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.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

J&J ad­comm live blog: Com­mit­tee votes 22-0 to rec­om­mend an FDA OK for the J&J vac­cine, set­ting up 3rd US Covid-19 jab

The US could have a third authorized Covid-19 vaccine within hours.

The FDA’s advisory committee voted unanimously — 22-0 — to recommend the agency issue an emergency use authorization for J&J’s vaccine. If they follow the precedent of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine,  the FDA will likely authorize the vaccine by Saturday, immediately adding a few million doses to the US supply and adding a 100 million by June. An authorization would give the world its first single-dose vaccine, a major weapon in the effort to vaccinate the world and bring the virus to heel, particularly in rural and developing areas.

Roche and Genen­tech re­searchers plot $53M dis­cov­ery quest aimed at spark­ing a 'Holy moly' piv­ot in neu­ro R&D

Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.

Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.

Am­gen, As­traZeneca speed to­ward fil­ing next-gen an­ti­body for asth­ma af­ter un­cork­ing full late-stage da­ta

On the hunt for a novel competitor to Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent in severe asthma, Amgen and AstraZeneca posted “exciting” results from their next-gen antibody late last year. Now, the partners are showing their hands, and the results look good enough for approval.

Amgen and AstraZeneca’s tezepelumab plus standard of care cut the rate of severe asthma attacks by 56% at the one-year mark compared with SOC alone, according to full data from the Phase III NAVIGATOR study presented Friday at the virtual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting. And those significant results were consistent regardless of patients’ baseline eosinophil counts.

Covid-19 roundup: US se­cures 100,000 dos­es of Eli Lil­ly's an­ti­body cock­tail; Mer­ck­'s $356M sup­ply deal on hold as FDA asks for more da­ta

A couple weeks after racking up its third EUA for a Covid-19 treatment — this one for its antibody cocktail — Eli Lilly has struck a deal with the US government for at least 100,000 doses.

The US will pay $210 million for doses of bamlanivimab and etesevimab, which will be delivered through March 31, Lilly said in a statement. The deal builds on 1.45 million doses of bamlanivimab alone that the US has already purchased, more than 1 million of which have been delivered. Another 450,000 doses of the single antibody are also expected to arrive by March 31.

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