Allogene names ex-Adaptimmune exec Amado as CMO 

Rafael Amado
Rafael Amado. (Adaptimmune)

Allogene Therapeutics has named Rafael Amado as its EVP of R&D and CMO. Amado, who is set to leave Adaptimmune imminently, will join the Arie Belldegrun-founded biotech as it works to advance several allogeneic CAR-T therapies into and through clinical development.

Adaptimmune hired Amado as CMO in 2015 and expanded his responsibilities to cover its research activities last year. The positions gave Amado a central role in the progress of Adaptimmune’s assets and the broader adaptive T-cell therapy field. But Adaptimmune revealed last week that Amado is set to move on to pursue other opportunities.

Now, Allogene has revealed itself as the opportunity Amado is leaving to pursue. The appointment will see Amado apply his experience of developing adaptive T-cell therapies to Allogene’s CAR-T pipeline. 

Allogene has progressed to date without the support of a dedicated CMO. That was made possible by the experiences of other members of the C-suite. Allogene CEO David Chang previously worked as CMO and EVP of R&D at Kite Pharma. Chang receives support from Belldegrun, who led Kite to its takeover by Gilead and now works as executive chairman of Allogene.

That leadership team moved ALLO-501 into clinical development and filed a successful IND with FDA for ALLO-715. But with the clinical pipeline expanding and assets moving deeper into development, Allogene has opted to bring a dedicated CMO on board. 

The appointment reunites Amado with people he worked with earlier in his career. Amado and Chang both worked at Amgen before leaving to take up positions at GlaxoSmithKline and Kite, respectively. Earlier in their careers, Amado and Chang both worked at the University of California, Los Angeles at the same time as Belldegrun.

Back together after years apart, the trio are set to try to take CAR-T mainstream by ending the need to make therapies from a patient’s own cells.