Glob­al syn­di­cate backs $400M ge­nomics R&D play in Ire­land as WuXi NextCODE ex­tends its reach in­to Eu­rope

The big push to trans­late fresh mounds of ge­nomics da­ta in­to new meds got a sig­nif­i­cant boost to­day as an in­ter­na­tion­al syn­di­cate of in­vestors from the US, Chi­na, Ire­land and Sin­ga­pore backed Wuxi NextCODE’s plan to add a ma­jor Eu­ro­pean se­quenc­ing ini­tia­tive and hub-build­ing project to their glob­al net­work.

The tech out­fit is mak­ing 3-year-old Ge­nomics Med­i­cine Ire­land a sub­sidiary, with fi­nan­cial back­ing tot­ting up to $400 mil­lion to see through an ef­fort to se­quence the genomes of 400,000 res­i­dents in Ire­land — about 10% of the pop­u­la­tion — in search of in­sights in­to the way spe­cif­ic genes in­flu­ence dis­ease.

In­clud­ed in this project is a ge­nomics ac­cel­er­a­tor look­ing to help spur a life sci­ences hub that they be­lieve can grow in­to some­thing along the lines of San Diego. And the Ire­land Strate­gic In­vest­ment Fund is putting up $70 mil­lion of the ini­tial $225 mil­lion bud­get with an eye to di­rect­ly cre­at­ing hun­dreds of jobs — with more to fol­low if they can ramp up the hub.

That’s a tall or­der. Ire­land has some biotechs, but its in­volve­ment in the in­dus­try is large­ly cen­tered on man­u­fac­tur­ing and its rep as a glob­al cor­po­rate tax haven. What­ev­er be­comes of the hub dream, though, big se­quenc­ing ef­forts have at­tract­ed the at­ten­tion of a broad swathe of bio­phar­ma play­ers, in­clud­ing Am­gen and Re­gen­eron, with GSK re­cent­ly jump­ing in­to a col­lab­o­ra­tion with 23andMe.

Along­side the Ire­land project, WuXi NextCODE put to­geth­er a $200 mil­lion C round — just a lit­tle more than a year af­ter it added $240 mil­lion from the Se­ries B.

The trans­glob­al fi­nan­cial syn­di­cate around this WuXi deal says a lot about the con­nec­tions that can com­mand large sums for mar­quee plans like this.

US-based Arch Ven­ture Part­ners, which has close ties to Ge Li’s glob­al ops at Shang­hai-based WuXi, linked up with the ear­ly-stage in­vestors at Po­laris, Sin­ga­pore’s Temasek and Chi­na’s Yun­feng Cap­i­tal and Se­quoia Cap­i­tal to back the play. And they have the mon­ey to make a host of star­tups a re­al­i­ty if the ini­tia­tive de­liv­ers on plans to cre­ate a hub built around ad­vanced AI, new tech and R&D.

“The suc­cess of this fi­nanc­ing round is an en­dorse­ment of our strat­e­gy to cre­ate the lead­ing glob­al plat­form for us­ing the genome to im­prove the lives of peo­ple and pa­tients every­where,” said Rob Brain­in, CEO of WuXi NextCODE. “This phase of our growth has a dis­tinct­ly Irish fo­cus to it, and we are cre­at­ing in Ire­land the world’s pre­mier genome dataset as a unique­ly pow­er­ful en­gine both for trans­form­ing how we dis­cov­er new drugs, as well as for bring­ing new di­ag­nos­tics, risk screens and oth­er tools and ser­vices to the in­di­vid­ual pa­tients.”

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Ted Love. HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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Bain’s biotech team has cre­at­ed a $1B-plus fund — with an eye to more Big Phar­ma spin­outs

One of the biggest investors to burst onto the biotech scene in recent years has re-upped with more than a billion dollars flowing into its second fund. And this next wave of bets will likely include more of the Big Pharma spinouts that highlighted their first 3 years in action.

Adam Koppel and Jeff Schwartz got the new life sciences fund at Bain Capital into gear in the spring of 2016, as they were putting together a $720 million fund with $600 million flowing in from external investors and the rest drawn from the Bain side of the equation. This time the external investors chipped in $900 million, with Bain coming in for roughly $180 million more.

They’re not done with Fund I, with plans to add a couple more deals to the 15 they’ve already posted. And once again, they’re estimating another 15 to 20 investments over a 3- to 5-year time horizon for Fund II.

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News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.

Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.


Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.


Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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Adding mar­quee in­vestors, Black­Thorn bags $76M to back an AI-dri­ven strat­e­gy for pre­ci­sion neu­ro med­i­cine

As ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ma­chine learn­ing loom ever larg­er in drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment, a biotech op­er­at­ing at the “nexus” of tech­nol­o­gy and neu­ro­sciences has cashed in with $76 mil­lion in fresh fi­nanc­ing.

The big idea at Black­Thorn Ther­a­peu­tics is to do for neu­robe­hav­ioral dis­or­ders what ge­net­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­py has done for on­col­o­gy: Re­de­fine pa­tient pop­u­la­tions by the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­o­gy — dys­reg­u­lat­ed brain cir­cuits, or neu­rotypes — in­stead of symp­toms, there­by find­ing the pa­tients who are most like­ly to ben­e­fit at en­roll­ment phase.

J&J gains an en­thu­si­as­tic en­dorse­ment from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for their big new drug Spra­va­to

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has lit­tle love for Big Phar­ma, but there’s at least one new drug that just hit the mar­ket which he is en­am­ored with.

Trump, ev­i­dent­ly, has been read­ing up on J&J’s new an­ti-de­pres­sion drug, Spra­va­to. And the pres­i­dent — who of­ten likes to break out in­to a full-throat­ed at­tack on greedy drug­mak­ers — ap­par­ent­ly en­thused about the ther­a­py in a meet­ing with of­fi­cials of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, which has long grap­pled with de­pres­sion among vet­er­ans.