NextCure nabs NexImmune, Celgene research vet as new CMO 6 months after former CMO quit

A year after Eli Lilly abruptly pulled out of an R&D pact with NextCure and its CMO left after weak trial results, the biotech is shoring up its research team with the addition of ex-Celgene exec Han Myint, M.D.

A former researcher and practicing doctor, Myint comes to NextCure as its new chief medical officer from the same role at T-cell specialist NexImmune.

Before this, he was vice president of global medical affairs and myeloid diseases lead at Celgene, now Bristol Myers Squibb, with his work leading to several FDA approvals.

At NextCure, he will oversee the clinical development of key products in the biotech’s pipeline, including the troubled NC318 program, a first-in-class immunomedicine, targeting Siglec-15 (S15), and NC410, recombinant LAIR-2 fusion protein designed to block immune suppression mediated by the immune modulator LAIR-1.

He joins the biotech helmed by executives who led Amplimmune to a takeover by AstraZeneca. A year ago, almost to the day, the biotech had a different story: Former partner Lilly killed off its deal with the immuno-oncology biotech just 12 months after spending $25 million upfront, with no details as to why.

It was also hit by poor trial results in 2020, including canning a phase 2 trial of NC138 in lung and ovarian cancers due to “enrollment criteria and clinical response data.”

Myint replaces Kevin Heller, M.D., who left the company in August just after these results and axing were not announced.

It is still finding a way forward for the NC318 program, saying in December last year it “anticipates providing additional detail in early 2021 on the next steps for the program after a new chief medical officer is on board and has had sufficient time to review the program.” That time should now be soon.

“We are very excited that Han has joined the NextCure team. We believe the depth of his expertise in oncology product development will prove instrumental in the advancement of our product pipeline,” said Michael Richman, NextCure’s president and chief. “Han’s strong industry track record is highlighted by his involvement in the development of multiple U.S. Food and Drug approved products.”

“I’m thrilled to join NextCure at this important time in the company’s growth,” added Myint. “I believe that the company, through its powerful discovery platform, has created a pipeline of novel immunomedicines, including NC318 and NC410, with the potential to have a significant impact in cancer treatment.”