MacroGenics chief medical officer hits the exit

herceptin
MacroGenics is looking to better Roche's Herceptin with its phase 3 drug now under FDA review. (Roche)

Just a month after getting its Biologics License Application accepted by the FDA for its next-gen breast cancer hopeful, MacroGenics’ senior vice president of clinical development and chief medical officer Jon Wigginton, M.D., is set to leave the company later this month.

Wigginton, a former Bristol-Myers Squibb R&D exec and a near seven-year veteran at MacroGenics, is leaving to “pursue a new opportunity,” though the biotech did not specify what (or where) this opportunity is.

It’s now looking for a new CMO. Ezio Bonvini, M.D., SVP of research and chief scientific officer, will from March 27 take on Wigginton’s responsibilities “on an interim basis, including overseeing clinical development and related functions,” the company said in a statement.

The biotech doesn’t see this impacting its clinical operations, with Scott Koenig, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO, saying: “Our clinical programs are progressing as planned, and we look forward to a productive 2020.”

He added: “Over the past seven years, Jon has played a leadership role in establishing and executing the clinical development strategy to advance our immuno-oncology product candidates. I would like to thank him for his significant contributions to MacroGenics, and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

This comes just over a year after a phase 3 trial of MacroGenics’ margetuximab in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients hit its primary endpoint. The anti-HER2 antibody improved progression-free survival by more than Roche’s stalwart breast cancer drug Herceptin.

Margetuximab goes after the same target as Herceptin but also features a tail-end Fc portion intended to activate immune effectors. The idea is to marry the apoptosis and signaling effects that made Herceptin a success to mechanisms that turn the immune system against tumors.

MacroGenics’ share price soared in early trading following the release of the data in early 2019, and, in December last year, it filed a BLA with the FDA for the med, which was accepted by the regulator last month and should see approval late this year.

The biotech’s shares were down 1.7% after-hours on news of the CMO’s departure last night.