Seres elevates CFO Eric Shaff to CEO post as it advances immunology therapies

Seres Therapeutics is promoting its chief operating and financial officer, Eric Shaff, to succeed Roger Pomerantz, M.D., as its new president and CEO.

Shaff takes the reins for what he describes as the company’s “next phase of development,” with a look towards immunological indications. He will join the microbiome-focused biotech’s board of directors, and also remain as its top financial officer in the interim, while Pomerantz will continue on as chairman of the board.

“I am proud of the significant progress that the Seres team has made during the last five years,” Pomerantz said in a statement. “The company has developed leading microbiome drug discovery capabilities, unparalleled manufacturing competencies and a number of promising therapeutic candidates for difficult-to-treat diseases.”

Seres’ lead candidate, SER-109, is currently moving through a potentially pivotal phase 3 study in recurrent Clostridium difficile infections—after the drug failed a phase 2 trial in 2016 versus placebo. However, subsequent analyses identified suboptimal doses and misdiagnoses in the study, giving the company the confidence to push ahead with new designs. Its ulcerative colitis therapy, SER-287, is also poised to advance after completing a phase 1b clinical study.

Meanwhile, the company’s SER-401 checkpoint inhibitor booster is also being moved into human testing, through a collaboration with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

That collaboration was launched just weeks after a 2017 MD Anderson paper on how the gut microbiome affects melanoma patient responses to anti-PD-1 drugs, and includes the exclusive option for Seres to license the relevant intellectual property from the cancer center.

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Seres brought on AstraZeneca’s immuno-oncology combination program leader Kevin Horgan last October to serve as its new chief medical officer and head up its changing pipeline as the company’s R&D efforts become increasingly focused on early- and late-stage immunological indications.

Horgan also served as VP of clinical immunology at Johnson & Johnson’s Centocor while the company was working on Remicade, Stelara and Simponi.

Shaff, meanwhile, has been Seres’ CFO since November 2014 and took on additional chief operating officer responsibilities one year ago. He also serves on the board of directors for Sigilon Therapeutics, and has worked at Momenta Pharmaceuticals and Genzyme Corporation, where he was VP of finance for the personalized genetic health division.