Novartis Oncology veterans reunite at Glenmark spinoff Ichnos

Gabriela Gruia, M.D., who oversaw regulatory affairs for Novartis’ oncology team, is Ichnos Sciences’ new chief development officer. She joins Alessandro Riva, M.D., who left the Swiss pharma for a stint at Gilead in 2017 and took Ichnos’ helm early last year. 

Riva, Novartis’ longtime global oncology development head, arrived at Ichnos before it even had a name—at least one that was publicly known. In March 2019, Glenmark, an Indian company best known for its generics, announced that Riva would take charge of a spinout that would hit the ground running with eight pipeline assets, about 400 staffers and three R&D sites. 

Glenmark officially unveiled Ichnos in October. Its headquarters, as well as a development site, are in Paramus, New Jersey, but it maintains R&D sites overseas, including a biologics research facility and a GMP biologics manufacturing site in Switzerland and a research site dedicated to small molecules in India. Its updated headcount is about 350 employees. 

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Half of Ichnos’ programs are in oncology, with the rest split between immunology and pain. The cancer pipeline includes three bispecific antibodies, which could undercut CAR-T therapies by delivering comparable efficacy without the toxicity, logistical complications and associated costs. 

The company’s bispecifics pipeline is led by two treatments in phase 1. It is testing a HER2xCD3 bispecific in HER2-positive cancers and a CD38xCD3 bispecific in multiple myeloma, as well as solid cancers. It expects those trials to read out in 2021. Ichnos also has an eczema candidate in phase 2b, which will turn up data later this year. 

In her new role, Gruia will guide those programs forward, overseeing regulatory sciences, clinical operations, drug safety, clinical pharmacology, biostatistics and clinical outsourcing, Ichnos said in a statement on Wednesday. 

"We are excited to welcome Gabriela to Ichnos Sciences and look forward to her future contributions," Riva said in the statement. "She brings a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise and her recognized leadership skills will be invaluable as we advance our pipeline. In addition, Gabriela's clinical experience enables her to embrace our goal to deliver potentially curative therapies that may change the lives of the patients we aim to treat."