Deals channel feed

James Li, Cheng Liu (JW, Eureka)

Juno/WuX­i's cell ther­a­py ven­ture buys out sol­id tu­mor play­er in Chi­na, gain­ing a dis­cov­ery en­gine and por­tend­ing more M&A to come

If the cell therapy field in the US is just getting started with two commercial CAR-T players, China represents an even bigger untapped market for James Li, the CEO of JW Therapeutics.

“The whole space is wide open,” he said.

His company, a joint venture created by Juno and WuXi AppTec, has been at the heels of its US counterparts. It has a BLA at China’s drug regulators for the lead program targeting CD19, a revised version of Juno’s JCAR017; is developing a BCMA therapy to follow; and more recently got into NK cells. The team, consisting of 200-plus employees, covers everything from process development and manufacturing to regulatory affairs and quality control.

Leo Phar­ma of­floads a pso­ri­a­sis as­set as their Dupix­ent ri­val heads to the FDA

Leo Pharma, a small, century-old Danish drugmaker, has spent the past few years tailing Sanofi on their franchise drug Dupixent, betting that an antibody they licensed from AstraZeneca coupled with a few decades of expertise in dermatology could compete with one of Big Pharma’s biggest drugs. They got a huge boost in that regard in December, with positive Phase III results in atopic dermatitis, and last week, when they announced the FDA had accepted their BLA for the drug.

Scott Clarke, Tizona CEO (Tizona)

Gilead lines up a $1.55B biotech buy­out deal as CEO Dan O’Day in­vests in his lat­est can­cer block­buster dream

The Gilead BD team has teed up another oncology deal for CEO Dan O’Day.

This time the big biotech is rolling out a $300 million cash investment in Tizona Therapeutics in South San Francisco, buying up 49.9% of the company and reserving up to $1.25 billion more to swallow the whole enchilada if the biotech’s ambitious Phase I program for their HLA-G drug TTX-080 pans out as hoped for.

The deal is squarely focused on this one drug, which Tizona CEO Scott Clarke has billed as a bright new hope for treating tumors that escape the current generation of PD-(L)1 drugs in or near the market. And it’s not their lead.

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Joanne Kotz (Jnana)

Roche part­ners on a slate of Jnana's im­munol­o­gy, neu­rol­o­gy tar­gets, re­ward­ing its faith in the SLC trans­porter class

When Jnana Therapeutics launched in late 2017 with $50 million in the bank, the biotech billed itself as the first to focus solely and systematically on the solute carrier, or SLC transporter, family — a class of membrane proteins that transport metabolites in and out of cells.

To this day, it’s still the only game in town. But Roche is now jumping on board as a partner to explore some of these targets, with an eye to immune-mediated and neurological diseases. The collaboration starts small at $40 million, but can add up to $1 billion if and as the pharma partner commits to develop the programs.

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John Oyler, BeiGene CEO (Endpoints News, PharmCube)

BeiGene ex­pands pipeline and hops on board a quest to cure hep B, ink­ing a $540M deal with a fel­low up­start biotech

China biotech BeiGene $BGNE is stepping up with $40 million in cash and $500 million for a smorgasbord of milestones to partner with upstart Assembly Biosciences on its pipeline of hepatitis B drugs.

BeiGene gains rights to develop and market 3 of Assembly’s drugs — ABI-H0731, ABI-H2158 and ABI-H3733, aimed at attacking hep B at multiple stages of development — for the greater China market. The lead drug is in Phase II, with patients transferring off therapy while researchers gauge their virological response to therapy. ABI-H2158 is also in Phase II, with H3733 in a Phase I.

Hal Barron at Endpoints News' UKBIO 2019

GSK in­jects $293M cash in­to Cure­Vac, forg­ing a deal to de­vel­op new mR­NA vac­cines and an­ti­bod­ies

GlaxoSmithKline may be playing a supportive role in developing vaccines and treatments for the current pandemic, but it’s angling to take center stage in the next ones.

Messenger RNA is the name of the game, and the pharma giant is throwing its weight behind German biotech player CureVac. A £130m ($163 million) investment buys GSK a roughly 10% stake, while laying down £104m ($130 million) in cash to get an R&D collaboration going. It’s also forking over £26 million ($$32 million) to reserve manufacturing capacity currently under construction.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Sipa via AP Images)

Sug­gest­ed by Bloomberg, blessed by an­a­lysts, could an M&A match with a cer­tain MS play­er be far off for block­buster-hun­gry Sanofi?

All the signs are right.

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson has an M&A war chest set aside from the sale of their Regeneron stock. A few more strategic deals would add considerable excitement to the late-stage pipeline — Job 1 at a pharma giant that long ago drifted to the unimpressive side of Big Pharma and desperately wants out. Bloomberg reports that MS and immune disorders are in the crosshairs at the Paris-based multinational.

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Norbert Bischofberger, Kronos CEO

Gilead­'s ex-R&D chief Bischof­berg­er heads back to the biotech gi­ant to pick up a pair of late-stage drugs that had been put aside

Norbert Bischofberger knows entospletinib well.

Back during his long, blockbuster run as head of R&D at Gilead, researchers had once held some high hopes for this drug. But to make it work, he and the team felt it would need a new companion diagnostic to identify patients. There was talk of a combo approach to give it more punch. But the market was small, making them wonder if it would be worth going through a lengthy development cycle to get it through a pivotal.

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Sanofi keeps foot on the gas, agree­ing to five-year col­lab­o­ra­tion with MD An­der­son

Just four months after scoring its first cancer drug approval in a decade, Sanofi is staying on the oncology offensive.

The French pharma is planning to accelerate the development of potential treatments, partnering with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in a five-year collaboration. By combining Sanofi’s pipeline with MD Anderson’s top-notch clinical trial program in oncology, the pair will launch biomarker-driven clinical studies to better understand which drug cocktails can effectively curb cancer progression.

Jeff Albers, Blueprint CEO

Di­ag­nos­tic champ Roche buys its way in­to the RET ti­tle fight with Eli Lil­ly, pay­ing $775M in cash to Blue­print

When Roche spelled out its original $1 billion deal — $45 million of that upfront — with Blueprint to discover targeted therapies against immunokinases, the biotech partner’s RET program was still preclinical. Four years later, pralsetinib is on the cusp of potential approval and the Swiss pharma giant is putting in much more to get in on the commercial game.

Roche gains rights to co-develop and co-commercialize the drug, with sole marketing responsibility for places outside the US and China (where CStone has staked its claim).

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