Alzheimer’s research in line for $350M boost as Senate proposes $3B hike to NIH budget; Allogene teams up with Stanford researchers
→ Lawmakers are once again lining up to boost NIH spending, rejecting President Donald Trump’s repeated proposals to slice billions out of their budget.
In an unusual move, the Senate appropriations committee released their bill ahead of a vote in what was seen as an effort to push things along before the start of the new fiscal year for the federal government on October 1. But there’s clearly substantial support in both parties for increasing the NIH budget by $3 billion — $1 billion more than the House has supported so far.
The Senate bill would raise the NIH budget to $42.1 billion.
Alzheimer’s research, which has been a disaster zone in the clinic, would gain $350 million — bringing the total close to $3 billion. And there’s another $50 million being added to antibiotics research. But the Senate version also clips out money to support a study on firearm injuries supported by House Dems.
If completed, lawmakers will have raised the NIH budget 40% over the past 5 years. Last year Congress hiked the NIH budget by $2 billion, after sidelining the administration’s attempt to find savings there instead. Republicans and Democrats — including appropriations committee chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) — have been pushing for more money to address key research areas which have struggled in recent years.
It’s unlikely a budget will be agreed to by the October 1 deadline, setting up another stretch where the NIH would operate at current levels until the final numbers are blessed — likely by the end of this year.
→ Allogene Therapeutics — focused on the development of allogeneic CAR-T therapies for cancer — and Stanford University are teaming up to investigate a nucleic acid delivery system that more effectively, safely and flexibly delivers intracellular RNA or DNA into lymphocytes, including T cells. The system was developed by Stanford researchers.
→ Additional data were released from bluebird bio for its Phase II/III Starbeam clinical study (ALD-102) of Lenti-D gene therapy for boys 17 years and under with cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CALD) — a genetic and rapidly progressive disease that can lead to severe loss of neurologic function and death.
“With the longest follow-up from the Phase 2/3 Starbeam study now up to five years, the data show that all boys with CALD who were treated with Lenti-D and were free of major functional disabilities (MFDs) at 24 months continued to be MFD-free. Importantly, there were no reports of graft failure or treatment-related mortality, and adverse events were generally consistent with myeloablative conditioning,” said David Davidson, chief medical officer of bluebird bio.
In addition, the company presented “updated data from the ongoing observational study (ALD-103) of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (allo-HSCT) in boys 17 years of age and under with CALD.”
→ Reuters has reported that China Biologic $CBPO, a developer of plasma-based therapies, has received a $4.59 billion in cash take-private buyout offer from a buyer group which includes Beachhead Holdings, CITIC Capital China Partners IV, PW Medtech Group, Parfield International, HH Sum-XXII Holdings and V-Sciences Investments. The company, which was listed on the Nasdaq in 2009, had its shares jump 7% after market. Reuters said, and “the offer of $120 per share represents a premium of 16.3% to China Biologic’s Wednesday close of $103.10.” This isn’t the first deal received by the company. In August 2018, the company rejected a $3.9 billion offer made by its former CEO, David Gao.
→ GV-backed Broad spinout Celsius Therapeutics inked a number of agreements — with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (San Francisco, California), Institut Gustave Roussy (Paris, France) and the University Health Network (Toronto, Canada) — to access tissue samples from patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies for triple-negative breast cancer, bladder cancer and kidney cancer, respectively.
→ Endocrine disease-focused Spruce Biosciences has released positive results from its 12-week, Phase IIa study of tildacerfont in adults with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
The company said the study enrolled patients with classic CAH accompanied by elevated androgens at baseline who were treated with a daily tildacerfront pill over 12 weeks. Data showed “mean reductions from baseline of 74% for ACTH, 82% for 17-OHP and 55% for A4. ACTH is the direct target of tildacerfont, while A4 is the critical downstream biomarker used in clinical management of patients with CAH. Maximum mean reductions observed at any timepoint in the study were 84% for ACTH, 82% for 17-OHP and 79% for A4. In addition, 60% of patients with elevated, abnormal ACTH and 40% of patients with elevated A4 saw reductions to normalization by week 12.”
With contribution from John Carroll