After nabbing $230 million at the start of the year, “gene writing” biotech Tessera Therapeutics has boosted its management and research team, including poaching bluebird bio’s chief medical officer.
The new biotech, moving up from gene editing to gene writing, has nabbed bluebird’s David Davidson, M.D., as its chief medical and development officer just three weeks after his departure, while Flagship Pioneering’s Hari Pujar, Ph.D., joins as COO and Moderna and Pfizer vet Lin Guey, Ph.D. comes on board as SVP of rare disease program strategy and operations.
Tessera Therapeutics is pioneering gene writing, a kind of genetic medicine it hopes will surmount the limitations of gene editing and gene therapy—and back in January, investors bet more than $230 million on the approach.
At its core, gene writing simply means writing short or long messages into the genome to treat disease, said Tessera CEO Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Ph.D. “What that allows is one to be able to cure or prevent a disease from ever happening by writing in the code of DNA, which of course drives the biology in every single cell in the body,” he told Fierce Biotech after its series B. Tessera is developing multiple ways to do it.
Now, they have some serious talent to help push on with this new science.
“David, Hari and Lin all bring a wealth of strategic leadership and deep expertise to Tessera at an exciting time in our growth,” said Maltzahn. “Together and alongside our current senior leadership team, they will be instrumental in advancing Tessera’s mission to bring forth innovative and curative medicines that go beyond the limitations of current technologies.”
Davidson comes from being CMO at bluebird bio, having also served stints at Genzyme and GelTex along with his decade at bluebird. Last month, the biotech, which is struggling under safety issues for its gene therapies, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Davidson was flying the nest but would stay on for around six months as a consultant.
“I have been privileged to lead the clinical development of gene therapy programs from inception through approval to deliver these transformative medicines to patients with life-threatening diseases. I am excited to join the team at Tessera Therapeutics to bring innovative Gene Writing therapies into the clinic,” said Davidson.
“By harnessing the power of mobile genetic elements, Tessera’s Gene Writing platform is poised to realize the full potential of genetic medicine and make an unprecedented impact on human health. I am honored to help move this vision forward.”
Guey, meanwhile, will oversee Tessera’s genetic medicine programs in rare diseases, bringing more than 13 years of drug development experience from senior leadership roles at Moderna, Xilio Therapeutics, Shire and Pfizer.
“With its pioneering and versatile Gene Writing technology, Tessera Therapeutics is at the very forefront of genetic medicine,” said Guey. “I look forward to working with the Tessera team to find new ways to cure rare genetic diseases at their source.”