Editas Medicine has hired Baisong Mei as its chief medical officer, making the Sanofi and Biogen veteran the latest new executive to come aboard after a series of personnel changes at the gene editing biotechnology company.
Effective immediately, Mei takes over Editas’ clinical research and drug development work, the company said Monday. He replaces Lisa Michaels, who was fired in February. Finding a new chief medical officer was one of the top priorities of incoming CEO Gilmore O’Neill, who started on June 1.
Mei is coming off stints at Bayer, Biogen and most recently Sanofi, where he played an important role in the drugmaker’s work in rare disease. He arrives at a key moment for Editas, which is looking ahead to multiple notable clinical readouts but has faced a number of delays and setbacks.
Editas was formed early last decade with plans to turn the Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR gene editing technology into medicines. Although Editas was one of the first to bring a CRISPR drug into human testing, its lead program for an inherited form of vision loss produced mixed results in early testing. The study has also been slower to progress than those for other CRISPR medicines from CRISPR Therapeutics and Intellia Therapeutics.
Editas has dealt with frequent senior-level turnover in recent years, too, including three different CEOs since 2014.
As CMO, Mei will now lead the company’s research efforts, starting with the vision loss therapy in early-stage testing. Editas is testing a mid-level dose of the treatment in pediatric patients and expects to report updates in the second half of the year, the biotech said in May.
Editas is awaiting clearance from regulators to evaluate a high-dose cohort in children.
Editas also expects to provide preliminary clinical data for an experimental sickle cell disease treatment this year as well, it said in the earnings report.
The company is pursuing cancer research as well and presented preclinical data in May for a natural killer cell therapy dubbed EDIT-202.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Bristol Myers Squibb as a partner on a cell therapy program.