Al­ta­sciences, true to its word, ex­pands its foot­print with ac­qui­si­tion of Penn­syl­va­nia CRO

Chris Perkin

A Cana­di­an CD­MO with roots in Seat­tle is com­ing to the east coast.

Al­ta­sciences an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of Calvert Lab­o­ra­to­ries Wednes­day, a pre­clin­i­cal CRO in Penn­syl­va­nia. The move will com­ple­ment Al­ta­sciences’ Seat­tle-area op­er­a­tions.

Head­quar­tered in Laval, Cana­da, Al­ta­sciences op­er­ates six fa­cil­i­ties that run the gamut on ear­ly drug de­vel­op­ment: pre­clin­i­cal safe­ty test­ing, clin­i­cal phar­ma­col­o­gy, bio­an­a­lyt­i­cal, CRO ser­vices, and even CD­MO ca­pac­i­ty. No­vo Hold­ings scooped them up in Feb­ru­ary with the goal of court­ing small and medi­um-sized bio­phar­ma clients. CEO Chris Perkin said back in Feb­ru­ary that the move would help the com­pa­ny fos­ter its am­bi­tious growth plan, and this ac­qui­si­tion and the pres­ence it brings to the east coast is ev­i­dence.

Steve Ma­son

“This ac­qui­si­tion will in­crease small mol­e­cule ex­per­tise as well as add ef­fi­ca­cy phar­ma­col­o­gy, oph­thal­mol­o­gy and car­cino­genic­i­ty study ca­pa­bil­i­ties to Al­ta­sciences’ cur­rent pre­clin­i­cal of­fer­ing,” co-COO Steve Ma­son said in a state­ment. “Fur­ther­more, it ex­pands Al­ta­sciences’ pres­ence on the East Coast, and the site is con­ve­nient­ly lo­cat­ed in close prox­im­i­ty to our CD­MO fa­cil­i­ty.”

Al­ta­sciences has a 30,000-square-foot CD­MO in Philadel­phia that fea­tures Grade C clean­rooms for liq­uid and pow­der-filled cap­sules, nano-milled sus­pen­sions, creams, gels, pow­ders, tablets, and ter­mi­nal­ly ster­il­ized in­jecta­bles. That fa­cil­i­ty han­dles high po­ten­cy ac­tive phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­gre­di­ents.

Michael Rec­ny

The Calvert lab in Penn­syl­va­nia came un­der fire in March 2020 when it was ac­cused of an­i­mal cru­el­ty by Stop An­i­mal Ex­ploita­tion Now, an an­i­mal rights group. CEO Michael Rec­ny called the al­le­ga­tions “to­tal­ly false and with­out mer­it.”

In 2019, the well-con­nect­ed Chi­na-based CRO WuXi joined forces with Al­ta­sciences, who pro­vide sup­port for WuXi AppTec’s In­ves­ti­ga­tion­al New Drug (WIND) plat­form. That deal helped WuXi ex­pe­dite its R&D process from pre-IND clin­i­cal stages and bring ther­a­pies to pa­tients faster.

The com­pa­ny al­so has lo­ca­tions in Que­bec City, Mon­tre­al, Kansas City, and now Los An­ge­les, which it opened up af­ter ac­quir­ing the CRO WC­CT Glob­al in Feb­ru­ary.

Chris Perkin, Al­ta­sciences via Youtube

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.

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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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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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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Atomwise CEO and co-founder Abraham Heifets (left) and co-founder Izhar Wallach

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Sanofi made clear its AI ambitions were real at the beginning of this year when the Big Pharma took its drug discovery collaboration with Exscientia to the next level, inking a pact that could birth 15 drugs and deliver $5.3 billion to the UK partner.

Seven months later, the AI blueprint is far from over at the French Big Pharma, as another of the much-hyped drug discovery startups is coming to the table in a five-drug deal. Sanofi will pay Atomwise $20 million to kick off the hunt for up to five targets, which are aimed at leading to the creation of new small molecules. Another $1 billion is on the line — as are royalties — and the companies kept mum on the specific diseases or broader therapeutic areas of interest.

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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

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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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Governor John Carney, Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Mayor Kenneth Branner, Jr., Delaware Prosperity Partnership President Kurt Foreman, WuXi AppTec Chairman and CEO Ge Li, WuXi AppTec Co-CEO and WuXi STA CEO Minzhang Chen, and others celebrate the groundbreaking for the WuXi STA Middletown campus.

WuXi breaks ground on Delaware fa­cil­i­ty, boost­ing its US pres­ence

While Middletown, Delaware’s main claim to fame was the site location for the film the Dead Poets Society, the city will soon play host to a massive manufacturing outfit.

WuXi AppTec’s contract research and manufacturing subsidiary WuXi STA, has broken ground on a 190-acre manufacturing campus in Middletown.

According to the company, this site will be WuXi’s second facility in the US, and it will create around 500 full-time jobs by 2026, but there are plans to kick off operations in 2025.

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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