Martin Welschof, BioInvent CEO

Ex­elix­is taps in­to can­cer an­ti­body dis­cov­er­er out of Swe­den

Ex­elix­is is dol­ing out $25 mil­lion to snag rights to choose three tar­gets found by BioIn­vent.

The Cal­i­for­nia can­cer drug­mak­er is link­ing arms with the Swedish biotech — both found­ed in the mid 90s — to ex­pand its suite of an­ti­bod­ies for im­muno-on­col­o­gy. BioIn­vent will of­fer up its can­cer im­munol­o­gy and an­ti­body bi­ol­o­gy chops and Ex­elix­is will bring its an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate tech to the ta­ble.

BioIn­vent will use its so-called n-CoDeR an­ti­body li­brary and screen­ing plat­form to find the three yet-dis­closed tar­gets. The Lund, Swe­den biotech will be re­spon­si­ble for char­ac­ter­iz­ing the an­ti­bod­ies’ mech­a­nism of ac­tion, and then Ex­elix­is has the right to in-li­cense de­vel­op­ment can­di­dates di­rect­ed to those tar­gets.

Op­tion ex­er­cise fees and mile­stones are po­ten­tial­ly on deck for BioIn­vent. Tiered roy­al­ties, too, if any prod­ucts make it to mar­ket. Ex­elix­is has ex­pe­ri­ence on that front, with mul­ti­ple ap­proved ther­a­pies, in­clud­ing Cometriq, Cotel­lic and Cabome­tyx.

“Ex­elix­is has a demon­strat­ed track record of suc­cess in both com­mer­cial­iz­ing im­por­tant new on­col­o­gy med­i­cines and es­tab­lish­ing high­ly pro­duc­tive col­lab­o­ra­tions that in­te­grate di­verse and com­ple­men­tary skill sets and tech­nolo­gies — such as tox­in and cy­tokine con­ju­ga­tion of mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies for ADC and bis­pe­cif­ic mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body tech­nolo­gies — to en­able the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment of in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­pies with sig­nif­i­cant clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial po­ten­tial,” BioIn­vent CEO Mar­tin Welschof said in a state­ment.

Ex­elix­is’ new part­ner has inked a slate of deals over its 26-year his­to­ry. BioIn­vent’s biotech bud­dies in­clude a po­ten­tial­ly $500 mil­lion col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pfiz­er, a 50/50 sol­id tu­mor pro­gram with Trans­gene, an ex­clu­sive li­cense with CASI Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to take its ear­ly-stage can­cer drug to Chi­na, tri­al agree­ments to test Mer­ck’s Keytru­da in com­bo stud­ies, an an­ti­body deal with Bay­er Health­care and oth­er an­ti­body dis­cov­ery part­ners.

Al­so on Thurs­day, BioIn­vent’s nom­i­na­tion com­mit­tee pro­posed adding Na­tal­ie Bern­er and Nan­na Lüneborg to the board. Bern­er is a man­ag­ing part­ner at BioIn­vent’s largest share­hold­er, Red­mile Group, and Lüneborg is a gen­er­al part­ner at For­bion, now a 5% share­hold­er of the biotech, as of ear­li­er this month.

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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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Years af­ter link­ing arms with Bris­tol My­ers and both Mer­cks, Sutro finds its lat­est part­ner in Tokyo

Astellas and Sutro Biopharma are linking arms on a new field of antibody-drug conjugates that they hope will improve upon existing cancer immunotherapies.

The Tokyo pharma will dole out $90 million in cash for the collaboration, the companies said Monday afternoon. That upfront payment will extend the South San Francisco biotech’s runway from late 2023 into the first half of 2024, Cowen analysts noted.

Scoop: Roche scraps one of two schiz­o­phre­nia PhII tri­als af­ter fail­ing the pri­ma­ry end­point

Roche has terminated one of two Phase II trials testing its drug ralmitaront in patients with schizophrenia, the Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News.

The study was terminated last month, according to a June 22 update to the registry on clinicaltrials.gov. Begun in September 2020, the trial was looking at ralmitaront in patients with acute schizophrenia. The trial enrolled 286 patients out of an originally planned 308.

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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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A Mer­ck part­ner is sucked in­to the fi­nan­cial quag­mire as key lender calls in a note

Another biotech standing on shaky financial legs has fallen victim to the bears.

Merck partner 4D Pharma has reported that a key lender, Oxford Finance, shoved the UK company into administration after calling in a $14 million loan they couldn’t immediately make good on. Trading in their stock was halted with a market cap that had fallen to a mere £30 million.

“Despite the very difficult prevailing market conditions,” 4D reported on Friday, the biotech had been making progress on finding some new financing and turned to Oxford with an alternative late on Thursday and then again Friday morning.

Matt Gline, Roivant CEO (John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Roivant chops sick­le cell gene ther­a­py, der­ma­tol­ogy drugs to fo­cus on 'high­er val­ue pro­ject­s'

Roivant is sweeping a suite of drugs, including a gene therapy for sickle cell disease already in the clinic, out of its pipeline.

Six programs from four of its “vants” are being wound down as part of “a company-wide cost optimization and pipeline reprioritization initiative to reduce our expected operating expenses and prioritize our capital resources.”

When reached by Endpoints News, a spokesperson said, “We don’t anticipate a material reduction in headcount but we will likely reassign some folks to higher value projects as part of winding down specific programs.”

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Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.