Brii Bio gets all hands on deck for Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt, lever­ag­ing Chi­nese part­ner­s' work with re­cov­ered pa­tients

A preprint pa­per de­scrib­ing 206 mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies against SARS-Cov-2 iso­lat­ed from eight Covid-19 pa­tients in Chi­na at­tract­ed a small ral­ly on Twit­ter a few days ago, when Broad in­ves­ti­ga­tor David Liu dubbed it “very good news.

Zhi Hong

Now Brii Bio is un­veil­ing some more good news: It’s part­ner­ing with the re­searchers be­hind that pa­per from Ts­inghua and 3rd Peo­ple’s Hos­pi­tal of Shen­zhen to bring some of those an­ti­bod­ies to the clin­ic.

The ra­tio­nale be­hind de­ploy­ing an­ti­bod­ies from pa­tients who have re­cov­ered from a vi­ral in­fec­tion as a pro­phy­lac­tic and ther­a­peu­tic is root­ed in age-old con­va­les­cent plas­ma-based ther­a­pies. The strat­e­gy — which is al­so pur­sued by Vir and Re­gen­eron — has al­so been borne out in tri­als of Ebo­la treat­ments, CEO Zhi Hong said.

By com­bin­ing the Chi­nese part­ners’ wet lab ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ac­cess to pa­tients with the de­vel­op­ment, an­ti­body op­ti­miza­tion and reg­u­la­to­ry ex­per­tise of his trans-Pa­cif­ic biotech, Hong is look­ing at en­ter­ing the clin­ic with­in six months. They are cur­rent­ly test­ing mul­ti­ple can­di­dates in par­al­lel; a cock­tail reg­i­men with at least two an­ti­bod­ies is like­ly to emerge.

Hong, a long­time in­fec­tious dis­ease re­searcher, calls this a “per­fect team” put to­geth­er at the right time to put ex­ist­ing skills and re­la­tion­ships to a new use.

“I have to say that I was re­al­ly im­pressed by the hos­pi­tal in Ts­inghua,” he said, re­call­ing a vis­it years ago. “They lit­er­al­ly have close to a hun­dred in­ves­ti­ga­tors work­ing on shifts. They’re work­ing day and night, those peo­ple. Re­al­ly hard work­ing and re­al­ly in­spir­ing.”

Hav­ing ap­point­ed a project leader, Brii is rapid­ly as­sem­bling a team to tack­le the chal­lenge. In fact, Hong sees this process ac­cel­er­at­ing his plans to grow to 80 this year — 60 in the Bei­jing R&D cen­ter and 20 in Chapel Hill, North Car­oli­na. While cash crunch­es may be forc­ing oth­er biotechs to lay off parts of its staff or freeze hir­ing, now is the time for Brii to re­cruit the best peo­ple who want to step up in a cri­sis, Hong said.

The all-hands-on-deck men­tal­i­ty al­so en­tails sup­port­ing oth­ers to in­crease every­one’s chance of suc­cess. Brii has hand­ed David Ho, the Co­lum­bia re­searcher best known for his work in AIDS, $2 mil­lion to sup­port his hunt for a coro­n­avirus cure.

Part of Ho’s four-pronged strat­e­gy is to find an­ti­bod­ies from pa­tients who have re­cov­ered — first in Hong Kong and now in New York City as it be­comes the epi­cen­ter of the US out­break.

“Our in­dus­try has been trained to re­al­ly com­pete with each oth­er like glad­i­a­tors. I think in this case we’re re­al­ly look­ing at how to work to­geth­er,” he said. “Clear­ly this is a prob­lem the scale of which is so large I don’t think any sin­gle com­pa­ny can ad­dress that them­selves.”

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

As­traZeneca trum­pets the good da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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The Avance Clinical leadership team: CEO Yvonne Lungershausen, Sandrien Louwaars - Director Business Development Operations, Gabriel Kremmidiotis - Chief Scientific Officer, Ben Edwards - Chief Strategy Officer

How Aus­tralia De­liv­ers Rapid Start-up and 43.5% Re­bate for Ear­ly Phase On­col­o­gy Tri­als

About Avance Clinical

Avance Clinical is an Australian owned Contract Research Organisation that has been providing high-quality clinical research services to the local and international drug development industry for 20 years. They specialise in working with biotech companies to execute Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to deliver high-quality outcomes fit for global regulatory standards.

As oncology sponsors look internationally to speed-up trials after unprecedented COVID-19 suspensions and delays, Australia, which has led the world in minimizing the pandemic’s impact, stands out as an attractive destination for early phase trials. This in combination with the streamlined regulatory system and the financial benefits including a very favourable exchange rate and the R & D cash rebate makes Australia the perfect location for accelerating biotech clinical programs.

Ku­ra flash­es pos­i­tive HRAS da­ta on once-failed J&J drug

Troy Wilson was working with J&J on their KRAS inhibitor and periodically thumbing through their publications when he spotted an old drug called tipifarnib that looked promising. So promising, in fact, that the large pharma had run it through over 5,000 patients across 70 trials, hoping they would at some point be able to nail down who were the small slice of patients who responded in some studies.

Af­ter star­ring at ASH last fall, Gilead’s new Forty Sev­en crew col­ors in more promis­ing da­ta for ma­grolimab at AS­CO

We now know the full, early-stage story behind the drug that inspired Gilead CEO Dan O’Day’s recent $5 billion acquisition of Forty Seven.

Following up on their ASCO abstract from a couple of weeks ago, the team at Forty Seven is making their return appearance this week holding clearly promising early-stage data on their lead drug magrolimab as they ponder whether they should roll on a quest to obtain an accelerated approval.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA ce­ment Baven­cio blad­der can­cer win with OS da­ta — while carv­ing an­oth­er niche in rare can­cer

Pfizer and Merck KGaA have detailed the Phase III data that inspired FDA regulators to designate Bavencio a “breakthrough” for first-line advanced bladder cancer and offered an early glance at how the PD-L1 can help patients with a rare gynecological cancer — carving out niches in the checkpoint space for itself after being shut out of numerous others.

In JAVELIN Bladder 100, Bavencio led to a 31% reduction in risk of death compared to standard care alone. It also extended median survival by more than seven months — a historic feat in this setting, according to investigators at Queen Mary University of London.

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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