Affimed hires CMO with Big Pharma background to oversee I-O R&D

Alland’s time at Bristol-Myers covered the period in which Opdivo and Yervoy made their way through early clinical testing. (CC0 License)

Affimed has named Leila Alland, M.D., as its CMO. Alland landed the role on the strength of a CV that features stints spent advancing clinical oncology programs at AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis.

Heidelberg, Germany-based Affimed has hired Alland away from Tarveda Therapeutics, a Novo A/S, New Enterprise Associates-backed developer of miniaturized antibody-drug conjugates. Alland spent two years at Tarveda, during which time she oversaw early-phase development of a solid tumor drug, but has now decided her future lies with Affimed and its pipeline of NK and T cell engager programs.

“Affimed's novel tetravalent bispecific antibodies for immune cell engagement offer a unique approach to accelerate the trajectory of the immuno-oncology field and achieve significant benefit for patients,” Alland said in a statement. “I … look forward to advancing the differentiated pipeline of NK and T cell engagers for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, acute myeloid leukemia and other malignancies.”

The modality of the drugs in development at Affimed differs somewhat from those of the programs Alland has trialled in the past. But the German biotech’s therapeutic focus and stage of development fall squarely in her wheelhouse. 

At AstraZeneca, Alland’s last Big Pharma gig, the now-Affimed CMO ran early to midphase trials of non-small cell lung cancer drug Tagrisso. Prior to that, Alland’s seven-year spell as executive director of oncology early clinical development at Bristol-Myers covered the period in which Opdivo and Yervoy made their way through the first stages of testing in humans. Further back, Alland had a hand in the development of Novartis’ chronic myelogenous leukemia drug Tasigna.

At Affimed, Alland inherits a clinical pipeline dotted with phase 1 and 2 trials of drugs targeting CD30 and CD19. But the biotech has struggled to drum up excitement in its pipeline, causing its stock to bump along either side of the $2 mark for the past year.