Bluejay: Combining HBV Therapies To Reach a Functional Cure

Bluejay is applying a combination of therapies in-licensed from Novartis with an aim to cure chronic HBV by reducing viral surface antigen in both the liver and blood.

Founder, Chairman and CEO Keting Chu said she had been interested in building a company around HBV assets from Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN) after the pharma exited infectious disease in 2018. A Novartis alum herself, Chu met Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research’s Jennifer Leeds at a California Life Sciences Institute meeting a few years ago; the connection set the stage for an in-licensing deal. Leeds is executive director and head of BD&L search and evaluation, West Coast and Canada.

Chu said she believed in the assets, knowing that NIBR’s Donald Ganem was involved in their discovery and early development. Ganem, who was VP and head of global infectious diseases research at NIBR in 2011-18, is a professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology at University of California San Francisco, where Chu attended graduate school.

Chu launched Bluejay Therapeutics Inc. in 2019 with exclusive global rights to three of the pharma’s therapies: BJT-778, a mAb against HBV surface antigen (HBsAg); BJT-574, a small molecule HBsAg inhibitor; and a small molecule capsid inhibitor.

Most recently a Lyfe Capital partner, Chu has led multiple start-ups in addition to holding research and executive roles at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Five Prime Therapeutics Inc., Chiron Corp. and Novartis.    

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