Artist rendering of the Assembly Square site in Somerville, MA (BioMed Realty)

Bio­Med Re­al­ty snaps up in­no­va­tion cam­pus site with­in earshot of pricey and bustling Boston biotech hub

On the short list of the pre­mier biotech hubs in the world, the Boston area has trans­formed in­to a home for in­no­va­tion — and ridicu­lous­ly high rent. Now, a re­al es­tate firm is seek­ing ten­ants for a ma­jor site in neigh­bor­ing Somerville with more than enough el­bow room.

Snapped up by Bio­Med Re­al­ty, the land — which con­sists of an ex­ist­ing 162,000 square-foot of­fice build­ing and a 7.5 acre site — will serve as an “in­no­va­tion space” for a va­ri­ety of re­search, tech­nol­o­gy and life sci­ence ten­ants, the re­al es­tate com­pa­ny said in a press re­lease. Fi­nan­cial terms weren’t dis­closed.

“Our vi­sion for the As­sem­bly Square lo­ca­tion is to cre­ate a pre­mier in­no­va­tion cam­pus where sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy in­ter­sects,” Bio­Med Re­al­ty vice pres­i­dent Sal Zin­no said in a state­ment. “With close prox­im­i­ty to down­town Boston, the air­port, a ma­jor in­ter­state high­way, pub­lic tran­sit and ad­ja­cent ameni­ties … it’s an ide­al lo­ca­tion and size for a large life sci­ence com­pa­ny to es­tab­lish a promi­nent head­quar­ters.”

The Somerville fa­cil­i­ty will join ex­ist­ing Bio­Med Re­al­ty-owned lab and of­fice space in Cam­bridge and Boston. The com­pa­ny said in a press re­lease that the lo­ca­tion was strate­gi­cal­ly cho­sen due to its prox­im­i­ty to renowned re­search in­sti­tu­tions such as the Mass­a­chu­setts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy and Har­vard.

De­sign has al­ready be­gun on the be­gin­ning phas­es of the sprawl­ing Somerville cam­pus, which when com­plet­ed will in­clude R&D, in­no­va­tion and re­tail spaces, plus a roof deck and open pub­lic recre­ation and ameni­ty ar­eas, Bio­Med Re­al­ty said.

The ac­qui­si­tion of the Somerville land adds to an ex­ist­ing 11.4 mil­lion square feet of land al­ready owned by Bio­Med Re­al­ty, which is spread across the US and the UK, in­clud­ing the Boston and Cam­bridge space, San Fran­cis­co, San Diego, Seat­tle and Cam­bridge, UK.

The new space is sure to add even more com­pe­ti­tion to Boston’s al­ready-bustling bio­phar­ma hub. In ear­ly 2020End­points News re­port­ed that on­ly 0.8% of lab space was va­cant and still avail­able for rent in the area, while near­by East Cam­bridge (home to Kendall Square) was en­tire­ly oc­cu­pied — even with the high rent av­er­age of near $110 per square foot.

In Au­gust, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb inked a deal for a 360,000 square-foot lease at Cam­bridge Cross­ing, part of a 43-acre life sci­ences hub be­ing built on the city line be­tween Cam­bridge and Somerville.

Biotech en­tre­pre­neur Arie Bellde­grun and his son Dan, who op­er­ates Break­through Prop­er­ties, have been work­ing with Tish­man Spey­er on new projects of their own in Cam­bridge. Those in­clude a new Sea­port fa­cil­i­ty and the de­vel­op­ment of the ini­tial phase of Har­vard’s new En­ter­prise Re­search Cam­pus in All­ston.

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck pulls Keytru­da in SCLC af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed nod. Is the FDA get­ting tough on drug­mak­ers that don't hit their marks?

In what could be an early shot in the battle against drugmakers that whiff on confirmatory studies to support accelerated approvals, the FDA ordered Bristol Myers Squibb late last year to give up Opdivo’s approval in SCLC. Now, Merck is next on the firing line — are we seeing the FDA buckling down on post-marketing offenders?

Merck has withdrawn its marketing approval for PD-(L)1 inhibitor Keytruda in metastatic small cell lung cancer as part of what it describes as an “industry-wide evaluation” by the FDA of drugs that do not meet the post-marketing checkpoints on which their accelerated nods were based, the company said Monday.

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Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO (AP Images)

Pas­cal So­ri­ot cash­es in As­traZeneca’s chips on Mod­er­na for $1.2B cash in­jec­tion

While still working to prove its own Covid-19 vaccine, AstraZeneca has reportedly capitalized on the success of another.

The company has sold off its 7.7% stake in Moderna and turned it into $1.2 billion in cash, according to the Times, beefing up the reserves just as Pascal Soriot is wrapping up his $39 billion acquisition of Alexion and its rare disease pipeline.

AstraZeneca’s stock sale follows a similar move by Merck in December. But like its pharma brethren, the British giant is keeping its R&D collaborations with Moderna.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

With stars aligned and cash in re­serve, Bob Nelsen's Re­silience plans a makeover at 2 new fa­cil­i­ty ad­di­tions to its drug man­u­fac­tur­ing up­start

Bob Nelsen’s new, state-of-the-art drug manufacturing initiative is taking shape.

Just 3 months after gathering $800 million of launch money, a dream team board and a plan to shake up a field where he found too many bottlenecks and inefficiencies for the era of Covid-19, Resilience has snapped up a pair of facilities now in line for a retooling.

The company has acquired a 310,000-square-foot plant in Boston from Sanofi along with a 136,000-square-foot plant in Ontario to add to a network which CEO Rahul Singhvi says is just getting started on building his company’s operations up. The Sanofi deal comes with a contract to continue manufacturing one of its drugs.

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Amit Munshi, Arena

One of Are­na's top drugs flops in a PhI­Ib study for IBS pain. But re­searchers tease out a pos­si­ble path for­ward as CEO ex­plores 's­trate­gic op­tion­s'

Four years ago, when Arena CEO Amit Munshi cut its ties to a troubled weight drug and doubled down on the pipeline, a cannabinoid receptor 2 agonist figured prominently in the biotech’s future. On Tuesday evening, however, Munshi’s high hopes for the drug took a nasty hit after it failed a Phase IIb study for patients with irritable bowel syndrome pain.

Put through a randomized pace with 273 patients, researchers said it flat failed the primary endpoint among the large group with abdominal pain. But they quickly went on to highlight subgroup data, always a tricky and controversial ploy, where they spotlighted a positive p value for patients with moderate to severe pain who received the high dose of the drug — one of 3 provided in the study.

Af­ter bail­ing on Covid-19 vac­cines, Mer­ck will team up with J&J to pro­duce its shot as part of un­usu­al Big Phar­ma pact

Merck took a big gamble when it opted to jump into the Covid-19 vaccine race late, and made an equally momentous decision to back out in late January. Now, looking to chip in on the effort, Merck reportedly agreed to team up with one of the companies that has already crossed the finish line.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to announce a partnership between drugmakers Merck and Johnson & Johnson to jointly produce J&J’s recombinant protein Covid-19 vaccine that received the FDA’s emergency use authorization Saturday, the Washington Post reported.

Ab­b­Vie tees up a biotech buy­out af­ter siz­ing up their Parkin­son's drug spun out of Ke­van Shokat's lab

AbbVie has teed up a small but intriguing biotech buyout after looking over the preclinical work it’s been doing in Parkinson’s disease.

The company is called Mitokinin, a Bay Area biotech spun out of the lab of UCSF’s Kevan Shokat, whose scientific explorations have formed the academic basis of a slew of startups in the biotech hub. One of Shokat’s PhD students in the lab, Nicholas Hertz, co-founded Mitokinin using their lab work on PINK1 suggesting that amping up its activity could play an important role in regulating the mitochondrial dysfunction contributing to Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis and progression.

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Paul Sekhri

The next big biotech su­per­star? Paul Sekhri has some thoughts on that

It occasionally occurs to Paul Sekhri that if they pull this off, his company will be on the front page of the New York Times and a lead story in just about every major news outlet on the planet. He tries not to dwell on it, though.

“I just want to be laser-focused on getting to that point,” Sekhri says, before acknowledging, “Yes, it absolutely crossed my mind.”

Sekhri, a longtime biopharma executive with tenures at Sanofi and Novartis, is now entering year three as CEO of eGenesis, the biotech that George Church protégé Luhan Yang founded to genetically alter pigs so that they can be used for organ transplants. He led them through one megaround and has just closed another, raising $125 million from 17 different investors to push the first-ever (humanized) pig to human transplants into the clinic.

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Fi­bro­Gen shares skid low­er as a sur­prise ad­comm rais­es risks on roxa OK

FibroGen will likely have to delay its US rollout for roxadustat once again.

In an unexpected move, the FDA is convening its Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee to review the NDA in an advisory committee meeting. The date is yet to be confirmed.

Just a few weeks ago, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges predicted that the roxa approval could come ahead of the PDUFA date on March 20 — effusive despite already being let down once by the FDA’s extension of its review back in December. AstraZeneca, which is partnered with FibroGen on the chronic kidney disease-related anemia drug, disclosed regulators had requested further clarifying analyses of clinical data.

In­tro­duc­ing End­pointsF­DA+, our new pre­mi­um week­ly reg­u­la­to­ry news re­port led by Zachary Bren­nan

CRLs. 483s. CBER, CDER and RWE. For biopharma professionals, these acronyms command attention because of the fundamental role FDA plays in drug development. Now Endpoints is doubling down on regulatory coverage, and launching a weekly report focusing on developments out of White Oak, with analysis and insight into what it all means.

Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan. He joins Endpoints from POLITICO, where he covered pharma. Prior to that he was the managing editor for Regulatory Focus, a news publication from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.