Glax­o­SmithK­line’s Hal Bar­ron poach­es Genen­tech’s top can­cer drug deal­mak­er for his new R&D team

Any­one look­ing for fresh hints about GSK’s up­com­ing move on the can­cer front needs to check out the phar­ma gi­ant’s lat­est hire.

New GSK R&D chief Hal Bar­ron has re­cruit­ed Kevin Sin, the long­time on­col­o­gy BD chief at Genen­tech, to the top job on the deal side of the com­pa­ny. His new of­fi­cial ti­tle is head of world­wide busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. And he’ll be mov­ing in­to Bar­ron’s new of­fice be­ing set up in San Fran­cis­co.

Bar­ron and Sin worked to­geth­er at Genen­tech, where Sin had a hand in more than 100 trans­ac­tions, ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son for GSK.

Hal Bar­ron

GSK has been mar­shal­ing its forces for a move on on­col­o­gy ever since Em­ma Walm­s­ley was pro­mot­ed to the CEO slot. The first clue came when Dana-Far­ber chief Lau­rie Glim­ch­er was brought on to the board af­ter Walm­s­ley poached her from Bris­tol-My­ers. Hal Bar­ron, a leg­end in can­cer re­search cir­cles from his own stint at Genen­tech, then took the top re­search spot. And Bar­ron raised a few eye­brows with GSK’s de­ci­sion to let him stay in the Bay Area, even though GSK’s re­search ops are clus­tered around Philadel­phia and Steve­nage in the UK.

GSK’s can­cer re­search in par­tic­u­lar is in the Philadel­phia area, where Ax­el Hoos has been in charge of shep­herd­ing the ear­ly-stage work that was left at the phar­ma gi­ant af­ter they swapped out their can­cer drug port­fo­lio with No­var­tis in ex­change for some vac­cines.

Luke Miels

Glax­o­SmithK­line has been a no­to­ri­ous lag­gard on the drug de­vel­op­ment side of the busi­ness, fail­ing to achieve the kind of land­mark ap­provals need­ed to grow a port­fo­lio. Walm­s­ley — who al­so wres­tled Luke Miels away from As­traZeneca as the top phar­ma chief — has now set out to change things with a brand new team.

Sin had this to say about the new job hunt­ing down fresh col­lab­o­ra­tions for GSK:

The in­cred­i­ble pace of sci­en­tif­ic and tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion that is hap­pen­ing around the world is sig­nif­i­cant and presents an abun­dance of op­por­tu­ni­ties to com­bine GSK’s strengths and ca­pa­bil­i­ties with that of oth­ers to pur­sue big ideas in sci­ence and med­i­cine. I look for­ward to work­ing with the team to ex­plore col­lab­o­ra­tions that can ac­cel­er­ate the dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment of new med­i­cines with the po­ten­tial to sig­nif­i­cant­ly im­prove hu­man health.

Deborah Dunsire. Lundbeck

UP­DAT­ED: Deb­o­rah Dun­sire is pay­ing $2B for a chance to leap di­rect­ly in­to a block­buster show­down with a few of the world's biggest phar­ma gi­ants

A year after taking the reins as CEO of Lundbeck, Deborah Dunsire is making a bold bid to beef up the Danish biotech’s portfolio of drugs in what will likely be a direct leap into an intense rivalry with a group of giants now carving up a growing market for new migraine drugs.

Bright and early European time Monday morning the company announced that it will pay up to about $2 billion to buy Alder, a little biotech that is far along the path in developing a quarterly IV formulation of a CGRP drug aimed at cutting back the number of crippling migraines patients experience each month. In a followup call, Dunsire also noted that the company will likely need 200 to 250 reps for this marketing task on both sides of the Atlantic. And analysts were quick to note that the dealmaking at Lundbeck isn’t done, with another $2 billion to $3 billion available for more deals to beef up the pipeline.

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Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb has a new board po­si­tion to add to the re­sume — and this one is fo­cused on a fa­vorite sub­ject

Scott Gottlieb has another position to add to his lengthy roster of boards and advisory roles in the wake of his departure from the helm of the FDA.

He’ll be joining the advisory board of FasterCures, a think tank which former junk bond king Michael Milken set up to help drive more drugs to the market, looking to accelerate drug R&D. That’s a subject close to the heart of Gottlieb, who blazed a trail at the FDA focused on hustling up the process. That helped endear him to the industry, making him one of the most popular commissioners in FDA history.

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Karyopharm lines up $150 mil­lion cash in­jec­tion to back con­tro­ver­sial drug launch

Karyopharm has entered into a royalty agreement worth up to $150 million to back the launch of their multiple myeloma drug — recently approved by the FDA over the objections of a majority of the agency’s outside experts.

The deal with HealthCare Royalty Partners, worth $75 million now and $75 million once certain regulatory and commercial milestones have been reached, will fund the commercialization of Karyopharm’s oral SINE compound Xpovio (selinexor) for patients with multiple myeloma who have already had at least four prior therapies. The money will help Karyopharm as it markets its newly approved drug and pushes through clinical trials testing the drug on refractory multiple myeloma patients with one to three therapies and patients with treatment-resistant diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. It will give Karyopharm a cushion through mid-2021.

Af­ter a run of CT­LA-4 com­bo fail­ures, sci­en­tists spot­light a way to make it work — in se­lect pa­tients

CTLA-4/PD-(L)1 combinations have been one of the El Dorados of oncology, its promise forever behind that next hill but apparently unattainable after a series of pivotal clinical failures. But researchers at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Technical University of Munich think they may know how to fix what’s wrong and boost the drive to next-gen cancer combos.

In a preclinical animal research program, researchers found that within a cell, checkpoints rely on a specific molecule — RNA-sensing molecule RIG-I — to work. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it has already been identified as a target for boosting immune responses and was subject to at least one Phase I/II trial. Pfizer in December allied itself with Kineta with $15 million upfront and $505 million in potential milestones to develop RIG-I immunotherapies, and three years ago Merck purchased German upstart Rigontec for $137 million upfront and over $400 million in potential milestones for the same purpose.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Pur­due Phar­ma files for bank­rupt­cy as first step in $10B opi­oid set­tle­ment

It’s settled. Purdue Pharma has filed for bankruptcy as part of a deal that would see the OxyContin maker hand over $10 billion in cash and other contributions to mitigate the opioid crisis — without acknowledging any wrongdoing in the protracted epidemic that’s resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The announcement came two weeks after news of a proposed settlement surfaced and largely confirm what’s already been reported.

Lisa M. DeAngelis, MSKCC

MSK picks brain can­cer ex­pert Lisa DeAn­ge­lis as its next CMO — fol­low­ing José Basel­ga’s con­tro­ver­sial ex­it

It’s official. Memorial Sloan Kettering has picked a brain cancer expert as its new physician-in-chief and CMO, replacing José Baselga, who left under a cloud after being singled out by The New York Times and ProPublica for failing to properly air his lucrative industry ties.

His replacement, who now will be in charge of MSK’s cutting-edge research work as well as the cancer care delivered by hundreds of practitioners, is Lisa M. DeAngelis. DeAngelis had been chair of the neurology department and co-founder of MSK’s brain tumor center and was moved in to the acting CMO role in the wake of Baselga’s departure.

Penn team adapts CAR-T tech, reengi­neer­ing mouse cells to treat car­diac fi­bro­sis

After establishing itself as one of the pioneer research centers in the world for CAR-T cancer therapies, creating new attack vehicles to eradicate cancer cells, a team at Penn Medicine has begun the tricky transition of using the basic technology for heart repair work.

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Tal Zaks. Moderna

The mR­NA uni­corn Mod­er­na has more ear­ly-stage hu­man da­ta it wants to show off — reach­ing new peaks in prov­ing the po­ten­tial

The whole messenger RNA field has attracted billions of dollars in public and private investor cash gambled on the prospect of getting in on the ground floor. And this morning Boston-based Moderna, one of the leaders in the field, wants to show off a few more of the cards it has to play to prove to you that they’re really in the game.

The whole hand, of course, has yet to be dealt. And there’s no telling who gets to walk with a share of the pot. But any cards on display at this point — especially after being accused of keeping its deck under lock and key — will attract plenty of attention from some very wary, and wired, observers.

“In terms of the complexity and unmet need,” says Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer, “this is peak for what we’ve accomplished.”

Moderna has two Phase I studies it wants to talk about now.

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