#ASH17: Seat­tle Ge­net­ics CEO Clay Sie­gall has an an­swer for the skep­tics doubt­ing Ad­cetris da­ta for Hodgkin lym­phoma

Seat­tle Ge­net­ics $SGEN CEO Clay Sie­gall ran in­to a wall of skep­ti­cism last sum­mer when he rolled out pos­i­tive da­ta from their Phase III study of a new cock­tail for front­line Hodgkin lym­phoma. Drop­ping the tox­ic bleomycin from the stan­dard chemo com­bo used to treat the dis­ease, re­searchers for the biotech — part­nered with Take­da — had come up with a lean but sig­nif­i­cant 5-point PFS ad­van­tage for the com­pa­ny’s flag­ship ther­a­py.

Clay Sie­gall

But in an era of sharp pay­er kick­backs for mar­gin­al­ly im­pres­sive drugs, the stock wilt­ed as the doubters pounced on the two-year mod­i­fied PFS rate of 82.1% com­pared to 77.2% in the con­trol arm — a 4.9 point, or 6%, im­prove­ment.

Sie­gall, how­ev­er, ar­rived in At­lanta this week­end for ASH con­fi­dent that reg­u­la­tors would fa­vor a pro­gram stamped with their “break­through” des­ig­na­tion. Pay­ers would see the ben­e­fits, he added, with the full pack­age of da­ta from ECH­E­LON-1. And physi­cians and pa­tients, he felt, are clear­ly will­ing to em­brace the change, par­tic­u­lar­ly as the da­ta are be­ing pre­sent­ed si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly now in the pres­ti­gious New Eng­land Jour­nal of Med­i­cine.

First, he told me, there’s the sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tion of longterm, dis­ease-free sur­vival of­fer­ing more pa­tients a shot at a po­ten­tial­ly cu­ra­tive so­lu­tion to their dis­ease. Drop­ping bleomycin, he adds, is a clear ben­e­fit. Even at a small rate of pul­monary tox­i­c­i­ty, it can be lethal. Carv­ing it out of the treat­ment reg­i­men will be cheered by every ex­pert in the field.

By physi­cians in­volved in the tri­al, the PFS ad­van­tage was 6.3%, with a 27% drop in the risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion, death or need for an­oth­er drug.

“Can we get 5%, 6%, 7% more pa­tients cured, elim­i­nate bleomycin and lessen the num­ber of pa­tients with sec­ond rounds of chemo and ra­di­a­tion ther­a­py?” says Sie­gall. “All that to­geth­er re­al­ly is an ad­vance and doc­tors are thrilled when they can.”

“Some­times you see a ther­a­py add 8, 12 weeks in an end­point that’s not longterm sur­vival,” says the CEO. “It’s very ex­pen­sive and won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly change or cure an­oth­er seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion and re­duce tox­i­c­i­ty, and there’s some push­back be­cause theres a ques­tion of the val­ue.”

That’s not the case here, he feels.

Lym­phoma ex­pert John Leonard, though, not­ed in a Tweet to me that there’s one fly in Seat­tle Ge­net­ics oint­ment.

As per the RATHL study 75% of pa­tients can drop Bleomycin af­ter cy­cle 2 AB­VD which dra­mat­i­cal­ly re­duces bleomycin tox­i­c­i­ty – so a big com­po­nent of this ar­gu­ment goes away

If so, physi­cians could be more like­ly to stick with the stan­dard,

An added ap­proval for Seat­tle Ge­net­ics is like­ly, nev­er­the­less. The FDA has made it abun­dant­ly clear that they want to see im­prove­ments in can­cer care, and is will­ing to move par­tic­u­lar­ly quick­ly for ap­proved ther­a­pies like Ad­cetris. And af­ter a fourth OK ear­li­er in the year, Seat­tle Ge­net­ics will be clos­er to the day when they can count Ad­cetris as a block­buster ther­a­py.

“We think there’s a strong val­ue propo­si­tion across the board,” he adds.”It is what pay­ers are cov­er­ing.”

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gink­go Bioworks re­sizes the de­f­i­n­i­tion of go­ing big in biotech, rais­ing $2.5B in a record SPAC deal that weighs in with a whop­ping $15B-plus val­u­a­tion

Ginkgo Bioworks execs always thought big. But today should redefine just how big an upstart biotech player can dream.

In the largest SPAC deal to clear the hurdles to Nasdaq, the biotech that envisioned everything from remaking synthetic meat to a whole new approach to developing drugs has joined forces with one of the biggest disruptors in biotech to slam the Richter scale on dealmaking.

Soon after becoming the darling of the VC crew and clearing the bar on a $4 billion valuation, Ginkgo — a synthetic biotech player out to reprogram cells with industrial efficiency — has now struck a deal to go public in the latest leviathan SPAC that sets its pre-money valuation at $15 billion. In one swift vault, Ginkgo will combine with Harry Sloan’s Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. and leap into the public markets.

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FDA un­veils six ICH guide­lines ahead of meet­ing with Health Cana­da

A sign that the FDA’s non-Covid-related processes are beginning to normalize: The release of six guidelines from the International Council of Harmonisation.

Years in development, the ICH documents offer an international perspective on drug development, with these latest guidelines covering everything from recommendations to support the classification of drug substances, featured in the M9 guidance, to standards for nonclinical safety studies for pediatric medicines in the S11 guideline.

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Sanofi, Glax­o­SmithK­line, Boehringer ac­cused of play­ing games, de­stroy­ing emails re­lat­ed to law­suit over con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed Zan­tac

A recent court filing raises new questions about how major pharma companies like Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and Boehringer Ingelheim have dealt with a lawsuit related to recalls of certain over-the-counter heartburn drugs due to the presence of a potentially cancer-causing substance found in them.

More than 70,000 people who took Sanofi’s Zantac and other heartburn drugs containing ranitidine, which have been recalled over the past two years, have sued the manufacturers, including generic drugmakers, and other retailers and distributors as part of a consolidated suit before US District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg in Florida.

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Al Sandrock, Biogen R&D chief (Biogen via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Bio­gen push­es in a fresh stack of chips and starts prep­ping a glob­al R&D game plan af­ter watch­ing the cards turn on ear­ly throm­bolyt­ic da­ta

After patiently steering through a decade-long journey for its early-stage clinical work, a small Tokyo biotech has clinched a deal to out-license its lead thrombolytic agent to US heavyweight Biogen — which sees a potentially game-changing impact on the clot-busting field after taking a careful look at some upbeat Phase IIa data.

Three years after Biogen anted up $4 million to gain an option on the drug from TMS, the big US biotech is making a small bet to beef up its stroke portfolio. The BD team inked a deal to go ahead and grab rights to the drug for $18 million, with another $335 million in milestone cash on the table for a successful outcome.

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Chris Garabedian (Xontogeny)

Per­cep­tive Ad­vi­sors, Xon­toge­ny bring the band back and then some with a $515M sec­ond fund sniff­ing out lead com­pounds

When Perceptive Advisors and startup accelerator Xontogeny initially teamed up on an early-stage VC round in 2019, the partners hoped to prove their investments could be a force multiplier for early-stage companies. Now, with that proof of concept behind them, the pair have closed a second VC round worth more than double the money.

Dubbed PXV Fund II and headed by Xontogeny CEO and former Sarepta head Chris Garabedian, the $515 million fund will target 10 to 12 early-stage preclinical companies with Series A rounds in the $20 million to $40 million range with opportunities for Series B follow-ups. The oversubscribed fund is bringing the band back with initial investors from PXVI as well as new investors that include “top-tier” asset managers, endowments, foundations, family offices, and individual investors.

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A clos­er look at the FDA’s more than 700 pan­dem­ic-re­lat­ed record re­quests to re­place on­site in­spec­tions

As the pandemic constrained the FDA’s ability to travel for onsite manufacturing inspections, the agency increasingly turned to requesting records to fill the gap, even for hundreds of US-based facilities.

FDA explains in its guidance on manufacturing inspections during the pandemic that the agency can request records (not to be confused with the FDA’s remote interactive evaluations) directly from facilities “in advance of or in lieu of” certain onsite inspections. Companies are legally required to fulfill those requests because a denial may be considered limiting an inspection, which could lead to the FDA deeming a drug made at that site to be adulterated.

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Stephen Squinto, Gennao Bio CEO (Gennao)

Alex­ion co-founder Stephen Squin­to is back in the game as CEO, this time for a small gene ther­a­py play­er

With his name already behind a rare disease success story in Alexion, Stephen Squinto was looking for a great story to drive him to jump back into the biotech game. He found that in a fledging non-viral gene therapy company, and now he’s got a few backers on board as well.

On Tuesday, Gennao Bio launched with a $40 million Series A co-led by OrbiMed and Logos Capital with participation by Surveyor Capital. The biotech, which is looking to use its cell-penetrating antibody platform to deliver nucleic acid “payloads” during into the nucleus, had to rush for its initial series — and had a name change along the way.

Alvotech takes Ab­b­Vie to court over al­leged patent 'mine­field' sur­round­ing megablock­buster Hu­mi­ra

AbbVie has so far been successful in shooing away competition to its megablockbuster Humira, deploying a number of patents and settlements to keep biosimilars off the US market until 2023. But one Icelandic drugmaker doesn’t want to wait — and on Tuesday, it filed a lawsuit challenging what it called a patent “minefield.”

Alvotech has accused AbbVie of trying to “overwhelm” and “intimidate” it with “an outrageous number of patents of dubious validity,” according to court documents. The company is currently seeking approval for its Humira copycat AVT02, which AbbVie says would infringe upon 62 patents.