Ins & outs: Resignations as Voyager Therapeutics tweaks strategy

Ins and Outs: Voyager Therapeutics CEO and CMO resign as strategy shifts and there are changes at Appia Bio and Acepodia.

Millie Nelson, Editor

May 24, 2021

3 Min Read
Ins & outs: Resignations as Voyager Therapeutics tweaks strategy
Image: iStock/filipfoto

Voyager Therapeutics CEO and CMO resign. Meanwhile, there are changes at Appia Bio and Acepodia. Get the kettle on, put your feet up, and enjoy BioProcess Insider’s Ins & outs.

First up in this week’s Ins & Outs feature is Voyager Therapeutics, a firm focused on developing treatments for neurological diseases.

The firm’s search for a new CEO is underway as Andre Turenne announced he will leave the firm in June to pursue undisclosed opportunities.


Image: iStock/filipfoto

To help with the transition, Turenne will continue to serve in an advisory role and the chairman of the board of directors, Michael Higgins will act as interim CEO.

“I am proud of our collective accomplishments, especially in the development of Voyager’s platform technology […] I have great confidence in the outstanding team at Voyager and wish them all the best in their important work developing new treatments for severe neurological diseases,” said Turenne.

Additionally, chief medical officer and head of research and development Omar Khwaja has resigned  and will depart from the firm at the end of this month. According to Voyager, Khwaja will return to Europe to follow a scientific and clinical leadership opportunity.

Managing director and senior vice president of translational medicine and clinical development, Maria Lopez-Bresnahan will continue to lead the firm’s clinical development programs.

As Voyager experiences leadership transitions, it also shifts its strategic focus to its TRACER (Tropism Redirection of AAV by Cell-type-specific Expression of RNA) technology platform that targets AAV capsids.

The firm believes the TRACER platform has the potential to maximize opportunities and develop gene therapy candidates to treat neurological diseases.

“This is a transformational time for Voyager, said Higgins. “We believe that our TRACER technology platform has the potential to generate novel capsids that will enable the treatment of a broad range of diseases that today cannot be safely and effectively addressed with current AAV delivery.”

Appia Bio

Secondly, we have Appia Bio, a biotech firm that develops allogeneic cell therapies from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) for cancer patients.

The firm has appointed Qi Wei as senior vice president and head of technical operations and will contribute to its advancement into clinical development.

“He brings broad experience in viral vector and cell therapy process development and experience building GMP manufacturing for these technologies,” said JJ Kang, co-founder and CEO of Appia Bio. “Qi’s technical operations and manufacturing team will be a critical pillar of our company and developing the ACUA platform.”

Wei has held numerous leadership positions with a particular focus in cell and gene therapy at Kite (a Gilead company), Novartis, TCR2 Therapeutics, Geneception and Eli Lilly.

“Joining Appia Bio is an opportunity to partner with a talented management team and build an innovative company from its early days. I am thrilled to apply my experience in technical operations and manufacturing toward making off-the-shelf allogeneic cell therapy a reality,” Wei said.


Thirdly and finally we look to Acepodia, which has appointed Thorsten Graef as chief medical officer and Michael Brock as chief strategy officer.

Graef most recently served as vice president of Oncology Early Development at Abbvie and for the past decade, Brock has worked as a managing director for Wells Fargo Securities’ Healthcare Investment Banking Group.

According to the firm, the executive hires add to its strategic expansion in leadership and developing natural killer (NK) cell therapies to treat solid tumors and hematological cancers.

“As Acepodia progresses toward corporate and clinical development milestones this year, we are committed to building a strong infrastructure of top people and key capabilities on which we will continue to grow the business,” said Patrick Yang co-founder and executive chairman of Acepodia.

We hope you enjoyed Ins & Outs and can’t wait to have you back here next time!

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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