Pharma startup Millendo names Chief Medical Officer

ANN ARBOR—Millendo Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: MLND), a biopharmaceutical company primarily focused on developing novel treatments for orphan endocrine diseases, announced that Christophe Arbet-Engels has joined the company as Chief Medical Officer.

The company also announced that it expects to report results from the Phase 2b portion of its  clinical trial for livoletide in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome early in the second quarter of 2020.

“We are honored and excited to welcome Christophe to the team,” said Julia C. Owens, Millendo president and CEO. “Christophe brings to Millendo broad experience in endocrinology and guiding clinical stage therapies through registration and lifecycle management. We believe this expertise will be a significant asset with the data readout from our pivotal clinical trial for livoletide in PWS anticipated in early second quarter of this year and as we look ahead to potential commercialization of our product candidates, including livoletide for PWS.”

Arbet-Engels joins Millendo from Poxel Pharmaceuticals, where he was chief medical officer and executive vice president for late development and medical affairs, with responsibility for all medical activities for Poxel’s portfolio, including driving portfolio strategy and execution of registration programs. Previously, he served as vice president for worldwide medical collaborative medical sciences at Biogen, where he built, developed and led global medical research, clinical operations, biostatistics and analytics, communication, and expanded access program teams to advance the medical sciences in multiple therapeutic areas.

Arbet-Engels has also held several senior leadership positions, globally and locally, in clinical development and medical affairs at pharmaceutical and biotech companies, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, Merck, Aventis (now Sanofi) and Ligand Pharmaceuticals, where he led the clinical development and registration, launch and lifecycle management for several new medicines.

Arbet-Engels has a medical degree from University of Paris Sud, a PhD in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism from University of Paris Descartes, and an MBA from Rutgers University. He will be based in Millendo’s Lexington, Mass. office.

“This is a very exciting time to join the talented team at Millendo,” Arbet-Engels said. “With the data readouts from the Phase 2b portion of the study for livoletide in PWS expected in early second quarter of 2020 and for nevanimibe in classic congenial adrenal hyperplasia in the second half of the year, I look forward to working closely with Julia and the rest of the team to guide the company through the critical next steps for advancing Millendo’s pipeline programs through development and into commercialization.”

Company officials said that the compensation committee of its board of directors approved granting an inducement stock option to purchase 140,000 shares of the Company’s common stock to Arbet-Engels. The stock option awarded to Arbet-Engels will have an exercise price equal to the closing price per share of the company’s common stock on Feb. 10 and will vest and become exercisable over four years, with 25 percent of the shares vesting on Feb. 10, 2021, and the remaining shares vesting ratably over the subsequent 36 months, subject to Arbet-Engels’ continued service with the company as of each such date. The stock option is subject to acceleration if Arbet-Engels’ employment terminates in connection with a change in control. The stock option has a 10-year term.

Millendo is currently advancing livoletide for the treatment of Prader-Willi syndrome, nevanimibe for the treatment of classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia and MLE-301 for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause.

Prader-Willi syndrome is a complex genetic condition that affects many parts of the body. In infancy, this condition is characterized by weak muscle tone, feeding difficulties, poor growth, and delayed development. Beginning in childhood, affected individuals develop an insatiable appetite, which leads to chronic overeating and obesity.

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of inherited genetic disorders that affect the adrenal glands. A child with classic CAH may experience:

  • A lack in the production of cortisol in both the salt-losing and simple-virilizing forms. Most of the problems caused by classic CAH are related to a lack of cortisol, which plays an important role in regulating blood pressure, maintaining blood sugar and energy levels, and protecting the body against stress.
  • A lack in the production of aldosterone in the salt-losing form. This can lead to low blood pressure, a lower sodium level and a higher potassium level. Sodium and potassium normally work together to help maintain the right balance of fluids in the body.
  • Excess production of the male sex hormones (androgens such as testosterone). This can result in short height, early puberty, and in females, abnormal genital development while in the womb.

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