About the re­designed End­points News

We’ve up­grad­ed the End­points web ex­pe­ri­ence for the first time since our launch three years ago. It was built from scratch in­ter­nal­ly with the read­er in mind to be a clean­er and more use­able plat­form. We have some spe­cif­ic goals in mind for the de­sign, which I’ll de­scribe be­low. And for those in­ter­est­ed, I’d like to go in­to some depth be­hind the over­all process and back­end be­hind End­points News.

But first, a word of thanks to the CRO Bio­rasi for their ex­clu­sive spon­sor­ship of the re­design. End­points’ chief rev­enue of­fi­cer Mike Peck and I met the team a year ago at a con­fer­ence, where we talked about clin­i­cal out­sourc­ing and its place in drug de­vel­op­ment. Soon, we de­vel­oped a brand cam­paign tied to the End­points brand re­fresh, and over the next two weeks you’ll see the re­sults of that across the site.

I set out three ma­jor goals for the re­design. They were:

  • In­crease the con­ver­sion rate of web vis­i­tors in­to ba­sic sub­scribers
  • In­crease the av­er­age num­ber of sto­ries read per vis­it
  • 2x im­prove­ment on the de­sign, fit, and fin­ish

The first two can be ob­jec­tive­ly mea­sured. And in the 48 hours since we soft launched the site, we’ve al­ready seen im­prove­ments. Im­prov­ing the rate at which new web vis­i­tors will­ing­ly and vol­un­tar­i­ly sub­scribe to get the ba­sic End­points email prod­uct is pure or­gan­ic growth and re­mains our #1 mar­ket­ing KPI. We crossed 50,000 re­cent­ly. Three years ago, John Car­roll and I kicked things off with around 1,000 per­son­al con­tacts who were our Day One sub­scribers. And in­creas­ing the av­er­age num­ber of sto­ries read per vis­it is a crit­i­cal mea­sure of the dis­cov­er­abil­i­ty of our news con­tent. We were av­er­ag­ing around 1.2 sto­ries per vis­i­tor. We ex­pect to triple that num­ber with this new de­sign.

The last goal — a 2x im­prove­ment in the de­sign — is a sub­jec­tive one. And to do it jus­tice re­quires a look that reach­es back to well be­fore the ori­gins of End­points News. I’ll do that be­low for the read­ers who are in­ter­est­ed.

For the rest, just know the de­sign was cre­at­ed with you, the read­er, in mind. End­points’ tech/de­sign team is deeply com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the use­abil­i­ty of the web­site. And that goes dou­ble for our pre­mi­um sub­scribers (check out the new read­er pro­file fea­ture for a glimpse).

If you de­pend on End­points, but haven’t up­grad­ed to a pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion — now is the time. Our En­ter­prise plan of­fer is a trans­par­ent, un­lim­it­ed seat-li­cense for com­pa­nies for a flat $1,000/year re­gard­less of head­count. And the In­sid­er plan is $200/year for in­di­vid­u­als. You can see all the ben­e­fits here.

Once again, thanks to Bio­rasi for their ex­clu­sive spon­sor­ship of End­points News dur­ing the #BIO2019 con­ven­tion. You’ll see their brand place­ments across the new plat­forms for the next two weeks, with a we­bi­nar launch­ing lat­er in the year. I en­cour­age you to check out their new web­site as well.

We hope you en­joy the new End­points ex­pe­ri­ence.


About the process and de­sign

John Car­roll de­scribed the ear­li­est days of End­points News re­cent­ly. It was a ful­ly boot­strapped ven­ture with four vir­tu­al em­ploy­ees.

Ty­pog­ra­phy com­par­i­son. Top: old ver­sion (Eq­ui­ty) / Bot­tom: new (Ivar Text)

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Long­time read­ers know that John and I were at a pre­vi­ous com­pa­ny. And when we found­ed End­points, we knew it was go­ing to be a ful­ly boot­strapped ven­ture. We had a well-known ed­i­tor. And with tools like Word­Press, start­ing a me­dia com­pa­ny to­day is so easy, any­one can do it.

But there was no bud­get for a de­sign­er. So the task fell be­tween our CTO Ig­or Yavych and my­self. Frankly, we’re no de­sign­ers.

Com­par­i­son of the old End­ponts News home­page with the June 2019 up­grade

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Last year, thanks to the suc­cess of our paid sub­scrip­tion cam­paigns, we were able to start build­ing out our team. We brought on board Valentin Manov as our cre­ative di­rec­tor, and the new fit and fin­ish you see to­day are his con­tri­bu­tions.

It was vi­tal­ly im­por­tant to me that once we had a de­sign bud­get, we would make “good de­sign” an in­ter­nal ca­pa­bil­i­ty — not some­thing we’d out­source. When de­sign­ers have ac­cess to the on­line news­room, they get to see what’s im­por­tant to ed­i­tors and that in turn shapes their read­er-fac­ing work. We did not want to go to an out­side agency and ask for pitch­es on what they thought our news ex­pe­ri­ence ought to be.

Back in March, I flew to Sofia, Bul­gar­ia to meet up with Valentin and Ig­or and fi­nal­ize the ba­sic out­lines of the de­sign you see to­day. We named this re­lease “Rakia,” which is the most pop­u­lar brandy in the Balka­ns.

We’re ea­ger to know what you think about the de­sign.

PS: In or­der to em­brace the newest tech­nolo­gies that are com­ing, we had to end sup­port of some very old web browsers. Old­er ver­sions of In­ter­net Ex­plor­er are no longer sup­port­ed: If you’re on a PC, Mi­crosoft’s Edge brows­er is ex­cel­lent. Ig­or rec­om­mends the Opera Brows­er. My rec­om­men­da­tion? The lat­est ver­sion of Chrome will al­ways do.

Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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Bob Smith, Pfizer

Pfiz­er is mak­ing a $500M state­ment to­day: Here’s how you be­come a lead play­er in the boom­ing gene ther­a­py sec­tor

Three years ago, Pfizer anted up $150 million in cash to buy Bamboo Therapeutics in Chapel Hill, NC as it cautiously stuck a toe in the small gene therapy pool of research and development.

Company execs followed up a year later with a $100 million expansion of the manufacturing operations they picked up in that deal for the UNC spinout, which came with $495 million in milestones.

And now they’re really going for it.

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We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.


ZHEN SU — Merck Serono’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology


ELLIOTT LEVY — Amgen’s Senior Vice President of Global Development


CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfizer Oncology’s Chief Development Officer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at help@endpointsnews.com with any issues.

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Therapists Marcela Ot'alora and Bruce Poulter are trained to conduct MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. In this reenactment, they demonstrate how they help guide and watch over a patient who is revisiting traumatic memories while under the influence of MDMA. (Photo: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)

MD­MA, now in Phase III, shows promise as a PTSD treat­ment

The first time Lori Tipton tried MDMA, she was skeptical it would make a difference.

“I really was, at the beginning, very nervous,” Tipton said.

MDMA is the main ingredient in the club drug known as ecstasy or molly. But Tipton wasn’t taking pills sold on the street to get high. She was trying to treat her post-traumatic stress disorder by participating in a clinical trial.

After taking a dose of pure MDMA, Tipton lay in a quiet room with two specially trained psychotherapists. They sat next to her as she recalled some of her deepest traumas, such as discovering her mother’s body after Tipton’s mother killed two people and then herself in a murder-suicide.

Video: Putting the AI in R&D — with Badhri Srini­vasan, Tony Wood, Rosana Kapeller, Hugo Ceule­mans, Saurabh Sa­ha and Shoibal Dat­ta

During BIO this year, I had a chance to moderate a panel among some of the top tech experts in biopharma on their real-world use of artificial intelligence in R&D. There’s been a lot said about the potential of AI, but I wanted to explore more about what some of the larger players are actually doing with this technology today, and how they see it advancing in the future. It was a fascinating exchange, which you can see here. The transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity. — John Carroll

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca’s Imfinzi/treme com­bo strikes out — again — in lung can­cer. Is it time for last rites?

AstraZeneca bet big on the future of their PD-L1 Imfinzi combined with the experimental CTLA-4 drug tremelimumab. But once again it’s gone down to defeat in a major Phase III study — while adding damage to the theory involving targeting cancer with a high tumor mutational burden.

Early Wednesday the pharma giant announced that their NEPTUNE study had failed, with the combination unable to beat standard chemo at overall survival in high TMB cases of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. We won’t get hard data until later in the year, but the drumbeat of failures will call into question what — if any — future this combination can have left.

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Ted Ashburn. Oncorus

Cowen, Per­cep­tive lead $79.5M Se­ries B for 's­tand­out' biotech shep­herd­ing on­colyt­ic virus to clin­ic

As several Big Pharma players secure biotech partners in the oncolytic virus space for new immuno-oncology combos, Cowen and Perceptive Advisors have come out with their own bet on a startup that promises to shine.

The marquee investors are joining MPM, Deerfield, Celgene, Astellas, Arkin and UBS in backing the drug developer, Oncorus, which will now deploy the $79.5 million in Series B cash toward clinical development of its lead program. Other new investors include Surveyor Capital, Sphera Funds, IMM Investment, QUAD Investment Management, UTC Investment, SV Investment Corp and Shinhan Investment-Private Equity, the last five of which are Korean-based funds.

Fu­til­i­ty analy­sis au­gurs de­feat in piv­otal tri­al test­ing of Nu­Cana's lead drug in metasta­t­ic pan­cre­at­ic can­cer

Nearly two years after making its public debut, UK-based NuCana’s mission to make chemotherapies more potent and safer was dealt a blow, after a pivotal study testing its lead experimental drug halted enrollment in a hard-to-treat advanced form of cancer, following a futility analysis.

The drug, Acelarin, is being evaluated for use in metastatic pancreatic cancer patients who were not considered suitable for combination chemotherapy. In the late-stage ACELARATE study — which compared the experimental drug against the chemotherapy gemcitabine — 200 patients had been enrolled by the sponsor, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, before an analysis from an independent safety and data monitoring panel suggested the study’s main goal would not be met.

UP­DAT­ED: Pay­back? An­a­lysts say Sarep­ta was blind­sided by an FDA re­jec­tion dri­ven by reg­u­la­to­ry re­venge

In one of the least anticipated moves of the year, the FDA has rejected Sarepta’s application for an accelerated approval of its Duchenne MD drug golodirsen after fretting over safety issues.

In a statement that arrived after the bell on Monday, Sarepta explained the CRL, saying:

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