Bluebird exec spreads wings, heads over to Tessera for 'irresistible opportunity'

Anne-Virginie Eggimann has spread her wings, departing from bluebird bio and landing at biotech Tessera Therapeutics, where she will serve as chief regulatory officer.     

The leadership announcement comes days after bluebird’s blood disorder gene therapy Zynteglo, also known as betibeglogene autotemcel (beti-cel), snagged FDA approval August 17. The appointment also follows the departure of Michael Severino, M.D., from Big Pharma to Tessera, stepping into the CEO role June 1.  

Eggimann joins the gene writing and rewriting biotech after 11 years with bluebird, most recently serving as chief regulatory officer. In that role, Eggimann oversaw teams that played a role in several U.S. and Europe approvals for three bluebird gene therapy products including Zynteglo.

Before bluebird, Eggimann was an executive director at Voisin Consulting Life Sciences for a decade.

Now, as Tessera’s chief regulatory officer, Eggimann will guide regulatory science and portfolio management of the gene writing programs. In an August 24 release, Eggimann said the company’s technology, current leadership team and improvements in delivery and manufacturing made joining “an irresistible opportunity.”

Severino mirrored her thoughts two months ago, telling Fierce Biotech that the opportunity at Tessera was simply “too good to pass up.” Severino further explained that the company’s suite of gene writing technologies “is going to be incredibly powerful and allow us to really change the face of medicine.”

Severino's departure from AbbVie was announced in April when he was also named as the next CEO-partner at life sciences VC firm Flagship Pioneering, Tessera’s parent company.

In April, Tessera stacked up $300 million in a series C funding round—a standout in the market that has seen smaller and smaller financing rounds. The biotech—which exited stealth mode in 2020 and closed a $230 million series B in July 2020—is focused on gene writing, a form of genetic medicine aimed at overcoming the limitations of gene editing and gene therapy.

Tessera is currently building out the tools necessary to advance a broad range of candidates for genetic diseases into the clinic. While it hasn't revealed specific disease targets quite yet, the company did sign an R&D pact with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in November. Severino mentioned interest in chronic diseases but said ultimately, any genetic disease is fair game.   

The biotech built its science around mobile genetic elements (MGEs), which are segments of DNA that code for enzymes and proteins that help move DNA around within genomes. In contrast to CRISPR tech, which aims to destroy certain DNA, MGEs can write new sequences of DNA into the genome. Tessera has designed and tested engineered and synthetic MGEs to create programmable systems for writing and rewriting the genome, a move that opens the door to an entirely new category of genetic medicines.