Find­ing a win­ner in VX-445, Ver­tex hus­tles CF com­bo to reg­u­la­tors on both sides of At­lantic

The ver­dict is in from Ver­tex’s clin­i­cal team.

The biotech was pre­sent­ed with a pleas­ant dilem­ma in March when a cock­tail for cys­tic fi­bro­sis mix­ing VX-​445, teza­caftor and iva­caftor passed Phase III with fly­ing col­ors, match­ing the re­sults they got for VX-659 with the oth­er two drugs, al­so known as Symdeko and Ka­ly­de­co. That left ob­servers hang­ing as to which com­bo will head to reg­u­la­tors.

Ver­tex ul­ti­mate­ly de­cid­ed to go with VX-445 — af­ter re­view­ing some more da­ta it’s dis­clos­ing to­day.

Resh­ma Ke­wal­ra­mani Ver­tex

At week 24 of treat­ment, pa­tients with one F508del mu­ta­tion and one min­i­mal func­tion mu­ta­tion on the drug main­tained ab­solute im­prove­ment in per­cent pre­dict­ed forced ex­pi­ra­to­ry vol­ume in one sec­ond of 14.3% (p<0.0001). For a key sec­ondary end­point, the same group of pa­tients saw a 63% re­duc­tion in the an­nu­al­ized rate of pul­monary ex­ac­er­ba­tions com­pared to place­bo, with the same stel­lar p-val­ue.

As pre­vi­ous­ly re­port­ed, pa­tients on the VX-445 triple had their ppFEV1 im­prove by an av­er­age of 13.8% at week 4. In a sep­a­rate tri­al for VX-​659, the num­ber was 14%.

“Peo­ple with CF who have one F508del mu­ta­tion and one min­i­mal func­tion mu­ta­tion are the largest re­main­ing group of CF pa­tients with­out a treat­ment op­tion for the un­der­ly­ing cause of their dis­ease,” CMO Resh­ma Ke­wal­ra­mani said in a state­ment.

The biotech fur­ther not­ed that the de­ci­sion “was based on a de­tailed as­sess­ment of mul­ti­ple fac­tors, in­clud­ing fa­vor­able pro­files for safe­ty, tol­er­a­bil­i­ty and drug-drug in­ter­ac­tions, the abil­i­ty for co-ad­min­is­tra­tion with hor­mon­al con­tra­cep­tives, and the lack of pho­to­sen­si­tiv­i­ty.”

Ver­tex will now take these da­ta, along­side an­oth­er 4-week Phase III study CF pa­tients with two F508del mu­ta­tions, to the FDA in Q3 and then the EMA in Q4.

Cred­it Su­isse an­a­lysts are ful­ly on board with the plan, say­ing it sig­nals a “clear path for­ward for the triple com­bo, with longer-term da­ta sup­port­ing con­tin­ued ef­fi­ca­cy. We ex­pect ap­proval in 1H20, al­low­ing the co. to treat 90% of CF pts WW. OUS re­im­burse­ment ques­tions re­main.”


Im­age: Ver­tex Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Eye­ing quick ap­proval, Ab­b­Vie of­fers a close-up on their pres­by­opia drug da­ta

AbbVie picked up some bonus points earlier this year as one of its pipeline adds from the $63 billion Allergan buyout hit its top-line marks. And now the researchers have produced the detailed data on the case they are making with regulators, with an eye on a major new market and a hoped-for approval before New Year’s.

AGN-190584 is aiming to be the first easy-on eyedrop for presbyopia, a common ailment for large numbers of people who find it harder and harder to read things like a watch or cell phone close up. Anyone who’s held a book out at arm’s length in order to read it will be very familiar with the condition, if not the exact diagnosis.

Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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UP­DAT­ED: Pan­el of neu­ro­science ex­perts lays out the com­pli­ca­tions with us­ing Bio­gen's new Alzheimer's drug

Treatment of early Alzheimer’s patients with Biogen’s new drug Aduhelm should closely resemble how the drug was studied in its pivotal clinical trials, according to new recommendations from a panel of neuroscience experts led by UNLV’s Jeffrey Cummings.

“Those considering aducanumab therapy should understand that the expected benefit is slowing of cognitive and functional decline; improvement of the current clinical state is not anticipated,” they wrote Tuesday in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, noting that some of their recommendations are more specific or more restrictive than the information provided in the FDA’s prescribing information.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Kyodo via AP Images)

Take­da flesh­es out CNS pact with pep­tide drug­mak­er, set­ting aside $3.5B in fu­ture mile­stones

One of a suite of drugmakers looking to reinvest in the neuroscience space, Takeda has been aggressive in signing on new partners to help build up its pipeline in that space. But sometimes the best partner is the one you already have.

Takeda will set aside $3.5 billion in future milestones and an undisclosed upfront payment to build out its drug discovery deal with Japanese peptide conjugate maker PeptiDream, adding neurodegeneration to the partnership’s list of CNS targets, the companies said Tuesday.

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