Boehringer In­gel­heim joins the crowd and goes all-in on on­colyt­ic virus­es, buy­ing Vi­raTher­a­peu­tics in $244M deal

Boehringer In­gel­heim de­cid­ed 3 years ago it that would take an ac­tive role in fos­ter­ing the on­colyt­ics virus biotech Vi­raTher­a­peu­tics. 

The Ger­man com­pa­ny’s ven­ture arm in­vest­ed in the fledg­ling’s biotech’s tiny $4 mil­lion A round in the sum­mer of 2015. BI ex­ecs came back with a $230 mil­lion dis­cov­ery deal — build­ing in a buy­out op­tion — and then added a sec­ond pro­gram. And this morn­ing they’re go­ing all in, buy­ing the com­pa­ny in a deal val­ued at $244 mil­lion.

BI is keep­ing the com­pa­ny — a spin­out of Aus­tria’s Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of Inns­bruck — right where it is, adding the group and the re­gion­al con­nec­tions they have on cam­pus as a sub­sidiary as they look to jump in­to the clin­ic with a lead pro­gram.

Heinz Schw­er

Boehringer first tied up with Vi­raTher­a­peu­tics just months ahead of Am­gen’s land­mark ap­proval of T-Vec, the world’s first mar­ket­ed on­colyt­ic virus. And since then the field has ex­plod­ed with new re­search projects as dozens of new play­ers brewed up to beat the pi­o­neer.

Ear­li­er this year J&J ex­e­cut­ed one of its clas­sic bil­lion-dol­lar deals to buy BeneVir. Mer­ck’s R&D chief Roger Perl­mut­ter — who steered the T-Vec deal at Am­gen — bagged Vi­r­a­lyt­ics for $394 mil­lion. A re­cent study from the Can­cer Re­search In­sti­tute found 69 OVs in clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and an­oth­er 95 in a pre­clin­i­cal pro­gram.

What’s the big deal?

On­colyt­ic virus­es are the Tro­jan horse of im­muno-on­col­o­gy. The virus­es are de­signed to in­fect can­cer cells, in­vad­ing the dis­ease, and then ex­plod­ing them, which sub­se­quent­ly sig­nals the im­mune sys­tem to mount an at­tack on the sur­vivors. There’s a clear clin­i­cal track record show­ing how they work. And now a host of ri­vals like PsiOxus and many, many oth­ers be­lieve that sys­temic ad­min­is­tra­tion will do a bet­ter job. 

Vi­raTher­a­peu­tics ex­ecs — led by Mor­phoSys vet Heinz Schw­er — have al­so been busy en­gi­neer­ing an OV ther­a­py that they be­lieve can do a bet­ter job of ini­tial­ly evad­ing de­tec­tion by the im­mune sys­tem, avoid­ing trig­ger­ing any an­ti­bod­ies and the­o­ret­i­cal­ly mak­ing it pos­si­ble to do re­peat ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Not sur­pris­ing­ly, BI al­so plans to whip up a pipeline of com­bi­na­tion ap­proach­es, arm­ing their OV with can­cer drugs that can both amp up the im­mune sys­tem at­tack and charge di­rect­ly at can­cer cells.

How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

I still remember the uncertainty in the air last year when nobody was sure whether ASCO would cancel their in-person meeting. But it’s now back again for the second virtual conference, and Endpoints News is here for it. Check out our 2-day event reviewing the landscape of cancer R&D and send news our way.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Re­gen­eron's Evkeeza shows promise in curb­ing high triglyc­erides, but will ge­net­ic dis­par­i­ties lim­it use?

When Regeneron scored an early approval for lipid lowering antibody Evkeeza back in February, the drugmaker cracked open a new pathway to lower abnormally high cholesterol levels. Now, Regeneron is chasing high triglycerides as well with some promising mid-stage data — but will genetic restrictions limit the drug’s use?

Regeneron’s Evkeeza (evinacumab) cut median triglyceride levels by more than 800 mg/dL (57%) in patients with a rare disorder causing abnormally high triglyceride levels compared with an overall increase of 50 mg/dL (1.8%) in participants on placebo, according to Phase II data presented Sunday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

As­traZeneca's Farx­i­ga missed big on Covid-19 study, but it's tak­ing SGLT2 safe­ty da­ta as a sil­ver lin­ing

AstraZeneca hasn’t seen many setbacks in recent months for SGLT2 inhibitor Farxiga, which broke ground in heart failure and kidney disease regardless of diabetes diagnosis. But the British drugmaker had to admit defeat in taking Farxiga into Covid-19, but follow-up results add a bit of a silver lining to that trial’s safety data.

Of hospitalized Covid-19 patients dosed with AstraZeneca’s Farxiga, 11.2% experienced an organ failure or died after 30 days of therapy compared with 13.8% of those given placebo, according to follow-up data from the DARE-19 study revealed Sunday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Pfiz­er, Bris­tol My­er­s' Eliquis flops in post-heart surgery pa­tients, spurring an 'un­ex­plained sig­nal' in cer­tain deaths

Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb’s non-warfarin blood thinner Eliquis has raced out to become the most prescribed drug of its class on the market — even overtaking warfarin’s long-time lead. But in tricky-to-treat patients after a valve replacement, an investigator-sponsored study couldn’t turn up benefit and raised a troubling safety signal.

Eliquis failed to show benefit over standard of care in preventing serious clinical outcomes after a transaortic valve replacement (TAVR) and was linked to an “unexplained signal” in a subset of populations with a higher rate of non-CV deaths who did not need blood thinners apart from the surgery, according to data presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Prahlad Singh, PerkinElmer

PerkinElmer hits the check­book again, this time dol­ing out $260M for next-gen ther­a­py bioser­vices firm

When PerkinElmer iced a deal to pick up UK gene editing firm Horizon Discovery, it trumpeted its big move into next-gen therapeutics. Now, not content to sit on its laurels, PerkinElmer is dipping into the war chest again, this time for a firm specializing in cutting-edge bioservices.

Life sciences services giant PerkinElmer will shell out $260 million to acquire Lawrence, MA-based Nexcelom Bioscience, which offers clinical services for next-gen cell and gene therapies, immuno-oncology drugs and vaccines, the companies said Thursday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.