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News / Business / Clark County Business

CytoDyn president going on medical leave

Vancouver biotech firm’s CFO to fill in as work on cancer drug leronlimab continues

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 28, 2023, 6:05am

Some new leaders are taking the reins at local biotechnology company CytoDyn.

The company is working to develop leronlimab, a drug it hopes to use against infectious disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions.

The company’s current president, Dr. Cyrus Arman, is going on medical leave, with company Chief Financial Officer Antonio Migliarese to act as interim president.

Migliarese also took over when the company’s former embattled chief executive Nader Pourhassan was ousted in 2022. Pourhassan was ultimately indicted for allegedly defrauding investors by making false and misleading representations and material omissions about the development of leronlimab, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The company just announced that it’s welcoming a new chief medical officer, Dr. Melissa Palmer, and recently brought on a new clinical and strategic adviser, Dr. Sarah Kivlighn.

The goal for the new additions, according to a statement from the company, is to “collectively lead the company’s continued priorities of lifting the clinical hold on the use of leronlimab in the HIV population, advancing the development of the (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) phase 2b clinical trial for submission to the (federal Food and Drug Administration), and exploring potential strategic business opportunities.”

Phase 2b trials are designed to rigorously test how effective a drug is at treating, preventing or diagnosing a disease. According to the FDA’s website, the trials are part of the preclinical research phase, which is then followed by the clinical research phase, the FDA Review phase and finally the FDA post-market safety monitoring phase. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is an advanced form of fatty liver disease that isn’t caused by alcohol.

“Given the unanticipated circumstances, we are blessed to have had such a talented (chief medical officer) as Dr. Palmer recently join the company,” Tanya Urbach, CytoDyn board chair, said in a statement. “We are further grateful for Dr. Kivlighn’s willingness to step in and support Antonio and the team at this time.

“Dr. Palmer and Dr. Kivlighn each bring significant experience not only in the oncology and (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) spaces but also in leadership roles with clinical and drug development companies,” added Urbach. “I believe these two individuals, coupled with Antonio’s strong management abilities, will allow us to not miss a beat during Cyrus’s absence.”