Kenneth Galbraith, Zymeworks CEO

Days af­ter flag­ging its $773M takeover bid, Zymeworks mi­nor­i­ty share­hold­er adds As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy vet to the crew

Alan Barge

The in­vest­ment firm that launched an un­so­licit­ed takeover bid for Zymeworks has now brought in an As­traZeneca vet to help de­vise the fu­ture strat­e­gy — adding some heft to its $773 mil­lion of­fer.

Alan Barge, the for­mer head of on­col­o­gy at As­traZeneca, is join­ing All Blue Cap­i­tal as an on­col­o­gy drug de­vel­op­ment ad­vi­sor.

“I have worked close­ly with the team in de­vel­op­ing a busi­ness plan for Zymeworks that can cre­ate su­pe­ri­or val­ue,” Barge said in a state­ment. “I look for­ward to con­tribut­ing my ex­per­tise to help put Zymeworks back on track.”

All Blue, a rough­ly 5% share­hold­er in Zymeworks, sent the biotech’s board an of­fer days ago to buy it out, in cash, for $10.50 per share, with the ex­plic­it goal of “re­vers­ing the val­ue-de­struc­tive mea­sures that Zymeworks and its board of di­rec­tors im­ple­ment­ed over the past 12 months.”

The near­ly 20-year-old Cana­di­an biotech has been on a down­ward spi­ral since ear­ly 2021, even as it tried to get in­vestors ex­cit­ed about new da­ta around its HER2 bis­pe­cif­ic as well as mul­ti­func­tion­al an­ti­body plat­form more gen­er­al­ly. Since Ken­neth Gal­braith re­placed Ali Tehrani in Jan­u­ary, Zymeworks has hit the gas on changes, lay­ing off 25% of its staff and sell­ing shares at a dis­count in an at­tempt to right the ship.

Zymeworks has not is­sued any state­ment re­gard­ing the mat­ter since ac­knowl­edg­ing re­ceipt of the deal pro­pos­al. It al­so made no men­tion of All Blue’s of­fer in its 10-K fil­ing, on­ly giv­ing a straight­for­ward clin­i­cal and fi­nan­cial up­date.

All Blue said it hopes to dis­cuss the bid with Zymeworks “in good faith and in a time­ly fash­ion.” Should the ac­qui­si­tion go through, it added, Barge — who’s al­so a co-founder of Car­rick Ther­a­peu­tics and Aslan Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — will re­main a board mem­ber of Zymeworks.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Peter Marks (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP Images)

FDA's VRB­PAC votes in fa­vor of adapt­ing the Covid-19 vac­cine to the lat­est Omi­cron vari­ant

The FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday gave the thumbs up — by a vote of 19-2 — that the FDA should require an Omicron-related component in this next season’s booster dose for Covid-19, which both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are hard at work on.

And while neither booster will likely be ready to go with adequate supplies for all American adults by the beginning of the next school year, the situation is still complex and fluid, with CBER Director Peter Marks telling the committee that it’ll take companies at least three months to ready their supplies for this expected next wave.

Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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