Karyopharm hoping for some Keytruda stardust as former Merck & Co. exec joins as CMO

Karyopharm Therapeutics is hoping a bit of Keytruda stardust may wear off on the cancer-focused biotech with the addition of a former Merck & Co. executive as chief medical officer. 

Reshma Rangwala, M.D., Ph.D., takes on the new role in mid-April and will be responsible for leading Karyopharm’s clinical development programs and strategy, according to a Tuesday announcement from the Newton, Massachusetts, company.  

Rangwala was previously executive clinical director at Merck, where she was involved in the clinical development of the blockbuster immunotherapy Keytruda. After working at Merck, Rangwala served as Genmab’s medical VP and, most recently, led the clinical development of batiraxcept across multiple tumor types as Aravive’s chief medical officer.

The new CMO touted the unique mechanism of action for Karyopharm's therapies, Xpovio and eltanexor, and their potential to tackle a number of different cancer types, in a statement.

"I am impressed with both the team and the science of XPO1 inhibition, and I am excited to realize the potential of these important therapies," Rangwala said in a statement. 

Xpovio was approved in 2020 and can be used for certain types of multiple myeloma and lymphoma. The therapy is also being evaluated in phase 2 and 3 studies for several hematologic and solid tumor malignancies. Eltanexor, meanwhile, is in early clinical testing for relapsed and refractory malignancies including multiple myeloma along with colorectal and prostate cancers. 

Karyopharm is also shuffling its executive roles, with co-founders Sharon Shacham, Ph.D., and Michael Kauffman, M.D., Ph.D., stepping down from their positions as chief scientific officer and senior clinical adviser, respectively. Both changes are effective May 31. Kauffman has also stepped down from his role as a member of the board of directors. Shacham will continue to serve on the company’s scientific advisory board.