Nimbus brings on Janssen discovery head as CSO with plans to expand its portfolio

Digital drug miner Nimbus Therapeutics has brought on Janssen’s global head of lead discovery, Peter Tummino, Ph.D., to serve as its chief scientific officer.

Tummino joins as Nimbus moves its TYK2 inhibitor closer to the clinic for autoimmune disorders, in partnership with Celgene. In addition, the company has plans to expand the depth and breadth of its portfolio, including against targets in metabolic disease, cancer and inflammatory disorders, according to Jeb Keiper, president and CEO of the former Fierce 15 winner.

“Peter has an impressive track record of success in discovering and developing new medicines for patients, and we are thrilled to welcome him to our team,” Keiper said in a statement. “He has successfully built and led diverse teams of scientists, and has deep experience applying computational and other technologies across the R&D spectrum.”

At J&J’s Janssen, Tummino led discovery teams in Europe and the U.S. across all of the big biotech’s therapeutic areas. Before that, he held several roles at GlaxoSmithKline, including head of biology for the cancer epigenetics discovery performance unit, and co-led novel target selection efforts for GSK Oncology. Tummino has also served at AstraZeneca, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis.

RELATED: Nimbus moves up CFO Keiper to CEO spot

Keiper, formerly Nimbus’ chief financial officer, took over as president and CEO last October, following the sale of its clinical program in NASH to Gilead—which has since reaped $600 million for the company out of a $1.2 billion deal, including a $400 million down payment plus another $200 million in phase 1 milestone biobucks.

That program—the acetyl-CoA carboxylase inhibitor firsocostat, formerly known as GS-0976 and NDI-010976—is currently in phase 2 development for NASH, being studied alongside Gilead’s FXR agonist cilofexor.

RELATED: Gilead rocked by phase 3 failure of selonsertib in NASH

Those two drugs are now the next in line to serve as the big biotech’s main prospects for entering the potentially lucrative NASH market, following the phase 3 failure this week of its frontrunner program, selonsertib, versus placebo.

Gilead could still revive selonsertib with positive data from an ongoing phase 3 study in earlier-stage patients and a phase 2 combination trial—but it does set the company back compared to its rivals in the space, such as Intercept Pharmaceuticals, which expects to deliver data from its own phase 3 trial by the end of the quarter.