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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Former Boehringer Ingelheim executive to head up Australian pharma joint venture

Health Industry Hub | April 9, 2024 |

Pharma News: A former senior leader at Boehringer Ingelheim is set to lead an innovative joint venture between an Australian pharmaceutical company and a life sciences investment firm.

Dr Mehdi Shahidi, a seasoned pharmaceutical executive, has been named the CEO of Petalion, a venture formed through the collaboration of Melbourne-based Starpharma and the UK-based Medicxi. With a background as a clinical oncologist, Dr Shahidi brings over two decades of expertise in pharmaceutical drug development to his new role. His most recent position was as Corporate Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, and Global Head of Medicine at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Petalion’s primary objective is to leverage Starpharma’s cutting-edge DEP dendrimer platform technology for the development of innovative targeted dendrimer-drug conjugate therapies in oncology. To fuel this, Medicxi has committed up to USD $25 million (~AUD $38 million) in initial funding to support the advancement of a novel oncology drug candidate. In exchange for licensing certain intellectual property (IP) necessary for research, development, manufacturing, and commercialisation, Starpharma will receive an equity holding of 22.5% in Petalion.

CEO of Petalion and Venture Partner at Medicxi, Dr Shahidi, remarked “Leveraging Starpharma’s world-leading technology and the scientific domain expertise from Medicxi’s asset-centric investment platform, our team at Petalion aims to develop best-in-class dendrimer conjugates with differentiated properties. Our ultimate goal is to cultivate a targeted dendrimer-based drug that can effectively address unmet needs in cancer.”

Shyam Masrani, Principal at Medicxi and Board representative of Petalion, commented “While the field of targeted conjugates has experienced remarkable growth and led to the approval of several treatment options for patients with cancer, it is also evident that the current approaches have limitations.”

Cheryl Maley, CEO of Starpharma, said, “If successful, the oncology therapies that Petalion will develop have the potential to become an important treatment modality for a potentially wide range of cancer indications. Medicxi’s investment in this partnership validates the strong potential of Starpharma’s DEP dendrimer technology as a novel drug delivery platform.

“This is just one of many ongoing efforts to prioritise the commercialisation of Starpharma’s DEP platform and our partnerships to advance the application of the DEP technology in high-value novel therapeutic areas.”

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