Ab­b­Vie hatch­es plans for a ma­jor new R&D hub close to its part­ners in Bay Area's buzzy Oys­ter Point

Ab­b­Vie has signed on to be the first ten­ant of a mas­sive new re­search cen­ter in Oys­ter Point, join­ing a flock of bio­phar­ma peers that’s set up shop in the in­creas­ing­ly pop­u­lar South San Fran­cis­co neigh­bor­hood.

The North Chica­go, IL-based drug­mak­er — whose Stem­cen­tryx sub­sidiary has an op­er­a­tion in the area — is leas­ing al­most 480,000 square feet in the Gate­way of Pa­cif­ic, a 1.4 mil­lion square foot cam­pus un­der con­struc­tion by Bio­Med Re­al­ty. Ink­ing a deal for 10 years, Ab­b­Vie will oc­cu­py a 12-sto­ry tow­er in a space that could even­tu­al­ly hold 1,500 work­ers, the San Fran­cis­co Busi­ness Times re­port­ed.

The new fa­cil­i­ty will “rep­re­sent a Bay Area hub for Ab­b­Vie’s on­col­o­gy busi­ness,” which is cur­rent­ly spread be­tween three dis­tinct lo­ca­tions in the re­gion, Ab­b­Vie spokesper­son Ilke Limon­cu tells End­points News.

“This fu­ture fa­cil­i­ty will al­so fur­ther strength­en our pres­ence in the Bay Area and bring to­geth­er our cur­rent three sites to im­prove col­lab­o­ra­tion and help us grow Ab­b­Vie’s on­col­o­gy sci­ence, re­search, in­no­va­tion and pa­tient care am­bi­tions,” he writes in an email.

The new lo­ca­tion would make Ab­b­Vie a neigh­bor of Genen­tech’s Gate­way cam­pus, while plac­ing it just 10 min­utes away from mul­ti­ple part­ners at Cal­i­co, Cy­tomX and Alec­tor.

When Ab­b­Vie and Cal­i­co re­newed their mon­ster dis­cov­ery deal in June, each com­mit­ting $500 mil­lion more to their al­liance, the Google-backed an­ti-ag­ing biotech made the un­usu­al move to an­nounce that it’s built a team of 150-plus around an HQ base in South San Fran­cis­co, with plans to add more.

Big names and fledg­ling biotechs alike have tak­en a lik­ing to the R&D hub in San Fran­cis­co, with Oys­ter Point in par­tic­u­lar buzzing with new oc­cu­pants. Sang­amo un­veiled plans to build a new HQ right on a ma­ri­na late last year, while As­traZeneca is bring­ing staffers from var­i­ous biotechs it ac­quired to­geth­er at its Cove at Oys­ter Point site.

“The core of Ab­b­Vie’s ini­tia­tive is fo­cused on the tal­ent, in­no­va­tion and cul­ture in the Bay Area,” Di­no Per­az­zo, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Ab­b­vie from re­al es­tate bro­ker­age CBRE’s life sci­ence prac­tice, told the San Fran­cis­co Busi­ness Times. “Theirs is the first of what will like­ly be many phar­ma ini­tia­tives com­ing to the Bay Area in the near fu­ture.”

While the the first phase of Gate­way of Pa­cif­ic is ex­pect­ed to com­plete in 2019 — with 431,000 square feet in phase II space to come lat­er — Ab­b­Vie won’t be­gin to move in un­til 2021, when its cur­rent Cal­i­for­nia leas­es ex­pire, Limon­cu con­firms.


Im­age: GATE­WAY OF PA­CIF­IC

Secretary of health and human services Alex Azar speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House (Photo: AFP)

Trump’s HHS claims ab­solute au­thor­i­ty over the FDA, clear­ing path to a vac­cine EUA

The top career staff at the FDA has vowed not to let politics overrule science when looking at vaccine data this fall. But Alex Azar, who happens to be their boss’s boss, apparently won’t even give them a chance to stand in the way.

In a new memorandum issued Tuesday last week, the HHS chief stripped the FDA and other health agencies under his purview of their rule making ability, asserting all such power “is reserved to the Secretary.” Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times first obtained and reported the details of the September 15 bulletin.

#ES­MO20: Push­ing in­to front­line, Mer­ck and Bris­tol My­ers duke it out with new slate of GI can­cer da­ta

Having worked in parallel for years to move their respective PD-1 inhibitors up to the first-line treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb finally have the data at ESMO for a showdown.

Comparing KEYNOTE-590 and CheckMate-649, of course, comes with the usual caveats. But a side-by-side look at the overall survival numbers also offer some perspective on a new frontier for the reigning checkpoint rivals, both of whom are claiming to have achieved a first.

#ES­MO20: Bris­tol My­ers marks Op­di­vo's sec­ond ad­ju­vant win — eye­ing a stan­dard of care gap

Moving into earlier and earlier treatment lines, Bristol Myers Squibb is reporting that adjuvant treatment with Opdivo has doubled the time that esophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer patients stay free of disease.

With the CheckMate-577 data at ESMO, CMO Samit Hirawat said, the company believes it can change the treatment paradigm.

While a quarter to 30% of patients typically achieve a complete response following chemoradiation therapy and surgery, the rest do not, said Ronan Kelly of Baylor University Medical Center. The recurrence rate is also high within the first year, Hirawat added.

Clay Siegall (Life Science Washington via YouTube)

#ES­MO20: Seat­tle Ge­net­ics eyes 4th ap­proval with new da­ta in a crowd­ed field

Does Seattle Genetics have another approval on its hands?

The last 12 months, not so great for the world, has been great for Seattle Genetics. The company landed two separate FDA approvals, signed a $4.5 billion deal with Merck and watched antibody-drug conjugates — the technology they spent years developing to broad industry skepticism — emerge suddenly as one of the most popular approaches in oncology. And on Monday at ESMO, the company and their partners at Genmab unveiled the data behind the ADC it hopes will provide its next major FDA approval.

Jonathan Rigby, Immune Regulation group CEO

Im­mune Reg­u­la­tion, tak­ing two clin­i­cal pro­grams to 're­set' the im­mune sys­tem, nets $53M+ Se­ries B

A little under two years after a company rebranding, Immune Regulation is taking an even bigger step toward advancing its goals.

Formerly known as Peptinnovate, the British biotech announced a $53.4 million Series B early Monday morning, helping to further advance two clinical programs in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Though those are the two initial indications the company is focusing on, CEO Jonathan Rigby told Endpoints News he hopes the candidates can be applied to a broad swath of autoimmune disorders.

Israel Lowy (Regeneron)

#ES­MO20: 'As good as any PD-1 out there': Re­gen­eron flash­es PD-(L)1 lung can­cer da­ta to ri­val Mer­ck

Regeneron entered the PD-(L)1 game late, so they devised a two-pronged strategy to catch up with Big Pharma rivals: They would push it into cancers where PD-1s had yet been tested, and they would prove that it’s as powerful in the big indications as any other on the market.

They cleared a hurdle on the first goal Friday, showing a 31% response in patients with the rare skin cancer basal cell carcinoma. And with the data they’re rolling out Monday, Regeneron cancer chief Israel Lowy is ready to declare success on the second.

UP­DAT­ED: Two wild weeks for Grail end in $8B Il­lu­mi­na buy­out

Grail’s whirlwind two weeks have ended in the wealthy arms of its former founder and benefactors.

Illumina has shelled out $8 billion to reacquire the closely-watched liquid biopsy startup they spun out just 5 years ago and sold off much of its shares just 3 years ago. The deal comes nearly two weeks after the well-heeled startup filed for a potentially massive IPO — one that was disrupted just a week later when Bloomberg reported that Illumina was in talks to buy their former spinout for up to $8 billion.

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Roche vaults to the front of the NL­RP3 clin­i­cal race, pay­ing $448M up­front to bag In­fla­zome

Roche is going all in on NLRP3.

The pharma giant is putting down $448 million (€380 million) upfront to snatch Novartis-backed Inflazome, which makes it a clinical player in the space overnight.

Dublin and Cambridge, UK-based Inflazome is the second NLRP3-focused biotech Roche has acquired in less than two years, and although no numbers were disclosed in the Jecure buyout, this is almost certainly a much larger deal.

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Eli Lilly CSO Dan Skovronsky (file photo)

UP­DAT­ED: #ES­MO20: Eli Lil­ly shows off the da­ta for its Verzenio suc­cess. Was it worth $18 bil­lion?

The press release alone, devoid of any number except for the size of the trial, added nearly $20 billion to Eli Lilly’s market cap back in June. Now investors and oncologists will get to see if the data live up to the hype.

On Sunday at ESMO, Eli Lilly announced the full results for its Phase III MonarchE trial of Verzenio, showing that across over 5,000 women who had had HR+, HER2- breast cancer, the drug reduced the odds of recurrence by 25%. That meant 7.8% of the patients on the drug arm saw their cancers return within 2 years, compared with 11.3% on the placebo arm.

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