Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Broad In­sti­tute lands ma­jor vic­to­ry in CRISPR patent fight over UC Berke­ley, No­bel win­ners

Jen­nifer Doud­na

Em­manuelle Char­p­en­tier and Jen­nifer Doud­na have their No­bel prizes in chem­istry for their CRISPR-Cas9 DNA scis­sors, but the US Patent and Trade­mark Of­fice made clear late Mon­day that Har­vard-MIT’s Broad In­sti­tute and su­per­star re­searcher Feng Zhang con­trol the patents in­volv­ing claims to CRISPR-Cas9 sys­tems for use in eu­kary­ot­ic (have a nu­cle­us) cells.

The de­ci­sion was an­oth­er huge le­gal blow to the No­bel prize win­ners, as well as the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia and Uni­ver­si­ty of Vi­en­na, and com­pa­nies like In­tel­lia Ther­a­peu­tics and Char­p­en­tier-found­ed CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics, which do not have li­cens­es with the Broad In­sti­tute. In­tel­lia, which al­so re­leased some ear­ly CRISPR da­ta on Mon­day, saw its stock price fall by about 9% af­ter hours on Mon­day.

Oth­er com­pa­nies like Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine, which has li­censed IP from the Broad, cel­e­brat­ed the de­ci­sion.

Em­manuelle Char­p­en­tier

“The de­ci­sion reaf­firms the strength of our foun­da­tion­al in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty as we con­tin­ue our work to de­vel­op life-chang­ing med­i­cines for peo­ple liv­ing with se­ri­ous dis­eases,” Ed­i­tas CEO James Mullen said in a state­ment.

The de­ci­sion Mon­day al­so reaf­firms sev­er­al past court de­ci­sions. Back in 2018, the US Court of Ap­peals for the Fed­er­al Cir­cuit de­cid­ed that the piv­otal IP be­longed to the Broad, up­hold­ing a 2017 de­ci­sion by the USP­TO.

The patent in ques­tion, orig­i­nal­ly grant­ed in 2014, be­gan with work at the Broad and MIT in ear­ly 2011, and cul­mi­nat­ed in a pub­li­ca­tion in Sci­ence in Jan. 2013.

Jim Mullen

“This marked the world’s first en­gi­neer­ing of CRISPR-Cas9 to be de­liv­ered and used to achieve mam­malian genome edit­ing. Zhang was the first to file a patent ap­pli­ca­tion that de­scribed and en­abled such a method,” the Broad ex­plains.

De­spite the patent, and le­gal tus­sle, Zhang, Doud­na and Char­p­en­tier have sought to make their in­ven­tions more wide­ly ac­ces­si­ble. Since 2013, the in­sti­tute says that Zhang’s lab has open­ly shared CRISPR reagents and tools with more than 3,000 in­sti­tu­tions in 75 coun­tries through the non­prof­it Ad­dgene.

Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois law pro­fes­sor Ja­cob Sherkow, who has been fol­low­ing the le­gal ter­rain around CRISPR-Cas9 close­ly over the years, shared his thoughts in a long thread on the re­sult yes­ter­day, adding, “I don’t think an ap­peal is go­ing any­where.”

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.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 147,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

BREAK­ING: 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 5 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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 147,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA commissioner Rob Califf (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

With drug pric­ing al­most done, Con­gress looks to wrap up FDA user fee leg­is­la­tion

The Senate won’t return from its summer recess until Sept. 6, but when it does, it officially has 18 business days to finalize the reauthorization of the FDA user fee programs for the next 5 years, or else thousands of drug and biologics reviewers will be laid off and PDUFA dates will vanish in the interim.

FDA commissioner Rob Califf recently sent agency staff a memo explaining how, “Our latest estimates are that we have carryover for PDUFA [Prescription Drug User Fee Act], the user fee funding program that will run out of funding first, to cover only about 5 weeks into the next fiscal year.”

Bernhardt Zeiher, outgoing Astellas CMO (Astellas)

Q&A: Astel­las' re­tir­ing head of de­vel­op­ment re­flects on gene ther­a­py deaths

For anyone who’s been following discussions about the safety alarms surrounding the adeno-associated viruses (AAV) commonly used to deliver gene therapy, Astellas should be a familiar name.

The Japanese pharma — which bought out Audentes Therapeutics near the end of 2019 and later built a gene therapy unit around the acquisition — rocked the field when it reported three patient deaths in a trial testing AT132, the lead program from Audentes designed to treat a rare muscle disease called X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM).

When the company restarted the trial, it adjusted the dose and instituted a battery of other measures to try to prevent the same thing from happening again. But tragically, the first patient to receive the new regimen died just weeks after administration. The therapy remains under clinical hold, and just weeks ago, Astellas flagged another safety-related hold for a separate gene therapy candidate. In the process of investigating the deaths, the company has also taken flak about the way it disclosed information.

Big questions remain — questions that can have big implications about the future of AAV gene therapies.

Bernhardt Zeiher did not imagine any of it when he first joined Astellas as the therapeutic area leader in inflammation, immunology and infectious diseases. But his ascent to chief medical officer and head of development coincided almost exactly with Astellas’ big move into gene therapy, putting him often in the driver’s seat to grapple with the setbacks.

As Zeiher prepares to retire next month after a 12-year tenure — leaving the unfinished tasks to his successor, a seasoned cancer drug developer — he chatted with Endpoints News, in part, to discuss the effort to understand what happened, lessons learned and the criticism along the way.

The transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Endpoints: I want to also ask you a bit about the gene therapy efforts you’ve been working on. Astellas has really been at the forefront of discovering the safety concerns associated with AAV gene therapy. What’s that been like for you?

Zeiher: Well, I have to admit, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. We acquired Audentes. Huge amount of enthusiasm. What we saw with AT132 — that was the lead program in XLMTM — was just remarkable efficacy. I mean, kids who went from being on ventilators, not able to eat for themselves, sit up, do things like that, to off ventilators, walking, you know, really — one investigator called it this Lazarus-like effect. It was just really dramatic efficacy. And then to have the safety events that occurred. So they actually occurred within that first year of the acquisition. So we had the three patient deaths. Me and my organization became very, very much involved. In fact, Ed Conner, who had been the chief medical officer, he left after some of the deaths, but I stepped in as the kind of acting chief medical officer, we had another chief medical officer who was involved, and then we had a fourth death, and I became acting again for a period of time.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Sen­ate Dems cling to a sim­ple ma­jor­i­ty to pass some of the biggest drug pric­ing re­forms ever

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — and their fleet of drug industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill — are known for never losing.

Whenever a big drug pricing bill comes up, an army of the industry group’s lobbyists descend onto the Hill and either smash it outright or dismantle it piece by piece.

But for perhaps the largest drug pricing reforms ever enacted, after more than a decade of Congress trying and failing to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, those same lobbyists and their biopharma clients were dealt a stunning blow on Sunday afternoon.

No­vavax shares shred­ded as Covid vac­cine sales fall more than 90% in Q2

Months after Novavax celebrated its first profitable quarter as a commercial company, the Gaithersburg, MD-based company is back in the red.

Sales for Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine slipped to $55 million last quarter, down from $586 million in Q1, CEO Stanley Erck revealed on Monday after market close. The company’s stock $NVAX plummeted more than 32% in after-hours trading.

Upon kicking off the call with analysts and investors, Erck addressed the elephant in the room:

Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

De­spite falling Covid-19 sales, BioN­Tech main­tains '22 sales guid­ance

While Pfizer raked in almost $28 billion last quarter, its Covid-19 vaccine partner BioNTech reported a rise in total dose orders but a drop in sales.

The German biotech reported over $3.2 billion in revenue in Q2 on Monday, down from more than $6.7 billion in Q1, in part due to falling Covid sales. While management said last quarter that they anticipated a Covid sales drop — CEO Uğur Şahin said at the time that “the pandemic situation is still very much uncertain” — Q2 sales still missed consensus by 14%.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 147,300+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO (David Zorrakino/Europa Press via AP Images)

As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi Sankyo sprint to mar­ket af­ter FDA clears En­her­tu in just two weeks

Regulators didn’t keep AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo waiting long at all for their latest Enhertu approval.

The partners pulled a win on Friday in HER2-low breast cancer patients who’ve already failed on chemotherapy, less than two weeks after its supplemental BLA was accepted. While this isn’t the FDA’s fastest approval — Bristol Myers Squibb won an OK for its blockbuster checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo in just five days back in March — it comes well ahead of Enhertu’s original Q4 PDUFA date.