Ab­b­Vie steers past the wreck­age, re­serves $224M to kick off once-and-done gene ther­a­py with Voy­ager to fight Alzheimer’s

Ab­b­Vie $AB­BV is hitch­ing a ride on the gene ther­a­py tech plat­form at Voy­ager $VY­GR to try a new ap­proach to tack­le Alzheimer’s.

The two com­pa­nies an­nounced this morn­ing that Ab­b­Vie is strik­ing up a col­lab­o­ra­tion to use Voy­ager’s AAV vec­tor tech to de­vel­op new de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles that can de­posit the in­struc­tions need­ed to pro­duce tau-fo­cused an­ti­bod­ies in the brain.

Tau and amy­loid be­ta — pro­teins that can clus­ter in the brain — re­main the two key tar­gets in Alzheimer’s, even af­ter a se­ries of ma­jor set­backs in the field raise fresh ques­tions about how much we know and don’t know about this dev­as­tat­ing dis­eases.

Jim Sul­li­van

Ab­b­Vie, though, fig­ures it knows enough to make this R&D shot worth­while. The com­pa­ny will pay $69 mil­lion in cash to get the pact start­ed, and will add up to $155 mil­lion more just for the pre­clin­i­cal and Phase I mile­stones. Mile­stones on each vec­tor­ized tau an­ti­body can reach up to $895 mil­lion. And Ab­b­Vie isn’t re­strict­ing it­self to Alzheimer’s.

Voy­ager is one of a group of biotechs which have been de­vel­op­ing gene ther­a­pies that are de­liv­ered by these AAV or lentivi­ral vec­tors. The blood/brain bar­ri­er that pro­tects our gray mat­ter has al­so been a big hur­dle in Alzheimer’s, block­ing drugs that might ad­dress the bi­ol­o­gy of the mem­o­ry wast­ing dis­ease. Mer­ck’s re­cent fail­ure on the BACE ap­proach with veribuce­s­tat un­der­scored 15 years of steady fail­ure in Alzheimer’s, but any win­ning block­buster would make Ab­b­Vie’s siz­able ante here look like small change .

“Voy­ager’s vec­tor­ized an­ti­body plat­form presents an in­no­v­a­tive ap­proach to ad­dress­ing chal­lenges in treat­ing neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders as­so­ci­at­ed with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of bi­o­log­ic ther­a­pies,” said Jim Sul­li­van, vice pres­i­dent, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal dis­cov­ery, Ab­b­Vie. “This col­lab­o­ra­tion has the po­ten­tial to ad­dress the needs of pa­tients who live with con­di­tions such as Alzheimer’s dis­ease, pro­gres­sive supranu­clear pal­sy and fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia.”

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.

President Joe Biden signs the Democrats' landmark climate change and health care bill. From L-R: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Pres­i­dent Biden signs ma­jor drug pric­ing re­forms in­to law: What's com­ing for bio­phar­ma?

President Joe Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law historic, decades-in-the-making new drug pricing reforms as part of a wider reconciliation bill that will likely take a chunk out of biopharma companies’ profits for some blockbusters just prior to generic or biosimilar competition.

The partisan bill (all Democrats in the House and Senate voted for it, and all Republicans voted against it) includes not only Medicare price negotiations — which won’t kick off until 2026, leaving ample time for a legal challenge — but mandatory inflation-related rebates, and a $2,000 annual cap on what seniors’ pay for their prescription drugs.

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