DBV es­ti­mates peanut al­ler­gy drug sub­mis­sion in Q3, but it may be too lit­tle too late in race with Aim­mune

DBV Tech­nolo­gies has all but so­lid­i­fied its run­ner up sta­tus in the race to bring a peanut al­ler­gy treat­ment on to the Unit­ed States mar­ket. The French drug de­vel­op­er on Wednes­day said it would re­sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion to mar­ket its prod­uct — Vi­askin Peanut — in the third quar­ter, af­ter with­draw­ing its ap­pli­ca­tion late last year in re­sponse to FDA con­cerns about the state of man­u­fac­tur­ing and qual­i­ty con­trol da­ta sub­mit­ted. Mean­while, arch ri­val Aim­mune’s treat­ment AR101 is cur­rent­ly un­der FDA re­view.

DBV $DB­VT re­scind­ed an ap­pli­ca­tion to mar­ket its peanut al­ler­gy patch on De­cem­ber 20, and the fol­low­ing day, Aim­mune $AIMT sub­mit­ted its ap­pli­ca­tion for peanut al­ler­gy im­munother­a­py AR101, in ef­fect leapfrog­ging its com­pe­ti­tion for a first-mover shot at cap­tur­ing the so far un­tapped mar­ket, which is ex­pect­ed to grow to $4.5 bil­lion in 2027 glob­al­ly, ac­cord­ing to Glob­al­Da­ta. The US shut­down be­gan on De­cem­ber 22 af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump in­sist­ed on $5.7 bil­lion from Con­gress to build a wall on the south­west US bor­der.

Bri­an Sko­r­ney

By mid-Jan­u­ary, Aim­mune said the health reg­u­la­tor had no­ti­fied them that it would not be able to re­view the ap­pli­ca­tion un­til the lapse in ap­pro­pri­a­tions end­ed. Ten days lat­er, on Jan­u­ary 25th, the gov­ern­ment re­opened, and the AR101 ap­pli­ca­tion was back in con­tention.

Baird’s Bri­an Sko­r­ney said DBV’s up­date made no dif­fer­ence to his ex­pec­ta­tions.

We con­tin­ue to ex­pect that, should Vi­askin Peanut reach an Ad­Com, the an­tic­i­pat­ed pri­or ap­proval of AR101 will elim­i­nate the “there is noth­ing else avail­able” ar­gu­ment for DBV Tech­nolo­gies and pa­tient ad­vo­cates, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for these par­ties to make a strong case for ap­proval of Vi­askin Peanut, giv­en the med­ica­tion’s weak ef­fi­ca­cy pro­file. We be­lieve that this dy­nam­ic may ul­ti­mate­ly pre­vent Vi­askin Peanut from gain­ing reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval, clear­ing the field for Aim­mune’s AR101.

Mean­while, when Aim­mune an­nounced that the gov­ern­ment shut­down had stymied its ap­pli­ca­tion, FDA com­mis­sion­er Scott Got­tlieb threw an­oth­er span­ner in the works, sug­gest­ing in a se­ries of tweets that al­ler­genic prod­ucts are not cov­ered by user-fees, and con­se­quent­ly do not qual­i­fy for the PDU­FA process.

For Aim­mune’s im­munother­a­py, there is no clar­i­ty on its PDU­FA sta­tus, al­though the com­pa­ny is work­ing with the agency to fig­ure what the time­line for its re­view is, Sko­r­ney not­ed.

DBV’s Vi­askin Peanut — which is de­rived from freeze-dried de­fat­ted peanut flour ex­tract­ed from raw peanuts — is an al­ler­genic ex­tract and has se­cured the FDA’s break­through ther­a­py des­ig­na­tion (BTD) sta­tus. Jef­feries an­a­lyst Eun Yang sug­gest­ed that the treat­ment’s BTD sta­tus would prompt the FDA to com­plete its re­view un­der the pri­or­i­ty re­view time­line, cit­ing a reg­u­la­to­ry ex­pert. Vi­askin Peanut is clas­si­fied as a com­bi­na­tion prod­uct, thus, it will be re­viewed by the CBER (Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­ics Eval­u­a­tion and Re­search) with con­sul­ta­tion from the CDRH (Cen­ter for De­vices and Ra­di­o­log­i­cal Health), al­though CDRH tends to be slow, Yang said, re­fer­ring to the ex­pert’s com­ments.

Leerink fore­cast a US mar­ket en­try in 2021 for Vi­askin Peanut “giv­en the lack of (reg­u­la­to­ry) vis­i­bil­i­ty.”

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric (Photo Credit: Andrew Venditti)

Pssst: That big Bio­haven Alzheimer's study? It was a bust. Even the sub­group analy­sis ex­ecs tout­ed was a flop

You know it’s bad when a biopharma player plucks out a subgroup analysis for a positive take — even though it was way off the statistical mark for success, like everything else.

So it was for Biohaven $BHVN on MLK Monday, as the biotech reported on the holiday that their Phase II/III Alzheimer’s study for troriluzole flunked both co-primary endpoints as well as a key biomarker analysis.

The drug — a revised version of the ALS drug riluzole designed to regulate glutamate — did not “statistically differentiate” from placebo on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale 11 (ADAS-cog) and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB).  The “hippocampal volume” assessment by MRI also failed to distinguish itself from placebo for all patients fitting the mild-to-moderate disease profile they had established for the study.

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Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein (AP, Images)

Poll: Should Joshua Sharf­stein or Janet Wood­cock lead the FDA from here?

It’s time for a new FDA commissioner to come on board, a rite of passage for Joe Biden’s administration that should help seal the new president’s rep on seeking out the experts to lead the government over the next 4 years.

As of now, the competition for the top job appears to have narrowed down to 2 people: The longtime CDER chief Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein, the former principal deputy at the FDA under Peggy Hamburg. Both were appointed by Barack Obama.

As­traZeneca keeps the ball rolling on Dai­ichi-part­nered En­her­tu, pick­ing up 2nd in­di­ca­tion in gas­tric can­cer

AstraZeneca’s big gamble on Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu has already paid off with a big approval in breast cancer more than a year ago. But the partners have big plans for their blockbuster in the making, and a new nod in gastric cancer will raise their spirits even higher.

The FDA on Friday approved Enhertu to treat locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma in patients who have previously undergone at least one round of treatment with a Herceptin-based regimen, AstraZeneca said in a release.

Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly CSO (Lilly via Facebook)

Eli Lil­ly tees up dis­cov­ery pact worth more than $1.6B with Merus for T cell-fo­cused bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­bod­ies

Under science chief Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly has taken some big swings at next-gen therapies, including trying to find the next big thing in oncology. Now, after one early failure in the field, Lilly is going back to the bispecific antibody well with a new deal with a Dutch biotech.

Lilly will pay $40 million upfront with an additional $20 million equity stake in Merus NV to identify and develop three bispecific antibodies looking to engage the CD3 antigen on T cells and redirect immune cells, the Indianapolis pharma giant said Tuesday.

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Andrew Allen (Gritstone)

As coro­n­avirus vari­ants trig­ger new alarms, the NIH is putting an un­der-the-radar ‘next-gen’ vac­cine in­to PhI

Over the past year, the world has been transfixed by the development of new vaccines to fight SARS-CoV-2. In a frenzy of activity, the new mRNA approach has delivered pioneering emergency approvals in record time. And with some setbacks, the more traditional big players are coming along with added jabs as the most affluent nations in the world begin to vaccinate large portions of their populations.

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The IPO queue adds 5 more biotechs hop­ing to ring in 2021 by blitz­ing Nas­daq

Following a record year for IPOs — in terms of both proceeds and count — there’s already a long lineup of biotechs ready to jump onto Nasdaq in the new year. The companies are likely looking for much higher raises than they initially projected on their S-1s. Now it’s time to see if investors are still hungry for another round of biotech stocks.

Sana helped set the pace early on, as its founders look to divvy up a fortune from their IPO. And late last week 5 more biotechs crowded in, looking to pick up the pace where 2020 left off. Here they are:

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News brief­ing: Beam bags a $260M pri­vate place­ment; mi­Ra­gen re­brands to Virid­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics

Agios vet John Evans has demonstrated how to raise big money for a little biotech.

The Beam Therapeutics CEO — and ARCH partner — has pieced together a $260 million private placement from a group of backers that includes Perceptive Advisors, Farallon Capital, Casdin Capital, Redmile Group and Cormorant Asset Management. And there are 3 main goals they’ll pursue with it: clinical development, strategic partnerships and general corporate purposes.

Ox­ford gets £100M to seize a 'break­through mo­men­t' in fight­ing su­per­bugs

Close to 70 years after Oxford scientists purified penicillin and confirmed its effect as an antibacterial drug, the university is establishing a new research institute at the forefront of combating antimicrobial resistance.

The Ineos Oxford Institute for AMR Research will initially be powered by a $136 million (£100 million) donation from Ineos, the UK-based chemicals giant founded by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, that also plays a hand in manufacturing medical and pharma products.