Bris­tol-My­ers hands over $100M in cash for a new fi­bro­sis drug, beef­ing up NASH fo­cus

It’s not all check­points all the time at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb. The big biotech has been ramp­ing up an am­bi­tious ef­fort in fi­bro­sis and NASH and this morn­ing it’s tak­ing the wraps off an­oth­er deal in the field, pay­ing $100 mil­lion to Japan’s Nit­to Denko for an ear­ly-stage drug can­di­date that now be­comes part of their port­fo­lio.

The key drug in this pack­age deal is ND-L02-s0201, a siR­NA that is de­signed to in­hib­it heat shock pro­tein 47. By hit­ting HSP47, their in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve that they can cut the pro­duc­tion of col­la­gen that plays a role in fi­bro­sis and NASH, while help­ing cor­rect at least some of the dam­age that has al­ready been done to pa­tients.

The drug is un­der­go­ing a 5-week Phase Ib study now to give them a bet­ter idea of how the drug works for fi­bro­sis caused by NASH, an epi­dem­ic fat­ty liv­er dis­ease, and he­pati­tis C. And Bris­tol-My­ers gets the rights to Nit­to Denko’s port­fo­lio in the field, bag­ging ex­clu­sive rights for fi­bro­sis in a va­ri­ety of dis­eases.

The deal in­cludes mile­stones, which weren’t dis­cussed in their state­ment.

Nit­to Denko is a cen­tu­ry-old di­ver­si­fied ma­te­ri­als man­u­fac­tur­er based in Os­a­ka with a new­found in­ter­est in di­ver­si­fy­ing in­to biotech. Ear­ly this year the com­pa­ny es­tab­lished a biotech sub­sidiary called Nit­to Bio­Phar­ma, with fa­cil­i­ties in San Diego and plans to con­tin­ue to pur­sue R&D in IPF and oth­er dis­eases.

Bris­tol-My­ers ex­ecs have been putting a brave face on their re­cent de­ba­cle in front­line non-small cell lung can­cer for their PD-1 pi­o­neer Op­di­vo. The late-stage fail­ure left a bad scar, but the com­pa­ny points to its R&D work in fi­bro­sis/NASH and heart fail­ure as ex­am­ples of a more di­ver­si­fied pipeline.

Back in Au­gust, 2015, the am­bi­tious R&D group struck a $1.25 bil­lion deal — $150 mil­lion up front — to gain an op­tion to ac­quire Prome­dior if its mid-stage fi­bro­sis pro­gram comes through.

Bris­tol-My­ers has its sights set on PRM-151, a re­com­bi­nant form of hu­man pen­trax­in-2 pro­tein in de­vel­op­ment for id­io­path­ic pul­monary fi­bro­sis and myelofi­bro­sis. The com­pa­ny scored an­oth­er pro­vi­sion­al buy­out agree­ment for Den­mark’s Galec­to in 2014, agree­ing to pay up to $444 mil­lion for the com­pa­ny. That deal cen­tered on TD139, an in­hibitor of galectin-3, which binds to car­bo­hy­drate struc­tures, play­ing a role in IPF that can be de­railed by this new drug. TD139 joined BMS-986020, a lysophos­pha­tidic acid 1 (LPA1) re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nist al­so in stud­ies for fi­bro­sis. Bris­tol-My­ers al­so struck re­search deals with the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute for Bio­med­ical Re­search (Cal­i­br) and The Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of South Car­oli­na.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; and more

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It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Rob Etherington, Clene CEO

Mary­land of­fers loan to Clene de­spite ALS tri­al bumps

Even after Utah-based Clene failed to hit its primary endpoints for its ALS drug last year, the state of Maryland is putting its money at least behind Clene’s manufacturing facility.

The Maryland Board of Public Works has finalized a $3 million, 60-month loan facility with Clene Nanomedicine. The loan was provided by the state’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program within the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Armon Sharei, SQZ founder and CEO

SQZ's out­side-the-box man­u­fac­tur­ing method slash­es pro­duc­tion time in ear­ly in study

At ASCO 2021 in June of last year, SQZ Biotech showcased a glimpse of its unorthodox cell therapy manufacturing tech. And on Wednesday, the Watertown, MA, company announced that its first-generation system showed comparable or better performance than a conventional clean-room-based manufacturing process.

The study was non-clinical. Clinical trials are expected by the first half of 2023.

SQZ’s device opens up a temporary window by cell-squeezing to deliver cargoes into cells. Its average processing time was less than six hours per batch, which is more than half the time than conventional methods. The company is planning to use the technology in its first red blood cell derived program for celiac disease. That IND is set to be submitted in the first half of 2023, the company said.

Bobby Sheng, Bora Pharmaceuticals CEO

With new ac­qui­si­tion, Bo­ra to ven­ture in­to bi­o­log­ics

Last week, Taiwan-based CDMO Bora Pharmaceuticals announced that it acquired Eden Biologics. Now, it says that purchase has helped established Bora Biologics, expanding into the biopharmaceutical market.

The acquisition of the company’s assets, which are located in the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park in Taiwan, is helping Bora build its presence in the biopharma world by expanding production capacity of cell lines for the production of protein drugs. It will also improve the quality control and inspection specifications, as well as cell bank generation. The facility has four 500-liter bioreactors that have been approved by European and Taiwanese regulators.

Paul Chaplin, Bavarian Nordic president and CEO

With mon­key­pox cas­es ris­ing, one Eu­ro­pean coun­try is lock­ing down a small­pox vac­cine con­tract

As the global number of confirmed and suspected monkeypox cases continues to slowly climb, one country is trying to get a head start on potential vaccine stocking.

Bavarian Nordic signed a contract with an undisclosed European nation to supply its smallpox vaccine in response to new cases this month, the company announced Thursday morning. The continent saw its first monkeypox case confirmed about two weeks ago, with both the UK and Portugal seeing cases, according to the Washington Post.

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