Life Sciences Insight

Ribon Therapeutics taps former Novartis VP, Flagship partner Raman as CEO

Cellular-stress-focused biotech Ribon Therapeutics has hired former Novartis VP and Flagship Pioneering Senior Partner Prakash Raman, Ph.D., as its new CEO.

Raman most recently was senior partner at Flagship Pioneering overseeing business development across the venture capital firm’s portfolio. Prior to that, he spent nearly 14 years at Novartis, including as global head of business development and licensing for the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

Ramen is succeeding Victoria Richon, Ph.D., founding president of the company, who will stay on as an R&D adviser to the board and chair of the scientific advisory board.

Ribon’s platform utilizes cellular stress to detect cancer cells. Its lead candidate, RBN-2397, focuses on blocking PARP7, an enzyme that facilitates gene transcription and DNA replication under stress. In other words, PARP7 unwittingly helps diseases like cancer spread throughout the body. By blocking it, Ribon hopes to stimulate an immune response at the site of the stress. The company was named one of Fierce Biotech’s Fierce 15 in 2021. 

A year ago, Ribon teamed up with Ono Therapeutics to license RBN-2397 in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and 10 southeast Asian countries. Ribon received more than $16 million upfront with the potential to tack on more than $132 million based on milestones. The company also raised $65 million backed by major pharmas including AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson. 

In a release, the company touted Raman’s experience forging business collaborations and completing out-licensing opportunities and acquisitions. 

Ribon is still waiting for more robust data, but its phase 1 trial for RBN-2397 is slated to wrap up by the end of this year, according to the FDA’s clinical trials database. The biotech’s on-deck candidate, RBN-3143, has completed IND-enabling studies and is slated to enter clinic this year.