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.

The DCT-OS: A Tech­nol­o­gy-first Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem - En­abling Clin­i­cal Tri­als

As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

The increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccines has many of us looking forward to a time when everyday things return to a state of normal. Schools and teachers are returning to classrooms, offices and small businesses are reopening, and there’s a palpable sense of optimism that the often-awkward adjustments we’ve all made personally and professionally in the last year are behind us, never to return. In the world of clinical research, however, some pandemic-necessitated adjustments are proving to be more than emergency stopgap measures to ensure trial continuity — and numerous decentralized clinical trial (DCT) tools and methodologies employed within the last year are likely here to stay as part of biopharma’s new normal.

Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO (Thierry Roge/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images)

Gala­pa­gos chops in­to their pipeline, drop­ping core fields and re­or­ga­niz­ing R&D as the BD team hunts for some­thing 'trans­for­ma­tive'

Just 5 months after Gilead gutted its rich partnership with Galapagos following a bitter setback at the FDA, the Belgian biotech is hunkering down and chopping the pipeline in an effort to conserve cash while their BD team pursues a mission to find a “transformative” deal for the company.

The filgotinib disaster didn’t warrant a mention as Galapagos laid out its Darwinian restructuring plans. Forced to make choices, the company is ditching its IPF molecule ’1205, while moving ahead with a Phase II IPF study for its chitinase inhibitor ’4617.

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Angela Merkel (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Covid-19 roundup: Pfiz­er sub­mits vac­cine for full ap­proval; Merkel op­pos­es Biden pro­pos­al to sus­pend IP for vac­cines

Pfizer and BioNTech said Friday that they’ve submitted a biologics license application to the FDA for full approval of their mRNA vaccine for those over the age of 16.

How long it will take the FDA to decide on the BLA will be set once it’s been formally accepted by the agency.

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, previously told Endpoints News that the review of the BLA should take between three and four months, but it may be even faster than that.

An­oth­er failed tri­al for Or­p­hazyme's 'pipeline-in-a-pro­duc­t' leaves shad­ow on drug's fu­ture

The tumultuous ride for Orphazyme continued on Friday as the company announced that a pivotal trial for its lead drug arimoclomol failed yet again, this time in the treatment of ALS, seeding doubt in a drug that had recently been cleared by the FDA for priority review. The latest failure casts a darker shadow on the upcoming decision despite Orphazyme’s upbeat outlook.

In a statement, the Danish biotech announced that the drug did not meet its primary or secondary endpoints evaluating function and survival. But the company has not announced any data surrounding the failure, instead saying that it will publish the complete results later this year.

Stéphane Bancel, Getty

Mod­er­na CEO brush­es off US sup­port for IP waiv­er, eyes more than $19B in Covid-19 vac­cine sales in 2021

Moderna is definitively more concerned with keeping pace with Pfizer in the race to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 than it is with Wednesday’s decision from the Biden administration to back an intellectual property waiver that aims to increase vaccine supplies worldwide.

In its first quarter earnings call on Thursday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel shrugged off any suggestion that the newly US-backed intellectual property waiver would impact his company’s vaccine or bottom line. Still, the company’s stock price fell by about 9% in early morning trading.

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EMA safe­ty com­mit­tee seeks more in­fo on heart in­flam­ma­tion fol­low­ing Pfiz­er Covid-19 vac­cine

The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee said Friday that it’s aware of cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and inflammation of the membrane around the heart, mainly reported following vaccination with Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, known in Europe as Comirnaty.

“There is no indication that these cases are due to the vaccine,” the EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee said.

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As­traZeneca caps PD-L1/CT­LA-4/chemo com­bo come­back with OS win. Is treme­li­mum­ab fi­nal­ly ready for ap­proval?

AstraZeneca’s closely-watched POSEIDON study continues to be the rare bright spot in its push for an in-house PD-L1/CTLA-4 combo.

Combining Imfinzi and tremelimumab with physicians’ choice of chemotherapy helped patients with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer live longer, the company reported — marking the first time the still-experimental tremelimumab has demonstrated an OS benefit.

For AstraZeneca and CEO Pascal Soriot, the positive readout — which is devoid of numbers — offers much-needed validation for the big bet they made on Imfinzi plus tremelimumab, after the PD-L1/CTLA-4 regimen failed multiple trials in head and neck cancer as well as lung cancer.

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In­cyte ponies up $12M to set­tle char­i­ty foun­da­tion kick­back claims; US ex­er­cis­es op­tion for more dos­es of mon­key­pox vac­cine

One in a string of lawsuits targeting copay charity foundations, the DOJ has been hunting drugmaker Incyte for what prosecutors alleged was a kickback scheme to court patients. Now, Incyte is clearing its name.

Incyte will shell out $12.6 million to settle claims it funneled funds through a charity foundation to cover federal copays for patients taking its JAK inhibitor Jakafi, the DOJ said this week.

CEO Khurem Farooq (Gyroscope)

Hours be­fore ex­pect­ed de­but, Gy­ro­scope post­pones its IPO as 2 oth­er biotechs hold the line on their march to Nas­daq

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

In a surprising turn of events, UK-based Gyroscope Therapeutics has postponed its IPO mere hours before it was set to debut on Nasdaq.

Working on a gene therapy for wet AMD, Gyroscope was all set and ready to go public earlier this week, setting terms for a $142 million raise with a price range of $20 to $22. But in the wee hours of Friday morning, the company put out a press release saying they would delay their debut “in light of market conditions,” CEO Khurem Farooq said in a statement.

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