Ab­b­Vie grap­ples with an­oth­er set­back as 2 PhI­II tri­als for its PARP veli­parib flop

Up un­til now, PARP in­hibitors have been blaz­ing a broad, long trail of suc­cess in the clin­ic, with Lyn­parza, Rubra­ca and now Ze­ju­la hit­ting a busy and grow­ing mar­ket for can­cer pa­tients.

Ab­b­Vie CEO Richard Gon­za­lez

But Ab­b­Vie $AB­BV won’t be join­ing that crowd any­time soon.

Re­searchers at the com­pa­ny chose to an­nounce late Wednes­day that their PARP, veli­parib, failed in two Phase III stud­ies in pa­tients with squa­mous non-small cell lung can­cer (NSCLC) and triple neg­a­tive breast can­cer.

De­tails will have to wait un­til an up­com­ing can­cer drug con­fer­ence. But Ab­b­Vie prepped a few short words for the late-stage bur­ial de­tail.

“Re­search shows there is a role for PARP in­hibitors in can­cers as­so­ci­at­ed with DNA re­pair deficits, such as those with BR­CA mu­ta­tions. In these clin­i­cal tri­als, we want­ed to ex­plore whether a PARP in­hibitor could aug­ment chemother­a­py in pa­tients with squa­mous non-small cell lung can­cer and triple neg­a­tive breast can­cer by dis­rupt­ing the re­pair of can­cer cells,” said Gary Gor­don, the VP of on­col­o­gy clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Ab­b­Vie. “Un­for­tu­nate­ly, these da­ta do not sup­port the use of veli­parib in com­bi­na­tion with chemother­a­py in these pa­tients.”

There’s plen­ty of work ahead as the rest of the new wave of PARPs looks to broad­en la­bels and ex­pand mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion. Still to be heard from? Pfiz­er, which grabbed ta­la­zoparib in their $14 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Medi­va­tion. The phar­ma gi­ant will need to do much bet­ter than Ab­b­Vie if it wants to jus­ti­fy the price it paid.

Ab­b­Vie has been hus­tling up a big late-stage ef­fort to bring new drugs to the mar­ket, be­fore it los­es patent pro­tec­tion on the all-im­por­tant $16 bil­lion Hu­mi­ra flag­ship fran­chise. But it’s been strug­gling on the can­cer front, fail­ing so far to im­press an­a­lysts with Ro­va-T, which it ac­quired in a $10 bil­lion buy­out.

Ge­of­frey Porges at Leerink likes some of Ab­b­Vie’s late-stage pro­grams, but he’s writ­ing off veli­parib as es­sen­tial­ly worth­less. He not­ed:

While two dis­ap­point­ing tri­als would not nor­mal­ly com­plete­ly doom a pro­gram, the lack of ef­fect in­deed con­firms our view that veli­parib has lim­it­ed ac­tiv­i­ty and is not com­pet­i­tive with oth­er prod­ucts in this class. For this rea­son we are tak­ing the prob­a­bil­i­ty of suc­cess (POS) of the pro­gram to ze­ro, and re­duc­ing our rev­enue and earn­ings ex­pec­ta­tions ac­cord­ing­ly.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Roche and Genen­tech re­searchers plot $53M dis­cov­ery quest aimed at spark­ing a 'Holy moly' piv­ot in neu­ro R&D

Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.

Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.

Am­gen, As­traZeneca speed to­ward fil­ing next-gen an­ti­body for asth­ma af­ter un­cork­ing full late-stage da­ta

On the hunt for a novel competitor to Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent in severe asthma, Amgen and AstraZeneca posted “exciting” results from their next-gen antibody late last year. Now, the partners are showing their hands, and the results look good enough for approval.

Amgen and AstraZeneca’s tezepelumab plus standard of care cut the rate of severe asthma attacks by 56% at the one-year mark compared with SOC alone, according to full data from the Phase III NAVIGATOR study presented Friday at the virtual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting. And those significant results were consistent regardless of patients’ baseline eosinophil counts.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

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