Biotech Chimerix reveals ex-Pharmasset recruit after unveiling $85M IPO plan

As the biotech advances its lead antiviral drug to Phase III development, Chimerix has tapped a veteran of one of the most high-profile pharma R&D programs in the world. The Research Triangle Park, NC-based developer has brought on Dr. Michael Rogers as chief development officer.

Rogers, whose former employer Pharmasset was sold to Gilead Sciences last year for $11 billion, has joined Chimerix at an exciting time. Last week the company publicly kicked off a campaign to complete an initial public offering of up to $85 million. Then the company announced on March 12 that the FDA has granted fast-track status to its lead candidate, CMX001, for preventing cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. The agency grants the study to drug candidates that address serious unmet needs.

At Pharmasset, Rogers led a development team that advanced the most closely watched new drug for hepatitis C, sofosbuvir, until Gilead ($GILD) acquired the biotech to take the lead in the race to bring patients new all-oral therapies against the liver-damaging disease. Now he has taken on the same role at Chimerix, which has promising antiviral drugs of its own in development.

"We are extremely pleased to have Mike join our management team," Chimerix CEO Kenneth Moch said in a statement. "His proven track record and extensive experience designing and leading successful antiviral development programs will be of significant benefit as we advance our lead compound, CMX001, into Phase III clinical testing."

In 2013 Chimerix plans to begin late-stage development of CMX001, oral nucleotide analog lipid-conjugate, to protect patients who undergo hematopoietic stem cell transplants from CMV infections. The company says there is no approved drug for this use in part because of the potential harm therapies can cause in the kidneys, but CMX001 could overcome the side-effect hurdle with proprietary lipid technology that delivers the treatment into cells.

The lipid-conjugate technology has the potential to boost the antiviral potency of such treatments while limiting adverse effects to the body. Merck ($MRK) snapped up rights to Chimerix's CMX157 last year in $168.5 million, eyeing the potential for the souped-up version of Viread for new HIV treatment cocktails. 

- here's the company's release about Rogers
- see the SEC filing on the IPO plan

Special Report: Top Biopharma M&A Deals - 2012: Gilead Sciences/Pharmasset

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