Gink­go BioWorks picks up an­tibi­otics ef­fort with Roche where Warp Dri­ve Bio left off

When Rev­o­lu­tion Med­i­cines ab­sorbed fel­low Third Rock start­up Warp Dri­ve Bio in­to its op­er­a­tions last Oc­to­ber — then new­ly tran­si­tioned from an­ti­fun­gal to on­col­o­gy — the ex­ec team was still re­view­ing op­tions for the genome min­ing plat­form, which was the sub­ject of a deal with Roche.

Ja­son Kel­ly

They found a buy­er in Gink­go BioWorks, a spe­cial­ist in en­gi­neer­ing cus­tomized mi­crobes that has so far fo­cused on food and agri­cul­ture. The Boston-based com­pa­ny plans to in­te­grate Warp Dri­ve’s data­base of mi­cro­bial genome, as well as its search en­gine, with its own tech in pur­suit of new class­es of an­tibi­otics. Fi­nan­cials were not dis­closed.

While it’s pre­vi­ous­ly signed a col­lab­o­ra­tion with syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy play­er Syn­log­ic, this deal rep­re­sents the kind of high-pro­file ma­neu­vers that can put Gink­go on the ther­a­peu­tics map, CEO Ja­son Kel­ly told Forbes. If it can bring an­tibi­ot­ic can­di­dates in­to the clin­ic, Gink­go stands to re­ceive $160 mil­lion out of the $300 mil­lion Roche com­mit­ted in de­vel­op­ment and po­ten­tial sales mile­stones when the phar­ma gi­ant’s pRED or­ga­ni­za­tion first tied up with Warp Dri­ve in 2017, fea­tur­ing $87 mil­lion in up­front.

“Bring­ing Warp Dri­ve Bio’s deep ex­per­tise in ge­nomics-based nat­ur­al prod­ucts dis­cov­ery to Gink­go’s code­base is the key to un­lock­ing new prod­ucts, like nov­el an­tibi­otics that can help com­bat the rise of an­tibi­ot­ic-re­sis­tant dis­eases,” Kel­ly said in a state­ment.

Mark Gold­smith

It is by no means a sure thing. Roche is the last Big Phar­ma (along with Glax­o­SmithK­line) stand­ing in a field deemed too risky and un­prof­itable for ma­jor R&D ef­forts. And re­cent fi­nan­cial strug­gles of biotechs that have suc­cess­ful­ly brought new drugs to the mar­ket — such as Achao­gen and Melin­ta — have on­ly re­in­forced that no­tion.

In its six years as an in­de­pen­dent en­ti­ty, Warp Dri­ve Bio did not bring any drugs to the clin­ic.

The team — 43 at last count — will now move to Gink­go’s head­quar­ters in Boston’s Sea­port Dis­trict, their ge­nom­ic se­quence col­lec­tion and bioin­for­mat­ics soft­ware in tow.

With that, Rev­o­lu­tion can turn all its at­ten­tion to the dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment of small mol­e­cule ther­a­peu­tics “de­signed to pre­cise­ly in­hib­it the ac­tiv­i­ty of fron­tier tar­gets with­in the no­to­ri­ous onco­genic RAS path­way.”

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Scoop: Roche scraps one of two schiz­o­phre­nia PhII tri­als af­ter fail­ing the pri­ma­ry end­point

Roche has terminated one of two Phase II trials testing its drug ralmitaront in patients with schizophrenia, the Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News.

The study was terminated last month, according to a June 22 update to the registry on clinicaltrials.gov. Begun in September 2020, the trial was looking at ralmitaront in patients with acute schizophrenia. The trial enrolled 286 patients out of an originally planned 308.

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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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