BioN­Tech teams up with Fo­s­un Phar­ma to test Covid-19 mR­NA vac­cine in Chi­na — and scores $50M in­vest­ment

Hav­ing qui­et­ly launched its own mR­NA vac­cine ef­forts against the nov­el coro­n­avirus to match the high­er pro­file cam­paigns of Mod­er­na and Cure­Vac, Ger­many’s BioN­Tech has of­fered a glimpse on its progress as it un­veils an al­liance with a promi­nent Chi­nese play­er.

Ugur Sahin

Fo­s­un Phar­ma will team up with BioN­Tech to con­duct tri­als of its Covid-19 vac­cine, BNT162, in Chi­na. To get on board, Fo­s­un bought $50 mil­lion worth of BioN­Tech eq­ui­ty $BN­TX and promised up to $85 mil­lion more in pay­ments.

In a sep­a­rate state­ment, BioN­Tech said it plans to ini­ti­ate clin­i­cal test­ing in late April, rolling out a glob­al de­vel­op­ment pro­gram in Eu­rope (start­ing in Ger­many), the US and Chi­na.

Shares surged 39.02% to $43 in pre-mar­ket trad­ing, buck­ing the down­ward trend in a tur­bu­lent mar­ket (the Nas­daq Biotech In­dex is al­so trad­ing up).

While Fo­s­un has rights to com­mer­cial­ize the re­sult­ing vac­cine in Chi­na, BioN­Tech is still ex­plor­ing what to do in the rest of the world. It’s in “ad­vanced dis­cus­sions” with Pfiz­er around that — echo­ing com­ments made by its phar­ma part­ner ear­li­er this month.

The deal marks the first pub­lic an­nounce­ments BioN­Tech has made on Pro­ject Light­speed, its de­vel­op­ment pro­gram in re­sponse to the vi­ral in­fec­tion that’s fast en­gulf­ing the world, since qui­et­ly dis­clos­ing the project ini­ti­a­tion in a Feb­ru­ary SEC fil­ing. As of Mon­day morn­ing, world­wide cas­es are edg­ing to­ward 170,000, with mul­ti­ple Eu­ro­pean coun­tries and parts of the US now on lock­down.

Like fel­low Ger­man biotech Cure­Vac — whom the US gov­ern­ment has re­port­ed­ly tried to lure in­to mov­ing state­side — BioN­Tech’s vac­cine ap­proach in­volves us­ing mR­NA to trick the body in­to pro­duc­ing a ver­sion of the SARS-CoV-2, which would then in­cite an im­mune re­sponse. Its man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner Poly­mun will be in charge of pro­duc­ing a glob­al sup­ply out of fa­cil­i­ties in Eu­rope.

“In ad­di­tion, we are work­ing on a nov­el ther­a­peu­tics ap­proach for those pa­tients who have al­ready been in­fect­ed – we plan to dis­close more on that ef­fort in the com­ing weeks,” Ugur Sahin, founder and CEO, said in a state­ment.

For a look at all End­points News coro­n­avirus sto­ries, check out our spe­cial news chan­nel.

Bob Nelsen at the Milken Institute Global Conference on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

ARCH chief Bob Nelsen has $1.5B to prove 2 sim­ple points: ‘We’re in the most in­no­v­a­tive time ever’ and in­vestors are stay­ing

ARCH co-founder and managing director Bob Nelsen has a well known yen for the home run swing, betting big on potentially transformative meds and tech and the biotech teams he helps bring together. He thrives and bleeds on the cutting edge. And now Nelsen and the ARCH group have debuted 2 big funds to prove that this is the time for the best of biotech to shine — deadly pandemic be damned.

Two new funds, ARCH Venture Fund X and ARCH Venture Fund X Overage, gathered a combined $1.46 billion. And that’s a record. ARCH Venture Fund IX and ARCH Venture Fund IX Overage closed in 2016 with a combined $1.1 billion. ARCH Venture Fund VIII and ARCH Venture Fund VIII Overage closed in 2014 with a combined $560 million.

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Aaron Royston, venBio

In­vest­ing in the time of coro­n­avirus: the good, the bad and the hope­ful, as biotech VC firms close funds worth $3B

Apart from disrupting biopharma R&D and regulatory timelines, the coronavirus pandemic has inevitably ravaged financial markets and eroded investor risk appetite. Investing in the time of coronavirus feels reckless, but if biotech venture funds are any indication, the time is ripe.

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Covid-19 roundup: Mod­er­na CEO Stéphane Ban­cel be­comes a bil­lion­aire; No­var­tis, In­cyte pitch Jakafi PhI­II to tack­le se­vere cas­es

You can now add Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel to the list of biotech billionaires.

Since investors began to understand the full scope of the coronavirus outbreak in late February, cash has flushed out of much of the stock market and into the handful of companies leading the fight for drugs and vaccines. That’s meant hundreds of millions for Moderna, the Flagship-backed company that emerged early as the world’s first best hope for a Covid-19 vaccine.

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J&J gives pi­o­neer­ing stem cell biotech its first Big Phar­ma deal, part­ner­ing on iP­SC CAR-T and CAR-NK

Late last summer, one of the earliest stem cell therapy companies got two government decisions in the span of three weeks: The USPTO granted them a patent for iPSC-derived CAR-T cells, and then the FDA cleared them for their first-in-human CAR-NK trial.

Yesterday, the two technologies landed them an up-to $3.1 billion deal.

Fate Therapeutics and J&J announced a global collaboration that will pay Fate $100 million upfront and a trove of potential milestones to develop multiple CAR-T and CAR-NK therapies. It’s the first Big Pharma partnership Fate has announced in their 13-year existence and the largest, although at least one longtime follower thought they could have landed more.

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Drug dis­cov­ery in the age of coro­n­avirus

Developing new drugs is incredibly hard. That’s why, despite superhuman efforts from the industry, we’re still looking at 12-18 months minimum before we can realistically hope for a vaccine for Covid-19, and probably months before there’s a proven viable drug treatment.

But our increasing ability to begin to industrialize the drug discovery and development process through an engineering approach means that we have more hope for speeding up this process than ever before — and not just to defeat coronavirus, but to benefit the development of all new medicines in the future.

UP­DAT­ED: Have a new drug that promis­es to fight Covid-19? The FDA promis­es fast ac­tion but some de­vel­op­ers aren't hap­py

After providing an emergency approval to use malaria drugs against coronavirus with little actual evidence of their efficacy or safety in that setting, the FDA has already proven that it has set aside the gold standard when it comes to the pandemic. And now regulators have spelled out a new approach to speeding development that promises immediate responses in no uncertain terms — promising a program offering the ultimate high-speed pathway to Covid-19 drug approvals.

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Once fu­ri­ous over No­var­tis’ da­ta ma­nip­u­la­tion scan­dal, the FDA now says it’s noth­ing they need to take ac­tion on

Back in the BP era — Before Pandemic — the FDA ripped Novartis for its decision to keep the agency in the dark about manipulated data used in its application for Zolgensma while its marketing application for the gene therapy was under review.

Civil and criminal sanctions were being discussed, the agency noted in a rare broadside at one of the world’s largest pharma companies. Notable lawmakers cheered the angry regulators on, urging the FDA to make an example of Novartis, which fielded Zolgensma at $2.1 million — the current record for a one-off therapy.

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Covid-19 roundup: GSK, Am­gen tai­lor R&D work to fit the coro­n­avirus age; Doud­na's ge­nomics crew launch­es di­ag­nos­tic lab

You can add Amgen and GSK to the list of deep-pocket drug R&D players who are tailoring their pipeline work to fit a new age of coronavirus.

Following in the footsteps of a lineup of big players like Eli Lilly — which has suspended patient recruitment for drug studies — Amgen and GSK have opted to take a more tailored approach. Amgen is intent on circling the wagons around key studies that are already fully enrolled, and GSK has the red light on new studies while the pandemic plays out.

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In a stun­ning set­back, Amarin los­es big patent fight over Vas­cepa IP. And its high-fly­ing stock crash­es to earth

Amarin’s shares $AMRN were blitzed Monday evening, losing billions in value as reports spread that the company had lost its high-profile effort to keep its Vascepa patents protected from generic drugmakers.

Amarin had been fighting to keep key patents under lock and key — and away from generic rivals — for another 10 years, but District Court Judge Miranda Du in Las Vegas ruled against the biotech. She ruled that:
(A)ll the Asserted Claims are invalid as obvious under 35 U.S.C.§ 103. Thus, the Court finds in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s remaining infringementclaim, and in their favor on their counterclaims asserting the invalidity of the AssertedClaims under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

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