Deer­field bankrolls an $80M re­search cen­ter at Dana-Far­ber de­vot­ed to pro­tein degra­da­tion

In just the lat­est ex­am­ple of how hot the whole pro­tein degra­da­tion field has grown over the last 2 years, Dana-Far­ber and Deer­field have struck a deal to col­lab­o­rate on an $80 mil­lion ini­tia­tive aimed at cre­at­ing a new pipeline of ther­a­pies through what they’re billing as a “next-gen­er­a­tion pro­tein de­grad­er plat­form.”

Nathanael Gray

Their new Cen­ter for Pro­tein Degra­da­tion at Dana-Far­ber is be­ing led by Nathanael Gray and Er­ic Fis­ch­er, with the first mon­ey com­ing from Deer­field, which has been bankrolling a va­ri­ety of dis­cov­ery deals.

Sci­en­tists at Dana-Far­ber and Har­vard Med­ical School will be work­ing on new pro­tein degra­da­tion drugs. James Fly­nn, man­ag­ing part­ner at Deer­field, her­ald­ed the pact as a new source of can­cer drugs.

Er­ic Fis­ch­er

That may well end up ap­peal­ing to a broad group of top com­pa­nies lead­ing the charge on new can­cer ther­a­pies. Dana-Far­ber is helmed by Lau­rie Glim­ch­er, whose move from Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb’s board over to Glax­o­SmithK­line helped high­light the R&D shift at the com­pa­ny.

It could al­so end up cre­at­ing some new biotech spin­offs. Deer­field fund­ed a $50 mil­lion trans­la­tion­al ef­fort at the Broad In­sti­tute a year ago with new com­pa­ny cre­ation in mind.

Pro­tein degra­da­tion con­tin­ues to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of an im­por­tant group of star­tups look­ing to do much bet­ter than the pro­tein in­hi­bi­tion work that helped in­spire it — dis­pos­ing tar­get pro­teins rather than just putting them on mute. Just this week Kymera, one of the pi­o­neers in the field, reaped a $65 mil­lion round. Arv­inas and C4 are of­ten cit­ed for their work as well. And Jay Brad­ner at NI­BR, who found­ed C4, has demon­strat­ed his en­thu­si­asm with a col­lab­o­ra­tion deal in­volv­ing UC San Fran­cis­co.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

All about Omi­cron; We need more Covid an­tivi­rals; GSK snags Pfiz­er’s vac­cine ex­ec; Janet Wood­cock’s fu­ture at FDA; and more

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Merck's new antiviral molnupiravir (Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

As Omi­cron spread looms, oral an­tivi­rals ap­pear to be one of the best de­fens­es — now we just need more

After South African scientists reported a new Covid-19 variant — dubbed Omicron by the WHO — scientists became concerned about how effective vaccines and monoclonal antibodies might be against it, which has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

“I think it is super worrisome,” Dartmouth professor and Adagio co-founder and CEO Tillman Gerngross told Endpoints News this weekend. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel echoed similar concerns, telling the Financial Times that experts warned him, “This is not going to be good.”

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Re­searchers move clos­er to de­ci­pher­ing blood clots from As­traZeneca, J&J's Covid-19 vac­cines

Researchers may be nearing an answer for the mysterious and life-threatening blood clots that appeared on very rare occasions in people who received the J&J or AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

The new work builds on an early hypothesis researchers in Norway put forward last spring, when the cases first cropped up. They proposed the events were similar to blood clots that can occur in a small subset of patients who receive heparin, one of the most commonly used blood thinners.

Lisa Deschamps, AviadoBio CEO

Ex-No­var­tis busi­ness head hops over to a gene ther­a­py start­up — and she's reeled in $80M for a dash to the clin­ic

Neurologist and King’s College London professor Christopher Shaw has been researching neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and collaborating with drugmakers for the last 25 years in the hopes of pushing new therapies forward. But unfortunately, none of those efforts have come anywhere close to fruition.

“So, you know, after 20 years in the game, I said, ‘Let’s try and do it ourselves,’” he told Endpoints News. 

Glax­o­SmithK­line, Ox­ford un­veil new part­ner­ship pit­ting buzzy R&D ad­vances against neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease

When GlaxoSmithKline trumpeted its return to neuroscience with a $700 million upfront deal with Alector this summer, it touted its early investments in functional genomics as a key guidepost for that deal. Now, the drug giant has partnered up with Oxford to hopefully add jet fuel to its hunt for breakthroughs in the brain.

GSK and Oxford have kickstarted a five-year collaboration aimed at spurring R&D breakthroughs across a range of hard-to-treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s through the use of genomic testing and machine learning, the partners said Wednesday.

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In­cor­po­rat­ing Ex­ter­nal Da­ta in­to Clin­i­cal Tri­als: Com­par­ing Dig­i­tal Twins to Ex­ter­nal Con­trol Arms

Most drug development professionals are familiar with the nerve-racking wait for the read-out of a large trial. If it’s negative, is the investigational therapy ineffective? Or could the failure result from an unforeseen flaw in the design or execution of the protocol, rather than a lack of efficacy? The team could spend weeks analyzing data, but a definitive answer may be elusive due to insufficient power for such analyses in the already completed trial. These problems are only made worse if the trial had lower enrollment, or higher dropout than expected due to an unanticipated event like COVID-19. And if a trial is negative, the next one is likely to be larger and more costly — if it happens at all.

Ab­b­Vie tacks on a new warn­ing to Rin­voq la­bel as safe­ty frets crimp JAK class

The safety problems that continue to plague the JAK class as new data highlight some severe side effects are casting a large shadow over AbbVie’s Rinvoq.

As a result of a recent readout highlighting major adverse cardiac events (MACE), malignancy, mortality and thrombosis with Xeljanz a couple of months ago, AbbVie put out a notice late Friday afternoon that it is adding the new class risks to its label for their rival drug.

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Biospec­i­men M&A: Dis­cov­ery ac­quires Al­bert Li's he­pa­to­cyte project; PhI­II tri­al on Bay­er's Nube­qa reached pri­ma­ry end­point

Discovery Life Sciences has acquired what claims to be the Maryland-based host of the world’s largest hepatocyte inventory, known as IVAL, to help researchers select more effective and safer drug candidates in the future.

The combined companies will now serve a wider range of drug research and development scientists, according to Albert Li, who founded IVAL in 2004 and is set to join the Discovery leadership team as the CSO of pharmacology and toxicology.