Bioregnum channel feed

New Chroma Medicine board member Jeff Marrazzo

Jeff Mar­raz­zo has found a buzzy new biotech cause to cham­pi­on. And once again, he's all in

Jeff Marrazzo is one of those biotech execs who has always been focused on the next big goal. He has a track record for meeting objectives, relentlessly staying on message, and breaking new ground.

The fact that he stayed around for a couple of years after Roche’s $4.3 billion Spark buyout, making sure the organization he founded weathered Covid-19, is one example. And that came after he carefully guided the company to the first-ever US approval of a gene therapy — no easy task.

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Join me in Boston to­day to meet biotech's top star­tups

We’re putting the finishing touches to this year’s Endpoints 11, our annual special report looking at some of the top up-and-coming private biotechs in the industry. And we’ll be rolling the report out on Thursday morning at 7 am.

That evening, in Boston’s Seaport enclave, we’ll be celebrating the companies and the executives who founded them in a special event at The 105, in the lobby of CRISPR Therapeutics’ new headquarters building. This will start with some one-on-one networking at 6 pm and will follow up at 7 pm with a fireside chat with MIT’s Phil Sharp, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who co-founded Alnylam and Biogen.

James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

ICY­MI: James Sabry just signed off on a land­mark first for Roche's deal­mak­ing crew

James Sabry’s BD team at Roche has a long track record in hunting the globe for new biotech deals. But they’ve never journeyed into China before to ink a worldwide development and commercialization pact with a China-based biotech on an experimental med.

Until this week.

As Max Gelman reported yesterday, Roche fronted a new alliance with China’s Jemincare with $60 million in cash and $590 million in milestones for worldwide commercial rights to an oral androgen receptor degrader. The deal itself is fairly typical of an early-stage alliance around a promising treatment. The Shanghai-based biotech is largely unknown outside China, but this is a classic high-risk, modest upfront pact that Roche routinely inks.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Some­times you win. Some­times you lose. And some­times it's just an­oth­er PhI­II canakinum­ab fail

At this stage of the game, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan may be wishing he’d never even heard of canakinumab.

After steering the drug straight to an FDA rejection as a heart drug, no cheap shot after testing it in 10,000 patients, the Novartis team picked up on an unusual cancer signal — and has now followed it over their third successive cliff to a decisive Phase III flop.

It’s safe to say the game was already all over except for the readout.

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Tony Coles, Cerevel CEO

Cerev­el's Tony Coles is still count­ing his mon­ey as a ri­val's boost helps fu­el a po­ten­tial $609M wind­fall

These days in biotech, you never want to miss a chance to raise money for public companies. As much money as possible.

That survival strategy was in full view over the last 24 hours as Cerevel $CERE announced a major stock/debt raise, then upped the ante with a bigger debt load than initially planned.

The tally: $238 million – net — with a shot at boosting that to $274 million from the stock sale, provided the underwriters come back for more. And there’s $335 million from the debt, provided their first round buyers come back for an added bite. Rounding up, that’s $609 million with the add-on. Even without the add-ons, though, it’s still $530 million in the bank.

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George Yancopoulos, Regeneron president and CSO (Brendan McDermid/Reuters/Alamy)

George Yan­copou­los says he's on the trail of the holy grail: ‘This could rep­re­sent the next break­through for im­munother­a­py’

Two of the most outspoken — and successful — drug developers in biotech say they’ve collected early-stage clinical data that are pointing them down the trail to the holy grail in cancer immunotherapy R&D.

While analysts largely busied themselves today with chronicling the ongoing success of Regeneron’s two big cash cows — Dupixent and Eylea — chief scientist George Yancopoulos and CEO Len Schleifer used the Q2 call to spotlight their early success with a combination of the “homegrown” PSMAxCD28 costimulatory bispecific antibody REGN5678 in combination with their PD-1 checkpoint Libtayo. The presentation comes just weeks after Regeneron completed a deal to gather all rights to the PD-1 that had been in Sanofi’s hands. And the two top execs are unstinting in their praise of the potential of a whole set of costimulatory pipeline projects which they say may finally deliver the long-awaited next-level approach to broadening the immunotherapy field of drugs.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO

How do you put a pos­i­tive spin on ug­ly da­ta? AC Im­mune gives it a shot in the wake of the lat­est crenezum­ab flop

Researchers spent close to a decade looking for signs that the failed Alzheimer’s drug crenezumab might work in a study that restricted itself to a group of families with a rare genetic mutation that left them susceptible to early-onset disease.

It failed. And today we’re getting a better look at just how bad the data are — and a biotech’s willingness to tout it anyway as AC Immune takes its turn at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

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Robert Davis, Merck CEO

What can Mer­ck af­ford to buy now? ‘ANY­THING’ it wants

With Keytruda bulling its way past the $5 billion mark for Q2 sales, you could say that the top execs at Merck can be believed when they say how keenly interested they are in using its cash reserves for new M&A and licensing deals. Just don’t ask what they’re negotiating to buy right now.

The analysts largely tiptoed around the biggest buzz about Merck today: that it’s engaged in discussions to buy Seagen for $40 billion-plus. They’re a polite bunch that needs to be on a first-name basis with CEO Rob Davis. But Davis was willing to emphasize that the pharma giant has the means and the intent to do more deals.

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Thomas Schinecker, future Roche CEO

The new CEO at Roche has fol­lowed a fa­mil­iar path in­to the C-suite. But it's his next steps that are cru­cial to his suc­cess

After Severin Schwan got the nod as the new CEO of Roche, it escaped no one’s attention that he had been steeped in Basel corporate culture since his professional career began as a trainee in corporate finance.

His successor — Thomas Schinecker — has been cut out of the exact same bolt of cloth.

No sooner had the Austrian completed his doctorate in molecular biology at NYU than he jumped into the management development program at Roche. And he’s had 19 years of steady advancement, leading to his current gig as head of the fast-growing diagnostics division, which anyone at Roche could tell you lies at the heart of its R&D strategy for advancing personalized meds to a first or best-in-class status.

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Mark Pruzanski, Versanis Bio CEO

Ex­clu­sive: Mark Pruzan­s­ki is once again reach­ing for the brass ring in biotech

Mark Pruzanski spent more than 18 years growing Intercept from a startup to a commercial player looking for a landmark approval treating NASH. But 19 months after he stepped aside from his wounded biotech — after a CRL crushed its initial game plan for NASH — the longtime vet is getting up off the biotech board bench and getting back in the game, once again quarterbacking a startup that has some very familiar grand ambitions.

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