Roivant appoints NEA partner Torti to oversee its ‘vant’ subsidiaries

Empty boardroom
Meanwhile, Roivant's skin disease-focused Dermavant received a $100 million investment from NovaQuest Capital Management for milestone payments linked to tapinarof, a topical treatment for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis recently acquired from GSK. (Getty/Chris Ryan)

Roivant Sciences named New Enterprise Associates partner Frank Torti, M.D., as Vant investment chair to assist in overseeing its family of biopharma subsidiaries by serving as one of two Roivant-appointed representatives on its companies’ boards.

Torti will work alongside Myrtle Potter, former Genentech president and COO, who was named Vant operating chair in July, as Roivant launches plans to hatch additional "vant" companies in the near future, said Mayukh Sukhatme, M.D., president of Roivant Pharma.

At NEA, Torti managed early- and growth-stage investments in healthcare companies developing new drugs and medical devices. Before that, Torti was a researcher at the Duke University Center for Clinical and Genetic Economics.

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Roivant also promoted its VP for external reporting and finance, Rakhi Kumar, to chief accounting officer. Kumar joined Roivant in September 2015 from The Medicines Company, where she was responsible for external reporting and technical accounting.

RELATED: Here comes another 'vant'—this one focused on China

In addition, the skin disease-focused Dermavant received a $100 million investment from NovaQuest Capital Management in exchange for a shot at milestone payments linked to tapinarof, a therapeutic aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulating agent for the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Tapinarof, one of Dermavant’s lead candidates, was officially acquired just one week ago following the closure of a deal with GlaxoSmithKline that included £150 million ($193.8 million) up front. First announced in July, the transaction includes £100 million in potential milestone payments.

The deal includes supply agreements between GSK, Roivant and Dermavant for tapinarof’s upcoming phase 3 program and future commercialization, with Dermavant maintaining all global rights except in China. Additionally, Dermavant will assume responsibility for all development milestones owed to third parties.

In a global phase IIb study of 227 adults with plaque psoriasis, topical tapinarof demonstrated dose-dependent improvements over placebo in the proportion of treated patients who saw skin clearance after 12 weeks of treatment, the company said.

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