Ex­pan­sive So­sei lays out a $534M ac­qui­si­tion plan for the am­bi­tious saR­NA biotech Mi­NA

Af­ter swoop­ing in to buy Hep­tares a cou­ple of years ago in a $400 mil­lion deal, So­sei has put a new ac­qui­si­tion play in mo­tion. This morn­ing CEO Pe­ter Bains at So­sei took the first step to­ward a new buy­out, snag­ging 25.6% of the eq­ui­ty of Mi­NA Ther­a­peu­tics and an ex­clu­sive op­tion to ac­quire the com­pa­ny for $45 mil­lion in cash.

Right now Mi­NA is putting its small ac­ti­vat­ing RNA (saR­NA) tech­nol­o­gy to a Phase I/IIa test in liv­er can­cer. If the tri­al works, fol­low­ing an es­tab­lished sched­ule of mile­stones, So­sei can com­plete the deal for an­oth­er $180 mil­lion in cash plus $309 mil­lion more in mile­stones — for a to­tal of $534 mil­lion.

The way Bains ex­plains the deal, So­sei is tak­ing an­oth­er step to­ward cre­at­ing a glob­al com­pa­ny, based in Japan and pur­su­ing biotechs with a glob­al reach of their own.

Robert Habib, Mi­NA CEO

Just af­ter Al­ler­gan and Pfiz­er went their sep­a­rate ways in ear­ly 2016, for ex­am­ple, Al­ler­gan chose to seed an am­bi­tious de­vel­op­ment pact with Hep­tares on new drugs to ad­dress the cog­ni­tive de­cline and be­hav­ioral is­sues as­so­ci­at­ed with Alzheimer’s. Then Hep­tares swooped in to buy GPCR tech in an ac­qui­si­tion of Switzer­land’s G7 ear­li­er this year, which was quick­ly re­ward­ed with a pact from Dai­ichi Sankyo.

Now So­sei wants to take a step-by-step ap­proach to find­ing out if Mi­NA can boost its pipeline with a new slate of its saR­NA ther­a­peu­tics, which adopts a new ap­proach to kick­ing mes­sen­ger RNA in­to ac­tion to cre­ate new drugs — pro­teins — us­ing the body’s cells as a man­u­fac­tur­ing cen­ter. But it’s not just div­ing in all at once. Bains wants to see some da­ta be­fore com­ing back for the whole thing.

Mi­NA brought to­geth­er a group of in­ves­ti­ga­tors like Long-Chen Li, Har­vard’s David Corey and Nagy Habib at Im­pe­r­i­al who have been de­vel­op­ing their RNA tech to trig­ger pro­tein pro­duc­tion to ad­dress spe­cif­ic ail­ments. And their first clin­i­cal en­deav­or for MTL-CEB­PA marks a shot at treat­ment-re­sis­tant liv­er can­cer — an am­bi­tious tar­get.

Mes­sen­ger RNA is a nascent field, but it’s grow­ing fast. Mod­er­na raised a whop­ping $1.9 bil­lion for its work, be­fore see­ing the first snap­shot of hu­man da­ta. Ger­many’s Cure­Vac is al­so hot on the trail.

Says Bains:

We be­lieve MTL-CEB­PA could al­low us to ad­vance our pipeline strat­e­gy with a nov­el clin­i­cal as­set that could be de­vel­oped and ul­ti­mate­ly com­mer­cial­ized by So­sei. We rec­og­nize that this as­set is ear­ly stage and that more ro­bust da­ta will be avail­able in the near term; these con­sid­er­a­tions have in­flu­enced the pru­dent and phased deal struc­ture. We al­so be­lieve that Mi­NA’s RNA ac­ti­va­tion plat­form can be ap­plied to oth­er gene tar­gets, pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ty to cre­ate a pipeline of in­no­v­a­tive prod­ucts.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Sen­ate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee lobs more bi­par­ti­san pres­sure on­to PBMs

Congress is honing in on how it wants to overhaul the rules of the road for pharmacy benefit managers, with a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday serving as the latest example of the Hill’s readiness to make changes to how pharma middlemen operate.

While pledging to ensure patients and pharmacies “don’t get a raw deal,” Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) laid out the beginning of what looks like a major bipartisan effort — moves the PBM industry is likely to challenge vigorously.

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Nicklas Westerholm, Egetis Therapeutics CEO

Ac­qui­si­tion talks on­go­ing for Swedish rare dis­ease biotech Egetis, shares up al­most 40%

Shares of the Sweden-based rare disease biotech Egetis Therapeutics skyrocketed on Thursday afternoon as the company said it’s engaged in “ongoing discussion” with external parties regarding a “potential acquisition.”

Egetis confirmed rumors with a statement on Thursday while noting that there is no certainty that a takeover offer will be made.

Nonetheless, the possibility of an acquisition has shot up Egetis’ share price. By the afternoon on Thursday, its stock price was {$EGTX.ST} up over 38%. An Egetis spokesperson told Endpoints News in an email that it has no further comments.

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Lu­pus drug de­vel­op­ment mar­ket heat­ing up, while FDA links with ad­vo­ca­cy group to fur­ther ac­cel­er­ate re­search

The long-underserved systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) market is suddenly buzzing with treatment possibilities. Less than two years after AstraZeneca’s approval for Saphnelo — the first new SLE drug in a decade and joining just one other approved in GSK’s Benlysta – the pipeline of potential drugs numbers in the dozens.

Although most are very early stage — Spherix Global Insights estimates five in Phase II/III — the pharma R&D enthusiasm is catching on among doctors, patients and advocacy groups. On Wednesday, the Lupus Research Alliance and the FDA formed a novel private-public partnership called Lupus Accelerating Breakthroughs Consortium (Lupus ABC) to help advance lupus clinical trial success.

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Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Mod­er­na so­lid­i­fies deal with Kenya to build mR­NA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

The mRNA player Moderna is further cementing its presence on the African continent.

Moderna announced on Thursday that it has finalized an agreement with Kenya’s government to partner up and bring an mRNA manufacturing facility to the east African nation. The new facility aims to manufacture up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually. Moderna also said the new facility will have the ability to spike its production capabilities to respond to public health emergencies on the continent or globally.

Luke Miels, GSK chief commercial officer

GSK picks up Scynex­is' FDA-ap­proved an­ti­fun­gal drug for $90M up­front

GSK is dishing out $90 million cash to add an antifungal drug to its commercial portfolio, in a deal spotlighting the pharma giant’s growing focus on infectious diseases.

The upfront will lock in an exclusive license to Scynexis’ Brexafemme, which was approved in 2021 to treat a yeast infection known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, except in China and certain other countries where Scynexis already out-licensed the drug.

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Deborah Waterhouse, ViiV Healthcare CEO

MPP re­cruits three gener­ic man­u­fac­tur­ers to ex­pand use of Vi­iV's in­jectable PrEP drug

ViiV Healthcare has teamed up with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool and three generic manufacturers to expand access to medicine that can prevent HIV.

ViiV and the Medicines Patent Pool jointly announced Thursday that the MPP signed sub-licensing agreements with Aurobindo, Cipla and Viatris to manufacture generics of a long-acting form of cabotegravir for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). As a result of the agreement, the manufacturers will be able to develop, manufacture and supply generic versions of cabotegravir LA in 90 countries — subject to regulatory approvals.

Four community leaders who are living with HIV celebrate life and accomplishments in Theratechnologies' new campaign

Re­al pa­tient ‘cham­pi­ons’ liv­ing with HIV star in Ther­at­e­ch­nolo­gies cam­paign

Over the past several years, people living with HIV have been more often telling Theratechnologies that they wanted more representation. Specifically, they wanted more African American people and more focus on living and thriving versus more typical medication regimen messaging.

So Theratechnologies came up with a new campaign called “I Am A Champion,” initially launched at the US Conference on HIV last year. The initial conference, print and digital media efforts highlight the triumphs of four long-term survivors from across the US.

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