Receptos Hires New CEO, Former Facet Leader, as Rastetter Moves Upstairs

Xconomy San Diego — 

Receptos, the San Diego-based startup with an eye toward capturing super high-res images of an important class of new drug targets, has found itself a new CEO from the Bay Area who happened to sell his last company to Abbott Laboratories for $722 million.

Faheem Hasnain, the former chief executive of Redwood City, CA-based Facet Biotech, has been named the new CEO of Receptos. He replaces interim chief executive Bill Rastetter, who will keep his other title as chairman of the board. Rastetter, of course, is a legendary guy in San Diego, having been the longtime CEO of Idec Pharmaceuticals, and now a partner with Venrock Associates.

We broke the news about Receptos in November 2009, when it raised its first $25 million from Venrock Associates, Arch Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, and Lilly Ventures. The company, a spinoff from The Scripps Research Institute, is seeking to capture the first high-resolution crystal structure images of certain spaghetti-like targets on cells, known as G-protein coupled receptors. These are highly complex proteins that snake inside and outside of cells, and it is especially tricky to develop specific drugs to hone in on them. Even so, about 30 to 40 percent of all pharmaceuticals worldwide hit these targets, including best-sellers for depression, allergies, and high blood pressure.

Faheem Hasnain

Faheem Hasnain

Before Hasnain’s stint at Facet Biotech and PDL Biopharma, he spent four years at Biogen Idec, ultimately as an executive vice president in charge of the oncology/rheumatology strategic business unit. Receptos was founded with a lot of key people who have Biogen Idec on their resumes, so presumably Hasnain is at least familiar with the people involved.

Receptos says on its website that it intends to bring its first drug candidate into clinical trials in 2010, although today’s statement says it will be in 2011. “I have been very impressed with the team’s execution of an aggressive first year strategic plan, and greatly look forward to collaborating with them to move our first product into the clinic in 2011,” Hasnain said in a statement.