Datao Liu, Mabwell Therapeutics CEO

Disc Med­i­cine pays $10M up­front for mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body for rare blood dis­or­der, can­cer

Hema­tol­ogy-fo­cused Disc Med­i­cine has agreed to pay a $10 mil­lion down pay­ment to Mab­well Ther­a­peu­tics to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize a port­fo­lio of mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies for blood dis­or­ders.

It’s the first deal Disc has made since it went pub­lic in Au­gust.

The ini­tial $10 mil­lion is a small piece of a po­ten­tial $412.5 mil­lion of mile­stone pay­ments and roy­al­ties of “close to two dig­it per­cent­age” of net sales. Disc will have rights in the US, Eu­rope and oth­er un­named ter­ri­to­ries out­side of Chi­na and South­east Asia. The mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies tar­get trans­mem­brane ser­ine pro­tease 6.

One of the can­di­dates in­clud­ed in the deal is MWTX-003, a mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body in­jec­tion for a rare blood dis­or­der and blood can­cer. It’s known as 9MW3011 out­side of the US.

Ac­cord­ing to Mab­well, there are no “ma­ture and ef­fec­tive” macro­mol­e­c­u­lar drugs for its po­ten­tial tar­get in­di­ca­tions: be­ta tha­lassemia, an in­her­it­ed blood dis­or­der, and poly­cythemia ve­ra, a type of blood can­cer. The drug works by con­trol­ling iron lev­els to treat hema­to­log­ic dis­or­ders.

The FDA ap­proved the can­di­date for an IND in No­vem­ber, and the plan is to start a Phase I tri­al in healthy vol­un­teers in the sec­ond half of 2023.

Disc has tak­en over the port­fo­lio as its first deal af­ter the com­pa­ny went pub­lic via a re­verse merg­er with Gem­i­ni Ther­a­peu­tics. Disc is now trad­ing un­der the stock sym­bol $IRON, in ref­er­ence to Disc’s line­up of ther­a­pies for blood iron dis­or­ders.

Along with the merg­er, Disc se­cured $53.5 mil­lion in a fi­nanc­ing round in Au­gust on top of the $90 mil­lion Se­ries B it raised in Sep­tem­ber 2021.

Al­so in Au­gust last year, Disc start­ed a Phase II tri­al in Aus­tralia for its for­mer Roche drug, bitop­er­tin, that flopped in its pre­vi­ous in­di­ca­tion of schiz­o­phre­nia, in­stead look­ing at two rare blood dis­eases — ery­thro­poi­et­ic pro­to­por­phyr­ia and X-linked pro­to­por­phyr­ia. The com­pa­ny is now plan­ning ad­di­tion­al stud­ies for the drug in Di­a­mond-Black­fan ane­mia.

Disc has an ane­mia drug in its pipeline, DISC-0974, li­censed from Ab­b­Vie in 2019. The com­pa­ny start­ed a Phase Ib/II study in pa­tients with myelofi­bro­sis ane­mia in 2022 and is plan­ning ad­di­tion­al stud­ies for ane­mia linked to chron­ic kid­ney dis­ease.

Am­gen lays off about 300 work­ers, cit­ing 'in­dus­try head­wind­s'

Amgen has laid off about 300 employees, a company spokesperson confirmed to Endpoints News via email Sunday night.

Employees posted to LinkedIn in recent days about layoffs hitting Amgen last week. The Thousand Oaks, CA-based biopharma, which employs about 24,000 people, said the reduction “mainly” impacted US-based workers on its commercial team.

Drug developers of all sizes, including small upstarts and pharma giants, have let employees go in recent months as the biopharma market drags through a quarters-long winter doldrum.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Am­gen launch­es the first US Hu­mi­ra biosim­i­lar at two dif­fer­ent list prices

The bizarre dynamics of the US prescription drug market were on full display once again this morning as Amgen announced that it would launch the first US biosimilar for Humira, the best-selling drug of all time, at two completely different list prices.

One price for Amgen’s Amjevita (adalimumab-atto) will be 55% below the current Humira list price, which is about $84,000 per year, and another at a list price 5% below the current Humira list price, but presumably (pharma companies don’t disclose rebates) with high rebates to attract PBMs and payers.

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Dirk Thye, Quince Therapeutics CEO

Af­ter piv­ot­ing from Alzheimer's to bone con­di­tions, biotech piv­ots again — and halves its head­count

When troubled public biotech Cortexyme bought a private startup named Novosteo and handed the keys to its executive team, the company — which changed its name to Quince Therapeutics — said it would shift its focus from an unorthodox Alzheimer’s approach to Novosteo’s bone-targeting drug platform.

Less than a year later, Quince is pivoting again.

The biotech has decided to out-license its bone-targeting drug platform and its lead drug, NOV004, and instead look for clinical-stage programs to in-license or acquire, according to a press release.

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Credit: Shutterstock

New York City in­vests $20M in­to biotech 'in­no­va­tion space' at the Brook­lyn Navy Yard

New York City is investing $20 million in biotech this year in the form of a 50,000-square-foot “innovation space” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, complete with offices, research laboratories and events and programming space to grow biotech startups and companies.

Mayor Eric Adams said during his State of The City Address last Thursday that there will be an “emphasis” on making more opportunities for women and people of color to further diversify the industry. The City first reported the news.

Boehringer In­gel­heim touts pre­ven­tion re­sults in rarest form of pso­ri­a­sis

Boehringer Ingelheim uncorked some positive results suggesting that Spevigo can help prevent flare-ups in patients with a severe form of psoriasis, months after the drug was approved to treat existing flares.

Spevigo, an IL-36R antibody also known as spesolimab, met its primary and a key secondary endpoint in the Phase IIb EFFISAYIL 2 trial in patients with generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP), Boehringer announced on Monday. While the company is keeping the hard numbers under wraps until later this year, it said in a news release that it anticipates sharing the results with regulators.

As­traZeneca, No­vo Nordisk and Sanofi score 340B-re­lat­ed ap­peals court win over HHS

AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi won an appeals court win on Monday, as the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that the companies cannot be forced to provide 340B-discounted drugs purchased by hospitals from an unlimited number of community and specialty pharmacies.

“Legal duties do not spring from silence,” the decision says as the court makes clear that the federal government’s interpretation of the “supposed requirement” that the 340B program compels drugmakers to supply their discounted drugs to an unlimited number of contract pharmacies is not correct, noting:

Ap­peals court toss­es J&J's con­tro­ver­sial 'Texas two-step' bank­rupt­cy case

A US appeals court has ruled against Johnson & Johnson’s use of bankruptcy to deal with mounting talc lawsuits, deciding that doing so would “create a legal blind spot.”

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a previous bankruptcy court decision on Monday, calling for the dismissal of a Chapter 11 filing by J&J’s subsidiary LTL Management.

Faced with more than 38,000 lawsuits alleging its talc-based products caused cancer, J&J spun its talc liabilities into a separate company called LTL Management back in October 2021 and filed for bankruptcy, a controversial move colloquially referred to as a “Texas two-step” bankruptcy. Claimants argued that the strategy is a misuse of the US bankruptcy code — and on Monday, a panel of judges agreed.

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.

Chad Mirkin, Flashpoint co-founder

‘The field is at a flash­point’: New Chad Mirkin-found­ed biotech hopes to make more ef­fec­tive can­cer vac­cines

Following the success of the mRNA Covid vaccines, cancer vaccines are seeing renewed interest after years of middling results. But a group of researchers suggests that more attention needs to be paid not to what goes into those vaccines, but how the parts are put together.

In a recent paper published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, researchers led by Northwestern University’s Chad Mirkin describe how the placement of different antigens in a cancer vaccine impacts its efficacy. The paper builds on past work done by Mirkin’s lab that suggests the structure, or how the parts of a vaccine are arranged, impact a vaccine’s efficacy, not just its components.

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