Northern Biologics has appointed former Shire R&D chief Paul Vickers as CEO, putting him in charge of the Celgene-partnered biotech as its lead immuno-oncology asset prepares to begin clinical testing. 

According to FierceBiotech, Vickers is one of many big names to become attracted to the potential of Northern Biologics’ science. Launching in 2014, with $10 million from Versant and IP from the University of Toronto and a nearby cancer hospital. One year later, Celgene paid $30m upfront for the option to in-license candidates or completely buy the startup. Northern Biologics followed up the deal by merging with Moasic Biomedicals in order to acquire leukemia inhibitory factor-targeting antibody MSC-1. 

The company will move the antibody into the clinic under the stewardship of Vickers, as they are now aiming to hustle the candidate into human testing in a range of cancers early next year.  

Furthermore, Northern Biologics put funding in place for early clinical development of the drug at a time of the merger, specifically so by tapping Versant Ventures for money and getting Celgene to exercise its option on certain rights to MSC-1.

The appointment is set to lay the groundwork for more biotechs to emerge from the Ontario and broader eastern Canada regions that produced Northern Bioligics. 

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