Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

A cou­ple weeks af­ter ac­tivist at­tack, Glax­o­SmithK­line un­veils big plans to cre­ate a UK biotech hub

A cou­ple weeks af­ter ac­tivist in­vestor El­liott be­gan its long-await­ed at­tack on CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley, Glax­o­SmithK­line has un­veiled a plan to sell over a third of the land at its Steve­nage, UK, site to cre­ate “one of Eu­rope’s largest ‘clus­ters’ for biotech­nol­o­gy” and ear­ly-stage life sci­ences com­pa­nies.

The phar­ma is putting 33 acres up for sale, which GSK says could be de­vel­oped in­to about 100,000 square me­ters of floor space and cre­ate thou­sands of jobs. All it would take, the com­pa­ny says, is a pri­vate de­vel­op­er to in­vest a lit­tle more than $552 mil­lion (£400 mil­lion).

The new cam­pus would neigh­bor GSK’s ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ty, as well as the Steve­nage Bio­science Cat­a­lyst and Cell and Gene Ther­a­py Cat­a­pult. The phar­ma’s hop­ing to pick a de­vel­op­ment part­ner lat­er this year, and start on the mas­ter plan in 2022.

Hal Bar­ron

GSK’s R&D chief Hal Bar­ron is based in San Fran­cis­co, which leaves him far from the com­pa­ny’s R&D op­er­a­tions in Steve­nage and the Philadel­phia area.

“Our goal is for Steve­nage to emerge as a top des­ti­na­tion for med­ical and sci­en­tif­ic re­search by the end of the decade,” Tony Wood, Se­nior VP of med­i­c­i­nal sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy at GSK, said in a state­ment.

GSK’s ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ty will be un­af­fect­ed by the de­vel­op­ment plans, aside from the widen­ing of a pub­lic road to im­prove ac­cess to the site.

The news comes a cou­ple weeks af­ter ac­tivist in­vestor El­liott called for a shake­up at the top — start­ing with a new board. In a let­ter, El­liott said GSK has “lost its way,” and “fails to cap­ture busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties due to years of un­der­man­age­ment.” The firm urged GSK to re­view its lead­er­ship and stay open to a po­ten­tial sale of its con­sumer health­care busi­ness, which Walm­s­ley is cur­rent­ly plan­ning to spin off by mid-2022.

GSK shrugged off the at­tack as a re­peat of stale crit­i­cism: “We set out on 23 June an am­bi­tious plan to de­liv­er a step-change in per­for­mance and re­alise sig­nif­i­cant val­ue for GSK share­hold­ers over the next decade. We be­lieve our share­hold­ers are sup­port­ive of this strat­e­gy, and that they are fo­cused on GSK ex­e­cut­ing on it with­out dis­trac­tion or de­lay.”

Adap­tive De­sign Meth­ods Of­fer Rapid, Seam­less Tran­si­tion Be­tween Study Phas­es in Rare Can­cer Tri­als

Rare cancers account for 22 percent of cancer diagnoses worldwide, yet there is no universally accepted definition for a “rare” cancer. Moreover, with the evolution of genomics and associated changes in categorizing tumors, some common cancers are now characterized into groups of rare cancers, each with a unique implication for patient management and therapy.

Adaptive designs, which allow for prospectively planned modifications to study design based on accumulating data from subjects in the trial, can be used to optimize rare oncology trials (see Figure 1). Adaptive design studies may include multiple cohorts and multiple tumor types. In addition, numerous adaptation methods may be used in a single trial and may facilitate a more rapid, seamless transition between study phases.

Matt Gline (L) and Pete Salzmann

UP­DAT­ED: Roivant bumps stake in Im­muno­vant with a $200M deal. But with M&A off the ta­ble, shares crater

Roivant has worked out a deal to pick up a chunk of stock in its majority-owned sub Immunovant $IMVT, but the stock buy falls far short of its much-discussed thoughts about buying out all of the 43% of shares it doesn’t already own.

Roivant, which recently inked a SPAC move to the market at a $7 billion-plus valuation, has forged a deal to boost its ownership in Immunovant by 6.3 points, ending with 63.8% of the biotech’s stock following a $200 million injection. That cash will bolster Immunovant’s cash reserves, giving it a $600 million war chest to fund a slate of late-stage studies for its big drug: the anti-FcRn antibody IMVT-1401.

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Sanofi preps a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar buy­out of an mR­NA pi­o­neer af­ter falling be­hind in the race for a Covid-19 jab — re­port

It looks like Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson is dead serious about his intention to vault directly into contention for the future of mRNA vaccines.

A year after paying Translate Bio a whopping $425 million in an upfront and equity payment to help guide the pharma giant to the promised land of mRNA vaccines for Covid-19, Sanofi is reportedly ready to close the deal with a buyout.

Translate’s stock $TBIO soared 78% after the market closed Monday. A spokesperson for Sanofi declined to comment on the report, telling Endpoints News that the company doesn’t comment on market rumors.

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Alan Hirzel, Abcam

Drug sup­pli­er Ab­cam brings a long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor in house as part of $340M buy­out pact

BioVision has supplied Abcam with research tools since 1999, and now the two are making it official as part of a merger unveiled Monday.

Abcam will buyout BioVision as part of a $340 million acquisition deal to bring aboard the supplier’s biochemical and cell-based assays for biological research, as well as recombinant proteins, antibodies and enzymes.

The deal will give Abcam control of BioVision’s portfolio and allow for both the expansion of research existing areas of focus such as oncology, neuroscience and epigenetics and preparation to expand into new products. As a part of the deal, Abcam will develop and supply products and services to NKY, the previous owner of BioVision and receive support for ongoing development and commercialization of in vitro diagnostic products.

Tib­so­vo clears an­oth­er hur­dle for Servi­er, but can it make Agios' old drug prof­itable?

When European regulators saw the data Agios used to win US approval for their AML drug Tibsovo, they sent the more than decade-old biotech back to the drawing board. A single, single-armed trial was not going to cut it.

On Monday, though, the drug’s new owners announced it had cleared a more rigorous study. In a randomized, Phase III trial of certain newly diagnosed patients, those who received a combination of Tibsovo and chemotherapy lived longer than those who received a combination of placebo and chemotherapy. Those patients also had higher response rates and complete remission rates.

UP­DAT­ED: Watch out Glax­o­SmithK­line: As­traZeneca's once-failed lu­pus drug is now ap­proved

Capping a roller coaster journey, AstraZeneca has steered its lupus drug anifrolumab across the finish line.

Saphnelo, as the antibody will be marketed, is the only treatment that’s been approved for systemic lupus erythematosus since GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta clinched an OK in 2011. The British drugmaker notes it’s also the first to target the type I interferon receptor.

Mirroring the population that the drug was tested on in late-stage trials, regulators sanctioned it for patients with moderate to severe cases who are already receiving standard therapy — setting up a launch planned for the end of August, according to Ruud Dobber, who’s in charge of AstraZeneca’s biopharmaceuticals business unit.

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Not all mR­NA vac­cines are cre­at­ed equal. Does it mat­ter?; Neu­ro is back; Pri­vate M&A af­fair; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

As part of our broader and deeper drive, Endpoints has been pairing webinars with our special reports to cover more angles on a given topic. In conjunction with Max Gelman’s neuroscience feature, Kyle Blankenship moderated an insightful panel to discuss where the field is headed. You can register to watch it on demand here.

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Bris­tol My­ers pulls lym­phoma in­di­ca­tion for Is­to­dax af­ter con­fir­ma­to­ry tri­al falls flat

Amid an industrywide review of cancer drugs with accelerated approval, Bristol Myers Squibb had to make the tough call last month to yank an approval for leading I/O drug Opdivo after flopping a confirmatory study. Now, a second Bristol Myers drug is on the chopping block.

Bristol Myers has pulled aging HDAC inhibitor Istodax’s indication in peripheral T cell lymphoma after a Phase III confirmatory study for the drug flopped on its progression-free survival endpoint, the drugmaker said Monday.

Rick Pazdur (via AACR)

FDA's on­col­o­gy head Rick Paz­dur de­fends the ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval path­way, claim­ing it is 'un­der at­tack'

The FDA is sounding the alarm over its accelerated approval pathway as backlash continues over the recent nod in favor of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, and an ODAC meeting on six such approvals that could potentially be pulled from the market — two of which already have.

“Do you think accelerated approval is under attack? I do,” Rick Pazdur, head of FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, said at a Friends of Cancer Research webinar on Thursday.

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