New CEO tapped to run armed-antibody biotech Actinium

Jack Talley joins Antinium after resigning from his post as CEO and president of EpiCept.

Veteran biotech exec Jack Talley has stepped into the top job at Actinium Pharmaceuticals, a low-profile developer which has been pursuing a lengthy effort to develop an armed antibody that can be used to fight blood cancers.

New York-based Actinium is headed into mid-stage studies for a program that attaches isotopes which emit alpha particles to antibodies. And the biotech, which has largely been flying under the industry radar until now, believes it is positioned to raise a new round of $15 million to $20 million and go public through a reverse merger.

"The technology originated with David Scheinberg at Memorial Sloan-Kettering," Talley tells FierceBiotech. The investigator has been working for years attaching radioactive isotopes to specific antibodies, a twist on the antibody-drug conjugates that have become a hot property in the industry. And Actinium recently in-licensed another program--BC8--from the prestigious Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. 

New funding would push one of its programs through a Phase I/II study in AML and set the stage for a pivotal trial next year. "The intent is to go to the FDA in 2013 and propose a pivotal scale trial," says Talley. 

Talley has headed a couple of other companies, including Penwest, where he was president. He is stepping away from the helm at EpiCept, which had been struggling since the FDA rejected its application for a new treatment for acute myeloid leukemia in 2010, even though it had been approved in Europe. EpiCept sold its rights to Ceplene to Meda AB and dramatically reduced its R&D budget. EpiCept has also been developing the pain treatment AmiKet for peripheral neuropathy and announced some months ago that it was pursuing strategic alternatives, which include a possible sale.

- here's the press release