Eric and Wendy Schmidt (Broad Institute via YouTube)

Broad In­sti­tute opens new $300M cen­ter to an­swer 1 ques­tion: What's pos­si­ble when you ap­ply ma­chine learn­ing to bi­ol­o­gy?

In the midst of what di­rec­tor Todd Gol­ub called two rev­o­lu­tions — one bi­o­log­i­cal one and one com­pu­ta­tion­al — the Broad In­sti­tute is launch­ing a new cen­ter fund­ed by a for­mer Google chief to ex­plore the in­ter­sec­tion of ma­chine learn­ing and biotech­nol­o­gy.

The Broad on Thurs­day un­veiled the Er­ic and Wendy Schmidt Cen­ter, com­plete with a $150 mil­lion en­dow­ment from the Schmidts and a few Big Phar­ma part­ners in the wings. In ad­di­tion to the Schmidts’ con­tri­bu­tion, the Broad Foun­da­tion is throw­ing in an­oth­er $150 mil­lion.

Todd Gol­ub

“Bi­ol­o­gy is now pro­duc­ing da­ta at pre­vi­ous­ly unimag­in­able scales — but our abil­i­ty to un­der­stand and in­ter­pret that da­ta hasn’t kept pace,” Gol­ub said in a state­ment. “Adapt­ing the meth­ods of ma­chine learn­ing for bi­ol­o­gy will give sci­en­tists the chance to un­der­stand the pro­grams of life, and the Er­ic and Wendy Schmidt Cen­ter will en­able new part­ner­ships be­tween acad­e­mia and in­dus­try that can great­ly ac­cel­er­ate our progress.”

The cen­ter will work close­ly with MIT, Har­vard and its af­fil­i­at­ed hos­pi­tals, and through the Broad’s ex­ist­ing part­ner­ships with Bay­er, IBM, In­tel and Ver­i­ly. And it’s al­ready at­tract­ed sev­er­al new part­ners, in­clud­ing Genen­tech, As­traZeneca and No­var­tis. Google Re­search, Mi­crosoft, Deep­Mind, Que­bec AI in­sti­tute Mi­la, the Eu­ro­pean Lab­o­ra­to­ry for Learn­ing and In­tel­li­gent Sys­tems, the Mayo Clin­ic, and the the Ox­ford Big Da­ta and Alan Tur­ing in­sti­tutes are al­so on board, ac­cord­ing to the Broad.

“The pan­dem­ic has shown us that pri­or­i­tiz­ing sci­ence, in­no­va­tion, and re­search is one of the great­est in­vest­ments we can make in our fu­ture,” Er­ic Schmidt said in a state­ment.

The bil­lion­aire is best known for his 10-year run as Google CEO, start­ing in 2001.

The Schmidt Cen­ter will be co-di­rect­ed by Car­o­line Uh­ler, an MIT as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing and com­put­er sci­ence, and An­tho­ny Philip­pakis, the Broad’s chief da­ta of­fi­cer.

The Broad was found­ed in 2003 by MIT, Har­vard and its hos­pi­tals, and Los An­ge­les phil­an­thropists Eli and Edythe Broad. Its col­lab­o­ra­tions now span more than 100 pri­vate and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions in more than 40 coun­tries.

“Eli and Edye Broad made a big bet 15 years ago, join­ing with MIT and Har­vard to ad­vance the promise of ge­nom­ic med­i­cine,” said Gerun Ri­ley, pres­i­dent of The Broad Foun­da­tion and mem­ber of the Broad’s board. “We are thrilled to part­ner with the Schmidts to re­al­ize this ex­cit­ing evo­lu­tion of the Broad In­sti­tute by build­ing on its foun­da­tion­al ethos to cre­ate a new sci­en­tif­ic dis­ci­pline that will fur­ther pro­pel life-chang­ing re­search and dis­cov­ery.”

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Who’s spend­ing and who’s cut­ting from Big Phar­ma’s $127B R&D bud­get? Here are the top 15 play­ers

A couple of the Big 15 biopharma companies in R&D hit the gas on research spending last year. Merck and Sanofi still have lots to prove in the pipeline, and they’re willing to gamble large sums to make a better future for themselves.

Doing nothing would be infinitely worse.

But collectively, the top players rang up a modest 2.4% increase in spending in 2022, which didn’t cover inflationary pressures. And that set the tone for an extraordinarily cautious year for the industry — even as it laid out about $127 billion to advance new drugs or up the ante on approved therapies.

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Jeff Bluestone (R), Sonoma Biotherapeutics CEO

Jef­frey Blue­stone brings his start­up haul to $400M+, join­ing forces with Re­gen­eron on cell ther­a­pies

These days, when Jeffrey Bluestone gets together with his contemporaries in science, the conversation often turns to retirement plans.

But a little more than three years ago, Bluestone reached a momentous turning point in his career, exiting a prestigious post at UCSF, where he had spent decades in the scientific pursuit of new therapies. And it had nothing to do with retirement anytime in the near future.

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Sally Susman, Pfizer EVP and chief corporate affairs officer

Q&A: Pfiz­er cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Sal­ly Sus­man dis­cuss­es book craft­ed in pan­dem­ic and per­son­al lessons

From the political arena to the finance and beauty industries to pharmaceuticals, Pfizer’s Sally Susman has broken barriers, stereotypes and conventions. And now the chief communicator is “Breaking Through,” the title of her first book about effective and innovative communications launching today. The full official title is “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World.”

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Gun­ning for 2023 ap­proval, GSK de­tails PhI­II da­ta for Jem­per­li in front­line en­dome­tri­al can­cer

GSK has a new slate of data to offer on its PD-1 inhibitor, Jemperli — data that the pharma giant hopes will cement one of the four drug approvals it’s expecting this year.

While Jemperli (dostarlimab) is already approved for a subset of patients with second-line endometrial cancer, GSK set out in the Phase III RUBY trial to test it as an earlier line of treatment while also enrolling a broader group of patients. In an interim analysis, Jemperli was shown to extend progression-free survival for both the subset and the overall trial population when added to chemotherapy.

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Es­pe­ri­on sues Dai­ichi Sankyo, de­mand­ing pay­ment of $300M mile­stone for car­dio drug

Esperion is suing its business partner Daiichi Sankyo, saying the Japanese drugmaker is improperly refusing to pay a $300 million milestone that the biotech company will be owed after reporting positive data from a large trial of its cardiovascular drug Nexletol.

The 2019 deal between the companies had Daiichi Sankyo pay $150 million upfront plus another $150 million after the first sales of the drug. But another major payout was tied to an outcomes study reported this month, known as CLEAR. Esperion, in its suit against Daiichi, argues that the drug’s more than 20% reduction of heart attack risk is enough to trigger a $300 million payout from Daiichi once it’s added to the drug’s label.

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Eli Lil­ly to in­crease in­vest­ment to $1B in­to new Irish man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty — re­port

The US pharma giant Eli Lilly will be increasing its financial commitment to a manufacturing site in Ireland.

According to a release from Ireland’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) on Monday, Lilly will be investing another $500 million in its manufacturing facility in Limerick, Ireland — bringing the total investment into the facility to approximately $1 billion.

In January of last year, Lilly announced it was placing a $446 million investment into the site to expand active pharmaceutical ingredient and monoclonal antibody production.

Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BioN­Tech read­ies for plunge in Covid sales, will boost mR­NA and on­col­o­gy pipelines

BioNTech is estimating €5 billion (nearly $5.4 billion) in Covid-19 vaccine sales this year, a marked drop from €17.1 billion ($18.5 billion) in 2022 — and way off analysts’ expectations of around €8 billion ($8.6 billion).

In BioNTech’s year-end earnings call on Monday, it reported a total of €17.3 billion ($18.7 billion) in 2022 revenue, almost all from vaccine sales, which include those via its Pfizer deal and direct sales.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Van­da wins court case against FDA over dis­clo­sure of CRL de­tails for sleep drug

DC District Court Judge Christopher Cooper today granted Vanda Pharma’s request to require the FDA to disclose more info on the complete response letter for its sleep disorder drug Hetlioz.

The melatonin receptor agonist is approved by the FDA to treat non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, a circadian rhythm disorder. But in 2018 Vanda filed a supplemental application to market Hetlioz as a treatment for jet lag, which the FDA rejected in August 2019, with few details on what Vanda needed to correct course, according to the company.