Astel­las taps sea­soned CMO amid shift to on­col­o­gy; Doug Man­ion steps in­to a new Are­na fol­low­ing $6.7B buy­out

Bern­hardt Zei­her

As Bern­hardt Zei­her re­tires from Astel­las’ chief med­ical of­fi­cer po­si­tion, the se­lec­tion of his suc­ces­sor says a lot about the changes he’s seen at the com­pa­ny over his 12-year tenure.

Tadaa­ki Taniguchi, the new CMO, is a sur­geon in on­col­o­gy by train­ing who’s led de­vel­op­ment for Mer­ck, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and As­traZeneca in Japan be­fore mov­ing to the US, where he will be based. His most re­cent role at As­traZeneca was SVP, head of on­col­o­gy busi­ness unit Asia strat­e­gy.

Look­ing back on his time, Zei­her told End­points News that he be­lieves the suc­cess­es his group — span­ning al­most 2,700 peo­ple — has had with the cur­rent pipeline sets the com­pa­ny up for the next wave of can­cer ther­a­pies, be it bi­func­tion­al an­ti­bod­ies, cell ther­a­pies or on­colyt­ic virus­es. On top of notch­ing la­bel ex­pan­sions for the Pfiz­er-part­nered prostate Xtan­di, in re­cent years Astel­las al­so saw the ap­proval of Xospa­ta in acute myeloid leukemia and Seagen’s Pad­cev in urothe­lial can­cer.

“Prob­a­bly the biggest thing we’ve done as an or­ga­ni­za­tion is re­al­ly grow our on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and re­al­ly es­tab­lished a strong pres­ence there,” he said.

When he first joined Astel­las from Pfiz­er — leav­ing as the in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease area lead — Zei­her re­called the com­pa­ny be­ing a “very re­gion­al com­pa­ny” with head­quar­ters in Japan and of­fices in Eu­rope and the US. His tenure, he would say, was al­so char­ac­ter­ized by a “great deal of glob­al­iza­tion,” which meant form­ing more glob­al struc­tures, har­mo­niz­ing pro­ce­dures and im­prov­ing ef­fi­cien­cies.

The com­pa­ny is al­so mov­ing in­to ear­li­er-stage projects and cut­ting-edge tech­nolo­gies such as gene ther­a­py. Ever since Astel­las ac­quired Au­dentes for $3 bil­lion, it’s been un­cov­er­ing safe­ty con­cerns with AAV gene ther­a­pies, with pa­tient deaths rock­ing the en­tire com­mu­ni­ty. Un­der Zei­her, re­searchers are still work­ing to find out the ex­act is­sues and how to re­solve them — some­thing Taniguchi will al­so have to pick up once he starts in Oc­to­ber.

“It’s been very much a roller coast­er,” Zei­her said, but added, “we re­main in­cred­i­bly com­mit­ted to gene ther­a­py.”

Am­ber Tong

Doug Man­ion

→ Ex-Kleo Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals chief Doug Man­ion has turned up as pres­i­dent and COO of Aclaris, just a month af­ter the Wayne, PA im­muno-in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­ease biotech ap­point­ed In­ter­cept and Pfiz­er alum Gail Cawk­well as CMO. Man­ion was a Bris­tol My­ers ex­ec for 11 years be­fore tak­ing the Kleo job, and he led R&D at Are­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals un­til Pfiz­er’s big $6.7 bil­lion pur­chase in De­cem­ber 2021. With Man­ion’s ar­rival, Neal Walk­er has re­lin­quished the ti­tle of pres­i­dent but will re­tain his CEO du­ties.

Olivi­er Bogillot

→ Strik­ing a €300 mil­lion on­col­o­gy deal on Thurs­day with In­novent to ex­pand its reach in Chi­na, Sanofi has made sev­er­al hires, start­ing with the ap­point­ment of Olivi­er Bogillot as head of US gen­er­al med­i­cines. Bogillot came to the French phar­ma from Bris­tol My­ers in 2015 and will fin­ish out his time as pres­i­dent of Sanofi France be­fore start­ing his new gig on Sept. 1.

Deb­o­rah Glass­er

Next, Deb­o­rah Glass­er be­came head of vac­cines, North Amer­i­ca at the multi­na­tion­al on June 20, break­ing away from Bio­gen af­ter al­most three years as US SVP of the Alzheimer’s fran­chise and 13 years over­all. Be­sides her work with the in­fa­mous ad­u­canum­ab, Glass­er was glob­al VP and as­set lead for Bio­gen’s SMA (Spin­raza) port­fo­lio. Fi­nal­ly, Kel­logg and Keurig Dr. Pep­per vet An­drew Loucks — the ex-CEO of Sen­so­ry Cloud — will be Sanofi’s head of North Amer­i­ca con­sumer health­care ef­fec­tive Aug. 8.

Per Nor­lén

Lars Staal Weg­n­er is out as CEO of Copen­hagen-based Evax­ion Biotech, and the im­munother­a­py play­er has wel­comed Per Nor­lén as his suc­ces­sor. Nor­lén left As­traZeneca in 2010 to be­come CMO of Al­li­ga­tor Bio­science and was el­e­vat­ed to CEO at the Swedish biotech sev­en years lat­er. He re­cent­ly jug­gled the roles of CMO at Xin­tela and CEO of its sub­sidiary Targin­ta. Weg­n­er’s res­ig­na­tion doesn’t mean he’s left the com­pa­ny for good: He’ll still be an ad­vi­sor at Evax­ion, part of the IPO class of 2021 whose shares $EVAX have tanked along with every­one else in the in­dus­try this year.

Mic­ah Mack­i­son

→ Dutch CNS biotech Vi­co Ther­a­peu­tics has poached Mic­ah Mack­i­son from Lo­can­abio, nam­ing him CEO af­ter his two-and-a-half-year tenure as CBO and EVP of strat­e­gy and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. From 2015-20, he was SVP, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and strat­e­gy at As­sem­bly Bio­sciences and he’s al­so led cor­po­rate strat­e­gy at Lund­beck. Ear­ly in his ca­reer, Mack­i­son held fi­nan­cial posts at Pfiz­er and Eli Lil­ly. Vi­co is tar­get­ing spin­ocere­bel­lar atax­ia types 3 and 1 and Hunt­ing­ton’s with its lead as­set, an an­ti­sense oligonu­cleotide named VO659.

John North­cott

→ When Nek­tar’s drug be­m­peg crum­bled in mul­ti­ple late-stage tri­als in com­bi­na­tion with Bris­tol My­ers’ Op­di­vo, it opened the flood­gates for lay­offs, as near­ly 70% of the work­force lost their jobs. Chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer John North­cott ex­it­ed the com­pa­ny in June and has now resur­faced at Arv­inas in the same ca­pac­i­ty. North­cott, a Roche/Genen­tech vet as­signed to Avastin, has al­so been com­mer­cial chief with Lex­i­con Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Phar­ma­cyclics be­fore mak­ing his way to Nek­tar in De­cem­ber 2019. In Ju­ly 20221, John Hous­ton-led Arv­inas inked an­oth­er pro­tein degra­da­tion deal with Pfiz­er worth $1 bil­lion in cash and up to $1.4 bil­lion in mile­stones.

Joanne Protano

Launch­ing last No­vem­ber with $50 mil­lion in fi­nanc­ing from Flag­ship, tR­NA biotech All­tr­na has se­lect­ed Joanne Protano as CFO. This marks an­oth­er ap­point­ment with­in Noubar Afeyan’s fam­i­ly of com­pa­nies for Protano, who was Flag­ship’s SVP of fi­nance, new ven­tures from 2015-17. Since then, she’s been VP of fi­nance and SVP of fi­nance and op­er­a­tions for Ru­bius Ther­a­peu­tics. Lo­visa Afzelius hand­ed the keys to Michelle Wern­er at All­tr­na in April, part of a wave of CEO-part­ner ap­point­ments at Flag­ship that in­clud­ed Mar­go Geor­giadis and Michael Sev­eri­no.

Wendy Li

Gra­cell Biotech­nolo­gies has made its sec­ond Peer Re­view ap­pear­ance in three weeks with Wendy Li as CMO. Li worked in on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment at Genen­tech, Sanofi and Pfiz­er, then held CMO posts at Si­huan Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and Ex­u­ma Biotech. Samuel Zhang, a Big Phar­ma vet in his own right, joined as CBO in Ju­ly at the Chi­nese CAR-T play­er, which opened 2021 by rais­ing a hefty $209 mil­lion in the good old days of IPOs.

Shuan­glian Li

→ With its lead drug tale­trec­tinib in Phase II stud­ies for ROS1 fu­sion-pos­i­tive NSCLC, US-Chi­na biotech An­Heart Ther­a­peu­tics has named Shuan­glian Li as CMO (US). Pri­or to lead­ing clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at An­sun Bio­phar­ma and Sky­line Ther­a­peu­tics, Li was glob­al clin­i­cal lead for the EGFR in­hibitor mobo­cer­tinib at Take­da and had been a med­ical di­rec­tor at Ari­ad Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals un­til the Japan­ese phar­ma snapped it up five years ago in a $5.2 bil­lion deal.

→ Led by ex-No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies busi­ness chief Lisa De­schamps and notch­ing an $80 mil­lion Se­ries A last De­cem­ber, gene ther­a­py out­fit Avi­ado­Bio has tapped David Coop­er as CMO. Coop­er, a 14-year No­vo Nordisk vet in med­ical af­fairs, had filled the role of VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, CNS since 2019 at uniQure and worked on such drugs as Hunt­ing­ton’s can­di­date AMT 130, which re­vealed ear­ly da­ta in late June that “pleas­ant­ly sur­prised” CEO Matt Ka­pus­ta.

Lih-Ling Lin

→ Mass­a­chu­setts-based Phar­maEssen­tia has brought aboard Lih-Ling Lin as CSO. Lin joins the com­pa­ny from Sanofi, where she served as head of check­point im­munol­o­gy clus­ter in the im­munol­o­gy and in­flam­ma­tion re­search area. Pri­or to that, Lin was with Pfiz­er for more than 21 years, round­ing out her tenure with the drug gi­ant as se­nior di­rec­tor, in­flam­ma­tion and im­munol­o­gy.

Lee Ann Mar­chion­na

→ Over at Feng Zhang’s Ar­bor Biotech­nolo­gies, Lee Ann Mar­chion­na has signed on as chief peo­ple of­fi­cer. Dur­ing her time as a prin­ci­pal at Vi­tal­i­ty HR, Mar­chion­na was ei­ther an in­ter­im chief peo­ple of­fi­cer or a frac­tion­al chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer for an ex­ten­sive list of com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Al­bireo, Spero Ther­a­peu­tics, En­tra­da Ther­a­peu­tics, Ike­na On­col­o­gy and Geno­cea Bio­sciences. Ear­li­er, she was VP of hu­man re­sources at Ther­mo Fish­er. Now she fo­cus­es her at­ten­tion on a CRISPR biotech that gath­ered up a $215 mil­lion Se­ries B round in No­vem­ber 2021.

Er­ic Schlezinger

→ San Fran­cis­co pro­tein degra­da­tion shop Nurix Ther­a­peu­tics has locked in Er­ic Schlezinger as chief peo­ple of­fi­cer. Af­ter lead­ing hu­man re­sources at Vir Biotech­nol­o­gy from 2017-19, Schlezinger held the same role at Adamas Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a Parkin­son’s biotech that Su­per­nus bought for $400 mil­lion in Oc­to­ber 2021. Nurix cashed in with a $120 mil­lion round in March 2020, then bol­stered its al­liance with Sanofi as the French phar­ma dished out $22 mil­lion near­ly 10 months lat­er on top of the $77 mil­lion from the orig­i­nal deal in 2019.

Kasey Rosa­do

→ Swing­ing and miss­ing again with its stem cell ther­a­py for stroke in June, Ather­sys has named Kasey Rosa­do as in­ter­im CFO short­ly af­ter share­hold­ers at the cash-strapped com­pa­ny signed off on a re­verse stock split. Rosa­do is a Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers vet who was se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Anku­ra be­fore join­ing Ather­sys, which sev­ered ties with As­pire Cap­i­tal Fund a month ago, rip­ping up a $100 mil­lion agree­ment.

Ali Siam

→ Sun­ny­vale, CA-based an­ti-ag­ing com­pa­ny Rube­do Life Sci­ences has plugged in Ali Siam as CBO and Ofir Moreno as SVP of drug dis­cov­ery. A J&J strate­gic mar­ket­ing vet who al­so had a three-year stay at Ab­b­Vie, Siam comes to Rube­do af­ter his stint as busi­ness chief of Cel­matix. Moreno has end­ed a near­ly 12-year as­so­ci­a­tion with MEI Phar­ma, where he was pro­mot­ed to SVP of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sci­ences in Ju­ly 2019.

Sin­gu­lar Ge­nomics Sys­tems is bring­ing in two new faces, both from 10x Ge­nomics, to its ex­ec team with the ap­point­ments of Sam Ropp as CCO and Jeff Bullard as head of sales for North Amer­i­ca. Dur­ing his tenure at 10x, Ropp was SVP of glob­al sales. Ropp al­so has ex­pe­ri­ence from Bec­ton Dick­in­son and Bio-Rad Lab­o­ra­to­ries un­der his belt.

Mean­while, Bullard was se­nior di­rec­tor of sales — Amer­i­ca. Pri­or to his decade-long stint with 10x, Bullard was with Ther­mo Fish­er, Life Tech­nolo­gies, Ion Tor­rent and Ap­plied Biosys­tems/Am­bion.

Ken Kuhn

→ Two Il­lu­mi­na vets have joined Seat­tle pro­teomics com­pa­ny Nau­tilus Biotech­nol­o­gy: Er­ic Spence (VP of in­stru­ment en­gi­neer­ing) spent four years with Il­lu­mi­na, then hopped over to Ag­i­lent Tech­nolo­gies be­fore tak­ing on a string of roles at Genap­sys, leav­ing the ge­nom­ic se­quenc­ing play­er as se­nior di­rec­tor, in­stru­ment de­vel­op­ment. Ken Kuhn (VP of reagent and plat­form de­vel­op­ment) was se­nior di­rec­tor of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment dur­ing a 16-year ca­reer at Il­lu­mi­na, and he’s re­cent­ly been VP of sys­tems in­te­gra­tion, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions at En­co­dia.

→ Af­ter los­ing its CEO in Feb­ru­ary, biotech re­search group ReNeu­ron has locked in its CFO Cather­ine Ist­ed to the chief ex­ec role. Ist­ed joined the UK-based com­pa­ny in Oc­to­ber 2021 af­ter a stint at Ox­ford Bio­med­ica. Ist­ed will of­fi­cial­ly take the man­tle on Sept. 1.

Rolan­do Braw­er

Rolan­do Braw­er has tak­en on the role of EVP, strat­e­gy & cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment for dig­i­tal cell bi­ol­o­gy spe­cial­ist Berke­ley Lights. Braw­er — a for­mer Ge­nom­ic Health/Ex­act Sci­ences ex­ec — re­cent­ly served as VP, sci­ence & tech­nol­o­gy, al­liances & ven­tures at Dana­her Cor­po­ra­tion, and from 2014-16, he was head of li­cens­ing at Ther­mo Fish­er.

Michael Drake

→ Right be­fore Am­gen agreed to buy Chemo­cen­tryx for $3.7 bil­lion, the Big Phar­ma gave Michael Drake a seat on the board of di­rec­tors. Since Au­gust 2020, Drake has been pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia and was pres­i­dent of Ohio State from 2014-20.

Gary Nabel and Joseph Pa­pa lead a group of new board mem­bers at Paul Pe­ter Tak’s Can­del Ther­a­peu­tics that will re­place Alan Smith, Shaan Ghan­di and Udi Meirav on Aug. 8. Nabel, the chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer at OP­KO and ex-Sanofi CSO, along with Pa­pa — the out­go­ing Bausch Health CEO — will be joined by Eko De­vices CFO Re­nee Gae­ta on the board.

Roshawn Blunt

→ Chaired by Mike Grey, mi­to­chon­dria-fo­cused Re­neo Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has elect­ed Roshawn Blunt to the board of di­rec­tors. Blunt, who joined the board at Kro­nos Bio in No­vem­ber 2021, is an Am­gen and J&J vet who is the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of 1798 Con­sul­tants.

→ Af­ter VBL Ther­a­peu­tics’ ovar­i­an can­cer drug ofran­er­gene obade­n­ovec whiffed in Phase III a cou­ple weeks ago, the biotech chopped its staff by 35%, while Ron Co­hen, Ben­nett Shapiro and Al­i­son Fin­ger have all re­signed this week from the board of di­rec­tors. VBL says it has enough cash avail­able to keep go­ing with a small­er crew for the next year.

Lau­ra Bessen

An­drew Hirsch-led pro­tein degra­da­tion biotech C4 Ther­a­peu­tics has added Lau­ra Bessen and Don­na Gro­gan to the board of di­rec­tors. At the tail end of her 15 years with Bris­tol My­ers (2001-2016), Bessen was VP, head of US med­ical. Gro­gan was CMO of Clemen­tia un­til the com­pa­ny was sold to Ipsen, which has had a dev­il of a time with the cen­ter­piece of the deal, the rare bone dis­ease drug palo­varotene.

Rad­hi­ka Tripu­ra­neni is head­ed to the board of di­rec­tors at Eli Lil­ly’s NASH col­lab­o­ra­tor Terns Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Tripu­ra­neni, the chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer with Prothena, is the ex-VP of med­ical af­fairs for MyoKar­dia and Alex­ion.

Sap­na Sri­vas­ta­va

Fore­site Labs in­cu­ba­tor Alu­mis has brought on Sap­na Sri­vas­ta­va, the for­mer chief fi­nan­cial and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer of In­tel­lia Ther­a­peu­tics, to its board of di­rec­tors. Along with her stint at In­tel­lia, Sri­vas­ta­va is the ex-chief fi­nan­cial and strat­e­gy of­fi­cer for Abide Ther­a­peu­tics (ac­quired by Lund­beck).

→ New Jer­sey-based Am­neal Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has pulled up a chair for for­mer FDA deputy com­mis­sion­er Deb Au­tor on the board of di­rec­tors. Au­tor spent half of her six years at My­lan as head of glob­al qual­i­ty and the oth­er half as head of strate­gic glob­al qual­i­ty and reg­u­la­to­ry pol­i­cy. She was al­so As­traZeneca’s glob­al head of reg­u­la­to­ry ex­cel­lence from 2019-21.

Alessan­dra Ce­sano

Puma Biotech­nol­o­gy — which ex­pe­ri­enced a drop in its stock in 2019 af­ter sales of its drug Ner­l­ynx fell short of Wall Street es­ti­mates — has re­cruit­ed Alessan­dra Ce­sano to its board of di­rec­tors. Ce­sano serves as CMO of ES­SA Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and is the for­mer CMO of NanoS­tring. Ce­sano has al­so pre­vi­ous stints at Cleave Bio­sciences, Nodal­i­ty, Am­gen, Bio­gen and SmithK­line Beecham.

→ Cana­di­an bio­phar­ma Find Ther­a­peu­tics — backed by in­vestors CTI Life Sci­ences and ad­Mare BioIn­no­va­tions, among oth­ers — has named Paul Truex as chair­man of the board, tak­ing over for Lau­rence Rul­leau, who will re­main on the board. Truex cur­rent­ly serves as chair­man and CEO of Thryv Ther­a­peu­tics. Truex al­so has ex­pe­ri­ence from stints at Mile­stone, Trius, An­thera, Penin­su­la and Ver­si­cor.

Rally­bio, run by a crew of Alex­ion alums who picked up an old Kymab ane­mia drug from Sanofi in May, has plucked up Wendy Chung for its board of di­rec­tors. Chung is a pro­fes­sor of pe­di­atrics and med­i­cine at Co­lum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Irv­ing Med­ical Cen­ter and al­so serves on the board of Prime Med­i­cine. Ad­di­tion­al­ly, Chung sits on the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry boards of Sage Bionet­works, Taysha, He­lix and Re­gen­eron Ge­net­ics Cen­ter.

UP­DAT­ED: In a fresh dis­ap­point­ment, Am­gen spot­lights a ma­jor safe­ty is­sue with KRAS com­bo

Amgen had hoped that its latest study matching its landmark KRAS G12C drug Lumakras with checkpoint inhibitors would open up its treatment horizons and expand its commercial potential. Instead, the combo spurred safety issues that blunted efficacy and forced the pharma giant to alter course on its treatment strategy, once again disappointing analysts who have been tracking the drug’s faltering sales and limited therapeutic reach.

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Ad­dress­ing the ‘Ca­pac­i­ty Crunch’ with a Scal­able Plat­form Process Ap­proach

The field of gene therapy has been diligently moving forward over the past several decades to bring potentially life-saving treatments to patients with genetic diseases. In addition to two approved adeno-associated viral (AAV) gene therapies, there are more than 250 AAV gene therapies in various clinical trial stages.1 AAV vectors remain the most frequently used vector for delivering therapeutic transgenes to target tissues due to their demonstrated and lasting clinical efficacy and extensive safety track record. As AAV therapies advance through clinical trials and into commercialization, many biotech companies are turning to contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) to prepare their programs for late-stage clinical and commercial scale manufacturing. Given the scope and scale of the manufacturing needs that will accompany regulatory approvals for these assets, CDMOs continue to expand their capacity to meet the needs of increasing prevalent patient populations. However, despite rapid growth, projected gene therapy manufacturing demands still outpace the collective capacity of the CDMO industry.

A $5B Pfiz­er buy­out? Am­gen, Gilead head­line M&A Thurs­day; Al­ny­lam's AT­TR sweep; An­drew Lo's rare dis­ease quest; 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.

One of the cool things about adding EndpointsPharma to the daily roster is that my colleagues can now dedicate time to tracking quarterly updates and tuning into calls with Big Pharma companies. Check out their dispatch from the Q2 earnings below.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Break­ing: Pfiz­er in hot pur­suit of a $5B buy­out of Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics — re­port

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has vowed to leave no stone unturned in the search for new biotech deals, and the BD team is not letting him down.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Pfizer is in the final stages of acquiring Global Blood Therapeutics for $5 billion. According to the Journal report, though, Pfizer is not the only buyer at the deal table and while the pharma giant may be close to clinching it, there are no guarantees it will continue.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Justin Kase Conder/AP Images for Amgen)

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen chief Brad­way nabs a rare dis­ease play­er in $4B buy­out as the M&A tem­po ac­cel­er­ates

Amgen CEO Bob Bradway is bellying up to the M&A table today, scooping up the newly anointed commercial biotech ChemoCentryx $CCXI and its recently approved rare disease drug for $3.7 billion out of the cash stockpile. The deal comes in at $52 a share — a hefty increase over the $24.11 close yesterday.

Bradway and the Amgen team get a drug called Tavneos (avacopan) in the deal, a complement factor C5a inhibitor OK’d to treat anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis, an autoimmune disease which can be lethal.

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George Yancopoulos, Regeneron president and CSO (Brendan McDermid/Reuters/Alamy)

George Yan­copou­los says he's on the trail of the holy grail: ‘This could rep­re­sent the next break­through for im­munother­a­py’

Two of the most outspoken — and successful — drug developers in biotech say they’ve collected early-stage clinical data that are pointing them down the trail to the holy grail in cancer immunotherapy R&D.

While analysts largely busied themselves today with chronicling the ongoing success of Regeneron’s two big cash cows — Dupixent and Eylea — chief scientist George Yancopoulos and CEO Len Schleifer used the Q2 call to spotlight their early success with a combination of the “homegrown” PSMAxCD28 costimulatory bispecific antibody REGN5678 in combination with their PD-1 checkpoint Libtayo. The presentation comes just weeks after Regeneron completed a deal to gather all rights to the PD-1 that had been in Sanofi’s hands. And the two top execs are unstinting in their praise of the potential of a whole set of costimulatory pipeline projects which they say may finally deliver the long-awaited next-level approach to broadening the immunotherapy field of drugs.

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(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

US de­clares mon­key­pox a na­tion­al health emer­gency, as new drug­mak­ers con­sid­er en­ter­ing vac­cine race

Rising monkeypox cases have put the US on high alert as it announces a national health emergency, which grants the government more power in its response.

The news comes as Bavarian Nordic continues to fill orders for its Jynneos vaccine and other companies – including Moderna – consider jumping into the vaccine race. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the US has allowed around 20 million doses of smallpox vaccine in its stockpile to expire.

Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Bio­haven touts surge in Nurtec sales ahead of Pfiz­er takeover

Forget buyer’s remorse, Pfizer is likely feeling pretty good about its $11.6 billion Biohaven takeover deal following reports of a 57% sales boost for migraine med Nurtec.

Biohaven reported in Q2 results on Friday that it’s cleared the necessary antitrust hurdles to move forward with the sale of its calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) assets to Pfizer. However, because the company is “focused on workstreams related to the closing” of the deal, it did not host a call with analysts and investors.

Pharma ads are showing up on cooler screens at retail pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS, under a new OptimizeRx deal (OptimizeRx)

Phar­ma brands chill in the phar­ma­cy re­tail aisle with new style ads on re­frig­er­a­tion screens

Want a prescription drug with that soda? While not directly possible, ads for pharma brands now running on beverage and snack cooler screens at pharmacy retailers may at least inspire customers to think about it.

OptimizeRx is hooking up with Cooler Screens media company to bring prescription drug advertising to refrigerator front doors at pharmacies including Walgreens, CVS and Kroger.

The “point of dispense” ads show a full-door image on the cooler doors when a shopper is 12 feet away, but shrinks down to a smaller banner-sized ad so that the refrigerator contents can be seen when a person gets closer. The doors — which have to be specially installed by Cooler Screens — can detect when a person is nearby, how long a person “dwells” in front of the ad and if they do or don’t open the door.

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