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An­gling Pfiz­er, As­traZeneca jumps in­to com­mer­cial PD-(L)1 fight in Chi­na

Is a Big Pharma commercial showdown brewing in China’s PD-(L)1 market?

Months after Pfizer outlined a sprawling $200 million pact with CStone partly to market its experimental PD-L1 in China, AstraZeneca is wading into the same waters by lassoing certain commercial rights to toripalimab from Junshi Biosciences.

Notably, both have their own checkpoint drugs. But unlike Pfizer’s Bavencio, AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi is actually approved in China for unresectable non-small cell lung cancer. And in toripalimab, the British drugmaker is scoring a more mature drug that earned China’s first-ever approval for a homegrown PD-1 back in 2018.

Stefan Oschmann, Merck KGaA CEO (Sipa USA via AP Images)

Mer­ck KGaA ear­marks $855M for De­bio­phar­m's pro­grammed cell death pro­mot­ing drug in glob­al li­cens­ing deal

Merck KGaA, primarily known for its CDMO work, is playing with giants in oncology and looking at novel mechanisms of action to compete. Now, the German player is placing a big down payment on a late-stage candidate looking to stop tumor cells’ ability to stave off programmed death.

Merck KGaA will dole out $226 million upfront and up to $855 million in future milestones and royalty payments for exclusive rights to Debiopharm’s IAP candidate xevinapant, which recently emerged from Phase II in first-line, non-metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, the German firm said Monday.

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Roche and Genen­tech re­searchers plot $53M dis­cov­ery quest aimed at spark­ing a 'Holy moly' piv­ot in neu­ro R&D

Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.

Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Biotech up­start adds a failed Mer­ck KGaA drug to the pipeline, map­ping new com­bo ap­proach to MAPK path­way

Can a biotech startup succeed where a big pharma player failed? Day One plans to find out after in-licensing a pair of discards from Merck KGaA.

The biotech has struck a deal — without disclosing any terms — for two MEK 1/2 inhibitors, pimasertib and MSC2015103B from the German company.

Pimasertib was shelved by Merck KGaA after producing mixed results through a big campaign involving 10 Phase I/II studies. One of those involved a combination approach with gemcitabine that flopped in pancreatic cancer.

Beam turns its soar­ing val­u­a­tion in­to new as­sets, buy­ing out an un­der-the-radar spin­out and their gene de­liv­ery tech

Base editing has attracted major attention since David Liu first managed to swap one DNA letter for another in cell lines five years ago. Actually pulling that off in large animals or humans, though, has always faced several major hurdles, including: How do you actually get it to the right tissue? What delivery vehicle is both big enough to carry all that clunky protein machinery and targeted enough to guide it to the right place?

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Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries snaps up Cog­nate for a cool $875M, looks to ex­pand cell and gene ther­a­py CD­MO foothold

With the cell and gene therapy space as hot as ever, big-name CDMO Charles River Laboratories is looking to carve out a big piece of the pie. To get there, it’s snapping up a Memphis-based specialist in the space.

Charles River Laboratories announced Wednesday that it acquired Cognate BioServices, a cell and gene therapy specialist with operations in the US and EU.

The move will build Charles River’s foothold in the cell and gene industry as it absorbs Cognate’s tech, which is also used in cellular immunotherapy and immuno-oncology, regenerative medicine, and advanced cell therapy therapeutics. Not to mention the company’s 500+ employees, which will join some 17,000+ Charles River workers.

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A month af­ter mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar No­var­tis deal, BeiGene fol­lows up with 're­verse' deal

Just over a month after striking a deal with Novartis to bring its PD-1 antibody tislelizumab stateside, China-based BeiGene is making a similar play in reverse.

On Wednesday evening, BeiGene took the wraps off a $120 million-plus deal with Boston Immune Technologies and Therapeutics to develop and commercialize their tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2) antagonist antibodies in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia and New Zealand.