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Bay­er inks up with “small” In­di­an biotech for new ap­proach at an old tar­get

Curadev, the self-admittedly “small” Indian biotech, has racked up another big-name partnership.

Bayer has promised up to €250 million ($267 million) in biobucks for access to Curadev’s STING platform, the same one that Takeda jumped in on last May. The deal gives Bayer rights to treatments for a series of lung, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. Takeda had licensed the lead molecule from that platform, an antibody drug conjugate for immuno-oncology.

Do­ing deals in a time of coro­n­avirus: Biotech CEO Bill Haney says 'y­ou fo­cus on the things that make a dif­fer­ence'

Bill Haney counts his blessings where he finds them these days.

As CEO of two biotechs — Skyhawk and Dragonfly — he’s had a front row seat to watch the “dramatic” impact the pandemic can have on operations. But he’s quick to offer thanks that no one in his two companies — or their families — have yet to be infected.

Yet.

“We know this challenge is coming for people we care about, and we’re concerned about that,” says Haney.

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GSK qui­et­ly re­veals just how much cash they used to buy a chunk of the Bay Area's buzzi­est start­up

As we reported last fall, GlaxoSmithKline R&D chief Hal Barron was gung ho over the prospects of teaming up with Rick Klausner and his startup Lyell Immunopharma. Their alliance was billed as a path to cell therapy 2.0 — including key players in overcoming the limitations to Generation 1. But the pharma giant wasn’t keen to publicly disclose just how much money was going into Lyell.

Until now, when the accountants and lawyers are in charge of public disclosures.

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Harpreet Singh (via Allogeneic Cell Therapies Summit)

TCR play­er Im­mat­ics com­bines with Per­cep­tive’s blank check op­er­a­tor, scoop­ing $252M and gain­ing a list­ing on Nas­daq

Perceptive Advisors’ blank check company has inked a deal — and it’s landing right in the middle of a global pandemic that’s roiling the industry.

Their Arya Sciences venture, which completed an IPO in the fall of 2018, will now combine with TCR player Immatics — a biotech with roots in Germany and Houston. That gives Immatics $148 million sitting in Arya’s coffers plus $104 million in added funding from a group of investors led by Perceptive.

Covid-19 could throw fi­nal hur­dle in­to Ab­b­Vie and Al­ler­gan’s mas­sive merg­er

You can add AbbVie and Allergan’s $63 billion merger to the list of plans potentially disrupted by Covid-19.

The Federal Trade Commission said that it may need to offer extensions on certain cases because coronavirus-related disruptions may make it difficult for companies to make documents and witnesses available, Bloomberg reported.

That could mean a sudden roadblock just before the finish line for the giant drugmakers, who have been slow-walking their way to a merger since they announced one last June. Most recently, in early March, the European Union gave the all-clear and — months after the FTC issued a rare “second request” in their review of the buyout — the two companies said they had agreed to a timeline with the US agency to finish by the first days of the 2nd quarter, i.e. early April or May.

The big C: The deal­mak­ers, dol­lars and dis­eases that have trans­formed the Chi­nese bio­phar­ma mar­ket

For many of China’s biotech pioneers, licensing Western drugs to develop and market specifically for Chinese patients revved up the country’s innovation engine after decades of being relegated to generic and API manufacturing. Even as new startups now pivot to boast about in-house discovery, partnerships with companies outside of China remained in style, culminating in a record number of deals in 2019.

Chris Dokomajilar

At DealForma, Chris Dokomajilar has been tracking the licensing territory as well as where the sellers and buyers are headquartered. Compound that with a breakdown of the top therapeutic areas and technologies of interest — in addition to M&A and venture activity — for Chinese players, and you get a comprehensive picture of the booming deal scene.

For a bird’s eye view, since 2008 we’ve seen:

  • 682 deals with a Chinese company
  • $28.2 billion in total deal value
  • $3.3 billion in upfront cash & equity
  • Plus additional M&A, asset purchases, and investments

Zoom in to the domestic market only, and you get 518 deals for rights solely in China, $19.7 billion in total deal value, and $2.9 billion in upfront cash & equity.

Remember, all figures — and there are plenty here — are based on what companies have disclosed in English sources. There are bound to be more deals not captured here, but this is the radar we’re sticking to. And finally, there’s no telling what kind of impact the current pandemic will play on these trends — but they’ve been building for more than a decade now.

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An­oth­er an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er bites the dust, as Tetraphase is swal­lowed for cheap

Some four years after it reported its first batch of pivotal trial data, Tetraphase finally secured FDA approval for its lead antibiotic, eravacycline, for complicated intra-abdominal infections in 2018. But like many of its peers, merely securing approval was only the first hurdle.

The bigger obstacle was reaping the returns in a “broken” market for antibiotics. On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company said it was being acquired by AcelRx in an all-stock deal valued at a paltry $14.4 million.

John Cox (Credit: Repligen)

Flag­ship merges two star­tups to build a $220M Reper­toire of T cell tech, ther­a­pies

Soon after John Cox took over as CEO at Torque Therapeutics, he reached out to Jose‑Carlos Gutiérrez‑Ramos.

Gutiérrez‑Ramos, who left Synlogic in 2018 to join Flagship Pioneering, was leading a startup in its portfolio named Cogen Immune Medicines. The team there was honing technologies to decipher the immune synapse around T cells — technologies that, Cox figured, could help characterize the T cells and peptides involved in Torque’s cancer therapies.

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Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca (AP Images)

Af­ter a year of big ad­vances, As­traZeneca CEO Pas­cal So­ri­ot takes home a ma­jor-league pay pack­age

By all accounts, 2019 was a great year for AstraZeneca — and it paid off for CEO Pascal Soriot with a big boost in his annual compensation package.

According to the pharma giant’s latest annual report, Soriot bagged a compensation package worth £14.3 million — $18.5 million if you count that in dollars. While his base pay ticked up only slightly, Soriot took home an upsized batch of longterm incentives valued at £10.5 million for 2019 — which compares to total pay valued at £10.4 million in 2017.

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Irv Weissman (Norbert von der Groeben for Stanford)

Stan­ford stem cell pi­o­neer nets $194M from Gilead-Forty Sev­en buy­out

Gilead’s $4.9 billion buyout of Forty Seven, their largest in three years, brought with it a substantial windfall for the biotech’s founder, CEO and earliest investor.

Chief among those winners was Irv Weissman, a well-known stem cell pioneer at Stanford. Weissman and colleague Ravindra Majeti founded the company out of Stanford in 2016, after their early studies showed that some cancer cells use CD47 — healthy cells’ “don’t eat me” signal to the immune system — to evade attack and that you could treat those cancers by blocking the signal.