Kiadis poaches Ablynx CSO as it awaits HSCT booster approval in the EU

Kiadis is currently waiting for an EU approval decision for its lead program, AITR101, which is also in the middle of a phase 3 trial in Europe and North America. (Pixabay)

The blood cancer-focused immunotherapy company Kiadis Pharma is bringing on Robert Friesen, Ph.D., to serve as its chief scientific officer.

Friesen is making the jump after about one year as CSO at Ablynx—while it was being snatched up by Sanofi in a $4.8 billion deal, and out-from-under a competing bid from Novo Nordisk for the company and its drug for a rare blood clotting disorder.

There, Friesen oversaw a team of more than 300, covering 40 development-stage product candidates across a wide range of diseases. He previously served as senior VP of ProQR Therapeutics, heading up its science and early development division. He was also global head of biologics research at J&J’s Janssen BioTherapeutics, as well as a research VP at J&J’s Crucell Vaccine Institute.

At the Amsterdam and Boston-based Kiadis, Friesen will lead its discovery and preclinical development work, as well as build out its platform and select assets for licensing into the company.

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Currently, Kiadis’ lead program—ATIR101, a T-cell therapy designed to help support the body’s immune system following bone marrow transplantation—is awaiting an approval decision from the European Union, which the company expects in the first half of this year.

ATIR101 aims to serve as a bridging therapy, to protect the body from infections and remaining tumor cells while the immune system recovers after a stem cell transplant. Kiadis also depletes donor T-cells that would otherwise cause graft-versus-host disease, allowing for a single-dose infusion of lymphocyte immune cells from a partially matched family member.

The company is conducting a phase 3 trial across Europe and North America, and has received orphan drug designations for ATIR101 in the U.S. and the EU, as well as an regenerative medicine advanced therapy designation, or RMAT, from the FDA.