Gossamer's Dupont jumps to Atara Biotherapeutics

parachute jump
At Atara Biotherapeutics, Jakob Dupont will preside over a pipeline of allogeneic T-cell therapies for Epstein-Barr virus, multiple sclerosis and various solid tumors and blood cancers.(Pixabay)

Gossamer Bio revealed this week that its chief medical officer, Jakob Dupont, M.D., would be departing to “pursue oncology opportunities closer to his family.” Two days later, we know where he’s landed: Atara Biotherapeutics, a South San Francisco biotech working on off-the-shelf T-cell therapies.

Dupont’s move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic delays a phase 1b readout for its PDGFR inhibitor in development for pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare disorder in which patients have high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. It had expected to report top-line data in the second quarter of this year.

“Gossamer now anticipates reporting initial results from this study in the second half of this year,” the company said Thursday in its first-quarter earnings release. “Subject to the developments in the ongoing COVID-19 viral pandemic, Gossamer plans to commence a Phase 2 study in functional class II and III PAH patients in the second half of 2020.”

RELATED: ECTRIMS: Atara's off-the-shelf T cells for EBV-driven MS show promise in small study

CEO Sheila Gujrathi, M.D., will share Dupont’s duties with a handful of Gossamer execs, but Dupont will stick around as a consultant on GB1275, the company’s DC11b agonist, “through a transitional period.” The drug is in a phase 1/2 study in combination with Merck’s Keytruda or chemotherapy in patients with solid tumors.

At Atara, Dupont will take on a senior vice president role and lead global R&D. He’ll preside over a pipeline of allogeneic T-cell therapies for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), multiple sclerosis and various solid tumors and blood cancers. Before he joined Gossamer, Dupont led drug development for breast and gynecologic cancers at Roche's Genentech, working on the likes of Herceptin, Tecentriq and Kadcyla.

RELATED: Novartis' Kymriah head jumps ship to T-cell biotech Atara as its R&D chief quits

“I am confident that his deep and diverse expertise from cell therapy research to oncology clinical development and global regulatory approvals will be instrumental in leading our extremely capable and knowledgeable team to execute successfully on the development of our transformative therapies and bring unique off-the-shelf, allogeneic EBV T-cell immunotherapies to patients in dire need,” Atara President and CEO Pascal Touchon said in a statement. Touchon himself landed at Atara a year ago after departing Novartis, where he had been head of oncology and lead for its global head, cell and gene therapy unit.

Atara is testing its lead program, tabelecleucel or tab-cel, in a pair of phase 3 studies of EBV-related post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease—a rare complication of solid organ transplants and stem cell transplants. People with the condition make too many white blood cells, which can lead to the noncancerous enlargement of an organ or tissue or the development of lymphoma.

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