The I-Mab team from L-R: CFO Jielun Zhu; President Zheru Zhang; Founder and chairman Jingwu Zang; CEO Joan Shen; and chief commercial officer Ivan Yifei Zhu

I-Mab in talks about deals, stake sale to build on $3B Ab­b­Vie al­liance — Bloomberg

A year af­ter I-Mab made head­lines with its $2.9 bil­lion deal li­cens­ing a CD47 drug to Ab­b­Vie, the Chi­nese biotech is re­port­ed­ly hold­ing ear­ly talks with glob­al phar­ma play­ers about part­ner­ships and po­ten­tial in­vest­ment.

The Shang­hai-based, Nas­daq-list­ed com­pa­ny is mulling “clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial co­op­er­a­tion in Chi­na and a po­ten­tial eq­ui­ty stake sale,” Bloomberg re­port­ed, quot­ing peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter. Both US and Eu­ro­pean drug­mak­ers are among the suit­ors in­volved in pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions.

I-Mab did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment. For any­one who’s been fol­low­ing the com­pa­ny, though, it wouldn’t come as a sur­prise.

Un­der founder and chair­man Jing­wu Zang — who had helmed Glax­o­SmithK­line’s Chi­na R&D ops un­til he was dis­missed amid a scan­dal — I-Mab has been clear about want­i­ng to lead among a grow­ing pack of Chi­nese com­pa­nies that be­lieve they have a role to play on the glob­al stage. Not on­ly does I-Mab have an of­fice in Mary­land to over­see clin­i­cal tri­al work, it al­so di­vides its pipeline in­to two port­fo­lios: Chi­na and glob­al.

As Big Phar­ma in­creas­ing­ly looks to Chi­na as a source of new drugs, do­mes­tic drug­mak­ers from In­novent and BeiGene to Leg­end and CStone have al­so scored high-pro­file part­ner­ships (with Eli Lil­ly, Am­gen, J&J and Pfiz­er, re­spec­tive­ly) that come in a va­ri­ety of forms.

When it emerged that Ab­b­Vie was pay­ing $180 mil­lion to grab lem­zopar­limab and first dibs to oth­er re­lat­ed an­ti­bod­ies, Zang point­ed to the phar­ma gi­ant’s in­ter­est in im­muno-on­col­o­gy, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment ex­per­tise and an­ti­body man­u­fac­tur­ing savvi­ness as the main draws to the al­liance.

“For us this is not just a one-time deal,” he told End­points News at the time. “This is the be­gin­ning of a se­ries of val­i­da­tion, glob­al deals we are ex­pect­ing in the next few years.”

For Ab­b­Vie, it was a tick­et in­to the steam­ing-hot CD47 space, which has on­ly got­ten more at­ten­tion since fol­low­ing Pfiz­er’s $2.3 bil­lion buy­out of Tril­li­um.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bloomberg re­port, I-Mab is seek­ing a part­ner to joint­ly de­vel­op the CD73 an­ti­body uliledlimab, in hopes of repli­cat­ing the suc­cess of the Ab­b­Vie pact.

It’s clear­ly not just mon­ey Zang is af­ter. Al­ready boast­ing near­ly $5 bil­lion in mar­ket cap on Nas­daq, the com­pa­ny is in the process of pur­su­ing a dual list­ing on Shang­hai’s STAR board.

Forge Bi­o­log­ics’ cGMP Com­pli­ant and Com­mer­cial­ly Vi­able Be­spoke Affin­i­ty Chro­matog­ra­phy Plat­form

Forge Biologics has developed a bespoke affinity chromatography platform approach that factors in unique vector combinations to streamline development timelines and assist our clients in efficiently entering the clinic. By leveraging our experience with natural and novel serotypes and transgene conformations, we are able to accelerate affinity chromatography development by nearly 3-fold. Many downstream purification models are serotype-dependent, demanding unique and time-consuming development strategies for each AAV gene therapy product1. With the increasing demand to propel AAV gene therapies to market, platform purification methods that support commercial-scale manufacturing of high-quality vectors with excellent safety and efficacy profiles are essential.

Sar­to­rius to ac­quire French man­u­fac­tur­er for $2.6B+ in cell and gene ther­a­py play

The German life science group Sartorius will be picking up French contract manufacturer Polyplus for the price of €2.4 billion, or $2.6 billion.

On Friday, Sartorius announced the acquisition through its French subgroup, Sartorius Stedim Biotech, which will be acquiring Polyplus from private investors ARCHIMED and WP GG Holdings IV. Polyplus has 270 employees and produces materials and components that go into making viral vectors that are used in cell and gene therapies. This includes DNA/RNA reagents as well as plasmid DNA. Polyplus has locations in France, Belgium, China and the US.

Cy­to­ki­net­ics’ ALS drug fails PhI­II, leav­ing the biotech with a sin­gle late-stage prospect

Cytokinetics’ candidate for the muscle disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, failed a Phase III trial, the Bay Area biotech announced Friday morning.

At a second interim analysis of the trial, an independent review committee recommended that Cytokinetics discontinue its COURAGE-ALS trial for reldesemtiv, as it “found no evidence of effect” compared to placebo on the primary or key secondary endpoints.

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Mathai Mammen, FogPharma's next CEO

Math­ai Mam­men hands in J&J's R&D keys to lead Greg Ver­dine’s Fog­Phar­ma 

In the early 1990s, Mathai Mammen was a teaching assistant in Greg Verdine’s Science B46 course at Harvard. In June, the former R&D head at Johnson & Johnson will succeed Verdine as CEO, president and chair of FogPharma, the same month the seven-year-old biotech kickstarts its first clinical trial.

After leading R&D at one of the largest drugmakers in the world, taking the company through more than half a dozen drug approvals in the past few years, not to mention a Covid-19 vaccine race, Mammen departed J&J last month and will take the helm of a Cambridge, MA biotech attempting to go after what Verdine calls the “true emperor of all oncogenes” — beta-catenin.

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Nicklas Westerholm, Egetis Therapeutics CEO

Ac­qui­si­tion talks on­go­ing for Swedish rare dis­ease biotech Egetis, shares up al­most 40%

Shares of the Sweden-based rare disease biotech Egetis Therapeutics skyrocketed on Thursday afternoon as the company said it’s engaged in “ongoing discussion” with external parties regarding a “potential acquisition.”

Egetis confirmed rumors with a statement on Thursday while noting that there is no certainty that a takeover offer will be made.

Nonetheless, the possibility of an acquisition has shot up Egetis’ share price. By the afternoon on Thursday, its stock price was {$EGTX.ST} up over 38%. An Egetis spokesperson told Endpoints News in an email that it has no further comments.

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Paul Stoffels, Galapagos CEO (Andrew Harnik/AP Images)

Gala­pa­gos sends some em­ploy­ees — and a re­search unit — off to drug dis­cov­ery CRO as part of re­org

Paul Stoffels has made it clear that he views cutting jobs at Galapagos as difficult but necessary — but he’s getting creative about it.

Galapagos, headquartered in Mechelen, Belgium, has struck an arrangement with French contract research organization NovAliX to transfer its drug discovery and research activities. While NovAliX is based in Strasbourg, it will take over running the site that Galapagos ran in Romainville, France.

CHMP gives thumbs-up for We­govy use in ado­les­cents, along with nine new drug rec­om­men­da­tions

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended nine drugs for approval this week while also giving thumbs up for six expanded indications, including Novo Nordisk’s approved obesity medication Wegovy for younger people. Wegovy is already approved as an obesity treatment in the EU for adults, and the new indication would allow prescriptions for adolescents aged 12 and older.

Green­Light re­ceives buy­out of­fer; Apol­lomics com­pletes SPAC merg­er

RNA biotech GreenLight Biosciences has been handed an offer for potential acquisition.

GreenLight said in a release that it has received a non-binding “indication of interest” from Fall Line Endurance Fund to acquire GreenLight’s capital stock for $0.60 per share in cash. The release said any potential agreement between the two parties would depend on certain conditions.

Through a special committee, the biotech will evaluate the offer but added there’s no certainty a deal will go forward. GreenLight will also not make any more announcements until a deal comes through or “otherwise determines” a statement is necessary.

TScan Therapeutics' departing CEO David Southwell and CSO/COO Gavin MacBeath

TCR up­start an­nounces CEO ex­it, with CSO now act­ing re­place­ment

A public T cell biotech’s chief executive has decided to leave the company.

TScan Therapeutics said Friday morning that CEO David Southwell stepped down earlier this week, leaving both his chief executive and board member roles. Filling in is Gavin MacBeath, the company’s CSO and COO. He became the acting CEO on Tuesday, and will continue to remain CSO and COO, TScan’s announcement read.