Theraclone Names Cliff Stocks, Vet of Icos & Calistoga, as New CEO

12/6/11Follow @xconomy

Theraclone Sciences has been searching for more than a year for a new CEO, and it found one close to home in Cliff Stocks.

The Seattle-based biotech company is announcing today that Stocks, a veteran biotech dealmaker with experience at Icos and Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, is taking over as CEO at Theraclone. Stocks is replacing Steve Gillis, the company’s chairman, who had been interim CEO since Dave Fanning died suddenly in June 2010.

Even without a full-time CEO, Theraclone has made significant strides this year. It raised a little more than $10 million in venture capital, made a splash with the discovery of some broadly neutralizing antibodies for HIV, formed a sizable partnership with Pfizer, and moved its first new drug candidate into clinical trials against the flu. Now the company is looking to continue its growth, partly by leveraging its technology through working with partners that Stocks surely knows well from his many years in business development.

“The idea is to do some select collaborations,” Stocks says. “We’re not going to do a lot and become a service entity. We’re going to have a few partnerships with strong partners, and structure them to allow Theraclone to maintain or keep a substantial portion of the value we develop with our partner.”

Theraclone, founded in 2005 at the Seattle-based Accelerator, specializes in the discovery of novel antibodies. The company works by starting with blood or tissue samples from patients, and identifying antibodies that are made by people’s immune systems against foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, or cancer cells. Mother Nature has evolved pretty efficient defense mechanisms against these rogue cell types, so Theraclone’s scientists figured it was a good idea to listen to what nature is saying, and then make genetically engineered copies of these antibodies as drugs.

Besides the flu antibody program, Theraclone is moving ahead toward its first clinical trial with an antibody for another infectious disease—cytomegalovirus. And further in the future, the company has its sights on the most lucrative market for today’s antibody drugs—cancer.

Stocks, 53, was previously … Next Page »

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