Bay­er trims 2 top ex­ecs, shrinks man­age­ment board; Spring­Works boosts size of IPO

→ Af­ter wel­com­ing J&J deal­mak­er Mar­i­anne De Backer to their team as BD chief a lit­tle more than a week ago, Bay­er an­nounced that it will be re­duc­ing the size of the com­pa­ny’s board of man­age­ment. Hart­mut Klusik and Ke­mal Ma­lik will be hit­ting the ex­it and the com­pa­ny doesn’t plan on re­tain­ing those po­si­tions — tak­ing the board from sev­en to five mem­bers.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pa­ny, as of Jan­u­ary 1, 2020, the board of man­age­ment will con­sist of chair­man Wern­er Bau­mann, CFO Wolf­gang Nickl and di­vi­sion pres­i­dents Liam Con­don (Crop Sci­ence), Ste­fan Oel­rich (Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals) and Heiko Schip­per (Con­sumer Health).

→Bain-backed Pfiz­er spin­out Spring­Works Ther­a­peu­tics is rais­ing the pro­posed deal size for its up­com­ing IPO af­ter dis­clos­ing in Au­gust its in­ten­tion to reap a large wind­fall of $115 mil­lion to add to $228 mil­lion from pre­vi­ous fi­nanc­ings, in­clud­ing a $125 mil­lion B round in April. The biotech now plans to of­fer 9 mil­lion shares at a price range of $16 to $18 to raise $153 mil­lion. Spring­Works had pre­vi­ous­ly in­tend­ed to of­fer 7.4 mil­lion shares at the same range. At the mid­point of the re­vised range, Spring­Works Ther­a­peu­tics will raise 22% more in pro­ceeds than pre­vi­ous­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed.

JP Mor­gan, Gold­man Sachs and Cowen are the joint bookrun­ners on the deal. The com­pa­ny plans to list un­der the sym­bol $SWTX.

Lap­Corp’s Co­v­ance Drug De­vel­op­ment unit has cut the rib­bon on a new R&D cen­ter in Shang­hai, a 12,000-square-me­ter fa­cil­i­ty lo­cat­ed at the buzzing Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. The new site builds on a long his­to­ry in Chi­na that dates back to 1998, said CEO John Ratliff, and al­lows Co­v­ance to dou­ble up its clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, bio­an­a­lyt­i­cal and com­mer­cial­iza­tion ser­vices. Its ear­ly de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­i­ty re­mains in a near­by lo­ca­tion.

→ Gene ther­a­py play­er Ak­ou­os has un­veiled its first pro­gram tar­get­ing  sen­sorineur­al hear­ing loss, ze­ro­ing in on mu­ta­tions in the otofer­lin (OTOF) gene. The pro­gram, AK-OTOF, is de­signed to de­liv­er a healthy copy of the OTOF gene to cochlear hair cells via an AAV vec­tor. Backed by a slate of mar­quee in­vestors in­clud­ing 5AM and New En­ter­prise As­so­ci­ates, Ak­ou­os is con­duct­ing IND-en­abling work for the ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment.

Back in No­vem­ber of 2018, Syg­na­ture Dis­cov­ery — a drug dis­cov­ery and pre­clin­i­cal ser­vices com­pa­ny with re­search fa­cil­i­ties in the UK — an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of its first US of­fice in Har­vard Square, Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts. The com­pa­ny is now mov­ing the of­fice a cou­ple miles down from the orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion to Kendall Square, the heart of the Cam­bridge–Boston biotech hub.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.