Biotech builder Cydan boosts R&D leadership with 2 new hires

Chutes & Ladders
Cydan has launched three orphan drug companies: Vtesse, Imara and Tiburio Therapeutics. (Pixabay)

Drug accelerator Cydan is building out its R&D leadership, hiring on Yongchang Qiu, Ph.D., as vice president of preclinical development and Ryan Tyler, Ph.D., as senior director of preclinical research. 

An industry veteran, Qiu joins Cydan from Tesaro, where he headed up DMPK—drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics—and bioanalytical science. Before Tesaro, he served in various R&D roles at Shire, Genzyme and Pfizer. Tyler worked in biology and drug discovery at Amathus Therapeutics and Proteostasis Therapeutics before heading to Cydan.

The company is also promoting its VP of development, Niels Svenstrup, Ph.D., to senior vice president and appointing a Cydan fellow, Heather Halem, Ph.D., who will “help evaluate and advance new treatments.” Halem, a 15-year veteran of Ipsen BioScience, is also the research chief at Tiburio Therapeutics, which Cydan launched in January with $31 million and two clinical-stage compounds licensed from Ipsen.

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Tiburio is the third orphan drug company to come out of Cydan. The accelerator launched Vtesse in 2015, which targeted Niemann-Pick disease type C1 and was later snapped up by Sucampo for $200 million. Cydan followed up in 2016 with sickle cell disease-focused Imara, which started life with $31 million and a lean team of about four to advance a small molecule program brought in from Lundbeck. Earlier this week, Imara picked up another $63 million in series B funding to complete a phase 2a trial of a phosphodiesterase-9 inhibitor and push it further into the clinic.

RELATED: Imara lands $63M crossover round to trial sickle cell drug

“Since the launch of Cydan, the team has engaged with scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs around the world to identify therapies to address the tremendous unmet need in rare diseases,” said James McArthur, Ph.D., Cydan’s cofounder, president and R&D chief, in a statement. “Cydan has de-risked nearly 20 projects, launched three companies with novel clinical-stage compounds, and raised over $220 million in funding from our syndicate of leading investors to improve the lives of patients with rare diseases."

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