Enterprise Therapeutics nabs Novartis VC exec as new CMO

Brighton Pier
Enterprise Therapeutics is based in Brighton in southern England. (By hozinja/Uploaded by BaldBoris/CC BY 2.0/via Wikimedia Commons)

Britain-based biotech Enterprise Therapeutics has hired Novartis Venture Fund managing director David Morris, M.D., as its next chief medical officer.

Morris, who will continue to serve as the fund’s operating partner, will lead Enterprise’s development strategy and drive its two lead respiratory programs through the clinic.

These are ETD002, a first-in-class TMEM16A potentiator, and ETD001, an ENaC blocker, both of which are hoping to help cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.

FREE DAILY NEWSLETTER

Like this story? Subscribe to FierceBiotech!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along every day. Our subscribers rely on FierceBiotech as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data in the world of biotech and pharma R&D. Sign up today to get biotech news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

CF is becoming a big and competitive field, with Vertex recently leading the way with its cocktail therapies. Enterprise says it is focused on creating “disease-modifying therapies which target the underlying mechanisms of mucus congestion, to enhance the clearance of mucus from the airways, restore lung function, and ultimately to reduce morbidity and mortality in chronic respiratory diseases,” which include CF.

There’s a deeper connection here, too, as the Novartis Venture Fund helped power Enterprise’s £29 million ($41 million) series B back in 2018.

Before moving into the VC world of Novartis, Morris held various leadership roles in its pharma unit, including development franchise head of respiratory, development franchise head of primary care and global head of clinical operations, analytics and regions. He’s also served a stint in director-level roles in respiratory discovery research and translational medicine at Roche.

John Ford, Ph.D., CEO of Enterprise Therapeutics, said: “The knowledge and experience David has gained through his successful career in biopharmaceutical discovery and development, as well as his stellar sector expertise in respiratory biology, will be an invaluable asset as we work to define our strategy to progress our respiratory programmes which will initially focus on CF.”

Morris added: “Enterprise’s programmes show great potential to deliver disease-modifying, clinically effective candidates for a significant number of patients with respiratory diseases, including all CF patients regardless of underlying mutations. I am excited to become more closely involved with the team moving forward, at this exciting point in the Company’s development.”

Speaking to FierceBiotech after its series B in 2018 (which was a big haul for any U.K. biotech), Ford said he attributes interest in the company to its different approach to CF, which stands to help all patients—not genetic subsets of the population—by addressing the hydration and clearance of mucus.

“We're not taking the CFTR repair approach. We've gone for other targets. They're what we call mutant-agnostic,” Ford he said at the time. “That means we could treat all CF patients and then potentially look at other respiratory diseases where mucus obstruction is an issue.” It has big companies to battle for market share should it gain approval in the future, but clearly Morris and Novartis' VC unit see potential. 

Suggested Articles

Wedding Five Prime Therapeutics’ cabiralizumab to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo has proved to be a bust in pancreatic cancer.

In an SEC filing, Baxter International disclosed that it may have overstated its income over multiple years, inflating it by about $276 million.

The FDA has given Grail a green light to conduct the interventional study, and it has begun enrolling participants through the company’s R&D partners.