Ex-Shire duo joins Chronos, following the path taken by three research programs


Chronos Therapeutics has hired two ex-Shire ($SHPG) directors to oversee its preclinical development programs. The appointees, who list stints at AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Merck ($MRK) on their résumés, will take responsibility for development of the three programs Chronos picked up from Shire in July.

Talking to FierceBiotech at the time of the Shire deal, Chronos CEO Huw Jones said the company was closing in on the appointment of two senior hires to drive forward its research efforts. Now, Chronos has unveiled former ex-Shire duo Fraser Murray and Timothy Schulz-Utermoehl as the people it was pursuing. Murray and Schulz-Utermoehl have both taken up the position of VP of preclinical development, giving them responsibility for the three former Shire programs now run by Chronos.

The appointments continue a long-standing relationship between Murray, Schulz-Utermoehl and the three programs, although Chronos is refusing to confirm whether the ties have been unbroken over the past few years. A spokesperson for Chronos told FierceBiotech the pair was actively involved with the three programs during their stints at Shire. Murray was head of discovery biology, while Schulz-Utermoehl worked as a director within the exploratory projects department.

When Shire cut its CNS discovery operation in 2014, the pair set up Polleo Pharma and picked up the rights to three programs from their former employer. Those programs included a drug targeting fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS) and another aimed at a novel pathway in addictive behavior disorders. Now, the research duo are joining Chronos to work on former Shire programs in MS fatigue and addictive behaviors.

The programs are in the same indications, originated at Shire and have all been overseen by Murray and Schulz-Utermoehl. Yet, while this suggests that the Chronos and Polleo programs may be one and the same, the company is unwilling to say either way.

“Unfortunately they can’t comment,” a spokesperson said.

Regardless of the history of Chronos’ three drugs, it is now in charge of their development. Chronos picked them up from Shire last month. As part of the deal, Shire made an equity investment in Chronos.

With Murray and Schulz-Utermoehl now onboard, Chronos will step up its efforts to advance the drugs through preclinical proof of concept and into the clinic. Murray and Schulz-Utermoehl will also contribute to Chronos’ work on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

- read the release (PDF)

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Shire takes stake in Chronos, hands over rights to three CNS programs