Mike Rice, BioLife Solutions CEO

Bi­o­Life So­lu­tions sets up shop in In­di­anapo­lis, adding a slate of new cell and gene ther­a­py tools to its belt

How far can $24 mil­lion get you? For Wash­ing­ton-based Bi­o­Life So­lu­tions, the an­swer is all the way to In­di­anapo­lis.

Bi­o­Life So­lu­tions, a top provider of tools and ser­vices for cell and gene ther­a­py de­vel­op­ment, is putting down a mod­est $24 mil­lion to snap up all the shares in Sex­ton Biotech­nolo­gies it doesn’t al­ready own, the part­ners said on Mon­day. In the process, it’s get­ting a slate of new bio­pro­duc­tion tools, and the deed to Sex­ton’s down­town In­di­anapo­lis fa­cil­i­ty.

“As a sig­nif­i­cant share­hold­er of Sex­ton since their spin­out from Cook Re­gen­tec in 2019, we’ve been close­ly fol­low­ing Sean Wern­er and the Sex­ton team’s great ex­e­cu­tion and progress,” CEO Mike Rice said in a state­ment, adding that Sex­ton is at an “in­flec­tion point.”

The com­pa­ny was not avail­able for an in­ter­view be­fore press time.

Bi­o­Life has in­vest­ed in Sex­ton since 2019, when it be­came the first start­up to spin out of the life sci­ences in­cu­ba­tor Cook Re­gen­tec. Over the last two years, Sex­ton has de­vel­oped a hand­ful of tools to aid cell and gene ther­a­py de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing its CellSeal closed vial for fi­nal dose pack­ag­ing, which was used by Bris­tol My­ers Squibb for its re­cent­ly ap­proved CAR-T for lym­phoma, Breyanzi.

Sex­ton al­so touts its hu­man platelet lysate (HPL) me­dia, bio-de­fined re­place­ment for fe­tal bovine serum or hu­man serum used in cell man­u­fac­tur­ing, and au­to­mat­ed cell pro­cess­ing ma­chines, which it says are used in more than 50 on­go­ing tri­als.

Rice is keep­ing all of Sex­ton’s staff on board, in­clud­ing a five-per­son sales team that will piv­ot to pro­mote Bi­o­Life’s prod­ucts, in­clud­ing its bio­p­reser­va­tion tools, wa­ter-free thaw­ing prod­ucts and cold chain man­age­ment plat­form.

Over­all, Sex­ton is ex­pect­ed to con­tribute about $2 mil­lion to Bi­o­Life’s 2021 rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment. Bi­o­Life reeled in $48 mil­lion in 2020, up 76% from the pre­vi­ous year. Next year, the com­pa­ny is hop­ing to bring in be­tween $108 and $117 mil­lion.

In­vestors were most­ly mut­ed on the news, with Bi­o­Life’s stock $BLFS up a lit­tle over 2% on Mon­day morn­ing.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Who’s spend­ing and who’s cut­ting from Big Phar­ma’s $127B R&D bud­get? Here are the top 15 play­ers

A couple of the Big 15 biopharma companies in R&D hit the gas on research spending last year. Merck and Sanofi still have lots to prove in the pipeline, and they’re willing to gamble large sums to make a better future for themselves.

Doing nothing would be infinitely worse.

But collectively, the top players rang up a modest 2.4% increase in spending in 2022, which didn’t cover inflationary pressures. And that set the tone for an extraordinarily cautious year for the industry — even as it laid out about $127 billion to advance new drugs or up the ante on approved therapies.

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Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Kevin Lee, Bicycle Therapeutics CEO

No­var­tis rides with Bi­cy­cle for new pact on tar­get­ed ra­dio­ther­a­pies

Novartis has inked a three-year deal with Bicycle Therapeutics to develop new targeted radiotherapies for cancer.

Novartis will pay Bicycle $50 million upfront, with downstream milestones adding up to a potential $1.7 billion. In exchange, Bicycle will use its virus-based platform to discover new bicyclic peptides, which it calls bicycles, that would be used for radiotherapies. Those bicycles would act as a homing beacon for radioactive isotopes, delivering them to cancer cells to kill the cells while limiting radiation to healthy tissue.

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Covant acting CEO Matt Maisak (L) and CSO Iván Cornella

With Boehringer In­gel­heim’s help, Roivant churns out an­oth­er Vant to go up against En­deav­or, Im­pact founders

Roivant Sciences has added another branch to its family tree, unveiling Covant Therapeutics with a $10 million upfront commitment from Boehringer Ingelheim to turn up the heat in cancer.

The Boston-based drug discovery startup will jointly create a new small molecule immunotherapy with the private German pharma giant. The deal, made public Tuesday morning, includes up to $471 million in future payments and tiered royalties, should the product make it to market.

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Eli Lil­ly to in­crease in­vest­ment to $1B in­to new Irish man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty — re­port

The US pharma giant Eli Lilly will be increasing its financial commitment to a manufacturing site in Ireland.

According to a release from Ireland’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) on Monday, Lilly will be investing another $500 million in its manufacturing facility in Limerick, Ireland — bringing the total investment into the facility to approximately $1 billion.

In January of last year, Lilly announced it was placing a $446 million investment into the site to expand active pharmaceutical ingredient and monoclonal antibody production.

Richard Murray, Jounce Therapeutics CEO

Jounce nix­es Redx of­fer as I/O biotech in­stead goes with Con­cen­tra Bio­sciences’ takeover bid

A minority shareholder has won out in the Jounce Therapeutics takeover battle, with the once-ambitious immunotherapy biotech now choosing to be acquired by Kevin Tang’s Concentra Biosciences rather than follow through with an already-announced deal that would have brought the UK’s Redx onto Nasdaq.

Via its new merger partner, Jounce is expected to get $1.85 per share from Concentra, which was formed by Tang Capital Partners, the owner of about 10% of Jounce shares. Two weeks ago, Concentra laid out a $1.80 per share proposal plus more for the ability to swoop up 80% of proceeds from licenses of legacy programs out of Jounce’s pipeline.

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Simeon George, SR One CEO

Ven­ture in­vest­ing with­out the GSK tie-up? Sime­on George and the SR One team score a $600M fund to pave the way for­ward

Over the past year, Simeon George has seen the market chill for biotech, scrambled a crisis team through a harrowing weekend as SVB’s collapse threatened companies in its portfolio and forced them to rework their timeline on support and to rethink his syndicates.

And the CEO is still coming back with a new fund at SR One that is substantially larger than the first they assembled in their breakaway move from the investment arm role they played at GSK.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Van­da wins court case against FDA over dis­clo­sure of CRL de­tails for sleep drug

DC District Court Judge Christopher Cooper today granted Vanda Pharma’s request to require the FDA to disclose more info on the complete response letter for its sleep disorder drug Hetlioz.

The melatonin receptor agonist is approved by the FDA to treat non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, a circadian rhythm disorder. But in 2018 Vanda filed a supplemental application to market Hetlioz as a treatment for jet lag, which the FDA rejected in August 2019, with few details on what Vanda needed to correct course, according to the company.