Nicholas Green, Avid Bioservices CEO

A Cal­i­for­nia biotech steps in­to the vi­ral vec­tor space with new site build of $75M

As cell and gene ther­a­py gets hot­ter, a Cal­i­for­nia CD­MO has made a play to open an en­tire­ly new arm of its op­er­a­tions to fill a void in the mar­ket.

Avid Bioser­vices will move in­to the cell and gene ther­a­py mar­ket, with the con­struc­tion of a 53,000 square-foot vi­ral vec­tor cGMP man­u­fac­tur­ing site down the road from its Tustin, CA head­quar­ters.

The site will be com­plet­ed with­in 18 months, with CEO Nicholas Green say­ing that Jan­u­ary 2023 is an an­tic­i­pat­ed open­ing date. If the project stays on track, its an­a­lyt­i­cal and process de­vel­op­ment labs could be ready for par­tial use in the next six to eight months.

The in­vest­ment fol­lows an in­vest­ment in man­u­fac­tur­ing in Tustin, which un­der­went phase two of the build­ing process in Feb­ru­ary. The en­tire build will cost some­where in the range of $65 mil­lion — $75 mil­lion, and brings the com­pa­ny’s po­ten­tial rev­enue ca­pac­i­ty up to around $350 mil­lion.

Avid’s de­ci­sion to en­ter this space comes from the CD­MO in­dus­try’s lack of a pres­ence in high qual­i­ty cGMP vi­ral vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing.

”We kind of got a lot of our ducks in a row and saw that part of the busi­ness per­form­ing quite nice­ly,” Green said in a call with End­points News Wednes­day. “We start­ed look­ing around the field at the var­i­ous dif­fer­ent ar­eas of bi­o­log­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing that we thought would be of in­ter­est, and in some of my quar­ter­ly calls, I’ve high­light­ed those dif­fer­ent ar­eas…we kind of did some deep dives and dili­gence, and the feed­back we got was what we con­sid­ered to be our core strengths…and this seemed like a sen­si­ble and log­i­cal move.”

Drew Bren­nan

With the an­nounce­ment, the com­pa­ny al­so wel­comed Drew Bren­nan aboard as the new­ly ap­point­ed gen­er­al man­ag­er of vi­ral vec­tor tech­nolo­gies. He comes from No­vasep, a US CD­MO that fo­cus­es on vi­ral vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing in which he spent 12 years, and re­cent­ly over­saw the con­struc­tion of sev­er­al new sites in Bel­gium. There will cer­tain­ly be more per­son­nel an­nounce­ments, as Avid be­gins to put its team to­geth­er. But the chal­lenge lies in the need to find a high­ly com­pe­tent team with pri­or vi­ral vec­tor ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It is very spe­cif­ic tech­nol­o­gy, and there­fore, in­di­vid­u­als who have ex­pe­ri­ence in a wide va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent vec­tors, a wide va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent ex­pres­sion sys­tems, that’s a huge plus,” Bren­nan said. “Even though a lot of the tech­nol­o­gy is cen­tered now around AAV as well as lentivec­tor, there’s still a lot of oth­er vec­tors out there, retro­virus, al­phavirus. It’s very im­por­tant that we have a team that is well-versed in these types of vec­tor sys­tems.”

In De­cem­ber, the biotech gen­er­at­ed some $34.5 mil­lion in rev­enue when it closed the of­fer­ing of its pub­lic stock. Dur­ing its 2022 Q1 call, the com­pa­ny an­nounced its rev­enue was up 20% from last year, to $30.8 mil­lion.

Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 159,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 159,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”

Sanofi is renewing its #VaccinesForDreams campaign with more stories, such as Juan's in Argentina (Sanofi)

Sanofi re­news so­cial cam­paign to re­mind that vac­cines let peo­ple ‘Dream Big’

Sanofi is highlighting people’s dreams — both big and small — to make the point that vaccines make them possible.

The renewed “Dream Big” global social media campaign’s newest dreamer is Juan, a teacher in the Misiones rainforest in Argentina whose story is told through videos on Instagram and Sanofi’s website with the hashtag #VaccinesForDreams.

The campaign ties to Sanofi’s broader umbrella initiative “Vaccine Stories” to promote the value of vaccines and drive awareness of the need for improved vaccination coverage.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 159,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.