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

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; 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.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

FDA un­veils new draft guid­ance to help with oligonu­cleotide ther­a­peu­tics de­vel­op­ment

While oligonucleotides, a wide variety of synthetically modified RNA or RNA/DNA hybrids that bind to a target RNA sequence to alter RNA and/or protein expression, have been winning approvals in recent years (e.g. Novartis’ cholesterol drug Leqvio), the regulatory agency is offering new draft guidance for those looking to follow a similar path.

The non-binding guidance, titled “Clinical Pharmacology Considerations for the Development of Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Guidance for Industry” deals with pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and safety assessments required as part of oligonucleotide therapeutics R&D.

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Kelly Martin, Radius Health CEO

VC firms take os­teo­poro­sis drug­mak­er Ra­dius Health pri­vate for al­most $900M

After attacks from activist investors and disappointing returns on share prices, Radius Health has now agreed to new ownership, a direction resulting in leaving the Nasdaq.

Radius Health, a biotech out of Massachusetts with one approved product in its arsenal, announced Thursday morning that it agreed to be acquired by two VC firms: Gurnet Point Capital and Patient Square Capital. The deal, worth around $890 million, will include debt assumption and the payout of $1 CVR per share for investors. And on top of that, OrbiMed is providing debt financing.