Bris­tol-My­ers part­ners with Park­er In­sti­tute, CRI on a next-gen twist on trans­la­tion­al R&D

Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb is team­ing up with the grow­ing vir­tu­al net­work of sci­en­tists at the Park­er In­sti­tute for Can­cer Im­munother­a­py to ex­pand its fo­cus on an al­ready thick pipeline of im­muno-on­col­o­gy pro­grams.

The 300-plus sci­en­tists who make up the Park­er In­sti­tute — the non­prof­it set up by Face­book mogul Sean Park­er — will now see their prover­bial tool­box grow as Bris­tol-My­ers kicks in on a three-way pact that al­so in­cludes the Can­cer Re­search In­sti­tute. And a top re­searcher at Park­er says that this is just the first of many such in­dus­try col­lab­o­ra­tions, as Park­er’s group looks to ramp up trans­la­tion­al work on a range of new can­cer drugs.

“This would be one of oth­er part­ner­ships we are plan­ning to do,” says Ramy Ibrahim, the vice pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at the in­sti­tute. The pur­pose, he says, is to “cre­ate a tool­box that our sci­en­tists can reach in­to and use in their tool­box,” which will in­clude nov­el ther­a­peu­tics that can be mixed and matched in ear­ly stage stud­ies aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cif­ic sub­pop­u­la­tions of pa­tients who could ben­e­fit from new com­bos.

The part­ners are keep­ing the fi­nan­cial de­tails of each of these new agree­ments un­der wraps, but Ibrahim tells me that com­pa­nies like Bris­tol-My­ers — which has in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in mak­ing it­self in­to a leader in the field with their check­point Op­di­vo — are asked to com­mit to $15 mil­lion to $20 mil­lion apiece to fund the work ahead.

For small­er biotechs who may be look­ing at new com­bi­na­tions for se­lect as­sets in the pipeline, there wouldn’t be any need for sim­i­lar fund­ing.

Bris­tol-My­ers is just get­ting start­ed in the part­ner­ship, Ibrahim adds, but there are al­ready talks un­der way about a po­ten­tial study that could go in­to the clin­ic. These three play­ers will re­main flex­i­ble on who’s fund­ing the work, he says, with com­mit­ments that could range any­where from 0% to 100%, de­pend­ing on the tri­al.

Park­er In­sti­tute wants to be clear that these arrange­ments are in­tend­ed to ac­cel­er­ate ear­ly re­search work and iden­ti­fy promis­ing new ap­proach­es. Any reg­is­tra­tion work would be up to the com­pa­nies, says Ibrahim, adding that to late-stage stud­ies could al­so lead to new part­ner­ship deals be­tween com­pa­nies.

The Park­er In­sti­tute, he says, will re­main out of com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

“Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb is ini­ti­at­ing this unique col­lab­o­ra­tion with a goal to ac­cel­er­at­ing the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment of new treat­ment op­tions for pa­tients who are fac­ing very se­ri­ous dis­ease,” said Fouad Namouni, head of on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment for Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.