Zymeworks' first CMO moves on as lead cancer candidate heads for commercialization

Zymeworks
(Zymeworks)

Zymeworks Chief Medical Officer Diana Hausman, M.D., will pass the torch to Neil Josephson, M.D., who currently oversees the Canadian biotechnology company’s global clinical studies.

Josephson, officially senior vice president, clinical research, will serve as CMO on an interim basis. He joined the company in 2019 from Seagen, just as Zymeworks notched a string of high-profile deals with pharma giants including a $1 billion pact with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit.

Zymeworks’ lead candidate is zanidatamab, a bispecific antibody that has been granted breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA for refractory HER2-amplified biliary tract cancer, with a trial enrolling in this cancer as well. The therapy is also going through several phase 2 clinical trials in HER2-expressing gastroesophageal and breast cancers.

“For the past two years, alongside Diana, Neil has been one of the key architects and contributors to our clinical strategy, accomplishments and growth,” said Zymeworks President and CEO Ali Tehrani, Ph.D., in a statement. “Under Neil’s leadership, I am confident that we are in good hands as we proceed toward the commercialization of zanidatamab.”

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Hausman will remain with the company in an executive advisory role until Nov. 15. Before her time at Zymeworks, Hausman served at several biopharmaceutical companies including Oncothyreon Inc. and ZymoGenetics, Inc. She became Zymeworks’ first CMO in 2016 and built the clinical research division, developing zanidatamab and a second candidate called ZW49.

Zymeworks is also working on a phase 3 clinical trial in gastric cancer, which Hausman pledged to continue working on with Josephson in her advisory role.