 million from Blackstone, the universal CAR-T platforms from GEMoaB and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology from Intellia.

Before leading GEMoaB, Pehl was the CEO of Immunomedics for just over a year. He left in early 2019, soon after the FDA rejected the application for sacituzumab govitecan, the drug that would eventually cross the finish line in 2020 for triple-negative breast cancer and become Trodelvy. Gilead snapped up the company for $21 billion five months later.

He arrived at Immunomedics a few months after retiring from Celgene in 2017, taking over from Michael Garone, the company’s chief financial officer who was standing in as interim CEO. At Celgene, Pehl was president of oncology, spearheading the global clinical programs and launches of various drugs including leukemia treatment Idhifa and multiple myeloma meds Revlimid and Pomalyst.

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