A new com­pa­ny en­ters the Tec­fidera fight, of­fer­ing to kill two birds

The rem­e­dy for the most com­mon side ef­fect for one of the most com­mon mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis drugs is sim­ple: as­pirin.

Tak­ing as­pirin with Bio­gen’s Tec­fidera will re­duce the flush, a some­times painful form of red skin ir­ri­ta­tion, many pa­tients ex­pe­ri­ence. The prob­lem is that the as­pirin has to be tak­en at least 30 min­utes be­fore Tec­fidera, turn­ing a sim­ple twice-a-day, one-dose oral drug in­to a stag­gered two-drug reg­i­men.

Joseph Hab­boushe

Joseph Hab­boushe watched his fa­ther strug­gle with the same is­sue for high-dose niacin, a cho­les­terol treat­ment that al­so caused a flush that could be pre­vent­ed if you on­ly took as­pirin 30 min­utes to an hour be­fore.

“Most pa­tients, they just won’t do that,” Hab­boushe told End­points News. “It’s re­al­ly hard.”

So Hab­boushe, an ER doc, en­tre­pre­neur and aca­d­e­m­ic be­gan work­ing on a way to in­te­grate the two and come up with some­thing that would give as­pirin’s an­ti-flush ef­fect at the same time a pa­tient took the main med­i­cine. He filed his first patent in 2012, and to­day he’s of­fi­cial­ly an­nounc­ing the com­pa­ny: Vi­tal­is Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

In­for­ma­tion is scant on Vi­tal­is. The com­pa­ny has not dis­closed its in­vestors or how much mon­ey they have, and aside from an 18-per­son pi­lot study that found a 63% flush re­duc­tion, there’s lit­tle da­ta to back them up. De­spite that, they’re aim­ing to hit the mar­ket in 2021.

They have sev­er­al can­di­dates — in­clud­ing ones for non-opi­oid pain and dys­lipi­demia — but their main pitch is around Tec­fidera, the pill that earned Bio­gen over $4 bil­lion last year. Hab­boushe said that while he be­gan by try­ing to find a way of ward­ing off flush, he emerged with a pill he claims can not on­ly re­duce flush but al­so has bet­ter phar­ma­co­ki­net­ic prop­er­ties and can get around Bio­gen’s patents.

The fu­ture of Tec­fidera — which fast beaome the num­ber-one sell­ing MS pill in the US af­ter its ap­proval in 2013 — is cloud­ed by com­peti­tors and a heat­ed patent dis­pute.

Bio­gen’s patents are slat­ed to ful­ly ex­pire in 2028, but sev­er­al com­pa­nies have al­ready chal­lenged that, hop­ing to void it ear­li­er. Most no­tably, My­lan is in the midst of a court case to void the patent on the ba­sis of ob­vi­ous­ness, and in 2017, Bio­gen paid $28 mil­lion and promised more in mile­stones to Alk­er­mes to buy­out their chal­lenge.

Any change in the patent out­look would be con­se­quen­tial — both for Bio­gen and for any de­vel­op­er able to then en­ter the mar­ket. Af­ter Bio­gen dis­closed the My­lan threat in Feb­ru­ary, Leerink an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges wrote that a 2020 patent ex­pi­ra­tion would be worth 10-15% Bio­gen’s val­ue.

So­cial im­age: Joseph Hab­boushe, NYU Lan­gone Health

 

How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an­ti­body play­er

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

UP­DAT­ED: Pan­el of neu­ro­science ex­perts lays out the com­pli­ca­tions with us­ing Bio­gen's new Alzheimer's drug

Treatment of early Alzheimer’s patients with Biogen’s new drug Aduhelm should closely resemble how the drug was studied in its pivotal clinical trials, according to new recommendations from a panel of neuroscience experts led by UNLV’s Jeffrey Cummings.

“Those considering aducanumab therapy should understand that the expected benefit is slowing of cognitive and functional decline; improvement of the current clinical state is not anticipated,” they wrote Tuesday in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, noting that some of their recommendations are more specific or more restrictive than the information provided in the FDA’s prescribing information.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Kyodo via AP Images)

Take­da flesh­es out CNS pact with pep­tide drug­mak­er, set­ting aside $3.5B in fu­ture mile­stones

One of a suite of drugmakers looking to reinvest in the neuroscience space, Takeda has been aggressive in signing on new partners to help build up its pipeline in that space. But sometimes the best partner is the one you already have.

Takeda will set aside $3.5 billion in future milestones and an undisclosed upfront payment to build out its drug discovery deal with Japanese peptide conjugate maker PeptiDream, adding neurodegeneration to the partnership’s list of CNS targets, the companies said Tuesday.

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George Yancopoulos, Regeneron

Re­gen­eron's lat­est ge­net­ics dis­cov­ery hooks As­traZeneca — now all-in on de­vel­op­ing small mol­e­cules for obe­si­ty

Just weeks after its widely lauded genetics research arm tagged a promising new target for obesity, Regeneron has signed up an industry heavyweight to collaborate with on developing new drugs that can potentially act as a game-changer in what has proven to be a tough field for developers.

The Regeneron Genetics Center published a paper in Science at the beginning of this month highlighting how their work sequencing the genomes of 650,000 people highlighted how people with at least 1 inactive copy of the GPR75 gene weighed on average 12 pounds less than the rest of the population with a 54% reduction in risk of obesity.

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