Spark Therapeutics nabs CMO from new owner Roche

After its recent $4.8 billion buyout of gene therapy specialist Spark Therapeutics, Roche is now handing over one of its execs to help lead its new acquisition’s R&D.

Gallia Levy, M.D., Ph.D., becomes Spark’s new chief medical officer, filling in a gap the biotech has had post-merger. She comes from being Genentech’s VP and global head of its rare blood disorders franchise in product development.

Here, she led clinical work on Roche’s hemophilia A treatment Hemlibra; this will more than dovetail with her new work at Spark, she will now oversee work on hemophilia treatment SPK-8011, a gene therapy, that will expand Roche’s own portfolio and perhaps allow for a one-shot-and-done treatment for the bleeding disorder.

As Spark’s CMO, she will be “responsible for strategic and operational leadership across all functions in the product development life cycle, including setting the global development strategy for current and future pipeline programs”, according to Roche.

This also includes its future work on Luxturna, an approved gene therapy for a rare, genetic form of blindness, as well as other gene therapies in the pipeline.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Gallia Levy to our growing gene therapy company striving to create a world where no life is limited by genetic disease,” said Jeffrey Marrazzo, chief executive, Spark Therapeutics.

“Dr. Levy’s passion for hematology and gene therapy research are immediately evident and is exactly the perspective needed to achieve our goal of unlocking the full potential of gene therapy. Especially during this pivotal time in hemophilia research, Dr. Levy’s deep understanding of rare blood disorders and the community will help accelerate our ability to deliver potentially transformative gene therapies for hemophilia, while progressing potential gene therapies for other genetic disease across our pipeline.”

“I’ve spent my career working to find new, innovative treatment approaches for patients affected by rare, life-altering disorders, and it is with great pride that I join the Spark team to help advance novel gene therapy programs and create next-generation solutions for patients,” added Levy. “Spark Therapeutics shares the same affinity for breaking barriers and putting the patient first, and I look forward to what we will achieve together.”