As­traZeneca cel­e­brates a PhI­II PARP suc­cess for Lyn­parza, putting pres­sure on Tesaro ri­val

As­traZeneca dropped one very big, tan­ta­liz­ing clue this morn­ing that will de­ter­mine the fate of its PARP in­hibitor Lyn­parza (ola­parib). As ri­val PARPs come up the pipeline from Tesaro, Clo­vis and Pfiz­er, the phar­ma gi­ant says that its Phase III ovar­i­an can­cer study came up with sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant re­sults that beat out what we’ve seen so far.

“Im­por­tant­ly, the me­di­an PFS in the Lyn­parza arm of SO­LO-2 sub­stan­tial­ly ex­ceed­ed that ob­served in the Phase II main­te­nance study in pa­tients with plat­inum-sen­si­tive re­lapsed ovar­i­an can­cer (Study 19),” As­traZeneca $AZN said in a re­lease. In­ves­ti­ga­tors test­ed the drug as a main­te­nance monother­a­py com­pared with place­bo in pa­tients with plat­inum-sen­si­tive re­lapsed or re­cur­rent BR­CA-mu­tat­ed (BR­CAm) ovar­i­an can­cer.

And that’s all you’re go­ing to get right now, as in­ves­ti­ga­tors gath­er their da­ta for an up­com­ing sci­en­tif­ic con­fer­ence.

Lyn­parza’s ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval with shaky da­ta and a neg­a­tive pan­el vote is one of the best things that has hap­pened to that com­pa­ny since Pas­cal So­ri­ot took over. And they need to do bet­ter than the weak re­sults that got them over the fin­ish line if they ex­pect to pre­serve the win in the mar­ket.

The de­vel­op­ers in the field did not all go af­ter the same pa­tient pop­u­la­tion, which makes com­par­isons dif­fi­cult. How­ev­er, each new da­ta point is be­ing giv­en a care­ful eval­u­a­tion as the ri­val com­pa­nies look to divvy up the mar­ket. In par­tic­u­lar, any­thing that pol­ish­es Lyn­parza’s da­ta will be com­pared close­ly with Tesaro’s ni­ra­parib, al­so be­ing pitched as a sec­ond-line main­te­nance ther­a­py.

Jef­feries notes that the da­ta is like­ly to set up a head-to-head ri­val­ry be­tween As­traZeneca and Tesaro.

We await full re­sults SO­LO-2 at an as-yet-to-be-dis­closed med­ical meet­ing to com­pare the re­sults to those seen with TSRO’s (OP) ni­ra­parib in the gBR­CA­mut co­hort of the Phase 3 NO­VA tri­al. We ex­pect the ben­e­fit of the two drugs to be broad­ly sim­i­lar and as­sume this in our mod­el. While we cur­rent­ly ex­pect Lyn­parza and ni­ra­parib to split the mar­ket in gBR­CA­mut pa­tients, ni­ra­parib is like­ly to ben­e­fit from an ex­pand­ed in­di­ca­tion in­clud­ing ho­mol­o­gous re­com­bi­na­tion de­fi­cient (HRD) pos­i­tive pa­tients, and we al­so be­lieve like­ly HRD-neg­a­tive pa­tients as well.

Tesaro’s shares are down 3% in pre-mar­ket trad­ing.

It’s like­ly to be quite a dust­up. Pfiz­er spent $14 bil­lion to buy Medi­va­tion with its prostate can­cer drug as well as an ex­per­i­men­tal PARP, ta­la­zoparib. Clo­vis $CLVS had to grap­ple with con­sid­er­able skep­ti­cism over its re­cent batch of mixed da­ta for ru­ca­parib. And Tesaro $TSRO is al­so hunt­ing an ap­proval of ni­ra­parib for a broad sec­ond-line main­te­nance group, with­out the use of a di­ag­nos­tic.

As­traZeneca CMO Sean Bo­hen not­ed:

Sean Bo­hen

“We are pleased with the ro­bust im­prove­ment in pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival demon­strat­ed by Lyn­parza in the SO­LO-2 tri­al. We will work with reg­u­la­to­ry au­thor­i­ties to make Lyn­parza tablets avail­able as quick­ly as pos­si­ble to pa­tients with ovar­i­an can­cer. We re­main com­mit­ted to in­ves­ti­gat­ing the full po­ten­tial of Lyn­parza, both as monother­a­py and in com­bi­na­tions, and to iden­ti­fy­ing all pa­tients who may ben­e­fit from this im­por­tant med­i­cine.”

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

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Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

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Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

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Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.

Den­mark's Gen­mab hits the jack­pot with $500M+ US IPO as small­er biotechs rake in a com­bined $147M

Danish drugmaker Genmab A/S is off to the races with perhaps one of the biggest biotech public listings in decades, having reaped over $500 million on the Nasdaq, as it positions itself as a bonafide player in antibody-based cancer therapies.

The company, which has long served as J&J’s $JNJ key partner on the blockbuster multiple myeloma therapy Darzalex, has asserted it has been looking to launch its own proprietary product — one it owns at least half of — by 2025.

FDA over­rides ad­comm opin­ions a fifth of the time, study finds — but why?

For drugmakers, FDA advisory panels are often an apprehended barometer of regulators’ final decisions. While the experts’ endorsement or criticism often translate directly to final outcomes, the FDA sometimes stun observers by diverging from recommendations.

A new paper out of Milbank Quarterly put a number on that trend by analyzing 376 voting meetings and subsequent actions from 2008 through 2015, confirming the general impression that regulators tend to agree with the adcomms most of the time — with discordances in only 22% of the cases.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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