A rendering of 580 Dubuque Avenue. (Credit: DES Architects + Engineers)

Amid lab space scarci­ty, a life sci­ences com­plex to rise in South San Fran­cis­co hub

The ever-ex­pand­ing group of biotechs mov­ing in­to Oys­ter Point can now ex­pect new neigh­bors as the boom­ing life sci­ences hub in South San Fran­cis­co con­tin­ues to grow.

Re­al es­tate de­vel­op­er IQHQ has put its foot down on a main road skirt­ing the neigh­bor­hood, pur­chas­ing 580 Dubuque Av­enue for an undis­closed sum. Known as South City Sta­tion, the site gives them 213,000 square feet to build on.

Don’t rec­og­nize the name? Try Cre­ative Sci­ence Prop­er­ties. The San Diego-based com­pa­ny changed its name back in Feb­ru­ary just as it un­veiled a whop­ping $770 mil­lion eq­ui­ty raise to buy and build life sci­ence cam­pus­es at life sci­ence hotspots around the world.

“Mid-tier to large life sci­ence ten­ants” will be the tar­get clien­tele, ac­cord­ing to the com­pa­ny.

“Once com­plete, South City Sta­tion will im­me­di­ate­ly meet the grow­ing de­mand for pre­mier life sci­ence re­al es­tate and R&D space in the thriv­ing South San Fran­cis­co mar­ket,” Tra­cy Mur­phy, the pres­i­dent, said in a state­ment. “It will be de­vel­oped to at­tract top tal­ent.”

These are peo­ple who have been ex­haust­ed by traf­fic and long com­mutes, Mur­phy told End­points News in an email. By con­trast, the new site’s lo­ca­tion right next to a new Cal­train sta­tion ex­pect­ed to open in spring of 2021 promis­es an easy com­mute all the way through San Jose.

It’s al­so a five-minute dri­ve from Oys­ter Point, one of the hottest de­vel­op­ments in the Bay Area, where a slate of play­ers from As­traZeneca to Ab­b­Vie to Sang­amo have set up shop. Genen­tech, the OG res­i­dent of the neigh­bor­ing area, has re­cent­ly out­lined how it can con­tin­ue grow­ing its sprawl­ing cam­pus over the next two decades.

Even though the San Fran­cis­co penin­su­la boasts of the high­est sup­ply of lab space in the US at 21.8 mil­lion square feet, the life sci­ence in­dus­try’s ap­petite for space re­mains in­sa­tiable. A re­cent re­port not­ed that the va­can­cy rate for lab space sits at 7.5% — and pre-leas­es signed be­fore con­struc­tion even be­gins are com­mon.

In par­tic­u­lar, South San Fran­cis­co showed up in three of the five no­table lease trans­ac­tions spot­light­ed by the re­al es­tate ser­vices firm Cush­man & Wake­field. Cy­to­ki­net­ics, Lyell Im­munophar­ma and Am­gen all pre-leased to se­cure a spot.

IQHQ is al­ready op­er­at­ing along­side fel­low re­al es­tate gi­ants such as Kil­roy, Alexan­dria and Bio­med Re­al­ty, hav­ing man­aged the Gate­way of Pa­cif­ic and Kil­roy Oys­ter Point. Con­struc­tion for South City Sta­tion is sched­uled to start by the end of 2021.

Oth­er lo­ca­tions on its menu in­clude San Diego, Boston and the Gold­en Tri­an­gle in the Unit­ed King­dom.

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

José Basel­ga finds promise in new class of RNA-mod­i­fy­ing can­cer tar­gets, lock­ing in 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams with $55M

Having dived early into some of the RNA breakthroughs of the last decades — betting on Moderna’s mRNA tech and teaming up with Silence on the siRNA front — AstraZeneca is jumping into a new arena: going after proteins that modify RNA.

Their partner of choice is Accent Therapeutics, which is receiving $55 million in upfront payment to steer a selected preclinical program through to the end of Phase I. After AstraZeneca takes over, the Lexington, MA-based startup has the option to co-develop and co-commercialize in the US — and collect up to $1.1 billion in milestones in the long run. The deal also covers two other potential drug candidates.

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UP­DAT­ED: Es­ti­mat­ing a US price tag of $5K per course, remde­sivir is set to make bil­lions for Gilead, says key an­a­lyst

Data on remdesivir — the first drug shown to benefit Covid-19 patients in a randomized, controlled trial setting — may be murky, but its maker Gilead could reap billions from the sales of the failed Ebola therapy, according to an estimate by a prominent Wall Street analyst. However, the forecast, which is based on a $5,000-per-course US price tag, triggered the ire of one top drug price expert.

FDA de­lays de­ci­sion on No­var­tis’ po­ten­tial block­buster MS drug, wip­ing away pri­or­i­ty re­view

So much for a speedy review.

In February, Novartis announced that an application for their much-touted multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab had been accepted and, with the drug company cashing in on one of their priority review vouchers, the agency was due for a decision by June.

But with June less than 48 hours old, Novartis announced the agency has extended their review, pushing back the timeline for approval or rejection to September. The Swiss pharma filed the application in December, meaning their new schedule will be nearly in line with the standard 10-month window period had they not used the priority voucher.

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Bris­tol-My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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