Destiny hires CEO with IPO experience as antibiotic 2b nears

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. (Courtesy of NIAID_Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Destiny Pharma has hired Neil Clark as its CEO. The appointment puts a biotech veteran who has helped to take two companies public in charge of the anti-infective specialist as it gears up for a phase 2b of its candidate Staphylococcus aureus preventive.

Clark joins the biotech from Ergomed, a CRO that made its name through risk-sharing agreements with drug developers. For most of his eight years at the company, Clark served as CFO. Clark’s stint in charge of the finances covered the period in which Ergomed prepared for and executed its IPO. Ergomed completed its acquisition of PrimeVigilance as part of the IPO. And at the start of 2016, Clark became CEO of that business unit.

That track record persuaded Destiny’s board that Clark is the right person to lead the company through a critical period in its 20-year history.

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“Neil’s extensive leadership experience in clinical stage biopharmaceutical companies will be invaluable as Destiny starts planning its first phase 2b clinical trial,” Sir Nigel Rudd, nonexecutive chairman of Destiny, said in a statement. “In this trial, the company will be investigating XF-73 as a potential first-in-class drug for the prevention of post-surgical infections from all strains of Staphylococcus aureus, which we believe is a blockbuster opportunity.”

XF-73 is a synthetic dicationic porphyrin derivative that has killed methicillin and multidrug-resistant strains of S. aureus in in vitro tests. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus is better known as MRSA.

Brighton, United Kingdom-based Destiny thinks this killing power makes the drug well suited for use in the prevention of postsurgical infections. The plan is to use the drug to clear patients’ noses of S. aureus before they undergo surgery. Such preventative antibiotic use happens today, but the rise of resistant strains could limit the efficacy of the approach. Clark and Destiny hope to show that XF-73 is free of these limitations.

Destiny last disclosed a financing round in 2014, when it pulled in £2.8 million ($3.5 million). Since then, the anti-infective player has leaned on the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance its lead asset, XF-73. But, with an NIH-sponsored trial reporting data last September, Destiny is now preparing to run a phase 2b trial of the candidate.

Clark will oversee this process, drawing on experience gained at Ergomed and his previous employer CeNeS Pharmaceuticals. CeNeS hired Clark as CFO in 1997 and went public two years later. In 2001, CeNeS named Clark as CEO, a role he held until Paion bought the business in 2008.

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