Evan Feinberg, CEO of Genesis Therapeutics (Boris Feldman)

Genen­tech-part­nered Gen­e­sis Ther­a­peu­tics inks newest AI dis­cov­ery deal with Eli Lil­ly

A Stan­ford biotech rubbed el­bows with Genen­tech in 2020, reach­ing a deal with the big-name biotech just over 18 months ago. And now, the AI out­fit is in its sec­ond part­ner­ship with Big Phar­ma.

Gen­e­sis Ther­a­peu­tics se­cured a deal with big phar­ma Eli Lil­ly, the com­pa­ny an­nounced on Tues­day — to dis­cov­er ther­a­pies “across a range of ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment put out by the biotech.

Found­ed in 2019 as a spin­out out of Vi­jay Pande’s lab at Stan­ford, Gen­e­sis Ther­a­peu­tics looked to join the in­dus­try-wide push at the time to in­cor­po­rate AI in­to drug R&D. The biotech ini­tial­ly bagged $4.1 mil­lion in seed fund­ing, led by An­dreessen Horowitz. And in the mean­time, it’s got a big name be­hind it as di­rec­tor of the board: for­mer Alex­ion CEO and founder Leonard Bell.

It fur­ther spread its wings af­ter the biotech inked a deal with Genen­tech in 2020 — Roche’s glob­al head of phar­ma part­ner­ing James Sabry said at the time that “AI can help un­lock the next gen­er­a­tion of in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­pies for pa­tients in need of ad­di­tion­al op­tions. We are ex­cit­ed to work with Gen­e­sis’ team to dis­cov­er med­i­cines cur­rent­ly out of reach us­ing con­ven­tion­al meth­ods.” Two months lat­er, it scored $52 mil­lion via a Se­ries A round.

Now on­to the de­tails: the biotech will be us­ing their AI-based drug dis­cov­ery plat­form, which in­cludes ar­ti­fi­cial neur­al net­works and ma­chine learn­ing mod­els to iso­late and pin­point drug can­di­dates for a va­ri­ety of se­vere dis­eases — which so far re­main un­named. Gen­e­sis is able to make “ul­tra-fast and ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tions” of a com­pound’s po­ten­cy, se­lec­tiv­i­ty, tox­i­c­i­ty and more, CEO Evan Fein­berg told End­points News two years ago on the heels of the Genen­tech deal be­ing an­nounced. As far as fi­nan­cials go, Gen­e­sis will get $20 mil­lion up­front for work on three ini­tial tar­gets. Lil­ly will re­tain the op­tion to add two more tar­gets to Gen­e­sis’s plate, and Gen­e­sis is el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive up to $670 mil­lion over­all in com­bined up­front + mile­stone pay­ments, plus po­ten­tial roy­al­ties.

“We are ex­cit­ed to join forces with Lil­ly and their world-class re­search and de­vel­op­ment teams to dis­cov­er nov­el drugs for pa­tients suf­fer­ing with se­vere dis­eases,” Fein­berg said in a state­ment.

Bill Haney, Dragonfly CEO (Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW)

Drag­on­fly chief: Bris­tol My­ers shouldn’t blame IL-12’s clin­i­cal per­for­mance for de­ci­sion to scrap the deal — eco­nom­ics played a key role

Bristol Myers Squibb says the IL-12 drug they were developing out of Dragonfly Therapeutics was scrubbed from the pipeline for a simple reason: It didn’t measure up on clinical performance.

But Bill Haney, the CEO of Dragonfly, is taking issue with that.

The early-stage drug, still in Phase I development, has passed muster with Bristol Myers’ general clinical expectations, advancing successfully while still in Phase I, he says.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

How Pur­due's $272M ad­dic­tion pay­out fund­ed a new home for its dis­card­ed non-opi­oid re­search

Don Kyle spent more than 20 years working for Purdue Pharma, right through the US opioid epidemic that led to the company’s rise and eventual infamy. But contrary to Purdue’s focus on OxyContin, Kyle was researching non-opioid painkillers — that is, until the company shelved his research.

As the company’s legal troubles mounted, Kyle found an unlikely way to reboot the project. In 2019, he took his work to an Oklahoma State University center that’s slated to receive more than two-thirds of the state’s $272 million settlement with Purdue over claims that the drugmaker’s behavior ignited the epidemic of opioid use and abuse.

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President Joe Biden at the State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Patrick Semansky/AP Images)

The drug pric­ing pres­i­dent: Biden warns of ve­to for any IRA re­peal at­tempts

President Joe Biden made clear in his “finish the job” State of the Union address last night that one of those jobs to be finished is insulin prices.

Biden’s push again to tackle insulin prices, after Republicans rebuffed the idea last summer and just after Biden won Medicare drug price negotiations/caps via the Inflation Reduction Act, shows how heavily he’s leaning into this work.

Rupert Vessey, Bristol Myers Squibb head of research and early development

Up­dat­ed: R&D tur­bu­lence at Bris­tol My­ers now in­cludes the end of a $650M al­liance and the de­par­ture of a top re­search cham­pi­on

This morning biotech Dragonfly put out word that Bristol Myers Squibb has handed back all rights to its IL-12 clinical-stage drug after spending $650 million to advance it into the clinic.

The news arrives amid a turbulent R&D stage for the pharma giant, which late last week highlighted Rupert Vessey’s decision to depart this summer as head of early-stage R&D following a crucial three-year stretch after he jumped to Bristol Myers in the big Celgene buyout. During that time he struck a series of deals for Bristol Myers, and also shepherded a number of Celgene programs down the pipeline, playing a major role for a lineup of biotechs which depended on him to champion their drugs.

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Iya Khalil, Merck VP and head of data, AI and genome sciences (Novartis)

Mer­ck-No­var­tis re­volv­ing door spins again as AI leader Iya Khalil switch­es phar­mas

As talk of AI this-and-that gobbles up headline after headline, one Big Pharma is losing its AI leader as she transitions to another drug giant: Iya Khalil will trade in her hat as Novartis’ go-to expert and leader in the space for Merck as VP and head of data, AI and genome sciences next week.

After nearly three years leading the artificial intelligence team at Novartis — as Big Pharma and biotechs alike latch onto the ripening AI-for-drug-discovery mode of operation — Khalil will switch employers to head up a similar post at Merck, where she’ll work out of Cambridge, MA beginning Feb. 13, the company tells Endpoints News.

Utpal Koppikar, new Verily CFO

Ex­clu­sive: Ver­i­ly wel­comes Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics vet­er­an as new CFO

Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences outfit, has plucked a new CFO from the ranks of Atara Biotherapeutics, the company announced on Wednesday.

Utpal Koppikar joins Verily after a nearly five-year stint as CFO and senior VP at Atara, though his résumé also boasts roles at Gilead and Amgen.

The news follows a major reshuffling at Verily, including several senior departures earlier this year and a round of layoffs.

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Singer Nick Jonas is back at work for Dexcom, this time for its new G7 glucose monitor.

Dex­com's spokescelebri­ty Nick Jonas re­turns to Su­per Bowl in new glu­cose mon­i­tor com­mer­cial

Dexcom is going back to the Super Bowl with its pop singer and patient spokesperson Nick Jonas. Jonas takes center stage as the lone figure in the 30-second commercial showcasing Dexcom’s next-generation G7 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device.

Jonas’ sleight-of-hand tricks populate the commercial — he pinches his empty fingers together and pops them open to reveal the small CGM — even as he ends the ad, saying, “It’s not magic. It just feels that way.” Jonas then disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Richard Francis, newly-appointed Teva CEO (Novartis via Facebook)

New Te­va CEO Richard Fran­cis repri­or­i­tizes to 'get back to growth'

Six weeks into his new role at the helm of Teva Pharmaceutical, Richard Francis said it’s time to “get back to growth,” starting with a good look at the company’s priorities.

The chief executive has kicked off a strategic review, he announced during Teva’s quarterly call, which will continue over the next several months and produce results sometime in the middle of 2023. That means some pipeline cuts may be in store, he told Endpoints News, while declining to offer much more detail.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8, 2023 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FDA com­mis­sion­er floats ideas on how to bet­ter han­dle the pan­dem­ic

FDA Commissioner Rob Califf joined the heads of the CDC and NIH in the hot seat today before a key House subcommittee, explaining that there needs to be a much faster, more coordinated way to oversee vaccine safety, and that foreign biopharma inspections, halted for years due to the pandemic, are slowly ramping up again.

Califf, who stressed to the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health that the CDC also needs better data, made clear that the FDA’s ability to monitor the safety of vaccines “would also benefit greatly by a coordinated federal public health data reporting authority.”