Photo: Amber Tong, Endpoints News

In a bid to get to Chi­nese pa­tients faster, Shang­hai's I-Mab plans $100M Nas­daq IPO

Aim­ing to be the next Chi­nese com­pa­ny to list on Nas­daq af­ter Zai Lab’s de­but two years ago, the Shang­hai drug de­vel­op­er I-Mab is gun­ning for a $100 mil­lion IPO.

The com­pa­ny — which has raised more than $400 mil­lion in the last three years — has a shrewd strat­e­gy for bi­o­log­ic de­vel­op­ment: it first con­ducts its proof-of-con­cept tri­als in the Unit­ed States and works to­wards get­ting FDA clear­ance for in-hu­man stud­ies.  The da­ta gen­er­at­ed are then used to ad­vance clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in Chi­na. Even­tu­al­ly, af­ter the ex­per­i­men­tal drug has been clin­i­cal­ly val­i­dat­ed in the Unit­ed States, the com­pa­ny re­tains Chi­nese rights for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion — while re­tain­ing the op­tion to out-li­cense glob­al­ly.

I-Mab’s ap­proach could al­low Chi­nese pa­tients to ac­cess treat­ments con­cur­rent­ly or soon af­ter their mar­ket ap­provals else­where, par­tic­u­lar­ly since Chi­nese of­fi­cials have carved out a path­way for the fast-track ap­proval of drugs sup­port­ed by sol­id over­seas clin­i­cal da­ta and grant­ed pri­or­i­ty re­views. Zai Lab, which has ac­quired a slate of late-stage and com­mer­cial prod­ucts to quick­ly build its port­fo­lio, has ben­e­fit­ed from these Chi­nese re­forms.

I-Mab, mean­while, has a slate of ten clin­i­cal and pre­clin­i­cal bi­o­log­ics for au­toim­mune dis­ease and can­cer, which is on the rise in Chi­na due to pol­lu­tion and lofty rates of smok­ing. Growth in Chi­na’s bi­o­log­ics mar­ket has sur­passed the glob­al bi­o­log­ics mar­ket and is ex­pect­ed to reach $189.4 bil­lion in sales by 2030, I-Mab said, cit­ing a Frost & Sul­li­van re­port.

The com­pa­ny’s glob­al port­fo­lio hous­es mon­o­clon­al an­ti­bod­ies and bi-spe­cif­ic an­ti­bod­ies. Three drugs: TJM2, TJC4 and TJD5 are in phase 1 tri­als in the Unit­ed States — and ap­pli­ca­tions to test TJC4 and TJD5 in hu­mans was grant­ed by Chi­na’s Na­tion­al Med­ical Prod­ucts Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NM­PA) ear­li­er this year.

In its Chi­na port­fo­lio, the com­pa­ny has five home-grown in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al drugs that are in or ready for phase II or phase III tri­als in Chi­na, hav­ing met the re­lat­ed pre-set safe­ty and pre­lim­i­nary ef­fi­ca­cy end­points in ear­ly or mid-stage stud­ies in Eu­rope or the Unit­ed States. TJ202 is in two piv­otal tri­als test­ing its use in mul­ti­ple myelo­ma in Tai­wan, while the NM­PA has en­dorsed test­ing the drug for the same in­di­ca­tions in hu­mans in Chi­na. Da­ta on TJ101 is be­ing com­piled for an ap­pli­ca­tion to test in a reg­is­tra­tional tri­al in Chi­na. For enobli­tuzum­ab, an IND is be­ing prepped for 2020 for a mid-stage tri­al or a piv­otal tri­al. Al­to­geth­er, the com­pa­ny is vy­ing to sub­mit a slate of mar­ket­ing ap­pli­ca­tions come 2021.

The com­pa­ny was es­tab­lished in June 2016 and has inked a num­ber of col­lab­o­ra­tions, in­clud­ing Mor­phoSys, Genex­ine, Macro­Gen­ics, and Fer­ring. It in­tends to list on the Nas­daq with the sym­bol $IMAB.

Have a new drug that promis­es to fight Covid-19? The FDA will see you now

After providing an emergency approval to use malaria drugs against coronavirus with little actual evidence of their efficacy or safety in that setting, the FDA has already proven that it has set aside the gold standard when it comes to the pandemic. And now they have spelled out a new approach to speeding development that promises immediate responses in no uncertain terms — creating a new program offering the ultimate high-speed pathway to Covid-19 drug approvals.

In a stun­ning set­back, Amarin los­es big patent fight over Vas­cepa IP. And its high-fly­ing stock crash­es to earth

Amarin’s shares $AMRN were blitzed Monday evening, losing billions in value as reports spread that the company had lost its high-profile effort to keep its Vascepa patents protected from generic drugmakers.

Amarin had been fighting to keep key patents under lock and key — and away from generic rivals — for another 10 years, but District Court Judge Miranda Du in Las Vegas ruled against the biotech. She ruled that:
(A)ll the Asserted Claims are invalid as obvious under 35 U.S.C.§ 103. Thus, the Court finds in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff’s remaining infringementclaim, and in their favor on their counterclaims asserting the invalidity of the AssertedClaims under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

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Once fu­ri­ous over No­var­tis’ da­ta ma­nip­u­la­tion scan­dal, the FDA now says it’s noth­ing they need to take ac­tion on

Back in the BP era — Before Pandemic — the FDA ripped Novartis for its decision to keep the agency in the dark about manipulated data used in its application for Zolgensma while its marketing application for the gene therapy was under review.

Civil and criminal sanctions were being discussed, the agency noted in a rare broadside at one of the world’s largest pharma companies. Notable lawmakers cheered the angry regulators on, urging the FDA to make an example of Novartis, which fielded Zolgensma at $2.1 million — the current record for a one-off therapy.

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Arie Belldegrun, Endpoints @ JPM20 Breakfast Panel. Photography by Jeff Rumans.

Mo­tion de­nied: Gilead still on the hook for $1.5B in dam­ages over CAR-T patent dis­pute with Bris­tol My­ers Squibb

Gilead’s bid to overturn a jury verdict that ordered it to pay Bristol Myers Squibb about $752 million for CAR-T patents owned by its subsidiary Juno Therapeutics has ended in vain.

The ruling leaves Gilead vulnerable to an even bigger $1.5 billion payment that Bristol is now demanding — adding fuel to the fiery criticism some analysts are already heaping on its $11.9 billion Kite buyout.

In a 30-page document unsealed on Monday, Judge James Otero of the district court in Los Angeles struck down several different arguments for a new decision. Here are Morgan Stanley analysts’ takeaways:
The court, in particular, denied Kite’s contentions (1) that Juno’s patent is invalid, (2) the damages award was unreasonable, and (3) that a new trial should take place. The court also denied Kite’s argument that its infringement was not willful.
Gilead is likely to appeal to the federal circuit, they noted, but the odds are not in their favor as the same standard for evidence will be applied in that court. Appeals typically take 16 months.

A quiver of ar­rows for im­mune dis­or­ders: Pan­dion scores $80M in fresh fund­ing

Scientists began with making recombinant versions of naturally-occurring human proteins, then graduated to monoclonal antibodies. Now, rather than replicating moieties within the body, researchers are modifying these molecules to have precise biology in a functional manner.

This technology, referred to as bispecific antibodies, is already being employed to fight cancer. In early 2018, Pandion Therapeutics was born to reverse-engineer the science into the realm of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

Covid-19 roundup: GSK, Am­gen tai­lor R&D work to fit the coro­n­avirus age; Doud­na's ge­nomics crew launch­es di­ag­nos­tic lab

You can add Amgen and GSK to the list of deep-pocket drug R&D players who are tailoring their pipeline work to fit a new age of coronavirus.

Following in the footsteps of a lineup of big players like Eli Lilly — which has suspended patient recruitment for drug studies — Amgen and GSK have opted to take a more tailored approach. Amgen is intent on circling the wagons around key studies that are already fully enrolled, and GSK has the red light on new studies while the pandemic plays out.

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It is 'kind of a proven tech­nol­o­gy': Hep B vac­cine mak­er joins glob­al hunt for coro­n­avirus vac­cine

Using lab-grown proteins that are engineered to mimic the architecture of viruses to induce an immune response, VBI Vaccines is joining the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine — harnessing technology that has initially been proved safe in early trials as a prophylactic for cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.

Unlike the raft of the companies in the Covid-19 vaccine race — including Moderna, CureVac and J&J — VBI is taking a pan-coronavirus approach, by developing a vaccine that will encompass Covid-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Can a pair of top AveX­is alum­ni steer a new gene ther­a­py up­start to R&D glo­ry? 3 VCs bet $60M on it

VCs love few things more than a proven executive team when it comes to launching a new company. And now a group of A-listers has turned to a pair of top execs out of AveXis to steer the latest gene therapy player into the clinic.

The biotech is Waltham, MA-based Affinia and the two execs are Sean Nolan and Rick Modi — the former CEO and CBO respectively of AveXis, the gene therapy pioneer that fetched $8.7 billion in a sale to Novartis. Nolan has now taken the chairman’s role at Affinia while Modi moves up to the CEO post at the company.

Un­de­terred by a pan­dem­ic, Gilde Health­care rais­es their largest fund yet

When Pieter van der Meer started raising the capital for Gilde Healthcare’s fifth fund in the waning months of 2019, he had his eyes on a different chain of events that could change the healthcare system and perhaps even play to his firm’s advantage: The US presidential election.

Since raising their third fund in 2011, the 34-year-old Dutch firm had focused on value-based care. They chose late-stage biotechs that came up with new devices and delivery systems for de-risked established compounds, and when they chose preclinical biotechs, they spoke with potential pharma partners, payers and regulators to ask where and at what prices the drug made sense. As the Democratic primary became a contest over how to lower healthcare costs, it looked like a strategy that could pay off.