Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bay­er and Ex­sci­en­tia are wind­ing down their three-year col­lab­o­ra­tion, leav­ing the big Ger­man phar­ma to take the AI-de­signed com­pounds born out of the pact fur­ther.

Lon­don-based Ex­sci­en­tia re­vealed in its Q2 up­date that the part­ners have “mu­tu­al­ly agreed to end” their col­lab­o­ra­tion, which kicked off in ear­ly 2020, af­ter re­cent­ly achiev­ing a drug dis­cov­ery mile­stone. In an SEC fil­ing, Ex­sci­en­tia said it ter­mi­nat­ed the pact on May 30, about six months ear­ly.

With­out of­fer­ing de­tails, an Ex­sci­en­tia spokesper­son told End­points News that it was a “proof of con­cept mile­stone sup­port­ing ad­vance­ment of the pro­gram in­to late dis­cov­ery,” which marks a “nat­ur­al point” to con­clude the work. The biotech not­ed that it re­tains op­tion­al­i­ty to de­vel­op one of the two tar­gets pur­sued.

Un­der the deal, Bay­er tasked the biotech with iden­ti­fy­ing and op­ti­miz­ing lead struc­tures that could po­ten­tial­ly treat pain, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases and can­cer, which Bay­er would then own. Ex­sci­en­tia was promised €240 mil­lion in to­tal, in­clud­ing up­front and mile­stones, as well as sales roy­al­ties.

It’s un­clear how much Ex­sci­en­tia end­ed up re­ceiv­ing in to­tal, but as of an an­nu­al fil­ing in March, Bay­er had doled out on­ly “€2.5 mil­lion to fund project ini­ti­a­tion and on­go­ing re­search ac­tiv­i­ties.” For the six months end­ed June 30, Bay­er ac­count­ed for 8% of Ex­sci­en­tia’s rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to an SEC fil­ing.

Not that it is in need of cash. Thanks to a Nas­daq IPO at the end of 2021 and a new Sanofi deal ear­li­er this year that de­liv­ered $100 mil­lion in up­front, Ex­sci­en­tia closed out H1 with $732 mil­lion in cash, cash equiv­a­lents and short-term bank de­posits.

Point­ing to the Sanofi deal, Ex­sci­en­tia added that the Bay­er al­liance was the rem­nant of an old­er deal­mak­ing strat­e­gy fo­cused on de­sign ser­vices, which trans­lat­ed to low­er eco­nom­ics and less op­er­a­tional in­volve­ment.

“Over time, Ex­sci­en­tia’s tech­nol­o­gy and end-to-end ca­pa­bil­i­ties have sig­nif­i­cant­ly grown, and we’ve evolved our part­ner­ship mod­els to move to­ward util­is­ing all as­pects of our end-to-end AI plat­form and where we can have full con­trol of project ex­e­cu­tion,” the spokesper­son wrote.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Bob Duggan (Duggan Investments)

Biotech bil­lion­aire Bob Dug­gan flies the white flag as Sum­mit hunts a new own­er, or part­ner, for sole clin­i­cal-stage ef­fort

Bob Duggan’s Summit Therapeutics $SMMT is running out of moves for its sole clinical-stage candidate.

The biotech issued a terse statement in an SEC filing that it’s pulling the plug on the only active clinical trial for ridinilazole, which has been through a failed late-stage trial for C. difficile. A pediatric study is being curtailed as Summit says it decided a few days ago to either partner out the therapy or get a buyer — if they can find one.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

Can a smart­phone app de­tect Covid? Pfiz­er throws down $116M to find out

What can a cough say about a patient’s illness? Quite a bit, according to ResApp Health — and Pfizer’s listening.

The pharma giant is shelling out about $116 million ($179 million AUD) to scoop up the University of Queensland spinout and its smartphone technology that promises to diagnose Covid and other respiratory illnesses based on cough and breathing sounds, the university announced last week.

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Marc Dunoyer, Alexion CEO (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

Up­dat­ed: As­traZeneca nabs a small rare dis­ease gene ther­a­py play­er for 667% pre­mi­um

AstraZeneca is kicking off the fourth quarter with a little M&A Monday for a gene editing player recently overcoming a second clinical hold to its only program in human studies.

The Big Pharma and its subsidiary Alexion are buying out little LogicBio for $2.07 per share. That’s good for a massive 667% premium over its Friday closing price, when it headed into the weekend at 27 cents and just weeks after Nasdaq said LogicBio would have to delist, which has been put on hold as the biotech requests a hearing. It’s one of two biotech deals to commence October, alongside the news of Incyte buying a vitiligo-focused biotech.

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