As­traZeneca surges on So­ri­ot’s up­beat as­sess­ment of its pipeline

Shares of As­traZeneca $AZN shot up 5.5% to­day as CEO Pas­cal So­ri­ot says its pipeline is full to burst­ing with R&D prospects that can dri­ve bil­lions of dol­lars in new rev­enue.

As­traZeneca CEO Pas­cal So­ri­ot

And that is once again help­ing to spur chat­ter about a pos­si­ble megamerg­er deal for the phar­ma gi­ant, two years af­ter it suc­cess­ful­ly fought off Pfiz­er’s em­brace by bold­ly pro­ject­ing 2023 sales of $45 bil­lion. To­day, So­ri­ot backed away from that pledge, say­ing that new ex­change rates would like­ly force its pro­jec­tions down to around $40 bil­lion to $41 bil­lion.

Citi an­a­lyst An­drew Baum got the ru­mor mill go­ing ear­li­er in the week, not­ing that As­traZeneca could look good to No­var­tis right about now. No­var­tis CEO Joe Jimenez, though, has made no in­di­ca­tion that he’s think­ing much big­ger than the $5 bil­lion-plus range in new ac­qui­si­tions.

So­ri­ot, who ex­pects As­traZeneca’s progress on can­cer drugs to be the main fo­cus over the next 18 months, al­lud­ed to the buy­out scut­tle­butt in the call to­day:

“(W)e cer­tain­ly have been very aware over the last few years that as we cre­ate val­ue then at some point our pipeline be­comes at­trac­tive. And so, hope­ful­ly be­comes at­trac­tive to our share­hold­ers. But of course if may be at­trac­tive to any­body. I mean, I can’t spec­u­late more….”

It wasn’t a bad per­for­mance for a com­pa­ny that is look­ing at the im­mi­nent demise of its Crestor fran­chise, which ac­counts for $5 bil­lion of its $23 bil­lion in 2015 rev­enue.

So­ri­ot has been wheel­ing and deal­ing over the last 4 years. But he told an­a­lysts to­day that that is all over. Any new deals have to be ac­cre­tive (trans­la­tion: new prod­ucts that bring in cash). But he’s no longer avid­ly snap­ping up new projects.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; and more

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It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Try­ing to shake up the Parkin­son's par­a­digm, Ab­b­Vie sub­mits NDA for con­tin­u­ous, 24-hour in­fu­sion ther­a­py

AbbVie is approaching the FDA with a new therapy to potentially treat Parkinson’s disease, using prodrugs of two medications commonly used for the condition.

The Big Pharma submitted its NDA for ABBV-951, a solution of levodopa and carbidopa prodrugs being evaluated in advanced Parkinson’s patients who don’t respond well to oral therapy, AbbVie announced Friday morning. Researchers are hoping a positive Phase III study that reads out in late October will help move things along quickly at the agency.

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Emer Cooke, EMA director (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Ahead of FDA, EMA rec­om­mends au­tho­riz­ing new gene ther­a­py treat­ment for ul­tra-rare dis­ease

Aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency is an ultra-rare genetic disease that leaves patients unable to produce certain hormones in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, usually leading to developmental delays, weak muscle tone and inability to control the movement of the limbs. It can also lead to multiple organ failure.

To date, there have been no treatments approved for AADC deficiency, which has been identified in less than 150 patients.

Ather­sys tries to post-hoc-an­a­lyze its way out of an­oth­er tri­al fail for stroke stem cell ther­a­py

Athersys’ stem cell therapy has failed yet again.

In a 206-person trial conducted in Japan, Athersys’ stem cell therapy for stroke failed its primary endpoint of “excellent outcome,” a combined measure of three stroke recovery scores.

While a greater percentage of patients in the treatment group reached the primary endpoint compared to placebo, that difference was not statistically significant.

Siddhartha Mukherjee (Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

All Blue's $733M bid to ac­quire Zymeworks turns hos­tile as board bat­tles back — af­ter a biotech celebri­ty jumps in

Yesterday, the team at All Blue Capital — bent on the takeover of a badly battered Zymeworks — brought in celebrated oncologist, Pulitzer prize-winning writer and biotech exec Siddhartha Mukherjee to add some glitz to their proposed board. But they’re still not winning over any converts.

This morning, Zymeworks’ board officially turned this acquisition offer into a hostile showdown, rejecting the unsolicited offer and marshaling its forces to prevent a buyout at $10.50 per share.

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