Ramy Farid, Schrödinger CEO (Schrödinger)

Bris­tol My­ers fronts new Schrödinger al­liance with $55M up­front, ex­pand­ing pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy pro­file

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb has a new R&D part­ner, one to which they’re pay­ing a pret­ty pen­ny to use their dis­cov­ery plat­form.

The phar­ma com­pa­ny is dol­ing out $55 mil­lion up­front to Schrödinger $SD­GR to work on up to five small mol­e­cules, with the po­ten­tial for $2.7 bil­lion in mile­stone pay­ments. Schrödinger’s ini­tial tar­gets in­clude HIF-2 al­pha and SOS1/KRAS for a type of kid­ney can­cer and KRAS-dri­ven can­cers, re­spec­tive­ly.

Mon­day’s news was greet­ed well by in­vestors, as Schrödinger shares ticked up rough­ly 10% in ear­ly trad­ing.

With­in the col­lab­o­ra­tion’s 8-K, Schrödinger got in­to the nit­ty grit­ty of the mile­stones. The com­pa­ny can re­ceive up to $585 mil­lion per on­col­o­gy tar­get, with $360 mil­lion for R&D and reg­u­la­to­ry mile­stones and $225 mil­lion for com­mer­cial mile­stones. For neu­rol­o­gy and im­munol­o­gy tar­gets, BMS’s pay­ments could max out at $482 mil­lion — $257 mil­lion on the R&D and reg­u­la­to­ry side, with an­oth­er $225 mil­lion for com­mer­cial­iza­tion mile­stones.

Schrödinger can al­so re­ceive roy­al­ties rang­ing from the mid-sin­gle dig­its to low-dou­ble dig­its.

The com­pa­ny’s dis­cov­ery plat­form proved the im­pe­tus for such a deal, which CEO Ramy Farid stressed to End­points News is not one of the many ma­chine learn­ing or AI-based tech­nolo­gies that have tak­en the biotech world by storm. Rather, Schrödinger’s plat­form cre­ates physics-based mol­e­c­u­lar sim­u­la­tions that can pre­dict how mol­e­cules and com­pounds will bind to pro­teins be­fore even step­ping foot in the wet lab.

And since there’s no AI in­volved, Schrödinger doesn’t have to spend time train­ing their mod­el to rec­og­nize and de­tect a drug’s po­ten­tial affin­i­ty. Farid says the com­pa­ny can sim­u­late a com­pound’s en­tire chem­i­cal space, or the pool of its po­ten­tial el­e­men­tal com­bi­na­tions, which can to­tal up to 10 to the pow­er of 50 dif­fer­ent struc­tures.

“For ex­am­ple when you want to build an AI, let’s say to de­tect cats in pho­tographs, you feed the mod­el a bunch of pic­tures of cats … physics-based meth­ods do not do that at all, there is no train­ing set,” Farid said, adding lat­er, “This is the rea­son why AI doesn’t work re­li­ably. That space is so enor­mous that it’s im­pos­si­ble to gen­er­ate a train­ing set that can cap­ture all of it.”

Karen Akin­sanya

Though Schrödinger isn’t close to test­ing any­thing in an­i­mals, let alone hu­mans, they’ll be work­ing on the two ini­tial tar­gets for the fore­see­able fu­ture, as the part­ner­ship runs for four years. Once the pro­grams in the deal get to the IND-en­abling stage, Schrödinger will hand off de­vel­op­ment to BMS, R&D chief Karen Akin­sanya said. Schrödinger will re­tain un­lim­it­ed ac­cess to its plat­form.

For BMS, the deal fits in­to a trend of ex­pand­ing their im­muno-on­col­o­gy ef­fort through R&D part­ner­ships since its big-mon­ey ac­qui­si­tion of Cel­gene. The com­pa­ny spent $475 mil­lion in Au­gust for con­trol of Drag­on­fly’s ex­tend­ed half-life cy­tokine DF6002, a mono­va­lent IL-12 im­munoglob­u­lin Fc fu­sion pro­tein de­signed to fire up a tar­get­ed im­mune re­sponse.

A week lat­er, BMS bought out a small biotech called For­bius whose pipeline of TGF-be­ta in­hibitors matched their on­col­o­gy deal pro­file. The terms of that trans­ac­tion weren’t dis­closed, though For­bius’ un­re­lat­ed as­sets were spun out in­to an­oth­er com­pa­ny.

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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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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'Chang­ing the whole game of drug dis­cov­ery': Leg­endary R&D vet Roger Perl­mut­ter leaps back in­to work as a biotech CEO

Roger Perlmutter needs no introduction to anyone remotely involved in biopharma. As the R&D chief first at Amgen and then Merck, he’s built a stellar reputation and a prolific career steering new drugs toward the market for everything from cancer to infectious diseases.

But for years, he’s also held a less known title: science partner at The Column Group, where he’s regularly consulted about the various ideas the VCs had for new startups.

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Joe Wiley, Amryt CEO

A biotech with a yen for pricey rare dis­ease drugs — and bar­gain base­ment shop­ping — adopts an­oth­er or­phan in lat­est M&A pact

After making it through a long, painful haul to get past a CRL and on to an FDA approval last summer, little Chiasma has found a buyer.

Amryt $AMYT, a company known for its appetite for acquiring expensive drugs for rare diseases at bargain prices, snagged Chiasma and its acromegaly drug Mycapssa (octreotide) capsules in an all-stock deal — with an exchange of 0.396 shares of Amryt for every share of Chiasma.

Ad­comm splits slight­ly in fa­vor of FDA ap­prov­ing Chemo­Cen­tryx’s rare dis­ease drug

The FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee on Thursday voted 10 for and 8 against the approval of ChemoCentryx’s $CCXI investigational drug avacopan as a treatment for adults with a rare and serious disease known as anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-vasculitis.

The vote on whether the FDA should approve the drug was preceded by a split vote of 9 to 9 on whether the efficacy data support approval, and 10 to 8 that the safety profile of avacopan is adequate enough to support approval.

Paul Hastings, Nkarta CEO

With no up­front pay­ment or mile­stones on the line, Nkar­ta and CRISPR join forces on CAR-NK search

Most deals in biotech come with hefty upfront payments attached, and the promise of big biobucks if a program works out. Not this one.

Nkarta has struck what CEO Paul Hastings calls a “real collaboration” with CRISPR Therapeutics to co-develop and commercialize two CAR-NK therapies, in addition to an NK+T program. The duo will split all R&D costs — and any worldwide profits — 50/50, Hastings said.

Brent Saunders (Richard Drew, AP Images)

OcuWho? Star deal­mak­er turned aes­thet­ics czar Brent Saun­ders flips back in­to biotech. But who’s he team­ing up with now?

Brent Saunders went on a tear of headline-blazing deals building Allergan, merging and rearranging a variety of big companies into one before an M&A pact with Pfizer blew up and sent him on a bout of biotech drug deals. That didn’t work so well, so under pressure, he got his buyout at AbbVie — which needed a big franchise like Botox. And it was no big surprise to see him riding the SPAC wave into a recent $1 billion-plus deal that left him in the executive chairman’s seat at an aesthetics outfit — now redubbed The Beauty Health Company — holding a big chunk of the equity.

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Drug pric­ing watch­dog joins the cho­rus of crit­ics on Bio­gen's ad­u­canum­ab: What about charg­ing $2,560 per year?

As if Biogen’s aducanumab isn’t controversial enough, the researchers at drug pricing watchdog ICER have drawn up the contours of a new debate: If the therapy does get approved for Alzheimer’s by June, what price should it command?

Their answer: At most $8,290 per year — and perhaps as little as $2,560.

Even at the top of the range, the proposed price is a fraction of the $50,000 that Wall Street has reportedly come to expect (although RBC analyst Brian Abrahams puts the consensus figure at $11.5K). With critics, including experts on the FDA’s advisory committee, making their fierce opposition to aducanumab’s approval loud and clear, the pricing pressure adds one extra wrinkle Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos doesn’t need as he orders full-steam preparation for a launch.