Bay­er en­lists Arv­inas on two-pronged pro­tein degra­da­tion ef­fort, for­ay­ing in­to agtech

Arv­inas has inked an­oth­er Big Phar­ma part­ner­ship to get their pro­tein degra­da­tion en­gines revving — for both hu­mans and crops.

All told, the Ger­man con­glom­er­ate is wa­ger­ing $115 mil­lion on the po­ten­tial of Arv­inas’ tech plat­form, which us­es an E3 lig­ase to tag tar­get pro­teins with an ubiq­ui­tin, flush­ing these dis­ease cul­prits down the cell’s nat­ur­al “garbage dis­pos­al.” And Bay­er is in for the whole pack­age, with a col­lab­o­ra­tion, an eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment and a joint ven­ture in play.

A har­bin­ger of the pro­tein degra­da­tion space, Arv­inas comes of age as peers at C4 Ther­a­peu­tics and Kymera al­so gains pop­u­lar­i­ty among the likes of Bio­gen, Ver­tex and Glax­o­SmithK­line. Com­pared to the tra­di­tion­al in­hi­bi­tion ap­proach, get­ting rid of prob­lem­at­ic pro­teins promis­es to be a much more durable so­lu­tion for dis­eases like can­cer.

Jo­erg Moeller Linkedin

“Be­cause PRO­TACs don’t in­hib­it the tar­get pro­tein’s en­zy­mat­ic ac­tiv­i­ty, but bind their tar­gets with high se­lec­tiv­i­ty, it may be pos­si­ble to re­tool pre­vi­ous­ly in­ef­fec­tive in­hibitor mol­e­cules as PRO­TACs for next-gen­er­a­tion med­i­cines for pa­tients,” Jo­erg Moeller, Bay­er’s head of R&D, said in a state­ment.

On the ther­a­peu­tic side, Bay­er’s to­tal com­mit­ment — up­front, R&D sup­port plus eq­ui­ty — amounts to $60 mil­lion. It gets them the rights to nov­el lead struc­tures Arv­inas gen­er­ates in the process but doesn’t cov­er the ad­di­tion­al $685 mil­lion in po­ten­tial mile­stone pay­ments.

The pact will span car­dio­vas­cu­lar, on­co­log­i­cal and gy­ne­co­log­i­cal dis­eases.

The oth­er $55 mil­lion in the deal goes, in the course of six years, to a joint ven­ture set up to ex­plore how Arv­inas’ tech­nol­o­gy can tack­le the weeds, in­sects or dis­eases en­dem­ic in agri­cul­ture. Where pre­vi­ous crop pro­tec­tion ef­forts have suc­cumbed to re­sis­tance, pro­tein degra­da­tion may be able to re­vive them, the part­ners said.

John Hous­ton Arv­inas

“As the first com­pa­ny found­ed to ex­plore tar­get­ed pro­tein degra­da­tion, we’ve been ex­cit­ed about the po­ten­tial to im­prove the lives of pa­tients since our in­cep­tion,” said Arv­inas CEO John Hous­ton. “This col­lab­o­ra­tion en­ables us not on­ly to ex­pand our plat­form in­to new ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas, but al­so be­gins a new jour­ney in ap­ply­ing our ap­proach to agri­cul­ture.”

The cash ex­changed trumps pre­vi­ous part­ner­ships, in which Genen­tech and Pfiz­er paid less to get dis­cov­ery al­liances start­ed but pledged biobucks, great­ly rais­ing Arv­inas’ pro­file be­fore it even got in­to the clin­ic. Its lead ther­a­py in prostate can­cer is now in Phase I tri­als.


Im­age: Shut­ter­stock

An em­bold­ened As­traZeneca splurges $95M on a pri­or­i­ty re­view vouch­er. Can an FDA hus­tle up on trastuzum­ab be far be­hind?

AstraZeneca is in a hurry.

We learned this morning that the pharma giant — not known as a big spender, until recently — forked over $95 million to get its hands on a priority review voucher from Sobi, otherwise known as Swedish Orphan Biovitrum.

That marks another step down on price for a PRV, which allows the holder to slash 4 months off of any FDA review time.

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Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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Martin Shkreli [via Getty]

Pris­on­er #87850-053 does not get to add drug de­vel­op­er to his list of cred­its

Just days after Retrophin shed its last ties to founder Martin Shkreli, the biotech is reporting that the lead drug he co-invented flopped in a pivotal trial. Fosmetpantotenate flunked both the primary and key secondary endpoints in a placebo-controlled trial for a rare disease called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, or PKAN.

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We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.

ZHEN SU — Mer­ck Serono’s Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent and Glob­al Head of On­col­o­gy
EL­LIOTT LEVY — Am­gen’s Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Glob­al De­vel­op­ment
CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfiz­er On­col­o­gy’s Chief De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at help@endpointsnews.com with any issues.

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Ver­sant-backed Chi­nook gets a $65M launch round for its dis­cov­ery quest in a resur­gent kid­ney field

Versant is once again stepping off the beaten track in biotech to see if they can blaze a trail of their own in a field that has looked too thorny to many investors for years.

The venture group and their partners at Apple Tree are bringing their latest creation out of stealth mode today. Born in Versant’s Inception Sciences’ Chinook Therapeutics is betting that its preclinical take on kidney disease can get an early lead among the companies starting up in the field.

Sir An­drew Dil­lon, NICE's first — and on­ly — chief ex­ec­u­tive to step down next year

Using a laptop borrowed from his former employer, South London’s St George’s Hospital, Sir Andrew Dillon set about establishing NICE — launched by the then health secretary Frank Dobson — in 1999.  On Thursday, the UK cost-effectiveness watchdog said its first and only chief executive — Dillon — is stepping down in March 2020.

Back in the day, decisions about which drugs and interventions were funded by the National Health Service (NHS) were made at the local level, but this ‘postcode prescribing’ system was fraught with skewed healthcare deployment making the structure unsustainable. A national system was deemed necessary — and NICE was formed to bridge that gap.

Eight weeks be­tween each HIV treat­ment? GSK notch­es PhI­II win as it chas­es OK for long-act­ing reg­i­men

GSK has cleared another test in its grand plan to topple Gilead’s HIV dominance by offering alternative treatments that consist of fewer drugs and last longer. A year after scoring positive Phase III data on a four-week course of cabotegravir and rilpivirine, its ViiV subsidiary now says that an eight-week regimen seem to work just as well.

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Finch grabs a $53M round de­signed to take their ‘break­through’ mi­cro­bio­me treat­ment through a po­ten­tial­ly piv­otal tri­al

With a breakthrough designation in one hand and a fresh $53 million in venture backing in the other, Somerville, MA-based Finch Therapeutics is taking a shot at a one-trial pathway to a possible FDA OK for their new treatment for preventing recurrent C. difficile infections.

The funding brings their total raise for the microbiome company to $130 million, CEO Mark Smith tells me — enough money to pave a runway past the FDA approval they’ve sketched into the most optimistic version for their near-term future. 

Bob Smith, Pfizer

Pfiz­er is mak­ing a $500M state­ment to­day: Here’s how you be­come a lead play­er in the boom­ing gene ther­a­py sec­tor

Three years ago, Pfizer anted up $150 million in cash to buy Bamboo Therapeutics in Chapel Hill, NC as it cautiously stuck a toe in the small gene therapy pool of research and development.

Company execs followed up a year later with a $100 million expansion of the manufacturing operations they picked up in that deal for the UNC spinout, which came with $495 million in milestones.

And now they’re really going for it.

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