Archive for the ‘Clinical Research’ Category
Originally posted on Gazette.net
Fuad El-Hibri has started a financial consulting business. He’s started telecommunications businesses.
But his most challenging venture has been the Rockville biotech he helped launch 14 years ago.
Still, El-Hibri — CEO and board chairman of Emergent BioSolutions — says the challenges are worth it, because the rewards are so great from protecting and saving lives.
Unlike products in many other sectors, vaccines and other bioscience products can take 10 to 15 years to develop. The regulatory climate can drive up costs. The probability of commercial success is relatively low, in the neighborhood of 20 percent.
“You need to have a strong and focused will,” said El-Hibri, 54, who is retiring as CEO as of Sunday, but remaining as executive chairman. “It takes a lot of patience and persistence.”
El-Hibri co-founded Emergent — then called BioPort Corp. — in 1998, and the company has seen annual revenues more than triple in the past eight years to almost $300 million, with a decade-long track record of financial profits. The biotech focuses on several prominent disease areas, with numerous clinical stage product development programs. Its biggest money-maker is its anthrax vaccine.
Brian Lewis/The Gazette “For us, our central mission is to protect life,” says Fuad El-Hibri, CEO of Emergent BioSolutions. “It’s been a great honor to serve the military and protect our active military.”
Emergent’s success can be attributed to El-Hibri’s vision, his ability to anticipate and overcome challenges, and his unwavering commitment that has motivated others in the company, said Daniel J. Abdun-Nabi, who is taking over as CEO after holding the president and COO posts since 2008.
“Over the years, we have come to appreciate his business acumen, drive to address global unmet medical needs and dedication to creating a workplace environment and culture that is both challenging and rewarding,” Abdun-Nabi said.
El-Hibri’s contributions extend beyond Emergent to the biotech and business communities throughout the state, said Henry Bernstein, a board member of the Tech Council of Maryland and senior vice president of Rockville real estate development and management firm Scheer Partners.
“Under his leadership, Emergent BioSolutions became a growth company that has contributed to the business community, attracted top talent to the region and invested heavily into the community overall,” said Bernstein, a former COO of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.
Emergent did what relatively few biotechs do — turn a profit for an entire year within four years of forming. Gaithersburg biotech giant MedImmune was founded in 1988 and took a decade to see an annual profit. After launching in 1992, Rockville life sciences company Human Genome Sciences saw net income in 1993 and 1994, but has seen only one profitable year since, in 2009.
Even during the Great Recession, Emergent continued to show a profit. A key factor was acquiring a product — BioThrax, the only federally licensed anthrax vaccine — that could generate revenue almost immediately, El-Hibri said. The federal government buys the vaccine to innoculate military personnel.
“It’s been quite a ride,” he said.
Early exposure to other countries
Born in Germany the son of a Lebanese father and German mother, El-Hibri split boyhood time in both nations. Being immersed in different nations gave him an early appreciation for various cultures, he said.
“I learned how you have to get along and respect other cultures,” El-Hibri said. “That’s an important factor to having peace and having a successful business.”
At Emergent, he carried that philosophy into defining five core corporate values: respect, empowerment, commitment, communication and innovation. Having such values is key to building a top-notch company, he said.
“For us, our central mission is to protect life,” El-Hibri said. “It’s been a great honor to serve the military and protect our active military.”
His entrepreneurial career started soon after earning a master’s in public and private management from Yale University and a bachelor’s in economics from Stanford University.
Following stints in banking with Citigroup and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton, the latter in southeast Asia, El-Hibri started a financial consulting business, East West Resources. Then came three mobile telecommunications companies: Mobile TeleSystems, Digitel and Digicel.
Mobile Telesystems, which he formed in 1993 and later sold, has grown to be a leading telecommunications company in Russia, with $12 billion in sales last year. The other two companies, which he also sold, are good-sized players in South America and Central America, respectively.
During the 1990s, El-Hibri got his first taste of biotechnology when he organized a management buyout of British life sciences company Porton and formed Speywood Holdings, a recapitalized biopharmaceutical company.
In 1998, El-Hibri was among a team that bought the rights to BioThrax, which was being manufactured in Michigan, and its production facilities.
“They only marketed it on a relatively small scale,” he said. “After we acquired the product, we renovated the facilities and increased capacity.”
About 170 Michigan state employees agreed to transition to the privately held business that year, El-Hibri said. BioPort later became Emergent, which went public in 2006 and now has more than 800 employees in 10 locations. Some 250 employees are in Maryland, within the Rockville headquarters, a research and development facility in Gaithersburg and a manufacturing plant in Baltimore.
The company has branched out into combating tuberculosis, cancer and autoimmune disorders. Since 2003, the company has acquired three biotech companies and completed other acquisitions to broaden its product pipeline.
Some reports, including one by a researcher with the Center for American Progress, say that Emergent lobbied hard against a former California biotech, VaxGen, which received a major federal contract to develop a new anthrax vaccine in 2004. VaxGen had never produced a drug before, and the government canceled the contract two years later.
Emergent’s lobbyists did not criticize VaxGen but simply stated what their own company could do, El-Hibri said.
“We lobbied using a positive message,” he said. “We did not criticize their product. … The government decided to cancel the contract. It was not because of us.”
Emergent also purchased the VaxGen vaccine through a fair process and is working to develop that as a secondary vaccine, El-Hibri said.
Building a better world
El-Hibri has his own charitable foundation, which promotes peace and social justice. In 2007, he started the annual El-Hibri Peace Education Prize, which recognizes educators who teach about peace issues. The organization also has constructed orphanages in Lebanon.
“I have a strong belief in giving back,” he said. “There are so many worthwhile projects and organizations.”
As a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, El-Hibri has the opportunity to discuss national issues with business leaders across the country.
“It’s very interesting to meet business leaders across the nation and get their perspective,” he said. “As you can guess, there is no full agreement on every issue, but there is hope that the economy will turn around soon.”
El-Hibri also serves on the board of trustees of the International Biomedical Research Alliance, an academic venture between the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Oxford University and Cambridge University in the U.K., and the National Health Museum, a science institution planned to open in Atlanta in the near future.
He is on the advisory board for the Yale Healthcare Conference, which brings together professionals, academics and students to discuss health care issues, and the Heifetz International Music Institute in Staunton, Va., founded by acclaimed violinist Daniel Heifetz to teach young musicians.
Among the awards El-Hibri has garnered are Biotech CEO of the Year during the 2011 World Vaccine Congress; the International Leadership Award from the World Trade Center Institute in 2010; the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Greater Washington in 2009; and the Rene Moawad Foundation Distinguished Community Service and Achievement Award in 2007 for philanthropic work in Lebanon.
In choosing El-Hibri for the honor at the World Vaccine Congress last year, judges cited his “leadership and entrepreneurial spirit” in guiding Emergent to another profitable year, securing some key development contracts, completing an acquisition and arranging collaborations with Pfizer and Abbott, according to business conference organizing company Terrapinn Holdings.
Sometimes hands-on, sometimes not
El-Hibri said he can vary his management style depending on the situation.
“Some managers are new, and I roll up my sleeves and get deep in the weeds,” he said. “Other people are seasoned and don’t need as much supervision.”
His primary residence is now in Naples, Fla., where Emergent has an office. But he also maintains a home in Potomac. He and his wife, Nancy, have three children and two grandchildren.
El-Hibri doesn’t engage in the stereotypical executive hobbies such as golf. He likes to fly single-engine airplanes, scuba dive and participate in equestrian sports. He flies a Diamond Aircraft plane, and has scuba dived in Indonesia, the Red Sea and the Caribbean.
“I seem to like being either very high above sea level or below sea level,” he said with a laugh.
Emergent Announces Initiation of a Phase 1b/2 Study of TRU-016 in Combination with Rituximab and Bendamustine in Subjects with Relapsed – Indolent Lymphoma
Posted September 30, 2011on:
ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug 17, 2011 –
Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE:EBS) today announced the initiation of a Phase 1b/2 study (16011) of TRU-016 in combination with rituximab andbendamustine for patients with relapsed indolent non-Hodgkin’s B-cell lymphomas, including follicular lymphoma, small lymphocytic lymphoma and marginal zone lymphoma. TRU-016 is a CD37-directed Small Modular ImmunoPharmaceutical(TM) protein therapeutic in development for the treatment of B-cell malignancies. TRU-016 is being developed in collaboration with Abbott.
“Although patients show a high rate of clinical response to first line therapies they often relapse and in many cases, develop a resistance to treatment,” said Dr. Scott Stromatt, Vice President of Clinical Research and Chief Medical Officer at Emergent BioSolutions. “Our preclinical studies show that when used together, TRU-016 and bendamustine resulted in increased anti-tumor activity beyond results achieved when either drug was administered alone. TRU-016 is also synergistic with rituximab in preclinical models. Based on these data, as well as data from our ongoing clinical studies of TRU-016 for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, we believe that TRU-016 in combination with bendamustine and rituximab could produce meaningful results in patients with indolent NHL.”
The Phase 1b portion is a dose escalation study to determine the Phase 2 dose of TRU-016 given in combination with rituximab and bendamustine. In this portion of the trial, up to 12 patients will receive two dose levels of TRU-016 in combination with rituximab and bendamustine administered intravenously. The primary safety endpoint for the Phase 1b portion of the study is the incidence of dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs).
The Phase 2 portion will be an expansion study of approximately 76 additional patients to examine the safety and efficacy of TRU-016 in combination with 375 mg/m2 of rituximab and 90 mg/m2 of bendamustine, versus bendamustine and rituximab. The primary efficacy endpoint for the Phase 2 portion of the study is complete response (CR) rate as determined by using the Revised Response Criteria for Malignant Lymphoma. The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of TRU-016 will be studied in both phases of the study.
The total expected enrollment for both phases of this study is expected to be 88 patients, all of whom have a confirmed diagnosis of relapsed indolent B-cell lymphoma, and who have failed prior treatments. Study enrollment is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. Additional information about this Phase 1b/2 clinical study can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov (protocol 16011).
About non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL)
According to the National Cancer Institute, there are approximately 65,980 cases of NHL diagnosed each year, with close to 30% of these cases resulting in death. NHL is a broad range of malignant lymphoid disorders that are categorized on the basis of aggressiveness and cell of origin. Indolent or slow-growing NHL causes few symptoms, particularly early in the natural history of the disease, making early detection difficult. The majority of patients with indolent NHL present with Stage III or IV disease. Most patients with NHL requiring treatment receive rituximab in combination with chemotherapy as initial treatment; however, many patients become refractory to both chemotherapy and rituximab.
TRU-016 is a CD37-directed protein therapeutic in development for the treatment of B-cell malignancies. TRU-016 is being developed in collaboration with Abbott. TRU-016 uses a different mechanism of action than currently marketed CD20-directed therapies. As a result, TRU-016 may provide patients with improved therapeutic options and enhance efficacy when used alone or in combination with chemotherapy and/or other immunotherapeutics. TRU-016 is currently in Phase 1b/2 development for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
About Emergent BioSolutions Inc.
Emergent BioSolutions, led by Chairman and CEO, Fuad El-Hibri, protects and enhances life by developing and manufacturing vaccines and therapeutics that are supplied to healthcare providers and purchasers for use in preventing and treating disease. Emergent’s marketed and investigational products target infectious diseases, oncology and autoimmune disorders. Additional information about the company may be found at www.emergentbiosolutions.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements, other than statements of historical fact, including statements regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management, including any potential future securities offering, our expected revenue growth and net earnings for 2011, and any other statements containing the words “believes”, “expects”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “estimates” and similar expressions, are forward-looking statements. There are a number of important factors that could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements, including the success of our ongoing and planned preclinical studies and clinical trials; the rate and degree of market acceptance and clinical utility of our products; the success of our ongoing and planned development programs; the timing of and our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for our other product candidates; our commercialization, marketing and manufacturing capabilities and strategy; our estimates regarding expenses, future revenue, capital requirements and needs for additional financing; and other factors identified in the company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2011 and subsequent reports filed with the SEC. The company disclaims any intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this press release.
SOURCE: Emergent BioSolutions Inc.