Pfizer’s John Davis splashes into biotech as Magenta CMO

stem cells magnified
Magenta is working on multiple drug programs that address the shortcomings of stem cell transplants to make the procedure safer and more effective. (PublicDomainPictures)

Magenta Therapeutics has appointed a new chief medical officer: John Davis, M.D., who was previously a senior vice president and head of early clinical development at Pfizer.

The startup, which raised $50 million in series B funding last May, is working on targeted therapeutics to make stem cell transplants safer and more effective. It has programs addressing patient preparation for transplants, stem cell harvesting, stem cell expansion and post-transplant complications.

“As a clinical stage company, we are delighted to welcome John, a very seasoned physician-scientist, to our team,” said Magenta CEO Jason Gardner in a statement. “John’s rich experience in immunology and drug development will be crucial as we move our programs forward.”

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Before heading early clinical development at Pfizer, Davis served stints at Baxalta and Genentech and spent nearly 10 years on the faculty at UC San Francisco conducting research in autoimmune disease.

Magenta’s lead candidate, MGTA-456, is designed to expand the number of stem cells in cord blood used for transplant. The biotech licensed the drug, formerly known as HSC835, from Novartis in May, gaining the rights to use it in “selected applications.” It is developing the drug for multiple diseases, including immune and blood disorders.

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The biotech announced a second deal at the same time, with Be the Match BioTherapies (BTMB), which is working on delivering autologous and allogeneic cellular therapies. The collaboration allows Magenta to use BTMBs’ cell therapy delivery platform, industry relationships, clinical trial design and management, and patient outcomes data.

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