Tessa taps ex-Takeda Exec to propel CAR-T assets forward

Therapeutic Tessa brought in former Takeda executive Thomas Willemsen like the man who pushed his CAR-T portfolio forward.

In his new role as President and CEO of Tessa, Willemsen is expected to lead corporate, commercial and development strategy, focusing on the company’s proprietary programs, including ongoing clinical studies involving CD30 therapy. -Autologous CAR-T (TT11) and allogeneic CD30 .Car therapy EBVST (TT11X). The appointment takes effect October 1.

“Tessa is at the forefront of developing the next generation of CAR-T therapies, including our ready-to-use allogeneic EBVST technology, which has demonstrated very encouraging safety and efficacy data in the ongoing phase I/II clinical trial on CD30. positive lymphomas,” Willemsen said in a statement Monday. He added that he looked forward to “…continuing the positive progress” of Tessa’s CAR-T programs.

The new CEO brings 25 years of experience to the role. Willemsen started at EMD Serono, a subsidiary of Merck, where he rose through the ranks to head the oncology business unit.

He then joined GlaxoSmithKline, where he started as vice president and general manager in Taiwan in 2009. After four years, he became vice president and head of business operations in China for GSK. In 2018, he received the Magnolia Silver Award from the city of Shanghai for his contribution to the development of the city.

In 2017, Willemsen was named the company’s general manager for pharmaceuticals and vaccines before becoming vice president of oncology and intercontinental and emerging markets in 2019. Willemsen held the position for four months before joining Takeda for a term of three years.

Marking Willemsen from Takeda was a big step forward for the company. John Ng, who served as Tessa’s interim CEO since November, will now serve as the company’s chief technical officer.

Tessa is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cell therapies for the treatment of hematological cancers and solid tumors. In June, Tessa got $126 million in Series A funding to advance the development of TT11 and TT11X.

Series A was led by Polaris Partners. Existing investors including Temasek, EDBI, Heliconia Capital and Heritas Capital also participated in the financing.

At the time, Ng said Tessa was poised to become a “true leader in the cell therapy industry given the significant potential of our combined autologous and allogeneic cell therapy platforms at scale and scale.” sophistication of our technical operations”.

Thursday, Tessa administered the first patient in a phase Ib trial evaluating TT11, an autologous CD30 antigen receptor chimeric T cell therapy. TT11 is combined with Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo as a potential second-line treatment for patients with relapsed or refractory CD30-positive classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma.