Cel­gene dou­bles down on Drag­on­fly­'s nat­ur­al killer tech, ex­pand­ing in­to sol­id tu­mors with an in­jec­tion of 'am­pli­fi­ca­tion cap­i­tal'

You can fund a biotech by sell­ing eq­ui­ty or rais­ing non-di­lu­tive cash, but Bill Haney says am­pli­fi­ca­tion cap­i­tal is the best mon­ey out there.

Par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes from the likes of Cel­gene.

The CEO at Drag­on­fly Ther­a­peu­tics tells me this morn­ing that Cel­gene $CELG has agreed to dou­ble down on its ini­tial pre­clin­i­cal, hema­tol­ogy-on­ly ap­proach to treat­ing can­cer, adding a range of 4 new sol­id-tu­mor pro­grams to the menu as the start­up plots a di­rect path to the clin­ic. 

All we learned about the cash de­tails was that Cel­gene had paid Drag­on­fly $33 mil­lion cash up­front to part­ner ini­tial­ly, with $50 mil­lion more for the new up­front.

Their first IND is now be­ing prepped for a de­liv­ery in Q2 of next year.

Tyler Jacks

Aside from the ben­e­fits of a part­ner that brings con­sid­er­able op­er­at­ing cap­i­tal to the ta­ble, says the CEO, “the folks we’ve been work­ing with at Cel­gene have been just spec­tac­u­lar and they’ve taught us a lot.” Rob Her­sh­berg, Cel­gene’s head of BD, gets spe­cial ku­dos for bring­ing the two com­pa­nies to­geth­er on Drag­on­fly’s TriN­KET tech­nol­o­gy plat­form. But the whole team at Cel­gene has been help­ing out.

And that’s what makes this new deal all about am­pli­fi­ca­tion cap­i­tal.

“The up­front is ob­vi­ous­ly con­sid­er­ably larg­er,” Haney tells me, “and the roy­al­ties and mile­stones are al­so larg­er.”  In the pact Cel­gene al­so re­leased them from an ex­clu­siv­i­ty clause on hema­tol­ogy, so they can part­ner on oth­er pro­grams now.

David Raulet

Drag­on­fly is the cre­ation of three key play­ers: Tyler Jacks, an MIT pro­fes­sor, HH­MI in­ves­ti­ga­tor and di­rec­tor of the David H. Koch In­sti­tute for In­te­gra­tive Can­cer Re­search; Haney, an en­tre­pre­neur and film mak­er with close con­tacts to the Cam­bridge/Boston biotech hub, is at the helm; and then there’s Berke­ley’s David Raulet, an ex­pert in NK cells and tu­mor im­munol­o­gy.

Drag­on­fly’s 40-mem­ber team — which is al­so work­ing on a big col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mer­ck — be­lieves they have a bet­ter way to at­tack can­cer by link­ing on­to NK (nat­ur­al killer) cells and drag­ging them to a can­cer cell. That drug de­sign in turn, says Haney, should al­so re­cruit reg­u­lar T cells to mob can­cer cells, am­pli­fy­ing the ef­fect.

And they can do it with­out need­ing to hunt up new in­vestors.

Says Haney: “We haven’t sold eq­ui­ty in 18 months and I don’t see any rea­son to do it for some time to come.”


Im­age: Bill Haney. DRAG­ON­FLY

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Pfiz­er, Mer­ck KGaA ce­ment Baven­cio blad­der can­cer win with OS da­ta — while carv­ing an­oth­er niche in rare can­cer

Pfizer and Merck KGaA have detailed the Phase III data that inspired FDA regulators to designate Bavencio a “breakthrough” for first-line advanced bladder cancer and offered an early glance at how the PD-L1 can help patients with a rare gynecological cancer — carving out niches in the checkpoint space for itself after being shut out of numerous others.

In JAVELIN Bladder 100, Bavencio led to a 31% reduction in risk of death compared to standard care alone. It also extended median survival by more than seven months — a historic feat in this setting, according to investigators at Queen Mary University of London.

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 81,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.