Gur­net Point-backed Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals su­per­charges pipeline with twin deals grab­bing top cast-offs from GSK, No­var­tis

The ex­ec­u­tive crew at Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has been busy.

In one 48-hour stretch they com­plet­ed two big in-li­cens­ing deals with a pair of the world’s phar­ma gi­ants — No­var­tis and GSK — which will dou­ble the size of their clin­i­cal pipeline with 4 new ther­a­pies and a slate of late-pre­clin­i­cal ef­forts that should bring the to­tal num­ber of pro­grams in hu­man tri­als to a dozen by the end of next year.

In the process, they’ve been adding just slight­ly to the small team at the com­pa­ny, which was gift­ed with a $600 mil­lion bankroll by Gur­net Point Cap­i­tal, whose chief — ex-Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbach­er — stepped in as chair­man of the board.

Right now, the staff tal­ly is just un­der 30, says Rob Arm­strong, the Eli Lil­ly vet who runs the com­pa­ny. 

They’ve al­ready divvied up these new as­sets, which in­cludes some of the top pro­grams out of No­var­tis’ trans­la­tion­al med group NI­BR, which punt­ed its an­tibac­te­r­i­al and an­tivi­ral re­search pro­grams in Emeryville, CA. last Ju­ly. For GSK, the drugs in­clude a se­lec­tion from the 30 ther­a­pies that CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley put on the auc­tion block as she cleaned house ahead of an R&D re­vamp.

There are no num­bers in this deal, though Arm­strong notes that No­var­tis end­ed up tak­ing some eq­ui­ty in a sub­sidiary built for the deal, along with an up­front and mile­stones and a roy­al­ty sched­ule. As for GSK, he’s just not say­ing — though typ­i­cal­ly Big Phar­ma doesn’t ask for a lot of cash for the drugs it casts off from time to time. In GSK’s case, they all but hand­ed off their gene ther­a­py work, look­ing on­ly for a con­tin­ued fi­nan­cial in­ter­est.

In this case Boston Phar­ma’s haul in­cludes:

  • GSK3352589, a small mol­e­cule RET in­hibitor ready for a Phase II tri­al in ir­ri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome with di­ar­rhea.
  • GSK3008356, a DGAT 1 drug that is be­ing re­pur­posed from NASH to ac­ne.
  • GSK3183475, a BET BD2 “which as a top­i­cal for­mu­la­tion has ther­a­peu­tic po­ten­tial to treat vi­tili­go and/or pso­ri­a­sis and is Phase 1-ready. “

On the No­var­tis side they are gain­ing:

  • LYS228, which Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals be­lieves is a po­ten­tial best-in-class monobac­tam in Phase II clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment that has “demon­strat­ed ac­tiv­i­ty against CRE with re­sis­tance caused by ser­ine be­ta-lac­ta­mases (SBLs) and/or met­al­lo be­ta-lac­ta­mases (MBLs).”
  • IID572, a nov­el be­ta-lac­ta­mase in­hibitor that may be used in com­bi­na­tion with LYS228 or oth­er be­ta-lac­tam an­tibi­otics to ex­pand their use against dif­fi­cult-to-treat in­fec­tions caused by a broad­er spec­trum of CRE.
  • MAK181, an oral, first-in-class LpxC in­hibitor for Pseudomonas in­fec­tions.

“This is part of a longterm strat­e­gy,” ven­tures a cau­tious Arm­strong, forged 3 years ago when they set out to build a pipeline with 20 drugs in it. “This is a very lean trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine plat­form.” 

Keep­ing the team small, while re­ly­ing on a sup­port­ing cast of out­side ex­perts to han­dle a lot of the load — was al­ways part of that game plan. With top ex­ecs com­ing out of com­pa­nies like Lil­ly and Sanofi, Boston Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals likes the agili­ty of a small, ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly well fi­nanced com­pa­ny. And it doesn’t sound like they’re blow­ing any of the ex­cess on par­ties and danc­ing girls.

Al­so part of the game plan: They are cov­er­ing the wa­ter­front on dis­eases and drugs, se­lect­ing from a broad range to come up with the ther­a­pies they like. One um­brel­la team cov­ers every­thing — there’s on­ly one CMO at the com­pa­ny — and they’re steer­ing clear of busi­ness mod­els like Roivant, which is es­tab­lish­ing ful­ly staffed com­pa­nies un­der the guid­ance of the moth­er ship.

Long term, the group plans to start sell­ing off most of its as­sets ahead of Phase III, or in late-stage de­vel­op­ment if that makes sense.

Oth­ers can do the com­mer­cial work, once the biotech has plumbed the full val­ue of what’s there.

Im­age: Rob Arm­strong File Pho­to

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Gilead re­leas­es an­oth­er round of murky remde­sivir re­sults

A month after the NIH declared the first trial on remdesivir in Covid-19 a success, Gilead is out with new results on their antiviral. But although the study met one of its primary endpoints, the data are likely to only add to a growing debate over how effective the drug actually is.

In a Phase III trial, patients given a 5-day dose of remdesivir were 65% more likely to show “clinical improvement” compared to an arm given standard-of-care. The trial, though, gave little indication for whether the drug had an impact on key endpoints such as survival or time-to-recovery. And in a surprising twist, a 10-day dosing arm of remdesivir didn’t lead to a statistically significant improvement over standard of care.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ken Frazier, AP Images

Why Mer­ck wait­ed, and what they now bring to the Covid-19 fight

Nicholas Kartsonis had been running clinical infectious disease research at Merck for almost 2 years when, in mid-January, he got a new assignment: searching the pharma giant’s vast libraries for something that could treat the novel coronavirus.

The outbreak was barely two weeks old when Kartsonis and a few dozen others got to work, first in small teams and then in a larger task force that sucked in more and more parts of the sprawling company as Covid-19 infected more and more of the globe. By late February, the group began formally searching for vaccine and antiviral candidates to license. Still, while other companies jumped out to announce their programs and, eventually and sometimes controversially, early glimpses at human data, Merck remained silent. They made only a brief announcement about a data collection partnership in April and mentioned vaguely a vaccine and antiviral search in their April 28 earnings call.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mark Genovese (Stanford via Twitter)

Gilead woos fil­go­tinib clin­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tor from Stan­ford to lead the charge on NASH, in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases

With an FDA OK for the use of filgotinib in rheumatoid arthritis expected to drop any day now, Gilead has recruited a new leader from academia to lead its foray into inflammatory diseases.

Mark Genovese — a longtime Stanford professor and most recently the clinical chief in the division of immunology and rheumatology — was the principal investigator in FINCH 2, one of three studies that supported Gilead’s NDA filing. In his new role as SVP, inflammation, he will oversee the clinical development of the entire portfolio.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Stephen Isaacs, Aduro president and CEO (Aduro)

Once a high fly­er, a stag­ger­ing Aduro is auc­tion­ing off most of the pipeline as CEO Stephen Isaacs hands off the shell to new own­ers

After a drumbeat of failure, setbacks and reorganizations over the last few years, Aduro CEO Stephen Isaacs is handing over his largely gutted-out shell of a public company to another biotech company and putting up some questionable assets in a going-out-of-business sale.

Isaacs —who forged a string of high-profile Big Pharma deals along the way — has wrapped a 13-year run at the biotech with one program for kidney disease going to the new owners at Chinook Therapeutics. A host of once-heralded assets like their STING agonist program partnered with Novartis (which dumped their work on ADU-S100 after looking over weak clinical results), the Lilly-allied cGAS-STING inhibitor program and the anti-CD27 program out-licensed to Merck will all be posted for auction under a strategic review process.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Hill­house re­casts spot­light on Chi­na's biotech scene with $160M round for Shang­hai-based an­ti­body mak­er

Almost two years after first buying into Genor Biopharma’s pipeline of cancer and autoimmune therapies, Hillhouse Capital has led a $160 million cash injection to push the late-stage assets over the finish line while continuing to fund both internal R&D and dealmaking.

The Series B has landed right around the time Genor would have listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to plans reported by Bloomberg late last year. Insiders had said that the company was looking to raise about $200 million.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 82,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.