Allogene, Overland's new China cell therapy JV biotech nabs WuXi unit CSO Yao as new CEO

WuXi veteran Shuyuan Yao, Ph.D., is stepping down from the Chinese R&D giant to lead a new joint venture, Allogene Overland Biopharm.

This JV, first set up late last year, was put together by the teams at Overland Pharmaceuticals and Allogene Therapeutics, which focuses on making, and it hopes eventually selling, so-called AlloCART therapies for patients in greater China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.

The new biotech, which was created in earnest in December, grabbed an exclusive license to work on a series of Allogene candidates targeting BCMA, CD70, FLT3 and DLL3 while Overland injected $117 million in capital.

It had the tech and the backing, but it needed a leader: Now, it has one in Yao, who comes to the company after being chief scientific officer and head of research and technology development at WuXi Advanced Therapies, a part of WuXi AppTec.

He’s certainly no stranger to cell therapies or JVs: At the start of his tenure at WuXi AppTec Shanghai, he in fact established and directed the Cell Therapy R&D business unit focusing on CAR-T cell therapy development, overseeing the rollout of this business unit to create JW Therapeutics (Shanghai), a JV between WuXi AppTec Shanghai and then Celgene, now BMS, serving as VP of operations.

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“Shuyuan has deep experience in drug development, commercialization and joint venture building, particularly in cell therapy,” said David Chang, M.D., Ph.D., president, CEO and co-founder of Allogene.

“As the first allogeneic cell therapy company to establish a joint venture in China, we are proud to charge Shuyuan with leading Allogene Overland as it seeks to bring novel cell therapy treatments to patients with cancer in Asia.

“Shuyuan’s experience at WuXi AppTec and JW Therapeutics in China gives him great perspective to lead our joint venture,” added Ed Zhang, MBA, co-founder and interim chief of Overland Pharmaceuticals. “I am confident in his ability to oversee the development and global expansion of this cutting-edge technology platform. We are excited to further Allogene Overland’s pipeline under Shuyuan’s guidance.”