Galecto brings on GSK’s fibrosis lead as CMO

Galecto is planning a phase 2b dose-ranging study, after completing a phase 1b/2a study last year of its TD139 inhaled galectin-3 protein inhibitor. (Pixabay)

Galecto Biotech has hired Richard Marshall, M.D., a medicines development leader at GlaxoSmithKline, to be its new chief medical officer as the company moves into late-phase clinical trials of its galectin modulator in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Marshall was a VP and head of fibrosis and lung injury discovery at GSK, where he led early clinical development for Nucala, anti-IL-5 antibody in asthma and nasal polyposis. He has also served as a visiting professor at Newcastle University and an honorary consultant in thoracic medicine at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

“His career at GSK has seen him deliver on all aspects of drug discovery and development within the respiratory and fibrosis field, making him ideal to help take Galecto to the next level,” said CEO Hans Schambye.

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This news comes amid some major reshuffling at GSK, both for experimental meds and personnel, as CEO Emma Walmsley looks to make her own mark on the London-based Big Pharma's future. 

Meanwhile, Galecto’s lead candidate, TD139, which is delivered via an inhaler, selectively inhibits the galectin-3 protein associated with inflammatory cells that can play a central role in fibrosis development and progression, the company said in a statement.

The Copenhagen, Denmark-based biotech is planning a phase 2b dose-ranging study after completing a placebo-controlled phase 1b/2a study in 24 patients last year.

“By performing bronchoscopies before and after the treatment period, we have been able to detect biomarker changes in plasma and alveolar cells whilst also precisely quantifying the amount of TD139 that has reached the target cell,” said principal investigator Nikhil Hirani, of the Edinburgh Medical School, at the time. “This has to my knowledge never been done before—neither with a potential IPF treatment nor with an inhaled drug of any kind.”

RELATED: Bristol-Myers beefs up fibrosis pipeline with $444M option deal

In late 2014, Galecto signed a $444 million provisional buyout deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb should TD139 prove successful. The agreement represented an early move in BMS’ expansion into fibrosis research, predating a collaboration with basic science researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, and a potentially $1.25 billion deal to purchase Promedior, which was developing a recombinant protein in IPF and myelofibrosis.

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