Cor­bus brags about an­oth­er PhII suc­cess for its lead drug, but shares slide ear­ly

Yu­val Co­hen, Cor­bus CEO

Cor­bus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has plucked out some pos­i­tive da­ta from its mid-stage cys­tic fi­bro­sis study. But it didn’t help its stock price this morn­ing.

While the Phase II goal for its add-on drug an­aba­sum (JBT-101 or Re­sunab) was safe­ty and tol­er­a­bil­i­ty — which the biotech says they hit — it was an ef­fi­ca­cy sig­nal they picked up in a high-dose group that drew most of the at­ten­tion. There, the com­pa­ny says, a twice dai­ly 20 mg dose of the drug trig­gered a 75% re­duc­tion in the an­nu­al­ized rate of pul­monary ex­ac­er­ba­tions re­quir­ing IV an­tibi­otics com­pared to place­bo co­hort.

While Cor­bus tout­ed the da­ta as an­oth­er sign of clin­i­cal progress, there was con­sid­er­able chat­ter on Twit­ter at­tack­ing the re­sults, which ex­plains why shares are down 13% in pre-mar­ket trad­ing.

TheStreet’s Adam Feuer­stein, a fre­quent crit­ic of Cor­bus, launched a full scale as­sault on the com­pa­ny, say­ing the da­ta shows no signs of a clin­i­cal ben­e­fit and that re­searchers just got lucky on pul­monary ex­ac­er­ba­tions with a hand­ful of cas­es to com­pare.

In this four-month study of cys­tic fi­bro­sis pa­tients, the Cor­bus drug failed to im­prove lung func­tion com­pared to a place­bo. Over­all res­pi­ra­to­ry symp­toms, mea­sured by a cys­tic fi­bro­sis pa­tient ques­tion­naire, al­so showed no dif­fer­ence be­tween an­aba­sum and place­bo.

Cor­bus CEO Yu­val Co­hen re­spond­ed:

We don’t com­ment on stock move­ments but it is note­wor­thy that there is a siz­able short po­si­tion in our stock that is prob­a­bly hav­ing a bad hair day this morn­ing…

There were a to­tal of 85 pa­tients re­cruit­ed for this study, and the high dose was test­ed in the sec­ond part of the Phase II, weeks 5 through 12, with 30 pa­tients get­ting a 20 mg sin­gle dose per day and 31 get­ting the twice dai­ly dose. Eleven pa­tients in the place­bo arm were as­signed to the drug groups and 24 pa­tients con­tin­ued on place­bo.

Five pa­tients with­drew due to ad­verse events — five on place­bo, three on an­aba­sum. And the re­searchers al­so high­light­ed some pos­i­tive bio­mark­er re­sults as well.

The lat­est batch of mid-stage da­ta fol­lows an­oth­er small Phase II for sys­temic scle­ro­sis, an au­toim­mune dis­ease of con­nec­tive tis­sue, that helped add some pos­i­tive at­ten­tion for the com­pa­ny, which has been un­der an in­tense short at­tack. Us­ing a com­pos­ite score to gauge a re­sponse on a slate of key mea­sures like lung func­tion, the com­bined drug arm in­clud­ing pa­tients on a range of dos­es of re­sunab (JBT-101) post­ed a me­di­an 33% CRISS score af­ter 16 weeks of ther­a­py, com­pared to 0% in the place­bo group. And that marks a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit for pa­tients, says the biotech, with a p-val­ue of 0.044 — not a great num­ber, but with­in the mar­gin need­ed to de­clare a win.

These small stud­ies and sub­group analy­ses leave a lot to be de­sired, but Cor­bus CEO Co­hen — nev­er re­luc­tant to boast about suc­cess­es — be­lieve it helps show that the com­pa­ny is on track to de­liv­er in piv­otal stud­ies.

“The re­duc­tion in acute pul­monary ex­ac­er­ba­tions along with re­duc­tions in in­flam­ma­to­ry cells and in­flam­ma­to­ry me­di­a­tors in spu­tum demon­strate the po­ten­tial for an­aba­sum as a new in­flam­ma­tion-tar­get­ing ther­a­peu­tic in cys­tic fi­bro­sis that can broad­ly tar­get pa­tients with­out re­gard to their spe­cif­ic CFTR mu­ta­tions. The out­comes of this 16-week study in­di­cate that an­aba­sum has the po­ten­tial to ad­dress the im­por­tant un­met need for treat­ments that tar­get in­flam­ma­tion in CF,” com­ment­ed prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor James Chmiel.

Most of these pa­tients were al­ready tak­ing Orkam­bi, a com­bo drug from Ver­tex which has proved to have a mod­est but ef­fec­tive im­pact on CF.

Cell and Gene Con­tract Man­u­fac­tur­ers Must Em­brace Dig­i­ti­za­tion

The Cell and Gene Industry is growing at a staggering 30% CAGR and is estimated to reach $14B by 20251. A number of cell, gene and stem cell therapy sponsors currently have novel drug substances and products and many rely on Contract Development Manufacturing Organizations (CDMO) to produce them with adherence to stringent regulatory cGMP conditions. Cell and gene manufacturing for both autologous (one to one) and allogenic (one to many) treatments face difficult issues such as: a complex supply chain, variability on patient and cellular level, cell expansion count and a tight scheduling of lot disposition process. This complexity affects quality, compliance and accountability in the entire vein-to-vein process for critically ill patients.

A lab technician works during research on coronavirus at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical in Beerse, Belgium, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Virginia Mayo/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: End­points News ranks all 28 play­ers in the Covid-19 vac­cine race. Here's how it stacks up to­day

(This piece was last updated on August 13. Endpoints News will continue to track the latest developments through the FDA’s marketing decisions.)

The 28 players now in or close to the clinical race to get a Covid-19 vaccine over the finish line are angling for a piece of a multibillion-dollar market. And being first — or among the leaders — will play a big role in determining just how big a piece.

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Cal­lid­i­tas bets up to $102M on a biotech buy­out, snag­ging a once-failed PBC drug

After spending years developing its oral formulation of the corticosteroid budesonide, Sweden’s Calliditas now has its sights set on the primary biliary cholangitis field.

The company will buy out France-based Genkyotex, and it’s willing to bet up to €87 million ($102 million) that Genkyotex’s failed Phase II drug, GKT831, will do better in late-stage trials.

Under the current agreement, Calliditas $CALT will initially pay €20.3 million in cash for 62.7% of Genkyotex (or €2.80 a piece for 7,236,515 shares) in early October, then circle back for the rest of Genkyotex’s shares under the same terms. If nothing changes, the whole buyout will cost Calliditas €32.3 million, plus up to  €55 million in contingent rights.

Inside FDA HQ (File photo)

The FDA just ap­proved the third Duchenne MD drug. And reg­u­la­tors still don’t know if any of them work

Last year Sarepta hit center stage with the FDA’s controversial reversal of its CRL for the company’s second Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug — after the biotech was ambushed by agency insiders ready to reject a second pitch based on the same disease biomarker used for the first approval for eteplirsen, without actual data on the efficacy of the drug.

On Wednesday the FDA approved the third Duchenne MD drug, based on the same biomarker. And regulators were ready to act yet again despite the lack of efficacy data.

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Stéphane Bancel speaks to President Donald Trump at the White House meeting on March 2 (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mod­er­na of­fers steep dis­count in US sup­ply deal — but still takes the crown with close to $2.5B in vac­cine con­tracts

The US pre-order for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is in.

Operation Warp Speed is reserving $1.525 billion for 100 million doses of Moderna’s Phase III mRNA candidate, rounding out to about $15 per dose — including $300 million in incentive payments for timely delivery. Given that Moderna has a two-dose regimen, it’s good for vaccinating 50 million people. The US government also has the option to purchase another 400 million doses for a total of $6.6 billion, or $16.5 per dose.

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James Wilson, WuXi Global Forum at JPM20

FDA puts up a red light for Pas­sage Bio’s first gene ther­a­py pro­gram, de­lay­ing a pro­gram from James Wilson's group at Penn

Gene therapy pioneer James Wilson spearheaded animal studies demonstrating the potential of new treatments injected directly into the brain, looking to jumpstart a once-and-done fix for an extraordinarily rare disease called GM1 gangliosidosis in infants. His team at the University of Pennsylvania published their work on monkeys and handed it over to Passage Bio, a Wilson-inspired startup building a pipeline of gene therapies — with an IND for PBGM01 to lead the way.

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Phase III read­outs spell dis­as­ter for Genen­tech’s lead IBD drug

Roche had big plans for etrolizumab. Eyeing a hyper-competitive IBD and Crohn’s market where they have not historically been a player, the company rolled out 8 different Phase III trials, testing the antibody for two different uses across a range of different patient groups.

On Monday, Roche released results for 4 of those studies, and they mark a decided setback for both the Swiss pharma and their biotech sub Genentech, potentially spelling an end to a drug they put over half-a-decade and millions of dollars behind.

Qi­a­gen in­vestors spurn Ther­mo Fish­er’s takeover of­fer, de­rail­ing a $12B+ deal

Thermo Fisher Scientific had announced an $11.5 billion takeover of Dutch diagnostics company Qiagen back in March, but the deal apparently did not sit well with Qiagen investors.

After getting hammered by critics who contended that Qiagen $QGEN was worth a lot more than what Thermo Fisher wanted to spend, investors turned thumbs down on the offer — derailing the buyout even after Thermo Fisher increased its offer to $12.6 billion in July. Qiagen’s share price has been boosted considerably by Covid-19 as demand for its testing kits surged.

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Xuefeng Yu in Hong Kong, 2019 (Imaginechina via AP Images)

CanSi­no reaps $748M wind­fall from Shang­hai IPO — as it warns Covid-19 vac­cine won't be a huge mon­ey mak­er

CanSino began the year with a clear goal to secure a secondary listing on Shanghai’s STAR market. Then something more urgent came along: As a rising vaccine developer on a mission to bring global standard immunizations to China, it heeded the call to make a vaccine to protect against a virus that would paralyze the whole world.

Xuefeng Yu and his team managed to keep doing both.

More than a month after CanSino’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is authorized for military use in China, the Hong Kong-listed company has made a roaring debut in Shanghai. It fetched $748 million (RMB$5.2 billion) by floating 24.8 million shares, and soared 88% on its first trading day.