Charles Riv­er se­cures $50M ac­qui­si­tion of drug dis­cov­ery tech com­pa­ny

Over the past sev­er­al years, Mass­a­chu­setts-based con­trac­tor Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries has been busy on the M&A front, with the lat­est, $50 mil­lion buy­out com­ing Mon­day for a provider of high-through­put screen­ing so­lu­tions for dis­cov­ery re­search.

Chica­go-based SAM­DI Tech will now be fold­ed in­to Charles Riv­er’s dis­cov­ery and safe­ty as­sess­ment di­vi­sion, Charles Riv­er an­nounced.

The $50 mil­lion in cash is for the 80% of SAM­DI that Charles Riv­er didn’t pre­vi­ous­ly own. Oth­er fi­nan­cial de­tails on the deal were not dis­closed.

Jack­ie Macritchie, VP and re­gion­al gen­er­al man­ag­er for dis­cov­ery at Charles Riv­er, told End­points News in an email that it’s in the process of in­te­grat­ing SAM­DI Tech and its 10 em­ploy­ees in­to the com­pa­ny.

Ac­cord­ing to Macritchie, Charles Riv­er and SAM­DI Tech orig­i­nal­ly part­nered with each oth­er in 2018, with that re­la­tion­ship strength­ened last year. The deal will ap­ply to aug­ment­ing dis­cov­ery ef­forts for clients, Macritchie added.

“SAM­DI Tech is a spe­cial­ized tech­nol­o­gy provider, whose unique of­fer­ing en­ables us to pro­vide la­bel-free screen­ing in a high through­put set­ting as part of the ear­ly dis­cov­ery process. SAM­DI (Self-As­sem­bled Mono­lay­er Des­orp­tion Ion­iza­tion) tech­nol­o­gy acts as a so­lu­tion to the chal­lenges and pit­falls of la­bel-de­pen­dent bio­chem­i­cal as­says and im­proves qual­i­ty, speed and en­hances val­ue for clients through bring­ing bet­ter treat­ments faster,” Macritchie said in an email to End­points.

Charles Riv­er has been on an ac­qui­si­tion spree over the past few years, with pur­chas­es in 2019 in­clud­ing the $380 mil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of HemaCare, a provider of ma­te­ri­als and ser­vices for com­pa­nies de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­pies.

In 2021, it al­so put down $292.5 mil­lion for the CD­MO Vi­gene Bio­sciences, snap­ping up man­u­fac­tur­ing space in Mary­land.

Charles Riv­er cut the rib­bon on man­u­fac­tur­ing space across the At­lantic last year, pri­mar­i­ly at a 16,000-square-foot for­mer As­traZeneca lo­ca­tion in Cheshire, UK, as a re­sult of ac­quir­ing Cog­nate BioSer­vices and Co­bra Bi­o­log­ics in 2021 for $875 mil­lion.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Cedric Ververken, Confo Therapeutics CEO

Dai­ichi Sankyo inks $183M dis­cov­ery deal with GPCR biotech for CNS tar­get

Belgian biotech Confo Therapeutics has landed $183 million, plus potential royalties, in a drug-discovery deal with Daiichi Sankyo.

Early Thursday, Confo Therapeutics put out word of the deal that will be focused on small molecule antagonists to go after an undisclosed target that the company says is associated with CNS diseases.

Confo CEO Cedric Ververken told Endpoints News that Daiichi originally reached out to learn about the biotech’s technology. He added that Confo, founded in 2015, will use its platform to drug a GPCR target that Daiichi has struggled with internally.

Dif­fu­sion to hand Nas­daq spot to EIP Phar­ma for PhI­Ib de­men­tia study of ex-Ver­tex drug

One of the more than a dozen bidders for Diffusion Pharmaceuticals’ spot on Nasdaq has prevailed.

Boston biotech EIP Pharma will merge with Diffusion in an all-stock deal, with plans to start a Phase IIb clinical trial in the coming months in a common form of dementia with no approved treatments. The combined company will be renamed CervoMed.

The nine-year-old privately-held EIP is working on a former Vertex drug that it will test in a 160-person Phase IIb in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies, or DLB. The National Institute on Aging is expected to fund that trial with a $21 million grant. With the reverse merger, slated for closing in the middle of this year, EIP will be funded through that readout in the second half of 2024. EIP’s equity and debt holders will own about 77.25% of the combined company.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

In search of new way to de­liv­er gene ed­i­tors, CRISPR pi­o­neer turns to mol­e­c­u­lar sy­ringes

Bug bacteria are ruthless.

Some soil bacteria have evolved tiny, but deadly injection systems that attach to insect cells, perforate them and release toxins inside — killing a bug in just a few days’ time. Scientists, on the other hand, want to leverage that system to deliver medicines.

In a paper published Wednesday in Nature, MIT CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang and his lab describe how they engineered these syringes made by bacteria to deliver potential therapies like toxins that kill cancer cells and gene editors. With the help of an AI program, they developed syringes that can load proteins of their choice and selectively target human cells.

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Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Hugo Peris, Spiral Therapeutics CEO

Hear­ing-fo­cused biotech grabs trio of pro­grams from Oton­o­my's fire sale

Otonomy may be shutting down, but the lessons learned there will live on at another biotech working on new treatments for hearing loss.

San Francisco-based Spiral Therapeutics has bought certain assets related to three of Otonomy’s programs, ranging from data, patent rights, and know-how to inventory. That includes data around Otonomy’s twice-failed lead program, OTO-104 (Otividex), a sustained-exposure formulation of dexamethasone.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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CSL CEO Paul McKenzie (L) and CMO Bill Mezzanotte

Q&A: New­ly-mint­ed CSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul McKen­zie and chief med­ical of­fi­cer Bill Mez­zan­otte

Paul McKenzie took over as CEO of Australian pharma giant CSL this month, following in the footsteps of long-time CSL vet Paul Perreault.

With an eye on mRNA, and quickly commercializing its new, $3.5 million-per-shot gene therapy for hemophilia B, McKenzie and chief medical officer Bill Mezzanotte answered some questions from Endpoints News this afternoon about where McKenzie is going to take the company and what advances may be coming to market from CSL’s pipeline. Below is a lightly edited transcript.

UK gov­ern­ment, pri­vate in­vestors dole out $340M+ to drug, di­ag­nos­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers

The government of the United Kingdom is giving out grants to several manufacturers that have a presence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government announced that four companies, including Ipsen, contract manufacturer Pharmaron, DNA manufacturer Touchlight and diagnostic test producer Randox, will receive a total of £277 million ($341.1 million). According to a release from the UK government, this represents the first portion of grants from the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund.