Bomb squad called to As­traZeneca vac­cine plant; Lu­men nabs CARB-X award for low-cost an­tidiar­rheal

A plant lo­cat­ed in Wrex­ham, Wales that is pack­ing the Ox­ford/As­traZeneca Covid-19 vac­cine in­to vials was sur­round­ed by a bomb squad af­ter of­fi­cials called po­lice to re­port a sus­pi­cious pack­age.

The alert caused a par­tial evac­u­a­tion of the plant, the BBC was among those to re­port Wednes­day. The own­er of the plant, British drug­mak­er Wock­hardt UK, said it was co­op­er­at­ing with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and that there were no re­ports of any in­juries.

“Wock­hardt UK in Wrex­ham this morn­ing re­ceived a sus­pi­cious pack­age to site,” the com­pa­ny said in a state­ment to BBC. “All rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties were im­me­di­ate­ly no­ti­fied and en­gaged. Up­on ex­pert ad­vice we have par­tial­ly evac­u­at­ed the site pend­ing a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The British gov­ern­ment is al­so mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

An in­di­vid­ual who works next door to the plant told BBC he heard a “big bang” around 11:35 a.m. lo­cal time. He went out­side with two oth­ers to see what caused the noise but couldn’t de­ter­mine where it had come from. The po­lice then quick­ly closed off the road.

The Welsh plant has the ca­pa­bil­i­ty to pro­duce about 300 mil­lion dos­es of the vac­cine per year. It’s the same plant that last week saw mas­sive flood­ing near­by, though the worst of the storm ap­peared to spare the plant.

Lu­men to earn up to $14.5 mil­lion from CARB-X for an­tidiar­rheal

Lu­men Bio­science and CARB-X are work­ing on a new project to­geth­er, one that could pro­vide Lu­men with some cash.

The pair are work­ing to de­vel­op an oral mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body cock­tail to pre­vent se­ri­ous di­ar­rheal dis­eases caused by Campy­lobac­ter je­ju­ni and en­tero­tox­i­genic E. coli. CARB-X is putting up an ini­tial fund­ing com­mit­ment of $5.2 mil­lion, and the project is el­i­gi­ble for an ad­di­tion­al $8.26 mil­lion in mile­stones, sub­ject to avail­able funds at CARB-X.

Com­mon­ly re­ferred to as trav­el­er’s di­ar­rhea, the dis­eases are a ma­jor cause of death and sick­ness in the de­vel­op­ing world, par­tic­u­lar­ly in in­fants and chil­dren. The in­tend­ed prod­uct is a low-cost, ed­i­ble an­ti­body cock­tail that can be eas­i­ly shipped, stored, and used world­wide, in­clud­ing in re­gions that lack cold-chain dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Lu­men’s pro­gram has com­plet­ed Phase I and should en­ter Phase II in ear­ly 2021, CEO Bri­an Fin­row told End­points News in Sep­tem­ber. The pro­gram is al­so part­ly fund­ed by the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion.

CARB-X is a glob­al non-prof­it part­ner­ship that works on ac­cel­er­at­ing ear­ly an­tibac­te­r­i­al R&D to com­bat drug-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria. This deal brings the num­ber of ac­tive projects in the CARB-X port­fo­lio to 50.

The top 100 bio­phar­ma VCs, Bob Brad­way places $2B bet in can­cer, gene edit­ing pi­o­neer's new big idea, 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.

Before diving in, we had some news to share: Endpoints is launching a premium weekly report focusing on all things regulatory. Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan, who joins us from POLITICO. Arsalan Arif has more details in his Publisher’s Note.

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Robert Bradway (Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen snaps up can­cer drug play­er Five Prime, adding PhI­II-ready FGFR2b drug in $2B M&A play

Amgen is making a long-awaited move on the M&A side, buying South San Francisco-based Five Prime $FPRX for close to $2 billion and adding a slate of new cancer drugs to the pipeline.

Amgen is paying $38 a share, putting the deal value at $1.9 billion. The stock closed at $21.26 last night, giving investors a 78% premium.

The jewel in the crown of this deal is bemarituzumab, which Amgen describes as a first-in-class, Phase III-ready anti-FGFR2b antibody. Amgen was drawn to the bargaining table by Five Prime’s mid-stage data on gastric cancer, satisfied by PFS and OS data helping to validate FGFR2b as a target. Amgen researchers will now expand on the R&D program in other epithelial cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and other cancers.

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David Liu (Casey Atkins Photography courtesy Broad Institute)

David Liu has a new big idea: pro­teome edit­ing. It could one day shred tau, RAS and some of the worst dis­ease-caus­ing pro­teins

Before David Liu became famous for inventing new forms of gene editing, he was known around academia in part for a more obscure innovation: a Rube Goldberg-esque system that uses bacteria-infecting viruses to take one protein and turn it into another.

Since 2011, Liu’s lab has used the system, called PACE, to dream up fantastical new proteins: DNA base editors far more powerful than the original; more versatile forms of the gene editor Cas9; insecticides that kill insecticide-resistant bugs; enzymes that slide synthetic amino acids into living organisms. But they struggled throughout to master one of the most common and powerful proteins in the biological world: proteases, a set of Swiss army knife enzymes that cut, cleave or shred other proteins in everything from viruses to humans.

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The 2021 top 100 bio­phar­ma in­vestors: As the pan­dem­ic hit and IPOs boomed, VCs swung in­to ac­tion like nev­er be­fore

The global pandemic may have roiled economies, killed hundreds of thousands and throttled entire industries, but the only effect it had on biopharma venture investing was to help turbocharge the field to giddy new heights.

Below you’ll find the new top 100 venture investors in the industry, ranked by the number of deals they were publicly involved in, as tracked by DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar. The numbers master then calculated the estimated amount of money they put into each deal — divvying up the cash by the number of players — to indicate how they managed their syndicates.

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Bruce Cozadd, Jazz CEO (Jazz Pharmaceuticals)

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd cam­paigned for 6 months to buy GW Phar­ma. A 90% pre­mi­um sealed the deal — along with $17.6M in ‘re­ten­tion’ in­cen­tives

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd didn’t beat around the bush.

In his first video meeting with GW Pharma chief Justin Gover last July 8, he offered to pay $172 a share to get the company, which had beaten the odds in getting its remarkable cannabinoid drug Epidiolex across the regulatory finish line for epilepsy. GW’s stock closed at $129 that day.

Cozadd had already done his homework on the financing to make sure he could swing it the way he wanted. He just needed to do some due diligence before making the non-binding bid firm.

Seagen warns in­vestors against TRC Cap­i­tal’s lat­est 'mi­ni-ten­der of­fer'; BeiGene goes af­ter a new in­di­ca­tion for top PD-1 play­er

TRC Capital, which has selected various biotechs like Vertex and Biogen for the “mini-tender” treatment, jumped back into the game last month with an offer to buy shares in Seagen for $151. The problem, says Seagen, is that price was 4.28% lower than what the stock was selling for at the time they made the offer on Feb. 20, giving TRC a shot at an instant windfall.

So why sell for less than what it’s worth? Seagen notes warnings from regulatory authorities that these offers essentially try to trick investors into believing that they’re being offered a premium for the stock.

UP­DAT­ED: Not 3 weeks af­ter tak­ing Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic, Ra­jiv Shuk­la launch­es an­oth­er blank check com­pa­ny

One of biotech’s earliest SPAC investors is back with another blank-check company, less than a month after his last effort announced its intent to merge.

Rajiv Shukla is intending to take a third lucky winner public with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition III, filing to go public Thursday with a $150 million raise penciled in. The move comes just a couple of weeks after Shukla’s second SPAC said it would jump to Nasdaq in tandem with Laura Niklason’s Humacyte in a $255 million new investment.

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How does Paul Hud­son's $13.5M comp pack­age stack up against oth­er CEOs? He's in the 'first quar­tile'

Paul Hudson arrived at Sanofi like a hurricane, chopping off duds in the pipeline, shaking up the C-suite, striking big M&A deals and jumping into the Covid-19 vaccine race — all in an attempt to reboot a pharma giant notorious for its setbacks.

Now, we’re getting a look at what the CEO brought home in his first year on the job.

When all is said and done, Hudson will have made about $6.7 million in 2020, about $2.5 million of which has already been paid. The bigger figure includes a $2.3 million bonus that’s subject to approval at an April meeting, and another $1.8 million in variable compensation that has yet to be paid.

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Af­ter three years of courtship (and turn­downs), Mer­ck pounced on the first glance of clin­i­cal da­ta in $1.85B Pan­dion takeover

It’s almost become cliché for biotech executives to talk about the importance of keeping your options open and being prepared to go all the way. But when it comes to negotiating with a giant like Merck, a little patience can indeed go a long way.

Just ask Pandion Therapeutics.

Days ago we already learned that Merck is shelling out $1.85 billion to pick up the biotech and its slate of autoimmune hopefuls. What we didn’t know until the SEC disclosure dropped Thursday is that the deal comes after Pandion turned down two other proposals from Merck over the past three years and held out until the last minute for a sweetened deal.

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