A hun­gry Take­da con­tin­ues deal spree with $125M T cell pact, op­tion to buy

Take­da is on a tear.

Two days af­ter an­nounc­ing a $5.2 bil­lion deal to ac­quire Ari­ad, the glob­al Japan­ese phar­ma com­pa­ny is back with the lat­est in a string of small­er pacts, in­vest­ing $125 mil­lion in Mav­er­ick Ther­a­peu­tics and pick­ing up an op­tion to buy the biotech and its T cell en­gage­ment plat­form.

The cash comes for an up­front pay­ment, eq­ui­ty stake and R&D sup­port, with Take­da step­ping in­to a $23 mil­lion Se­ries B to help fu­el the next round of de­vel­op­ment. Take­da and Mav­er­ick, an MPM Cap­i­tal com­pa­ny, have al­ready worked out a buy­out price for five years down the road, but they aren’t dis­clos­ing it.

Take­da al­so dis­closed a re­search pact with Ko­rea’s LegoChem Bio­sciences to study next-gen an­ti­body drug con­ju­gates.

Mav­er­ick was spun out of Har­poon Ther­a­peu­tics last year, pur­su­ing tech that promised to di­rect a T cell at­tack on can­cer cells, avoid­ing healthy cells and the tox­i­c­i­ty linked to a mis­di­rect­ed ther­a­peu­tic.

“We be­lieve that this col­lab­o­ra­tion val­i­dates Mav­er­ick’s ap­proach to T-cell en­gage­ment in the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment which we be­lieve will al­low us to ad­dress pre­vi­ous­ly in­tractable on­col­o­gy tar­gets,” said Jean­marie Guenot, PhD, Mav­er­ick’s co-founder.

Take­da has been com­plete­ly over­haul­ing its R&D op­er­a­tions over the past year, con­cen­trat­ing much of its ef­fort in the US and Japan. And this lat­est spurt of deals isn’t end­ing here. Take­da CEO Christophe We­ber and oth­er ex­ecs ex­plained this week that they have the ap­petite for more M&A and li­cens­ing deals, and the re­sources to make it all hap­pen.

“We see sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial in Mav­er­ick to de­vel­op unique, small and cus­tomiz­able T-cell en­gage­ment ther­a­peu­tics,” said Phil Row­lands, In­ter­im Head, On­col­o­gy Ther­a­peu­tic Area Unit, Take­da.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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