Gen­mab puts down $54M for im­munother­a­py col­lab­o­ra­tion — ready to spend mil­lions more

Af­ter fill­ing its pipeline with Big Phar­ma-part­nered an­ti­body ther­a­peu­tics, J&J dar­ling Gen­mab has turned to a fel­low Eu­ro­pean biotech for its lat­est for­ay in­to can­cer im­munother­a­pies.

Carsten Rein­hardt

Copen­hagen-based Gen­mab is pay­ing $54 mil­lion for three tar­gets iden­ti­fied by Im­mat­ics’ Xpres­i­dent plat­form, as well as ac­cess to its T cell re­cep­tor dis­cov­ery and en­gi­neer­ing plat­form. Im­mat­ics — which is head­quar­tered in Tue­bin­gen, Ger­many and runs a sub­sidiary in Hous­ton — is al­so in for $550 mil­lion in mile­stone pay­ments and a co-pro­mo­tion op­tion.

Out-li­cens­ing pro­pri­etary tar­gets then of­fer­ing their tech to redi­rect and ac­ti­vate T cell re­spons­es to those tu­mor anti­gens hit a sweet spot for Im­mat­ics, which has a sim­i­lar deal in place with Am­gen worth up to $1 bil­lion.

Gen­mab, mean­while, has looked left and right for dif­fer­ent ways to use their an­ti­bod­ies in can­cer, from an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gates to check­point com­bos. The ear­ly ef­forts have been a mixed bag: The ADC it de­vel­oped with Seat­tle Ge­net­ics showed promise against melanoma in pre­clin­i­cal stud­ies, but the ear­ly-stage stud­ies in­volv­ing PD-L1/PD-1 drugs and dara­tu­mum­ab had to be scrapped by part­ner J&J.

Jan van de Winkel

The big idea here, Im­mat­ics CMO Carsten Rein­hardt tells me, is to go af­ter tar­gets not ex­pressed on the cell sur­face. Af­ter all, on­ly 15% to 20% of all po­ten­tial tu­mor tar­gets can be found there; fo­cus­ing on in­tra­cel­lu­lar tar­gets opens up vast pos­si­bil­i­ties. It’s a next-gen ap­proach that promis­es to reach where CAR-T and pre­vi­ous an­ti­body ther­a­peu­tics couldn’t.

And as the tar­gets are al­ready iden­ti­fied the part­ners will start right away to find binders and, even­tu­al­ly, bis­pe­cif­ic mol­e­cules that could tack­le them, Rein­hardt says. On their end, it will be two to three years be­fore they will have a TCR ready for hu­man stud­ies.

At that point, Gen­mab will pick up every­thing from de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing to com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

“This col­lab­o­ra­tion with Im­mat­ics gives us the op­por­tu­ni­ty to com­bine our unique tech­nolo­gies and ex­per­tise to cre­ate dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed nov­el next-gen­er­a­tion ther­a­pies,” Gen­mab CEO Jan van de Winkel said in a state­ment. “We very much look for­ward to this ex­cit­ing part­ner­ship in the field of can­cer im­munother­a­py.”

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan [via Bloomberg/Getty]

I’m not per­fect: No­var­tis chief Vas Narasimhan al­most apol­o­gizes in the wake of a new cri­sis

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But he couldn’t quite get there.

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Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

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Ritu Baral Cowen
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Saqib Islam. CheckRare via YouTube

Spring­Works seeks $115M to push Pfiz­er drugs across fin­ish line while Sat­suma sells mi­graine play in $86M IPO

SpringWorks and Satsuma — both biotech spinouts that have closed B rounds in April — are loading up with IPO cash to boost their respective late-stage plans.

Bain-backed SpringWorks is the better-known company of the two, and it’s gunning for a larger windfall of $115 million to add to $228 million from previous financings. In the process, the Stamford, CT-based team is also drawing the curtains on the partnerships it has in mind for the pair of assets it had initially licensed from Pfizer.

Mi­nor­i­ty racial groups con­tin­ue to be dis­mal­ly rep­re­sent­ed in can­cer tri­als — study

Data reveal that different racial and ethnic groups — by nature and/or nurture — can respond differently in terms of pharmacokinetics, efficacy, or safety to therapeutics, but this disparity is not necessarily accounted for in clinical trials. A fresh analysis of the last decade of US cancer drug approvals suggests the trend continues, cementing previous research that suggests oncology trials are woefully under-representative of the racial makeup of the real world.

Van­da shares slide af­ter FDA spurns their big end­point and re­jects a pitch on jet lag re­lief

Back in the spring of last year, Vanda Pharmaceuticals $VNDA served up a hot stew of mixed data for a slate of endpoints related to what they called clear evidence that their melatonin sleep drug Hetlioz (tasimelteon) could help millions of travelers suffering from jet lag.

Never mind that they couldn’t get a planned 90 people in the study, settling for 25 instead; Vanda CEO Mihael H. Polymeropoulos said they were building on a body of data to prove it would help jet-lagged patients looking for added sleep benefits. And that, they added, would be worth a major upgrade from the agency as they sought to tackle a big market.

Jim Mellon [via YouTube]

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On Monday, Juvenescence completed its $100 million Series B round of financing. The company is backed by British billionaire Jim Mellon — who wrote his 400-page guide to investing in the field of longevity shortly after launching the company in 2017. Bailey, who served as a board director for seven years at Medivation before Pfizer swallowed the biotech for $14 billion, is joined by Declan Doogan, an industry veteran with stints at Pfizer $PFE and Amarin $AMRN.

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

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Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

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It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.