Bay­er clos­ing down San Fran­cis­co re­search hub as at­ten­tion turns to Berke­ley plan

Bay­er is say­ing farewell to a long­time re­search hub in San Fran­cis­co, cen­tral­iz­ing US ef­forts in the Boston area and po­ten­tial­ly leav­ing sev­er­al biotechs in its in­cu­ba­tor with­out a home.

The Ger­man drug gi­ant will shut down the “in­no­va­tion hub” and Co­Lab­o­ra­tor in­cu­ba­tor ahead of its lease ex­pir­ing in Oc­to­ber, a Bay­er spokesper­son told End­points. Once a lo­ca­tion thought of as piv­otal to Bay­er’s US plans, the San Fran­cis­co site will shut­ter af­ter more than a decade of op­er­a­tion.

Since say­ing last year that it would “eval­u­ate” dif­fer­ent op­tions for the site, Bay­er has shrunk its San Fran­cis­co staff to few­er than 20 work­ers, the spokesper­son said. These em­ploy­ees will be “en­cour­aged” to ap­ply for jobs else­where at Bay­er, in­clud­ing at a Berke­ley, CA lo­ca­tion with more than 100 open­ings.

“We com­mu­ni­cat­ed with em­ploy­ees about this de­ci­sion back in April to pro­vide them with the longest pos­si­ble run­way to mak­ing their next ca­reer moves,” the spokesper­son told End­points in an email. “We rec­og­nize that every­one may not find their next role with­in Bay­er and in this event the com­pa­ny will be pro­vid­ing its stan­dard sev­er­ance as well as job place­ment ser­vices.”

For the biotechs with of­fices at the site, Bay­er will work to help tran­si­tion them to “fu­ture lo­ca­tions of their choos­ing,” the spokesper­son added. There are cur­rent­ly 10 com­pa­nies ei­ther head­quar­tered at the Mis­sion Bay site or us­ing of­fices at the lo­ca­tion, in­clud­ing the Swiss biotech CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics.

Bay­er first opened the hub back in 2010, start­ing off with about 65 re­searchers at a for­mer Pfiz­er space near UC-San Fran­cis­co. Then in 2012, Bay­er launched its San Fran­cis­co in­cu­ba­tor, which has part­ner sites in Berlin, Moscow, West Sacra­men­to, CA and Kobe, Japan.

The in­cu­ba­tor orig­i­nal­ly fea­tured 6,000 square feet of of­fice space, but Bay­er ex­pand­ed that foot­print to 30,000 in re­cent years.

Bay­er’s move comes af­ter the drug­mak­er had once looked to con­tin­ue ex­pand­ing its San Fran­cis­co hub, but struck out at se­cur­ing more of­fice space. Per a re­port from the San Fran­cis­co Busi­ness Times, near­by Sil­i­con Val­ley tech com­pa­nies like Uber and Square snapped up all the pre­mier space when build­ing out their own busi­ness­es in the ear­ly 2010s.

As a re­sult, Bay­er has piv­ot­ed its fo­cus to the Berke­ley, CA lo­ca­tion hav­ing re­cent­ly pe­ti­tioned the city for a 30-year “mas­ter plan” call­ing for rough­ly 1 mil­lion square feet of space and an ad­di­tion­al 1,000 em­ploy­ees in the next three decades. The site has pumped out three he­mo­phil­ia A treat­ments for dis­tri­b­u­tion world­wide, but Bay­er is look­ing to con­tin­ue its cell and gene ther­a­py push, in­clud­ing a gene ther­a­py for the blood dis­or­der.

Oth­er ef­forts are like­ly to be in­clud­ed at the Berke­ley site, and Bay­er has been beef­ing up its pipeline in re­cent months. Back in Oc­to­ber, Bay­er com­mit­ted up to $4 bil­lion to ac­quire gene ther­a­py pi­o­neer Askle­pios, more com­mon­ly re­ferred to as AskBio. And in De­cem­ber, the drug­mak­er es­tab­lished a cell and gene ther­a­py plat­form to con­sol­i­date all of its re­lat­ed projects un­der one um­brel­la, al­low­ing ex­ecs to swing some more deals.

Bay­er’s oth­er ten­ants at the San Fran­cis­co in­cu­ba­tor are At­lay Ther­a­peu­tics, Bi­o­Graph 55, Cairn Bio­sciences, Co­ag­u­lant Ther­a­peu­tics, DNALite Ther­a­peu­tics, Ex­plo­ra Bi­o­Labs, Mantra Bio, Pro­L­ynx and Xcell Bio­sciences.

This ar­ti­cle has been up­dat­ed to in­clude com­ment from Bay­er.

Adap­tive De­sign Meth­ods Of­fer Rapid, Seam­less Tran­si­tion Be­tween Study Phas­es in Rare Can­cer Tri­als

Rare cancers account for 22 percent of cancer diagnoses worldwide, yet there is no universally accepted definition for a “rare” cancer. Moreover, with the evolution of genomics and associated changes in categorizing tumors, some common cancers are now characterized into groups of rare cancers, each with a unique implication for patient management and therapy.

Adaptive designs, which allow for prospectively planned modifications to study design based on accumulating data from subjects in the trial, can be used to optimize rare oncology trials (see Figure 1). Adaptive design studies may include multiple cohorts and multiple tumor types. In addition, numerous adaptation methods may be used in a single trial and may facilitate a more rapid, seamless transition between study phases.

Marianne De Backer (L) and Jeff Hatfield

Bay­er nabs star biotech Vi­vid­ion with a $2B buy­out and an ‘arms-length’ pact, pulling a part­ner out of the IPO con­ga line

Vividion is canceling that IPO it filed. Instead of following the industry-wide migration to Nasdaq, the biotech that has captured considerable attention for its still-preclinical work finding cryptic pockets to bind to on proteins is going to work for Bayer now.

The pharma giant is putting out word today that it has bought out Vividion for $1.5 billion in cash and another half-billion dollars in milestones.

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Tadataka Yamada (Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sci­ence pi­o­neer, phar­ma re­search chief, glob­al health ad­vo­cate and biotech en­tre­pre­neur Tadata­ka ‘Tachi’ Ya­ma­da has died

Tadataka Yamada, a towering physician-scientist who made his name in academia before transforming drug development at GlaxoSmithKline and developing vaccines for malaria and meningitis at the Gates Foundation, died unexpectedly of natural causes at his home in Seattle Wednesday morning.

He was 76. Frazier Healthcare Partners’ David Socks confirmed his death.

Known widely by the mononym “Tachi,” Yamada had a globetrotting career and arrived in industry relatively late in life. A 2004 Independent article noted GSK had asked Yamada to stay on beyond his approaching 60th birthday, the company’s usual retirement age. Yamada would continue working for the next 17 years, steering the Gates Foundation’s global health division for 6 years, funding Jim Wilson’s gene therapy work when few would touch it, launching Takeda Vaccines and co-founding a series of high-profile biotechs.

UK re-in­ves­ti­gates Pfiz­er's eye-pop­ping price goug­ing on an epilep­sy drug

When a drugmaker raises the price of a drug in the US by more than 2,000% overnight, and without any particular reason for that increase, nothing typically happens to the company. No fines, no court orders, just business as usual.

Martin Shkreli’s decades-old anti-parasitic drug Daraprim was the perfect example — massive price spike on an old drug, lots of media attention, public outcry, Congressional committees dragging his former company through multiple hearings, and at the end of it? Nothing happened to the price or the company (until generic competition came).

Thomas Lingelbach, Valneva CEO

A small vac­cine de­vel­op­er fa­vored by the UK gov­ern­ment in Covid-19 touts a PhI­II first in chikun­gun­ya

Before Valneva garnered the favor of the UK government as a potential supplier of Covid-19 vaccines, the French biotech prided itself on being the first company to bring a chikungunya vaccine into Phase III.

It now has positive pivotal results to back up the breakthrough therapy designation the FDA granted just weeks ago.

There are currently no approved jabs to prevent chikungunya virus infection despite decades of R&D efforts, a fact that underscores just how arduous traditional vaccine development can be, particularly for neglected tropical disease. In a absence of a major commercial market, the US government and NGOs such as CEPI have deployed various grants and incentives to spur on a small crew of academics and industry players, with Merck, via its acquisition of Themis, claiming a spot in that race.

Josh Hoffman, outgoing Zymergen CEO (Zymergen)

UP­DAT­ED: Syn­bio uni­corn Zymer­gen jet­ti­sons found­ing CEO, cuts guid­ance as cus­tomers re­port lead prod­uct does­n't work

Zymergen, just months off a $500 million IPO that put the synthetic bio firm in rarified air, has now ejected its founding CEO and downgraded its revenue forecasts after customers reported its lead film product doesn’t work as advertised, the company said Tuesday afternoon.

CEO Josh Hoffman will leave his role and sacrifice his board seat immediately in favor of Jay Flatley, the former CEO of Illumina who will take the lead role on an interim basis as the company conducts a search for its next leader.

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Zymergen co-founders Zach Serber, Josh Hoffman, and Jed Dean (Zymergen via website)

Zymer­gen's sud­den im­plo­sion shocked biotech. A lin­ger­ing loan could make things even worse

As former synbio unicorn Zymergen picks up the pieces from its spectacular implosion Tuesday, an outstanding loan from Perceptive Advisors — the only blue-chip biotech crossover investor to touch Zymergen’s fundraising efforts — could make the situation worse, according to public documents.

In December 2019, more than a year before Zymergen filed for what would eventually become a $500 million IPO, the “biofacturing” firm signed a $100 million credit facility with Perceptive to help supplement the nearly $700 million the company had raised across four VC rounds.

Bio­gen, Ei­sai are push­ing for an­oth­er ac­cel­er­at­ed Alzheimer's OK — this time for BAN2401

Now that the door at the FDA has been opened wide for Alzheimer’s drugs that can demonstrate a reduction in amyloid, Biogen and its partners at Eisai are pushing for a quick OK on the next drug to follow in the controversial path of aducanumab.

In a presentation to analysts, Eisai neurology chief Ivan Cheung outlined some bullish expectations for their newly-approved treatment and set the stage for what he believes will be a fast follow for BAN2401 (lecanemab) — after a dry spell in new drug development that’s lasted close to 20 years.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Sanofi buys mR­NA play­er Trans­late Bio for $3.2B. And the price fits a pop­u­lar range for biotech M&A

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson is dead serious about his intention to vault directly into contention for the future of mRNA vaccines.

A year after paying Translate Bio $TBIO a whopping $425 million in an upfront and equity payment to help guide the pharma giant to the promised land of mRNA vaccines, Sanofi closed the deal with a buyout early Tuesday, spending $38 a share in a $3.2 billion buyout.

Translate’s stock $TBIO soared after the market closed Monday when Reuters reported the first word of the acquisition just hours ahead of the formal announcement. The wire service, though, didn’t have a price to report in its scoop, and investors chased the stock up 78% in the wild ride that followed. Once the price was announced, gains shriveled to 29% ahead of the bell.

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