Cantargia AB specialises in antibody-based cancer treatments. The company focuses on two forms of cancer where there is a significant need: non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer and has just started a Phase IIa clinical trial with its main product, CAN04. The company has also started development of a new antibody designed for treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Cantargia, which was listed on Nasdaq Stockholm Main Market (Small Cap) in 2015, is based in Lund, Sweden. To date it has raised SEK 500m and has a strong balance sheet (SEK 250m).
The company had previously employed an interim CMO who supported the clinical development strategy, but had not been able to commit to representing the company fully to external KOLs, investors and the clinical community.
The new CMO needed to be Cantargia’s medical expert and responsible for strategic development and tactical implementation of KOLs, medical strategy, alliance management, clinical studies and guiding the development programmes. This included providing direct medical/physician oversight for late stage development as well as proof of concept clinical trials, and medical input into all aspects of discovery and preclinical development, from target selection to preclinical and regulatory strategy and tactics.
The successful candidate needed to have a thorough understanding of the principles of oncology (or immunology), pharmacology, clinical and regulatory requirements for testing new therapies in humans, and experience working closely with clinical studies combined with gravitas and an international network of opinion leaders. Experience of inflammation/autoimmunity would be an additional advantage.
How our approach made a difference:
Cantargia had achieved positive phase 2a and b clinical trial results and secured funding to enter phase 3. However, despite its scientific successes, outside of Sweden the company was not well known to the candidate pool. The right candidate needed to have the connections and gravitas to secure quality partners for Cantargia, and to articulate to potential partners and investors why a small Swedish biotech could effectively tackle indications in areas where the ‘Big Pharma’ was present or had failed.
Following an extensive search, we secured a ‘heavy-hitter’ with the network, scientific expertise and seniority required, who was ready to take a step back from Big Pharma and turn his talents to advancing a small biotech. The company was flexible in ways of working and agreed the candidate would work remotely from Madrid and commute to Lund when needed, showing the potential benefits of the new ways of remote working which are increasingly becoming the norm. Personality fit combined with cultural understanding were personal characteristics which were thoroughly assessed.