Oxford based MiroBio appoints new CEO from Novartis to drive growth

MiroBio, Dr Carolin Barth

MiroBio, the Oxford Science Park based biotech developing novel therapeutics to help patients suffering from auto-immune diseases, has appointed Carolin Barth, M.D., as chief executive officer. Dr Barth will lead MiroBio through the next major stage of its growth as its lead programme, MB272, transitions into clinical development.

Dr Barth’s appointment follows other recent senior appointments to support operational expansion including Julian Hirst, formerly of Immunocore, as chief financial officer and Lynne Murray, Ph.D., formerly of AstraZeneca, as senior vice president of research & development.

MiroBio, launched in 2019 with a  £27 million Series A round. The company was spun out from the laboratories of Simon Davis, Professor of Molecular Immunology at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, and Richard Cornall, Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford. Initially, the company is focusing on auto-immune disease, and is exploring other disease areas. It was previously based at the Oxford BioEscalator, where many life sciences start-ups are based when they first spin out from the University.

MiroBio is uniquely focused on a new area of precision immunology. Each of MiroBio’s candidates is designed to selectively activate a specific immune checkpoint pathway, with the goal of restoring immune homeostasis (Homeostasis refers to the capacity of the body to maintain the stability of diverse internal variables, such as temperature, acidity, and water level, in the face of constant environmental disturbance).

Checkpoint receptor pathways are powerful regulators of immune reactivity. Currently approved checkpoint inhibitor therapies use receptor antagonism to ‘take the brakes off’ the immune system to fight cancer. By contrast, MiroBio’s therapies are designed to specifically activate inhibitory checkpoint pathways through receptor agonism. This approach is intended to dampen the immune overactivity that drives immune-mediated inflammatory diseases and restore a balanced immune state. MiroBio’s most advanced program, MB272, targets the immune receptor BTLA and is readying for Phase 1 initiation in early 2022. A PD-1 agonist program, MB151, is also in preclinical development, followed by a growing pipeline of checkpoint agonist antibodies in earlier-stage development.

Eliot Charles, Ph.D, executive chairman of MiroBio, said: “It is the ideal time for Carolin to assume leadership of MiroBio.

“The Company is approaching the clinic with an exciting pipeline that represents the most substantial portfolio in an important new class of autoimmune therapies. MiroBio has built its proprietary drug discovery and development engine to comprehensively evaluate the more than 70 inhibitory checkpoints for new drug programs. Carolin’s strategic mindset and wealth of experience in the successful development and commercialisation of several ground-breaking therapies, particularly in the areas of immunology and autoimmune disease, will be invaluable as MiroBio seeks to deliver these promising new medicines to patients.  Together with MiroBio’s other recent hires, I am confident that the team is exceptionally well-suited to drive the Company’s next stages of growth and longer-term success.”

Dr Barth, who most recently served at Novartis as global head of commercial and pipeline strategy, cell and gene, said: “I am very excited to join MiroBio – a company that stands out for its deep expertise, focus, and bold vision for delivering a new, better class of therapies for autoimmune disease. With its agonist antibody design expertise and unique approach to understanding both checkpoint pathway function and its potential in a wide variety of disease settings, I believe MiroBio can deliver several best-in-class new medicines that offer patients more efficacious and safer treatment options,” said Dr. Barth. “I look forward to working with the MiroBio team to continue building the entrepreneurial and patient-centric culture that will help us succeed through a critical phase of growth and development.”

MiroBio’s drug discovery engine combines proprietary discovery and development technologies with strategic mapping of the inhibitory signalling landscape across immune cell types and diseases.