South Lake Union. Shutterstock

Alexan­dria seals $143M deal in Seat­tle's 'heart of the heart,' grab­bing cov­et­ed land to build its biotech clus­ter

In the lat­est push to be­come the pre­mier land­lord in Seat­tle’s grow­ing biotech hub, Alexan­dria has se­cured rights to a new plot sur­round­ed by tech gi­ants.

The life sci­ences re­al es­tate de­vel­op­er — renowned in part for its start­up in­cu­ba­tors and ven­ture in­vest­ments — has agreed to pay the city gov­ern­ment $138.5 mil­lion for a 2.86-acre site in the boom­ing South Lake Union neigh­bor­hood. Pend­ing coun­cil ap­proval, con­struc­tion will be­gin as ear­ly as next year.

“We feel it’s re­al­ly the heart of the heart, and this is the last large block of land left to de­vel­op,” Joel Mar­cus, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and founder of Alexan­dria, told Geek­Wire.

Cred­it: JLL

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

That par­tic­u­lar stretch along Mer­cer is just across the street from sev­er­al Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Med­ical School fa­cil­i­ties and a few min­utes walk from Juno Ther­a­peu­tics, an Alexan­dria ten­ant. To the east sits the Allen In­sti­tute for Brain Sci­ence while the Bill & Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion would be a neigh­bor on the west. Ama­zon, Mi­crosoft and Face­book all have cam­pus­es near­by.

Alexan­dria beat five oth­er bid­ders to the deal af­ter sweet­en­ing its of­fer by around 40%, Geek­Wire re­port­ed, while al­so con­tribut­ing $5 mil­lion to­ward home­less­ness and com­mit­ting to build a com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter in ad­di­tion to an af­ford­able hous­ing tow­er com­pris­ing at least 175 units on one of the sites.

Mar­cus first be­gan en­vi­sion­ing a life sci­ences clus­ter — his word for a com­mu­ni­ty of in­ter­con­nect­ed com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions — for Seat­tle in 1996, when he struck a pur­chase-lease­back deal with Fred Hutchin­son Can­cer Re­search Cen­ter around its orig­i­nal cam­pus. He has since built 1.5 mil­lion square feet of space and pen­ciled in an­oth­er half a mil­lion square feet for con­struc­tion.

“With Seat­tle com­pa­nies tack­ling am­bi­tious new ap­proach­es to dis­ease treat­ment in re­cent years, the city has emerged as a leader in im­munol­o­gy, cell ther­a­py, in­fec­tious dis­eases and the in­ter­sec­tion of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy,” he re­marked ear­li­er this year while an­nounc­ing oth­er de­vel­op­ment projects in the city.

Just this week, Alexan­dria un­veiled that the new­ly pub­lic biotech uni­corn Adap­tive Biotech­nolo­gies has signed a 12-year lease at an­oth­er de­vel­op­ment at 1165 East­lake Av­enue East, north­east of the Mer­cer Mega Block. The move-in date is set for 2022.

Seat­tle may­or Jen­ny Durkan called the new land sale “one of the most con­se­quen­tial prop­er­ty deals the city of Seat­tle has ever done” giv­en the po­ten­tial to cre­ate both new jobs and af­ford­able hous­ing.

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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Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan [via Bloomberg/Getty]

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Vas Narasimhan has warily stepped up with what might pass as something close to a borderline apology for the latest scandal to engulf Novartis.

But he couldn’t quite get there.

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FDA to Sarep­ta: Your wide­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed fol­lowup to Ex­ondys 51 is not get­ting an ac­cel­er­at­ed OK for Duchenne MD

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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Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

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Af­ter a posse of Wall Street an­a­lysts pre­dict a like­ly new win for Sarep­ta, we're down to the wire on a crit­i­cal FDA de­ci­sion

As Bloomberg notes, most of the Wall Street analysts that cover Sarepta $SRPT are an upbeat bunch, ready to cheer on the team when it comes to their Duchenne MD drugs, or offer explanations when an odd setback occurs — as happened recently with a safety signal that was ‘erroneously’ reported last week.

Ritu Baral Cowen
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UP­DAT­ED: No­var­tis spin­off Nabri­va fi­nal­ly scores its first an­tibi­ot­ic ap­proval

In May, Nabriva Therapeutics suffered a setback after the FDA rejected its antibiotic for complicated urinary tract infections — the Novartis spinoff has now had some better luck with the US agency, which on Monday approved its other drug for community-acquired bacterial pneumonia.

The drug, lefamulin, has been developed as an intravenous and oral formulation and been tested in two late-stage clinical trials. The semi-synthetic compound, whose dosing can be switched between the two formulations, is engineered to inhibit the synthesis of bacterial protein by binding to a part of the bacterial ribosome.

Saqib Islam. CheckRare via YouTube

Spring­Works seeks $115M to push Pfiz­er drugs across fin­ish line while Sat­suma sells mi­graine play in $86M IPO

SpringWorks and Satsuma — both biotech spinouts that have closed B rounds in April — are loading up with IPO cash to boost their respective late-stage plans.

Bain-backed SpringWorks is the better-known company of the two, and it’s gunning for a larger windfall of $115 million to add to $228 million from previous financings. In the process, the Stamford, CT-based team is also drawing the curtains on the partnerships it has in mind for the pair of assets it had initially licensed from Pfizer.

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Van­da shares slide af­ter FDA spurns their big end­point and re­jects a pitch on jet lag re­lief

Back in the spring of last year, Vanda Pharmaceuticals $VNDA served up a hot stew of mixed data for a slate of endpoints related to what they called clear evidence that their melatonin sleep drug Hetlioz (tasimelteon) could help millions of travelers suffering from jet lag.

Never mind that they couldn’t get a planned 90 people in the study, settling for 25 instead; Vanda CEO Mihael H. Polymeropoulos said they were building on a body of data to prove it would help jet-lagged patients looking for added sleep benefits. And that, they added, would be worth a major upgrade from the agency as they sought to tackle a big market.