Shares in drug discovery group Redx Pharma PLC (LON:REDX) soared 48% after it pulled off a major coup with the appointment of a senior executive from drugs giant AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) as its new chief executive.
She is 49-year-old Lisa Anson, who has been AZ’s UK president since 2012 and has worked for the company for more than two decades.
Anson, who has an MBA from the prestigious INSEAD business school and a first in natural sciences from Cambridge, joins Redx in June.
Chairman Iain Ross, who took executive control following the departure of former CEO Neil Murray, will step back to a non-executive role, the company said in a statement.
Substantial biotech company
He said: “Following the events of 2017 Lisa has been tasked by the Board to lead the re-launch of the company and to take the steps necessary to build a substantial biotech company built upon an innovative science base, selectively acquiring additional assets, if appropriate.
“Lisa is a consummate business professional, who brings a wealth of relevant experience from the international pharmaceutical and biotech sector.
“I am confident that, as CEO, she is the right person to grow this company into a very exciting and meaningful entity that has the potential to create both important new medicines for patients and generate significant value for shareholders."
Those events referred to by Ross included suspension of trading in Redx shares and the sale of one of its leading assets.
Mentioned above, the shares reacted positively to the news, advancing 48% to 9.24p.
Redx is focused on creating and developing first-, or potentially best-in-class drugs for cancer and fibrosis that address significant unmet medical needs.
Its flagship drug is RXC004, a porcupine inhibitor, a new and potentially breakthrough method of fighting cancer.
Porcupine inhibitors work by targeting cancer stems cells that can often lie dormant after traditional treatment and are associated with a recurrence of the illness.
The thinking goes that if you kill the stem cells, you have a chance of eradicating the disease completely.
Growing bank of research
There is a growing bank of research that has found they may also be very effective in tandem with checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-1, which lower or break cancer’s defence against the body’s immune system.
That’s why Redx has a twin track approach. RXC004 is currently undergoing a Phase I clinical trial as a single therapy targeted at gastric, biliary and pancreatic cancers.
At the same time, preparations are being made to for an early stage study of the drug in harness with an anti-PD-1 to combat melanoma.
The firm is also developing a porcupine drug for conditions such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis hepatic fibrosis, or NASH for short.
It is the pick of a healthy early-stage programme that includes a tie-up with AstraZeneca, details of which are not currently in the public domain.