Glax­o­SmithK­line moves malar­ia vac­cine pro­duc­tion to In­dia; Nevakar bags Eu­ro­pean part­ner and nine-fig­ure deal

GSK is shift­ing pro­duc­tion of its malar­ia vac­cine to a Covid-19 vac­cine de­vel­op­er in In­dia.

Wednes­day’s move to Bharat Biotech was made as part of ef­forts to bat­tle the dead­ly fever, as GSK’s vac­cine is the first to prove ef­fec­tive in com­bat­ing the dis­ease. Bharat will take over man­u­fac­tur­ing of the pro­tein part of the vac­cine while GSK con­tin­ues de­vel­op­ing the ad­ju­vant por­tion of the shot.

The vac­cine is cur­rent­ly be­ing pi­lot­ed in re­gions of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi un­der the Malar­ia Vac­cine Im­ple­men­ta­tion Pro­gram. More than 500,000 chil­dren have re­ceived the first dose since the pi­lots were ini­ti­at­ed by the three coun­tries in 2019.

GSK has com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing 10 mil­lion dos­es for the pi­lot pro­grams and 15 mil­lion an­nu­al­ly through 2028. The com­pa­nies ex­pect that by 2029, Bharat Biotech will take over as the sole sup­pli­er of the vac­cine while GSK con­tin­ues to pro­vide the ad­ju­vant.

Ac­cord­ing to the WHO, there were 229 mil­lion cas­es of malar­ia world­wide in 2019, with 94% of cas­es and deaths oc­cur­ring in Africa. — Max Gel­man

Oph­thal­mol­o­gy biotech bags a Eu­ro­pean part­ner and a deal worth up to $135M

New Jer­sey-based Nevakar has a Eu­ro­pean part­ner for a new treat­ment that aims to slow my­opia in chil­dren.

Lab­o­ra­toires Théa in France is tak­ing on the pro­gram, look­ing to launch in Eu­rope pro­vid­ed Nevakar can get this ther­a­py over the EMA’s reg­u­la­to­ry goal line with NVK-002. And the com­pa­ny will pay up to $135 mil­lion in mile­stones — along with roy­al­ties from any sales.

“Nevakar’s NVK-002 is the most ad­vanced and in­no­v­a­tive at­ropine prod­uct for the treat­ment of my­opia. When ap­proved, it will help ad­dress un­met needs in chil­dren’s eye care,” stat­ed Jean-Frédéric Chi­bret, the pres­i­dent of Théa. — John Car­roll

En­thera ex­tends largest-ever Ital­ian Se­ries A

En­thera Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which in Ju­ly bagged the largest Se­ries A ever for an Ital­ian biotech, just added some more cash to its fund­ing round.

The biotech ex­tend­ed the fundrais­ing by €7 mil­lion, and has now raised a to­tal of €35 mil­lion for the round. In­vestors from the Roche Ven­ture Fund hopped on to the ex­ten­sion, join­ing a group that al­ready in­clud­ed Sofinno­va Part­ners and Ab­b­Vie Ven­tures.

As part of the Se­ries A round, Roche Ven­ture Fund chief Ca­r­ole Nuechter­lein joins the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors.

En­thera is us­ing “non­tra­di­tion­al” tech­nol­o­gy to tar­get au­toim­mune dis­eases, look­ing to re-es­tab­lish stem cell ca­pa­bil­i­ties in Type 1 di­a­betes and in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease.

“These funds raised will en­able us to ac­cel­er­ate our lead pro­gram Ent001 to clin­i­cal proof-of-con­cept,” CEO Gio­van­ni Am­a­bile said in a state­ment. “Through this and our wider pipeline, we hope to de­vel­op safe, ef­fec­tive treat­ments.”

— Max Gel­man

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck pulls Keytru­da in SCLC af­ter ac­cel­er­at­ed nod. Is the FDA get­ting tough on drug­mak­ers that don't hit their marks?

In what could be an early shot in the battle against drugmakers that whiff on confirmatory studies to support accelerated approvals, the FDA ordered Bristol Myers Squibb late last year to give up Opdivo’s approval in SCLC. Now, Merck is next on the firing line — are we seeing the FDA buckling down on post-marketing offenders?

Merck has withdrawn its marketing approval for PD-(L)1 inhibitor Keytruda in metastatic small cell lung cancer as part of what it describes as an “industry-wide evaluation” by the FDA of drugs that do not meet the post-marketing checkpoints on which their accelerated nods were based, the company said Monday.

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The 2021 top 100 bio­phar­ma in­vestors: As the pan­dem­ic hit and IPOs boomed, VCs swung in­to ac­tion like nev­er be­fore

The global pandemic may have roiled economies, killed hundreds of thousands and throttled entire industries, but the only effect it had on biopharma venture investing was to help turbocharge the field to giddy new heights.

Below you’ll find the new top 100 venture investors in the industry, ranked by the number of deals they were publicly involved in, as tracked by DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar. The numbers master then calculated the estimated amount of money they put into each deal — divvying up the cash by the number of players — to indicate how they managed their syndicates.

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Hal Barron, Endpoints UKBIO19

GSK, Vir's hopes for a Covid-19 an­ti­body fall flat in NIH 'mas­ter pro­to­col' with no ben­e­fit in hos­pi­tal­ized pa­tients

GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology were hopeful that one of their partnered antibodies would carve out a win after getting the invite to a major NIH study in hospitalized Covid-19 patients. But just like Eli Lilly, the pair’s drug couldn’t hit the mark, and now they’ll be left to take a hard look at the game plan.

The NIH has shut down enrollment for GSK and Vir’s antibody VIR-7831 in its late-stage ACTIV-3 trial after the drug showed negligible effect in achieving sustained recovery in hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the partners said Wednesday.

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Presage teams with Mer­ck on its Phase 0 test­ing; Kem­Pharm AD­HD drug wins ap­proval in chil­dren aged 6 and up

Seattle-based Presage Biosciences, which approaches drug development through its microdosing platform, has some new partnerships and cash to come with them.

Presage closed a $13 million financing round Tuesday, aiming to expand its network of clinical trial sites and advance development of its microdosing injection devices. They also closed partnership deals with Merck and Maverick Therapeutics.

The financing included $7 million from new investors, including the LabCorp Venture Fund, Bristol Myers Squibb, and InHarv Partners. An additional $6 million convertible note from Takeda Ventures will convert to equity.

In­tro­duc­ing End­points FDA+, our new pre­mi­um week­ly reg­u­la­to­ry news re­port led by Zachary Bren­nan

CRLs. 483s. CBER, CDER and RWE. For biopharma professionals, these acronyms command attention because of the fundamental role FDA plays in drug development. Now Endpoints is doubling down on regulatory coverage, and launching a weekly report focusing on developments out of White Oak, with analysis and insight into what it all means.

Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan. He joins Endpoints from POLITICO, where he covered pharma. Prior to that he was the managing editor for Regulatory Focus, a news publication from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society.

As Brain­Storm con­tin­ues to tout ‘clear sig­nal’ on ALS drug, the FDA of­fers a rare pub­lic slap­down on the da­ta

A little more than a week after BrainStorm acknowledged that regulators at the FDA had informed them that the biotech needed more data before it could expect to gain an approval for its ALS treatment NurOwn — while still touting a “clear signal” of efficacy and not ruling out an application — the agency has decided to clarify the record in a most unusual statement.

The FDA statement amounts to a straight slap own, offering a different set of efficacy numbers from the company’s public presentation last November and ruling out any chance of statistical significance.

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Eli Lil­ly claims suc­cess in a new JAK in­di­ca­tion: hair loss

Over the last decade, drugmakers have proven JAK inhibitors can treat a smattering of immune-related diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to Covid-19. Now Eli Lilly has pulled out a new one.

Lilly and its biotech partner Incyte announced Wednesday that their JAK inhibitor baricitinib effectively regrew patients’ hair in a Phase III trial for alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that can cause sudden, severe and patchy hair loss. Lilly didn’t break down the results from the 546-patient trial, but the primary endpoint was improvement on a standard score for alopecia symptoms.

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Thank you, next: Take­da hands Ovid $196M cash to rein back in Phase III-ready seizure drug, re­viv­ing bat­tered stock

Soticlestat made it.

Takeda is bringing the drug back into its fold more than four years after first entrusting the team at Ovid with the mid-stage clinical work. For all that — generating what they saw as positive Phase II data in Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome — the biotech has been rewarded with $196 million in upfront cash, with another $660 million reserved for regulatory and commercial milestones.

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Antoine Papiernik, Sofinnova managing director (Business Wire)

Sofinno­va Part­ners stays fo­cused on late-stage deals with a new, $540M crossover fund

One of Europe’s most high-profile biopharma investors is getting $540 million to invest in new crossover deals for late-stage companies.

The Paris-based VC says the fresh Sofinnova Crossover Fund raise positions them as the “largest crossover investor in Europe dedicated to late-stage biopharma and medtech investments.”

They got a leg up in France after winning a special “Tibi” designation from the French government, giving them access to a pool of €6 billion that helped them gain an edge with institutional investors. Since they were founded close to 50 years ago, the venture group has backed more than 500 companies and currently has more than €2 billion under management.