Shire R&D chief Andy Busch jumps ship to Ironwood spinout amid Takeda megamerger

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He has left the company amid its merger with Takeda, less than 18 months after taking Shire's top R&D job. (Pixabay)

Rare disease biotech Cyclerion has poached Shire’s ex-head of R&D, Andy Busch, Ph.D., as its new chief innovation officer, less than 18 months after he joined the company from his long stint at Bayer.

Busch joins after his former employer, rare disease specialist Shire, was recently bought out by Japanese pharma Takeda. He had signed up as the Big Biotech’s EVP and head of research and development, as well as its chief scientific officer, back in December 2017.

Before that, he had served a major 13-year stint at German pharma Bayer as its executive vice president, head of drug discovery, where he worked on its early stage development work. Also a Sanofi alumnus, Busch left Bayer after it reworked its R&D structure, combining its pharma R&D unit under one division and under one leader, namely Joerg Moeller, who had been its head of development within the pharma’s pharmaceuticals division.

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It looks as if the merger with Takeda may have also created new structural changes.

RELATED: After R&D spree, Bayer changes up research unit as Busch heads for the door

He’ll report to Peter Hecht, Ironwood’s CEO and founder, who left to head up Cyclerion, which was spun out of his former company’s R&D department, and Mark Currie, Ph.D., president and chief scientific officer, who helped build the company’s platform.

With his new role, Busch will lead Cyclerion’s so-called “Innovation Center,” the company’s leadership model that “gathers research, development, customer insights and external innovation together in one team to identify, advance and optimize value-creating medicines,” according to a statement.

In essence, his job is to get the best out of Cyclerion’s current pipeline of five soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator programs for orphan diseases.

These programs include olinciguat, currently in in phase 2 for sickle cell disease; praliciguat in phase 2 trials for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and for diabetic nephropathy; IW-6463, in phase 1 development for serious and orphan central nervous system diseases; and two late-stage discovery programs targeting serious liver and lung diseases, respectively.

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