Alkermes clinical lead jumps ship to slimmed-down, refocused Seres

Lisa von Moltke, M.D., leaves Alkermes after five years at the biotech. (Pixabay)

After axing its chief scientific officer last year amid a raft of changes to its C-suite and beyond, Seres Therapeutics has nabbed a new chief medical officer from Alkermes.

Lisa von Moltke, M.D., jumps on board at Seres after acting as senior vice president and head of clinical development at Alkermes and before that serving stints at Sanofi Genzyme and Millennium Pharmaceuticals/Takeda Oncology.

She takes the reins as CMO at the biotech, which has had a tough few years. At the start of 2019, it cut about 30% of its workforce and said goodbye to its Chief Scientific Officer David Cook as it narrowed its clinical efforts.

This saw it focus on what it described as its “highest-priority” late-stage microbiome programs for ulcerative colitis and Clostridium difficile infections, as well as a then-planned immuno-oncology study.

That move came less than a month after the company announced its chief financial officer, Eric Shaff, was taking over as CEO and that Seres would look more toward immunological indications as it entered its “next phase of development.”

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Back in 2018, Seres brought on AstraZeneca’s immuno-oncology combination program leader, Kevin Horgan, to serve as its chief medical officer and head up its changing pipeline. There’s no word on Horgan now, and he’s not listed on their site, but with Moltke in, Horgan must now be out as CMO.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Lisa von Moltke as a key addition to our team. Lisa is joining Seres during an especially important period ahead of our anticipated SER-109 ECOSPOR III phase 3 clinical readout in recurrent C. difficile infection,” said Shaff.

“Seres will benefit from Lisa’s extensive experience directing successful development programs, leading clinical teams, and interacting with regulatory agencies across multiple areas of medicine.”

She will no doubt be used to changes in focus and major staff cuts after her time at Alkermes, which last October slashed 160 employees, cut back its future hiring plans and reduced spending in an effort to save $150 million.

The move, which cost the company $15 million, followed the FDA rejection of its depression drug ALKS 5461 back in February and a quarter during which the company posted a net loss of $52.9 million.

With ALKS 5461 out the window, Alkermes is now focusing on its early-phase immuno-oncology program, ALKS 4230, and its schizophrenia drug, ALKS 3831.

“I am excited to join Seres during such a pivotal time with the Company advancing promising development-stage therapeutic candidates for C. difficile infection, ulcerative colitis and cancer,” added von Moltke. “I look forward to working with the team to bring Seres’ innovative microbiome therapeutic approach, a new modality of medicine, forward to patients with serious diseases.”