Deals channel feed

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck­'s pause on an HIV pro­gram snow­balls as a Gilead-part­nered tri­al is shoved in­to lim­bo

Merck’s announcement last week that an experimental HIV combo therapy resulted in a drop in immune cell counts, and its subsequent decision to halt a Phase II study, is starting to see a snowball effect.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the pharma giant and partner Gilead said they are pausing enrollment of a separate study using one of the investigational compounds from Merck’s solo trial. The move was made “out of an abundance of caution” after Merck stopped the other study, the companies said, allowing investigators to consider potential modifications.

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Michael Engsig, Nykode CEO

Vac­ci­body gets a new name and loads up with near­ly $1B in biobucks for new vac­cine pact with Re­gen­eron

Vaccibody who? A little over a year after securing a $700 million-plus deal with Roche for its neoantigen cancer vaccine, the Norwegian biotech has attracted yet another Big Pharma partner with deep pockets — and with it, a new name and facelift.

Regeneron is betting nearly $1 billion on five new vaccine programs from Vaccibody, now called Nykode Therapeutics. The deal will double Nykode’s current pipeline, adding three programs in cancer and two in infectious disease.

Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Glax­o­SmithK­line places a risky bet on Ar­row­head­'s RNA drug in the fail­ure-strewn NASH field

As activist investors champ at the bit for change at drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, the pharma giant has turned over many rocks to find an R&D success to present to its detractors. In NASH, a field strewn with failures, GSK hopes a new license deal can churn out a much-needed winner.

GSK will pay $120 million in upfront cash and $910 million in downstream milestones to develop and sell ARO-HSD, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals’ RNA interference drug targeting fatty liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the companies said Monday.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Sanofi con­tin­ues mR­NA push in wake of Covid vac­cine set­back, part­ner­ing with Chi­na tech gi­ant Baidu

Back in June, Sanofi unveiled a big project to reshape its R&D around the future of mRNA, and followed that up Monday by taking a step toward achieving that goal.

The French drugmaker signed a deal with Chinese tech giant Baidu to access its AI algorithm for mRNA-based therapeutics, Baidu said Monday morning. It’s for an undisclosed sum, but Baidu noted its platforms will be used to “contribute to the optimization of mRNA sequences” in Sanofi’s drug development processes.

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Kevin Gorman, Neurocrine CEO

Bounc­ing back from a PhII flop in schiz­o­phre­nia, Neu­ro­crine steers in­to the busy M4/M1 path­way with a $100M cash deal

Eight months after Neurocrine $NBIX chronicled a flop for a mid-stage schizophrenia drug, the biotech is headed right back into Phase II armed with a new drug candidate from Sosei Heptares.

Neurocrine outlined a deal that provides Sosei Heptares $100 million upfront, R&D expenses and a motherlode of milestones worth up to $2.6 billion if successful. That starting figure closely resembles what the biotech paid Takeda to land 3 programs, including the schizophrenia drug TAK-831, which failed to measure up in the clinic.

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Emily Leproust, Twist CEO

The an­ti­body dis­cov­ery team at Twist bets on mouse mod­el play­er in a boost to its port­fo­lio

Twist Bioscience has come a long way since dipping its toes into the antibody discovery space a couple years ago, spinning out its first company just last week to take a Covid-19 antibody into the clinic. There’s plenty more where that came from, CEO Emily Leproust says — and she thinks a small biotech’s mice are the key to getting there.

Leproust is putting down up to $10 million in cash and another $140 million in stock to buy out Massachusetts-based Abveris (formally known as AbX Biologics) and its family of hyperimmune mouse models, she announced on Monday morning. If Abveris hits an internal revenue target next year, it’s eligible for up to another $40 million in Twist shares.

Lonnie Moulder (L) and Hua Mu

UP­DAT­ED: Xen­cor says good­bye to its for­mer lead drug, sell­ing all rights to Lon­nie Moul­der's new start­up

More than three years after its lead program failed a Phase II study, Xencor is passing off the drug to an up-and-coming Hong Kong biotech.

Xencor sold exclusive worldwide rights for obexelimab, a bispecific targeting FcγRIIb and CD19 to treat autoimmune diseases, to Lonnie Moulder’s Zenas BioPharma, the companies announced Sunday evening. In exchange, Xencor gets a slice of equity equaling 15% of Zenas’ shares following its next financing round, up to $480 million in milestones and royalties.

Two of Chi­na's top PD-(L)1 play­ers team up on CT­LA-4 in $200M deal

Now that the PD-(L)1 craze has (largely) swept through China, resulting in the approval of more than a dozen drugs with more to come, two of the top domestic oncology players are teaming up to go after the other checkpoint target.

Hengrui is licensing exclusive China rights to CStone’s CTLA-4 inhibitor, CS1002, in a deal worth up to $200 million, which covers research, development, registration, manufacturing and commercialization.

Joan Perelló, Sanifit CEO

Joan Perel­ló set out 17 years ago to de­vel­op a drug. And to­day he's be­ing re­ward­ed with a $424M biotech buy­out

Joan Perelló beat all the odds with his little Spanish biotech startup Sanifit.

Working on the far perimeter of the big US/European drug development scene, he took a drug born out of his PhD work and got enough seed cash to get started. That’s one near miracle. In the second near miracle he gathered a previously unheard of venture raise in Spain — helping build an industry ecosystem from scratch — to pursue a successful search for solid human data for his drug, SNF472. And while gathering a virtual team of developers from Europe and the US, the CEO/co-founder steered it into the late-stage arena.

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Douglas Fambrough, Dicerna CEO (Dicerna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: No­vo Nordisk swal­lows Dicer­na and its RNAi pipeline in $3.3B buy­out

Early this year researchers at Novo Nordisk were beaming as they announced the first drug identified in their RNAi alliance with Dicerna was headed into the clinic. And now they’re coming back for the whole thing.

This morning the Copenhagen-based pharma giant put out word that it is buying Dicerna $DRNA — an RNAi pioneer that has had its up and downs over the years — for $3.3 billion. Novo is paying $38.25 a share — an 80% premium.

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