Buy­out Buzz: Sanofi, Gilead ru­mors keep the fire burn­ing un­der a boil­ing Tesaro buy­out sto­ry

At this stage, there may be a few peo­ple left in bio­phar­ma who haven’t heard that Tesaro $TSRO has re­port­ed­ly set it­self up on the auc­tion block in search of a nice, fat buy­out of­fer. For those who like to keep tabs on M&A, we of­fer the lat­est word from StreetInsid­er that Sanofi $SNY is kick­ing the tires and talk­ing price — which may start around $10 bil­lion, or $185 a share.

But the plot thick­ens with word that Gilead — an­oth­er deep pock­et play­er with big am­bi­tions — may al­so be look­ing to jump in­to the game.

Sanofi, of course, is a log­i­cal bid­der. The French phar­ma gi­ant was left be­hind at the al­tar af­ter Pfiz­er $PFE swept in with an even big­ger check­book and bought out Medi­va­tion, pur­su­ing a de­sire to bag Xtan­di as well as an ex­per­i­men­tal PARP for its can­cer drug port­fo­lio.

Pfiz­er, which paid a whop­ping $14 bil­lion for Medi­va­tion, was quick­ly re­ward­ed with a shrink­ing rev­enue stream while Tesaro has yet to re­al­ly get things start­ed with its new­ly ap­proved PARP Ze­ju­la. So Sanofi would be left pon­der­ing an­oth­er bid­ding war af­ter it al­so got spanked by J&J on the $30 bil­lion Acte­lion buy­out, un­der­scor­ing its top ex­ecs’ wor­ry that biotech as­sets are val­ued far too high.

All this fresh talk about M&A usu­al­ly trig­gers a spike in the share price, but Tesaro’s been the fo­cus of so many ru­mors for so long that yes­ter­day the price bare­ly budged, inch­ing up on­ly 2.8%.

In­vestors ap­pear to be say­ing that they want more to go on be­fore they bid high­er. It’s not hard to see why.

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President Trump (left) and NIAID chief Anthony Fauci in the White House press room, April 22, 2020 (Michael Reynolds/Sipa via AP Images)

White House tries to dis­cred­it An­tho­ny Fau­ci — could he be on his way out?

For two months in late winter and early spring, Anthony Fauci and President Trump stood in uneasy co-existence at White House briefings — an unlikely truce between an infectious disease official who had helped combat AIDS and Ebola and a president who repeatedly denied the danger of a virus that would go on to kill 100,000 Americans, repeatedly rejected masks and certain social distancing efforts, and promoted a drug with little scientific basis.

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Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

A top an­a­lyst turns the spot­light on Mod­er­na, fu­el­ing a fast-and-fu­ri­ous Street race over the fu­ture of mR­NA

Four months ago, one of the favorite talking points on the biopharma social media wave length was whether Moderna shares $MRNA were priced right or were wildly inflated.

After all, said the naysayers, the company had never actually pushed a treatment to an approval. Did messenger RNA really work, coding cells to make a drug or a vaccine? And how about all that chatter about how ‘secretive’ they are, or were?

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Steve Arkinstall, Revitope CEO

Mass­a­chu­setts biotech Re­vi­tope scores first col­lab­o­ra­tion thanks to dual-en­gag­ing T cell plat­form

Revitope Oncology began 2020 hopeful that its cancer immunology platform would be finally ready to flourish. On Monday night, that platform nabbed the biotech its first collaboration.

The Massachusetts-based company has agreed to a licensing agreement with Shanghai-based Junshi Biosciences in which Revitope can receive up to $160 million in development and commercial milestones, plus royalties. In addition, Junshi will make a direct equity investment of $10 million, equal to 9.99% of Revitope shares, as the two companies work to develop a dual-antigen targeting cancer therapies.

En­gi­neer­ing an on/off switch for CAR-T out of yeast and Juras­sic Park

Almost as soon as CAR-T emerged in the mid-2010s as a near-cure for some cancers, so did a question: How do you give this without risking killing patients?

At the time, James Patterson was wrapping an MD-PhD at a yeast lab at London’s Francis Crick Institute. Yeast may seem an unlikely place to find a fix for cancer therapy, but reading through other researchers’ solutions to CAR-T’s toxicity, Patterson wondered if a method long used by yeast biologists called auxotrophy might be useful. You genetically modify cells to make them dependent on a particular nutrient. Then you can make them live or die — proliferate or deplete — by giving or taking away that nutrient.

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Albert Bourla, AP

Covid-19 roundup: CanSi­no eyes more over­seas PhI­II sites as Cana­da tri­al re­port­ed­ly stalls; In­di­an drug­mak­er surges on 30-per­son da­ta

Having leveraged connections in Canada for a planned Phase III trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, CanSino is venturing out to a few more others as it plots a global late-stage program.

“We are contacting Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia, and it’s still in discussion,” Dongxu Qiu, executive director and co-founder of CanSino, said at a conference in Suzhou, China, per Reuters.

The trial is likely to start “pretty soon,” he added, with plans to recruit 40,000 participants total.

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CEO John Oyler at the Endpoints/PharmCube BIIS18 conference in Shanghai (Photo: Endpoints News)

Chi­na's BeiGene now has $5B+ cash in its cof­fers. How's the Am­gen-part­nered biotech go­ing to spend it?

When Amgen wagered $2.7 billion to grab a 20.5% stake in BeiGene late last year, execs saw themselves buying into a “world-class operation” that would help them tap into the world’s most populous country and a growing biopharma powerhouse.

It turns out they were just getting started.

Over the weekend, BeiGene $BGNE brought in a hefty $2.08 billion — $421 million from Amgen — through a direct offering of its Nasdaq shares exclusively involving existing investors. New York-based hedge fund Baker Bros. Advisors also bought a chunk of new shares.

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Jeremy Levin, Ovid CEO

Two years af­ter a ‘pos­i­tive’ re­sult tanked their stock, Ovid's Je­re­my Levin wins a part­ner for the PhI­II jour­ney

If Jeremy Levin could do it over again, he says he would.

Two years ago, his company, Ovid Therapeutics, released the topline data from a Phase II trial on their lead drug, for a rare neurological condition called Angelman syndrome. Ovid called it “positive,” pointing to one secondary endpoint called CGI-I. Analysts and investors saw the 16 other endpoints that weren’t positive, called the one success a fluke, and the stock fell 80%.

Bruce Beutel (Dewpoint)

Af­ter go­ing ‘crazy’ over the sci­ence, Mer­ck signs up a new part­ner in the hunt for an HIV cure

Less than a year after inking a $100 million licensing deal with German giant Bayer, Dewpoint Therapeutics has scored another big-time contract, this time with Merck. And this collaboration came together in a particularly unusual fashion.

Merck and Dewpoint have agreed on a partnership that will provide the pharma giant with access to the Boston-based biotech’s biomolecular condensate technology in order to develop treatments, and potentially a cure, for the HIV virus. Dewpoint, in turn, will receive up to $305 million in upfront and milestone payments as well as royalties for any approved product.