Cam­bridge star Ma­gen­ta teams up with Hei­del­berg on bone mar­row R&D pact that in­cludes $334M in po­ten­tial mile­stones

High-fly­ing Cam­bridge up­start Ma­gen­ta Ther­a­peu­tic has inked an ex­clu­sive deal with a Ger­man biotech to work on drugs that might im­prove bone mar­row trans­plants for pa­tients.

Ma­gen­ta is team­ing up with Hei­del­berg Phar­ma, com­bin­ing its stem cell plat­form with Hei­del­berg’s pro­pri­etary AT­AC (An­ti­body Tar­get­ed Aman­itin Con­ju­gates) plat­form. The duo will ap­ply their tech across up to four tar­gets, with the hope of de­vel­op­ing an­ti­body drug con­ju­gates.

Hei­del­berg is get­ting up­front tech ac­cess and ex­clu­siv­i­ty fees and pay­ments for re­search sup­port, al­though the de­tails weren’t dis­closed. We do know that Ma­gen­ta could pay up to $334 mil­lion in mile­stone pay­ments, should the com­pa­ny ex­er­cise all its tar­get op­tions and if all mile­stones are met.

The goal of the part­ner­ship is to find an­ti­bod­ies that would bet­ter pre­pare pa­tients for bone mar­row trans­plants. As it stands now, pa­tients must be “con­di­tioned” be­fore re­ceiv­ing trans­plants to pre­vent re­jec­tion of the in­com­ing stem cells. Con­di­tion­ing in­volves re­mov­ing all ex­ist­ing stem cells in the bone bar­row and dis­eased cells us­ing what Ma­gen­ta calls high­ly tox­ic agents and pro­ce­dures like ra­di­a­tion that kill cells in a non-spe­cif­ic way.

Ma­gen­ta sci­en­tists have shown that an­ti­bod­ies which rec­og­nize stem cells linked to drugs can be used to se­lec­tive­ly re­move stem cells and dis­eased cells.

Michael Cooke

“There is a sig­nif­i­cant need for tar­get­ed con­di­tion­ing reg­i­mens for bone mar­row trans­plant, and this is a key area of fo­cus for Ma­gen­ta,” said Ma­gen­ta’s CSO Michael Cooke in a state­ment. “Aman­itin is one of the promis­ing tox­ins we are ex­plor­ing in our tar­get­ed con­di­tion­ing pro­grams, and our part­ner­ship with Hei­del­berg Phar­ma will al­low us to ful­ly eval­u­ate the po­ten­tial of this pay­load.”

Ma­gen­ta, with its lofty goals of im­prov­ing stem cell trans­plan­ta­tion, has been mak­ing a splash in the big Cam­bridge/Boston hub, gath­er­ing $98.5 mil­lion in ven­ture cash from some mar­quee in­vestors that in­clude GV — the ven­ture group for­mer­ly known as Google Ven­tures — and in-li­cens­ing a mid-stage drug that No­var­tis thinks high­ly of for en­hanc­ing cord blood stem cells as a treat­ment. Just last month, the com­pa­ny re­cruit­ed Big Phar­ma R&D ex­ec John Davis, for­mer­ly of Pfiz­er, to serve as Ma­gen­ta’s new chief med­ical of­fi­cer.

The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

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With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Ma­gen­ta halts stem cell work and may sell it­self fol­low­ing pa­tient death, clin­i­cal hold

Magenta Therapeutics said it is halting work on its stem cell transplant drug pipeline and may sell itself, a week after the company reported the death of a patient in an early stage trial of its antibody-drug conjugate.

The Cambridge, MA-based company said it will conduct a “review of strategic alternatives,” and that could include an “acquisition, merger, business combination, or other transaction.”

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Sanofi scraps PhI­II tri­al for Prin­cip­ia drug af­ter re­view­ing com­pe­ti­tion

Months after the FDA placed Phase III trials of Sanofi’s BTK inhibitor on hold, the company is winding down one of the studies.

Sanofi reported in its Q4 earnings that the URSA study “was discontinued after careful evaluation of the emerging competitive treatment landscape in” myasthenia gravis, a rare disease that causes muscle weakness.

The Phase III, placebo-controlled trial was testing tolebrutinib in patients with the moderate-to-severe form of the disease. It started in late 2021, according to records on clinicaltrials.gov, and was originally designed to recruit 154 participants who were receiving the standard of care.

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Te­va drops out of in­dus­try trade group PhRMA

Following in AbbVie’s footsteps, Teva confirmed on Friday that it’s dropping out of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Teva didn’t give a reason for its decision to leave, saying only in a statement to Endpoints News that it annually reviews “effectiveness and value of engagements, consultants and memberships to ensure our investments are properly seated.”

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Sanofi CFO Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon (L) and CEO Paul Hudson (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi sees downtick in flu sales as it preps for launch of RSV an­ti­body

Sanofi expects its RSV antibody jointly developed with AstraZeneca will be available next season, executive VP of vaccines Thomas Triomphe announced on the company’s quarterly call.

Beyfortus, also known as nirsevimab, was approved in the EU back in November and is currently under FDA review with an expected decision coming in the third quarter of this year. The news comes as the FDA plans to hold advisory committee meetings over the next couple months to review RSV vaccines from Pfizer and GSK.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Photographer: Shoko Takayasu/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Take­da fo­cus­es on ‘di­verse’ pipeline prospects on heels of two ac­qui­si­tions

After a whopping $4 billion asset buy from Nimbus Therapeutics, along with a $400 million deal with Hutchmed for a colorectal cancer drug, Takeda executives touted pipeline optimism on its latest earnings call this week.

That’s because the TYK2 inhibitor for psoriasis Takeda is getting from Nimbus, along with the Hutchmed fruquintinib commercialization outside of China, are just two of what it reports are 10 late-stage development programs of promising candidates.

Regeneron CSO George Yancopoulos (L) and CEO Len Schleifer at a groundbreaking for its new Tarrytown, NY facility, June 2022 (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In show­down with Roche, Re­gen­eron gears up for po­ten­tial Eylea ex­pan­sion amid Covid de­cline

Regeneron faced a substantial slump in overall revenue last year, but the focus still remains on some of its biggest blockbusters.

The pharma with several high-profile partnerships — Sanofi and Bayer among them — said Friday that Q4 revenue was down 31% for the quarter, and down 24% for the entire year. However, that won’t stop blockbuster expansion plans.

One of those is Eylea, the Bayer-partnered eye disease drug that has been in major competition with Roche’s Vabysmo. While Eylea is currently only approved in a 2 mg dose, the company recently filed for approval to give a 8 mg dose, in hopes of making a longer-lasting treatment.