As CRISPR hori­zons cloud, a start­up fo­cus­es on the next big thing with pow­er­house po­ten­tial — the RNA edit­ing plat­form

Over the last few years, as CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tech became the AK47 of academic labs — a handy, powerful weapon that could be pointed at multiple targets — there has been a growing chorus of skeptics pointing to what they see as severe limitations to the technology. And gradually, some of the leaders in the field began to move to refinements aimed at whisking away the fretful doubts that had begun to nag at the pioneers.

But while superstar scientists like Feng Zhang were working on CRISPR 2.0, a small band of scientists has been hatching their own plans around creating a whole new branch of the disease editing field — RNA editing. And the second startup in 3 months is now popping up to take its place in what it hopes will be a vanguard platform tech that can go places in vivo where CRISPR may be off limits.

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M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Yong Dai, Frontera Therapeutics CEO

Scoop: Lit­tle-known Or­biMed-backed biotech clos­es $160M round to start gene ther­a­py tri­al

Frontera Therapeutics, a China and US biotech, has closed a $160 million Series B and received regulatory clearance to test its first gene therapy stateside, Endpoints News has learned.

Led by the largest shareholder, OrbiMed, the biotech has secured $195 million total since its September 2019 founding, according to an email reviewed by Endpoints. The lead AAV gene therapy program is for an undisclosed rare eye disease, according to the source.

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Con­gress lays out its de­mands for FDA in 2023 — on every­thing from ma­chine learn­ing to im­munother­a­pies

As the US House Appropriations committee marks up a bill today to provide the FDA with a 10% budget boost in FY 2023, the committee also offered up a long wish list of topics that it wants the FDA to address.

The list ranges from urging CDER to better use artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance its review process for supplements or repurposed drug candidates “by leveraging automated data collection, integration, and advanced statistical methods,” to encourage the FDA to publish guidance for cell therapy developers, to increasing staff in key areas.

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DEM BioPharma CEO David Donabedian (L) and executive chair Jan Skvarka

Long­wood sets an­oth­er 'don't eat me' biotech in­to gear with help of for­mer Tril­li­um CEO Jan Skvar­ka

Jonathan Weissman and team are out with a cancer-fighting biotech riding the appetite for those so-called “don’t eat me” and “eat me” signals.

The scientific co-founder — alongside fellow Whitehead Institute colleague Kipp Weiskopf and Stanford biologist Michael Bassik — has launched DEM BioPharma with incubator Longwood Fund and a crop of other investors.

In all, the nascent, 10-employee biotech has $70 million to bankroll hematology- and solid tumor-based programs, including a lead asset that could enter human trials in two to three years, CEO David Donabedian told Endpoints News.

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

FDA+ roundup: Spring reg­u­la­to­ry agen­da looks to fin­ish off Cures im­ple­men­ta­tion; GAO digs in­to med­ical coun­ter­mea­sures

The Biden administration released its Spring regulatory agenda, offering up plans on which proposed and final rulemakings will be coming down the pike in the not-too-distant future.

For the FDA, many of the draft and final rules are repeats, although the agency will look to clear its plate of remaining 21st Century Cures Act obligations, which have been in the works since 2016.

For instance, although Section 3023 of the Cures Act has a Dec. 2019 statutory deadline, the agenda shows the FDA is still hoping to release two proposed rules related to that part of the bill this September.

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