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.

MedTech clinical trials require a unique regulatory and study design approach and so engaging a highly experienced CRO to ensure compliance and accurate data across all stages is critical to development milestones.

In­no­v­a­tive MedTech De­mands Spe­cial­ist Clin­i­cal Tri­al Reg­u­la­to­ry Af­fairs and De­sign

Avance Clinical is the Australian CRO for international biotechs providing world-class clinical research services with FDA-accepted data across all phases. With Avance Clinical, biotech companies can leverage Australia’s supportive clinical trials environment which includes no IND requirement plus a 43.5% Government incentive rebate on clinical spend. The CRO has been delivering clinical drug development services for international biotechs for FDA and EMA regulatory approval for the past 24 years. The company has been recognized for the past two consecutive years with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan CRO Best Practices Award and a finalist in Informa Pharma’s Best CRO award for 2022.

Mathai Mammen (Rob Tannenbaum, Endpoints News at BIO 2018)

Math­ai Mam­men makes an abrupt ex­it as head of the big R&D group at J&J

In an after-the-bell shocker, J&J announced Monday evening that Mathai Mammen has abruptly exited J&J as head of its top-10 R&D group.

Recruited from Merck five years ago, where the soft-spoken Mammen was being groomed as the successor to Roger Perlmutter, he had been one of the top-paid R&D chiefs in biopharma. His group spent $12 billion last year on drug development, putting it in the top 5 in the industry.

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Ted Love, Global Blood Therapeutics CEO

Up­dat­ed: Pfiz­er scoops up Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics and its sick­le cell ther­a­pies for $5.4B

Pfizer is dropping $5.4 billion to acquire Global Blood Therapeutics.

Just ahead of the weekend, word got out that Pfizer was close to clinching a $5 billion buyout — albeit with other potential buyers still at the table. The pharma giant, flush with cash from Covid-19 vaccine sales, apparently got out on top.

The deal immediately swells Pfizer’s previously tiny sickle cell disease portfolio from just a Phase I program to one with an approved drug, Oxbryta, plus a whole pipeline that, if all approved, the company believes could make for a $3 billion franchise at peak.

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Illustration: Kim Ryu for Endpoints News

Why non-opi­oid pain drugs keep fail­ing — and what's next for the field

In 1938, Rita Levi-Montalcini was forced to move her lab into her bedroom in Turin, as Mussolini’s facist government expelled Jewish people from studying or working in schools in Italy. Levi-Montalcini, then just a few years out of medical school and using sewing needles as scalpels in her makeshift lab, would soon discover nerve growth factor, or NGF, in chicken embryos.

Her discoveries formed the basis of our understanding of the peripheral nervous system and how cells talk to each other, and Levi-Montalcini went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. Much later, NGF was hailed as a promising target for new pain therapies, with some analysts quoting an $11 billion market. However, the latest anti-NGF candidate, Pfizer and Eli Lilly’s tanezumab, was rejected by the FDA last year because of a side effect that dissolved bone in some of its patients.

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Samantha Du, Zai Lab CEO

Any­one still look­ing for a CD47? Zai Lab shelves PhI pro­gram af­ter re­view­ing 'com­pet­i­tive land­scape'

Over the past few years, the promise of blocking CD47 — a “don’t eat me” signal co-opted by cancer cells — has sent drugmakers big and small into a frenzy. But one biotech is now bowing out.

Zai Lab is deprioritizing ZL-1201, its CD47 inhibitor, scrapping plans for a Phase II trial. It will now “pursue out-licensing opportunities,” the company said in its Q2 update. The decision was based on a review of the competitive landscape, it added, without going into further details.

Craig Thompson, Cerevance CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck makes first big splash for Alzheimer’s drug R&D since 2017 fail, ink­ing re­search pact with Cere­vance

For the first time since discontinuing its late-stage Alzheimer’s program, Merck has found promise on the path forward in the memory-robbing disease.

After a Phase III flop of its drug verubecestat, the New Jersey Big Pharma axed the study in early 2018. More than four years later, the company is ready to sign up for another pact to test the waters of the befuddling disease.

This time, there’s $1.1 billion in biobucks on the line and a target that its partner says no other biopharma is looking at en route to finding the next treatment for Alzheimer’s, a neuroscience field that has hit hurdle after hurdle for decades.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Break­ing: Pfiz­er in hot pur­suit of a $5B buy­out of Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics — re­port

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has vowed to leave no stone unturned in the search for new biotech deals, and the BD team is not letting him down.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Pfizer is in the final stages of acquiring Global Blood Therapeutics for $5 billion. According to the Journal report, though, Pfizer is not the only buyer at the deal table and while the pharma giant may be close to clinching it, there are no guarantees it will continue.

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HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

US weighs new route of ad­min­is­tra­tion for mon­key­pox vac­cine as cas­es climb — re­port

Less than a week after HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra declared monkeypox a national health emergency, reports have emerged that the US plans to extend its vaccine supply by opting for a different route of administration.

Officials are expected to call for intradermal injection of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine — the only shot approved specifically for monkeypox in the US — as opposed to subcutaneous injection, unnamed sources told both the New York Times and Washington Post on Tuesday.

'Messy at best': Is the US re­peat­ing the same Covid mis­steps with mon­key­pox mes­sag­ing?

When Kyle Planck first suspected he might have monkeypox in late June, he went to the CDC website and found six photos of different types of lesions. And that was about it for general public information.

Planck, who is a sixth-year PhD pharmacology researcher at Weill Cornell, kept looking though and found a separate part of the CDC website meant for healthcare professionals. There he found a medical slide deck with more pictures, professional journal articles and more details about symptoms and diagnosis.

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