Ayala Pharma nabs AbbVie cancer exec Gordon as CMO

Gary Gordon spent 13 years at AbbVie/Abbott but now joins private cancer biotech Ayala Pharmaceuticals as chief medical officer. (AbbVie)

Ayala Pharmaceuticals has hired AbbVie’s former vice president of oncology, Gary Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., as its new chief medical officer.

The cancer biotech will bring Gordon into the fold just a few months after its $30 million series B round led by Swiss powerhouse Novartis.

Ayala is currently working on midphase development of pan-Notch inhibitor AL101 in adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC).

The Israel-based startup has advanced quickly since beginning life with two former Bristol-Myers Squibb cancer drugs late in 2017. The following year, Ayala raised a $17 million series A round, started a phase 2 trial of AL101 in ACC and granted Novartis an option on the rights to a second asset in multiple myeloma. 

That series B gave it the means to start a phase 2 trial of AL102 in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

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Ayala’s deal with Novartis also covers the rights to gamma secretase inhibitor AL102 in multiple myeloma, leaving the biotech free to develop the drug in other indications, starting with TNBC. The biotech hopes to start the TNBC trial by the end of the year.

Gordon will now take a central role in this development.

After leaving last April, Gordon spent 13 years at AbbVie/Abbott as its VP of oncology, working on its cancer pipeline.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Gordon to the Ayala executive team as he brings a deep understanding of cancer clinical trial execution, coupled with strong expertise in drug development,” said Roni Mamluk, Ph.D., CEO at Ayala. “Dr. Gordon’s wealth of knowledge and leadership will be instrumental as we work to further advance our pipeline.”

Gordon added: “With an exciting pipeline and strong scientific rationale in place, I believe that Ayala’s gamma secretase inhibitors, AL101 and AL102, have the potential to offer patients with genetically-defined cancers new treatment options that they desperately need. I look forward to working with the broader team at Ayala as we work to further advance these novel programs.”