Gilead Sciences’ senior director of clinical research, Adrian Ray, has moved over to Nimbus Therapeutics to become its senior vice president of discovery biology.
After 15 years at Gilead, Ray will help advance Nimbus’ programs aimed at underlying targets that link oncology, immunology and metabolic disease. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based in silico drug discoverer has been focusing on tyrosine kinase 2 and the stimulation of interferon genes, or STING, including under an immunology collaboration with Celgene.
“Adrian is a capable leader in target discovery throughout the metabolic-oncology-immunology target space, and in the translation of these discoveries into effective clinical development strategies. We’re thrilled to have him,” Nimbus CEO Don Nicholson said in a statement.
Nimbus and Gilead have worked closely before, culminating in the Big Pharma’s 2016 acquisition of Nimbus’ acetyl-CoA carboxylase inhibitor program—a $1.2 billion deal that included a $400 million upfront payment, plus R&D milestone dollars—which Gilead is currently developing in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Late last year, Gilead said higher doses of its NASH drug, GS-0976—which Nimbus moved from initial screening to phase 1 in 16 months—had seen statistically significant reductions in liver fat after three months in a phase 2 study. That news followed positive proof-of-concept data from April 2017, as well as a $200 million research milestone payout.
Meanwhile, Nimbus recently raised $65 million in a new financing round in June, including funds from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who provided part of Nimbus’ 2011 seed funding, plus money from Atlas Venture, SR One, Lilly Ventures, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lightstone Ventures and Schrödinger.
Nimbus’ preclinical Tyk2 program signals pro-inflammatory cytokine receptors that provide targets in several auto-immune disorders including lupus, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. Separately, STING agonists play a role in antitumor immunity, while STING antagonists may also have therapeutic potential in diseases such as lupus where it fuels an interferon response.
The company also boasts several partnerships, including with Genentech, Charles River Laboratories and Proteros, as well as Massachusetts General Hospital and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.