Eye­ing growth in re­gen­er­a­tive med­i­cine, Fu­ji­film spends $800M on two new mem­bers of its CD­MO busi­ness

In a sign that it’s dou­bling-down on the con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment busi­ness, Japan’s Fu­ji­film is pay­ing $800 mil­lion to ac­quire two com­pa­nies spe­cial­iz­ing in cell cul­ture me­dia.

Both com­pa­nies, Irvine Sci­en­tif­ic Sales Com­pa­ny (IS­US) and IS Japan (ISJ), were pre­vi­ous­ly owned by Japan­ese pe­tro­le­um gi­ant JXTG. Cell ther­a­pies, in­clud­ing CAR-T and re­gen­er­a­tive stem cell ther­a­pies, will be a key fo­cus, Fu­ji­film writes in a de­tailed state­ment map­ping out its plans.

“The mar­ket for cell cul­ture me­dia is ex­pand­ing fol­low­ing the dra­mat­ic growth in the de­mand for bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals cen­tered around an­ti­body drugs and the in­creas­ing need for treat­ments us­ing cells, and its an­nu­al growth is ex­pect­ed to be ap­prox­i­mate­ly 10% go­ing for­ward,” reads the com­pa­ny state­ment.

This is the lat­est in a streak of in­vest­ments in the field for Fu­ji­film, which al­ready counts iPS cell spe­cial­ist Cel­lu­lar Dy­nam­ics In­ter­na­tion­al and so­mat­ic stem cell de­vel­op­er Japan Tis­sue En­gi­neer­ing among its sub­sidiaries. Last Sep­tem­ber, it hand­ed NC Med­ical Re­search $4 mil­lion in ex­change for a stake in its port­fo­lio of stroke treat­ments.

And then there’s the mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body man­u­fac­tur­ing that Fu­ji­film does through an­oth­er sub­sidiary, Fu­ji­film Diosynth Biotech­nolo­gie, which has been ramp­ing up its fa­cil­i­ties in Texas and the UK.

Be­tween IS­US and ISJ, Tokyo-based Fu­ji­film will now en­joy a dis­tri­b­u­tion spread across the US, Eu­rope and Asia. But it’s not stop­ping there; in the com­ing months, it plans to open a new site in Boston to mar­ket prod­ucts and ser­vices to those de­vel­op­ing new drugs in the area.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Tom Barnes (Orna)

The mR­NA era is here. MPM be­lieves the fu­ture be­longs to oR­NA — and Big Phar­ma wants a seat at the ta­ble

If the ultra-fast clinical development of Covid-19 vaccines opened the world’s eyes to the promises of messenger RNA, the subsequent delays in supply offered a crash course on the ultra-complex process of producing them. Even before the formulation and fill-finish steps, mRNA is the precious end product from an arduous journey involving enzyme-aided transcription, modification and purification.

For Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Gilead’s Kite and Astellas, it’s time to rethink the way therapeutic RNA is engineered.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Avid Bioser­vices, with re­cent IPO and Covid-19 part­ner­ship in hand, launch­es 2nd phase of fa­cil­i­ty ex­pan­sion

California’s Avid Bioservices now has two simultaneous expansion projects underway as the CDMO’s projections for customer demand sparked the launch this week of the second phase of building out its Myford facility.

Avid expects construction on the second phase, which will be known as its Myford South facility to take 18 to 24 months to complete at a cost of roughly $45 million to $55 million, it said in a press release.

Joe Biden (Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Biden wants a re­view of the API sup­ply chain. Will that par­lay in­to an ef­fort to 'on­shore' drug man­u­fac­tur­ing?

When former President Donald J. Trump was voted out of office Nov. 2, his gung-ho effort to “onshore” drug manufacturing was left mostly up in the air. Joe Biden has been mostly mum on whether he would continue that effort, but a new executive order could provide a clue — at least in a few months.

In an order signed Wednesday, Biden demanded a 100-day governmental review of key supply chains, including for active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) used in American drugs.

S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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