Hop­ing to take drug R&D in­to the cloud, In­sight­ful Sci­ence snaps up da­ta man­age­ment out­fit Dot­mat­ics

As com­pa­nies quick­ly move to­ward more in­no­v­a­tive meth­ods of R&D to in­crease sci­en­tists’ ef­fi­cien­cy, two soft­ware com­pa­nies an­nounced that they will join forces Mon­day in the lat­est string of cloud-based deals.

UK soft­ware provider In­sight­ful Sci­ence will ac­quire Dot­mat­ics, a cloud-based sci­en­tif­ic R&D da­ta man­age­ment plat­form based in San Diego. The com­bi­na­tion is in­tend­ed to im­prove lab­o­ra­to­ry ef­fi­cien­cy and fa­cil­i­tate quick­er da­ta ac­cess, analy­sis and ex­change be­tween sci­en­tists, the com­pa­nies said.

Thomas Swal­la

Fi­nan­cial terms were not an­nounced in the press re­lease Mon­day, but Bloomberg re­ports that the deal is val­ued at up to $690 mil­lion. The move could gen­er­ate over $100 mil­lion in rev­enue, the re­lease said, and will im­prove lab ef­fi­cien­cy for more than 1 mil­lion sci­en­tists.

“This an­nounce­ment sig­nals a sig­nif­i­cant trans­for­ma­tion in the fu­ture of soft­ware and da­ta man­age­ment in re­search labs,” In­sight­ful CEO Thomas Swal­la said in a state­ment. “To­geth­er our com­ple­men­tary busi­ness­es cre­ate an end-to-end cloud-first sci­en­tif­ic re­search plat­form that stands apart in our col­lec­tive abil­i­ty to sup­port da­ta-dri­ven re­search.”

Dot­mat­ics was found­ed in 2005 by two sci­en­tists from Mer­ck and has since grown to a team of over 260 sci­en­tists. It’s a sci­en­tif­ic in­for­mat­ics soft­ware and ser­vices com­pa­ny that is fo­cused on the au­toma­tion of lab­o­ra­to­ry work­flow.

Stephen Gal­lagher

“This com­bi­na­tion al­lows us to ex­pand in­vest­ments in our Dot­mat­ics plat­form and strength­en our brand as a lead­ing en­ter­prise in­for­mat­ics so­lu­tion provider,” Dot­mat­ics CEO and co-founder Stephen Gal­lagher said in a state­ment.

The ac­qui­si­tion fur­ther high­lights the in­dus­try’s in­crease in cloud-based soft­ware deals. In Sep­tem­ber, Flag­ship in­vest­ed $100 mil­lion in cloud com­put­ing. Ear­li­er in March, the com­pa­ny re­ceived a $110 mil­lion in­vest­ment from Koch Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy.

In late Feb­ru­ary, New York-based Schrödinger fi­nal­ized a deal with Google Cloud to in­crease the speed and ca­pac­i­ty of its plat­form for drug dis­cov­ery, a move the com­pa­ny said tripled its pre­vi­ous ca­pac­i­ty.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

How to col­lect and sub­mit RWD to win ap­proval for a new drug in­di­ca­tion: FDA spells it out in a long-await­ed guid­ance

Real-world data is messy. There can be differences in the standards used to collect different types of data, differences in terminologies and curation strategies, and even in the way data is exchanged.

While acknowledging this somewhat controlled chaos, the FDA is now explaining how biopharma companies can submit study data derived from real-world data (RWD) sources in applicable regulatory submissions, including new drug indications.

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David Livingston (Credit: Michael Sazel for CeMM)

Renowned Dana-Far­ber sci­en­tist, men­tor and bio­phar­ma ad­vi­sor David Liv­ingston has died

David Livingston, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Med scientist who helped shine a light on some of the key molecular drivers of breast and ovarian cancer, died unexpectedly last Sunday.

One of the senior leaders at Dana-Farber during his nearly half century of work there, Livingston was credited with shedding light on the genes that regulate cell growth, with insights into inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that helped lay the scientific foundation for targeted therapies and earlier detection that have transformed the field.

David Lockhart, ReCode Therapeutics CEO

Pfiz­er throws its weight be­hind LNP play­er eye­ing mR­NA treat­ments for CF, PCD

David Lockhart did not see the meteoric rise of messenger RNA and lipid nanoparticles coming.

Thanks to the worldwide fight against Covid-19, mRNA — the genetic code that can be engineered to turn the body into a mini protein factory — and LNPs, those tiny bubbles of fat carrying those instructions, have found their way into hundreds of millions of people. Within the biotech world, pioneers like Alnylam and Intellia have demonstrated just how versatile LNPs can be as a delivery vehicle for anything from siRNA to CRISPR/Cas9.

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Bris­tol My­ers pledges to sell its Ac­celeron shares as ac­tivist in­vestors cir­cle Mer­ck­'s $11.5B buy­out — re­port

Just as Avoro Capital’s campaign to derail Merck’s proposed $11.5 billion buyout of Acceleron gains steam, Bristol Myers Squibb is leaning in with some hefty counterweight.

The pharma giant is planning to tender its Acceleron shares, Bloomberg reported, which add up to a sizable 11.5% stake. Based on the offer price, the sale would net Bristol Myers around $1.3 billion.

To complete its deal, Merck needs a majority of shareholders to agree to sell their shares.

No­vo CEO Lars Fruer­gaard Jør­gensen on R&D risk, the deal strat­e­gy and tar­gets for gen­der di­ver­si­ty

 

I kicked off our European R&D summit last week with a conversation involving Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen. Novo is aiming to launch a new era of obesity management with a new approval for semaglutide. And Jørgensen had a lot to say about what comes next in R&D, how they manage risk and gender diversity targets at the trendsetting European pharma giant.

John Carroll: I’m here with Lars Jørgensen, the CEO of Novo Nordisk. Lars, it’s been a really interesting year so far with Novo Nordisk, right? You’ve projected a new era of growing sales. You’ve been able to expand on the GLP-1 franchise that was already well established in diabetes now going into obesity. And I think a tremendous number of people are really interested in how that’s working out. You have forecast a growing amount of sales. We don’t know specifically how that might play out. I know a lot of the analysts have different ideas, how those numbers might play out, but that we are in fact embarking on a new era for Novo Nordisk in terms of what the company’s capable of doing and what it’s able to do and what it wants to do. And I wanted to start off by asking you about obesity in particular. Semaglutide has been approved in the United States for obesity. It’s an area of R&D that’s been very troubled for decades. There have been weight loss drugs that have come along. They’ve attracted a lot of attention, but they haven’t actually ever gained traction in the market. My first question is what’s different this time about obesity? What is different about this drug and why do you expect it to work now whereas previous drugs haven’t?

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Leen Kawas (L) has resigned as CEO of Athira and will be replaced by COO Mark Litton

Ex­clu­sive: Athi­ra CEO Leen Kawas re­signs af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds she ma­nip­u­lat­ed da­ta

Leen Kawas, CEO and founder of the Alzheimer’s upstart Athira Pharma, has resigned after an internal investigation found she altered images in her doctoral thesis and four other papers that were foundational to establishing the company.

Mark Litton, the company’s COO since June 2019 and a longtime biotech executive, has been named full-time CEO. Kawas, meanwhile, will no longer have ties to the company except for owning a few hundred thousand shares.

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Hedge fund jumps in with Avoro ac­tivists in an at­tempt to de­rail Mer­ck­'s $11B Ac­celeron buy­out

Avoro Capital, which made its bones blowing up the Seagen-Immunomedics deal and then selling the smaller biotech for $21 billion, is getting an assist in its quest to derail Merck’s $11 billion buyout of Acceleron $XLRN.

Wednesday morning one of Acceleron’s biggest investors joined the opposition. Darwin Global Management, a hedge fund which owns about 4% of Acceleron, blasted the Merck deal, saying the Big Pharma is getting the company for billions less than what it’s worth. Earlier, Holocene Advisers, reportedly a top-20 investor in Acceleron, said it would not tender its stock after criticizing the $180-per-share deal.

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Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO (via Getty images)

UP­DAT­ED: FDA slaps As­traZeneca's MCL-1 can­cer drug with a hold af­ter safe­ty is­sue — 2 years af­ter Am­gen axed a trou­bled ri­val

There are new questions being posed about a class of cancer drugs in the wake of the second FDA-enforced clinical hold in the field.

Two years after the FDA hit Amgen with a clinical hold on its MCL-1 inhibitor AMG 397 following signs of cardiac toxicity, AstraZeneca says that regulators hit them with a hold on their rival therapy of the same class.

The pharma giant noted on clinicaltrials.gov that its Phase I/II study for the MCL-1 drug AZD5991 “has been put on hold to allow further evaluation of safety related information.”

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