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Avacta ropes in Neil Bell as chief development officer of Life Sciences

By Josh White

Date: Tuesday 11 Aug 2020

Avacta ropes in Neil Bell as chief development officer of Life Sciences

(Sharecast News) - Biotherapeutics developer Avacta Group announced the appointment of Neil Bell as the chief development officer of its Avacta Life Sciences division on Tuesday, with immediate effect.
The AIM-traded firm said Bell would be responsible for late stage pre-clinical and early clinical development of the company's pipeline of 'preCISION' pro-drugs, and 'Affimer' immunotherapies.

It said he has more than 30 years of experience in the drug development industry, having held senior positions in global pharmaceutical companies and "innovative biotechs".

The early part of his career was spent in clinical development at Eisai and Pfizer, before he became therapeutic area head for gastroenterology and neurology at Ipsen.

In each of those roles, he led numerous phase 1 to 3 clinical studies, gaining experience across all facets of drug development, from strategy to pre-clinical development, manufacturing and regulatory, to clinical study design and implementation.

In his role as head of global clinical operations for Teva Pharmaceuticals, Bell led a team responsible for the delivery of clinical programmes in neurology, autoimmune and oncology therapeutic areas.

During that period, he contributed to the development of Copaxone, achieving leadership in the treatment for multiple sclerosis globally, as well as successfully introducing Azilect to global markets.

Following that period at Teva, Bell joined Daichi-Sankyo as head of clinical operations, where he led the clinical operations team through early and late stage development activities across cardiovascular, pain and oncology, and was responsible for building an effective drug development organisation in Europe, leading to the successful global approval of 'Edoxaban'.

Most recently, he held the role of senior vice-president, head of global clinical operations at Autolus - a UK cell and gene therapy company backed by Syncona, which listed in the US in 2018.

At Autolus, Bell was responsible for building a "fully functional" global clinical operations team, delivering phase 1 and 2 clinical studies across the UK, Europe and United States in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, multiple myeloma, B-cell lymphoma, and T-cell lymphoma, and implemented the first commercially sponsored CAR-T study in the UK.

"I am absolutely delighted that Neil is joining Avacta as Chief Development Officer to build and lead the development team to take a pipeline of innovative cancer therapies into the clinic over the next few years; therapies that have the potential to significantly enhance cancer patients' lives," said chief executive officer Dr Alastair Smith.

"Not only does Neil have tremendous drug development and operational experience, but he also brings significant strategic insight and will be a key member of the senior leadership team driving the group's drug development and corporate strategy for the therapeutic business.

"I am very much looking forward to working with Neil as we continue to transition the business to a clinical stage biotech with multiple clinical programmes in the UK, Europe and the US, building upon the world-class proprietary platforms and assets that we have developed in-house and with partners over the past few years."

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