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GSK veteran named executive of cancer, infectious disease pharma Ascletis

Cancer and infectious diseases drug development company Ascletis is turning to GlaxoSmithKline‘s (NYSE:GSK) ranks to bolster its executive team. GSK veteran Allan Baxter is now Ascletis’s new chief strategy officer. Baxter has been an adviser to Ascletis, which has dual operations in North Carolina’s Research Triangle and China, since the company’s founding earlier this year. […]

Cancer and infectious diseases drug development company Ascletis is turning to GlaxoSmithKline‘s (NYSE:GSK) ranks to bolster its executive team.

GSK veteran Allan Baxter is now Ascletis’s new chief strategy officer. Baxter has been an adviser to Ascletis, which has dual operations in North Carolina’s Research Triangle and China, since the company’s founding earlier this year. His 30-year career at GSK includes an executive position as senior vice president and global head of medicines development where he oversaw GSK’s late-stage drug development pipeline.

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

Ascletis made a big splash in April when the company announced its launch with a series A financing round of $100 million. The company is led by co-founder and CEO Jinzi J. Wu who was vice president, global HIV drug discovery for GSK and was  based in its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

New drugs addressing cancer and infectious diseases  are Ascletis’s main targets. Ascletis’s business model is to search for drug candidates that can be in-licensed and developed. The company aims to develop the candidates into medicines for China’s growing drug market. Ascletis also is looking for early stage compounds that can be developed into drugs to address unmet medical needs worldwide.

“Allan Baxter has been a highly valued adviser in the establishment of Ascletis and its two-pronged business strategy of developing late-stage drug candidates for the China market, while conducting earlier stage research and development aimed at global partnering,” Wu said in a prepared statement.   “As someone who was directly responsible for the discovery and development of more than 20 clinical-stage and marketed drugs, he is an ideal person to lead Ascletis’s discovery and development strategy.”

While Wu builds a team with the pharmaceutical experience to support its drug development goals, the financial muscle backing Ascletis comes from co-founder Jinxing Qi, chairman of Hangzhou Binjiang Investment. Hangzhou Binjiang Investment Holding Co. led a syndicate of private investors from China and the United States that contributed to Ascletis’ series A round.