GenSight Biologics’ CMO steps down as Barrett Katz takes over

The French biotech says its new CMO will be based in New York.

Parisian gene therapy biotech GenSight says its chief medical officer, Mohamed Genead, M.D., has stepped down for “personal reasons.”

No more details were shared, but the Novartis-backed company said it replaced the former Biogen and Allergan executive, who had only been at the company since May, with Barrett Katz, M.D., M.B.A. Katz will take over next week.

Katz has worked in both academic medicine and the industry as a neuro-ophthalmologist, including his most recent role as professor of ophthalmology, neurology and neurosurgery at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

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He’s also served as CEO of ophthalmic biotech Danube Pharmaceuticals, as well as CMO of Fovea Pharmaceuticals and VP of medical affairs and strategy at Eyetech, which brought the first medical therapy for macular degeneration to market.

As CMO, Katz will oversee both clinical development and medical affairs at GenSight, reporting directly to CEO Bernard Gilly, Ph. D, and will be based in New York.

The company is working on several eye disease targets, including late-stage tests with a readout expected next year for GS010 in patients with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON).

GenSight is looking to trials for evidence that GS010 improves clarity of vision for patients with LHON, a hereditary form of vision loss caused by mitochondrial defects. GS010 is injected into the eye to deliver the human wild-type ND4 gene via an adeno-associated virus. This gene encodes for a protein typically produced by mitochondria.

One trial is assessing GS010 in patients who started losing their vision in the six months prior to enrolling in the study. The other is recruiting patients whose vision started deteriorating between seven and 12 months ago. Both trials are injecting GS010 into one eye of each participant and pretending to inject it into the other eye.

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“Barrett’s tremendous experience as both a recognized clinician and a seasoned biotech executive is a fantastic addition to the senior management team at GenSight,” said Gilly.

“As we are now six months away from first Phase 3 topline results, he will play a central role in moving GS010 forward to regulatory filing in Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Barrett will also be instrumental in leading clinical development of GS030 as we move to the clinic in Retinitis Pigmentosa later this year.”

“I am delighted and honored to be joining the GenSight team as it reaches maturity and progresses towards successful completion of two Phase 3 trials in LHON,” added Katz.

“GenSight’s mitochondrial targeting sequence technology and its application to inherited blindness opens the door to gene replacement therapies in neurodegenerative diseases more widely, offering the opportunity for meaningful therapies where none currently exist."

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