In-demand Zymeworks nabs Seattle Genetics R&D executive Josephson

This comes after Neil Josephson's stint at Seattle Genetics, where he helped R&D work on its blood cancer drug Adcetris. (Zymeworks)

The former vice president of clinical development at cancer biotech Seattle Genetics, Neil Josephson, has jumped ship to Zymeworks.

A year ago it hired biopharma industry veteran Tony Polverino, Ph.D., who came on board as its chief scientific officer, a role he held on an interim basis at Gilead Sciences subsidiary Kite Pharma; now it's adding to its R&D team.

The Vancouver-based biotech has enjoyed a good few years, seeing positive data at last year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting for its lead bispecific antibody candidate ZW25 in HER2-positive cancers, a $1 billion-plus collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit and an expanded $485 million deal with Daiichi Sankyo.

It now adds Josephson to the roster, coming in as its VP of clinical research to lead the advancement of Zymeworks’ pipeline as the company preps for the expansion of ZW25 into Europe and into the Asia-Pacific region with its new partner, China biotech BeiGene, as well as hitting the gas pedal for “clinical activities” of ZW49.

This drug is a bispecific anti-HER2 antibody-drug conjugate based on the same antibody framework as ZW25 but armed with a cytotoxic payload; Zymeworks filed for an IND for a trial of the med late last year.

RELATED: Polverino swaps interim CSO role at Kite for permanent gig at Zymeworks

Josephson’s former employer,  Seattle Genetics, has had more contrasting fortunes, getting the FDA nod for Takeda-partnered blood cancer drug Adcetris (which he helped lead the development of), but also enduring a tough 2017 in which it called a halt to all clinical testing of vadastuximab talirine (SGN-CD33A) after seeing a higher rate of patient deaths with the drug in a phase 3 trial.