Fer­ring buys up PhI­II mi­cro­bio­me drug with ac­qui­si­tion of Re­bi­otix

A Min­neso­ta com­pa­ny work­ing on a drug that could be the na­tion’s first pill packed with mi­crobes has been snatched up by Swiss drug mak­er Fer­ring Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

The start­up, called Re­bi­otix, was ac­quired in a deal that closed Wednes­day with undis­closed terms. The com­pa­ny is de­vel­op­ing a fe­cal mi­cro­bio­ta trans­plant dubbed RBX-2660 that’s cur­rent­ly in Phase III tri­als. It’s be­ing test­ed against an in­fec­tion caused by C dif­fi­cile, a bac­te­ria that can in­duce symp­toms rang­ing from di­ar­rhea to life-threat­en­ing in­flam­ma­tion of the colon. The in­fec­tion of­ten oc­curs in old­er pa­tients in hos­pi­tals or long-term care who hap­pen to be tak­ing an­tibi­otics for a long pe­ri­od of time. Iron­i­cal­ly, the stan­dard treat­ment for C diff is to take the pa­tient off the an­tibi­ot­ic that caused the in­fec­tion… and then put them on an­oth­er an­tibi­ot­ic.

Re­bi­otix’s RBX-2660 works quite dif­fer­ent­ly than an an­tibi­ot­ic. It re­pop­u­lates the gut mi­cro­bio­me, and the trans­plant­ed mi­crobes then go to war with C diff, pre­vent­ing it from grow­ing and forc­ing it out of the gut. The treat­ment could be a game-chang­er for pa­tients, which is why the FDA gave it fast track, break­through, and or­phan drug des­ig­na­tions.

Michel Pet­ti­grew

Fer­ring says it’s not pick­ing up Re­bi­otix just for one as­set. It thinks the start­up’s drug plat­form will de­liv­er long-term gains.

“The sci­en­tif­ic ad­vances Re­bi­otix has made add sig­nif­i­cant strate­gic val­ue to Fer­ring’s lead­er­ship in gas­troen­terol­o­gy,” Michel Pet­ti­grew, COO and pres­i­dent of the ex­ec­u­tive board at Fer­ring Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals said in a state­ment. “Ther­a­pies tar­get­ed to­wards the mi­cro­bio­me have the po­ten­tial to trans­form health­care. To­geth­er, we have a unique op­por­tu­ni­ty to help peo­ple liv­ing with de­bil­i­tat­ing and life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions like Clostrid­i­um dif­fi­cile in­fec­tion.”

On top of its buy­out of Re­bi­otix, Fer­ring has been in­vest­ing in the mi­cro­bio­me space for years. It’s got a li­cense agree­ment with My­Bi­otics for its women’s health ther­a­peu­tics and a re­search deal with Metabo­Gen for a mi­cro­bio­me-based treat­ment for tra­hep­at­ic cholesta­sis of preg­nan­cy. The com­pa­ny al­so has part­ner­ships with re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions in mi­cro­bio­me are­na, in­clud­ing with the Karolin­s­ka In­sti­tutet and Sci­ence for Life Lab­o­ra­to­ry, and the Cen­tre for Trans­la­tion­al Mi­cro­bio­me Re­search, among oth­ers.

Im­age: Clostrid­i­um dif­fi­cile bac­te­ria, 3D il­lus­tra­tion. SHUT­TER­STOCK

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

Norbert Bischofberger, Kronos CEO

Gilead­'s ex-R&D chief Bischof­berg­er heads back to the biotech gi­ant to pick up a pair of late-stage drugs that had been put aside

Norbert Bischofberger knows entospletinib well.

Back during his long, blockbuster run as head of R&D at Gilead, researchers had once held some high hopes for this drug. But to make it work, he and the team felt it would need a new companion diagnostic to identify patients. There was talk of a combo approach to give it more punch. But the market was small, making them wonder if it would be worth going through a lengthy development cycle to get it through a pivotal.

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GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

Mer­ck KGaA takes its I/O op­tion on F-star Ther­a­peu­tics; Nephron spends $215M, eye­ing spot in Covid-19 vac­cine chain

→Merck KGaA has taken an early option on an immuno-oncology program developed at F-star Therapeutics. This is their second option in the collaboration. And they added a pair of preclinical discovery programs to the alliance as well.

Any biotech going public these days wouldn’t feel right if they didn’t upsize the offering. And that’s just what Phase I biotech Pandion Therapeutics did. The autoimmune company is now selling 7 million shares, a 1.5 million share bump, for $16 to $18 a share.

Full Bril­in­ta study re­sults show the blood thin­ner re­duces rate of sec­ondary stroke

AstraZeneca once projected its Brilinta drug to peak at $3.5 billion in sales, and though the blood thinner never reached that lofty goal, it received the latest positive signs in a string of recent good news.

The pharma released full details from its THALES study Thursday morning, which measured the effects of Brilinta and aspirin against aspirin alone in treating patients who had an acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. When taken twice daily with once-a-day aspirin for 30 days, the Brilinta combo reduced the risk of stroke and death by 17 percent, meeting the primary endpoint of the study.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

Jeff Albers, Blueprint CEO

Di­ag­nos­tic champ Roche buys its way in­to the RET ti­tle fight with Eli Lil­ly, pay­ing $775M in cash to Blue­print

When Roche spelled out its original $1 billion deal — $45 million of that upfront — with Blueprint to discover targeted therapies against immunokinases, the biotech partner’s RET program was still preclinical. Four years later, pralsetinib is on the cusp of potential approval and the Swiss pharma giant is putting in much more to get in on the commercial game.

Roche gains rights to co-develop and co-commercialize the drug, with sole marketing responsibility for places outside the US and China (where CStone has staked its claim).

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