Jasmine Cui, InnoCare CEO

In­no­Care bags Chi­nese rights to In­cyte CAR-T ri­val Mon­ju­vi in bid to ex­pand in-house pipeline

Mer­ck vet­er­an Jas­mine Cui has turned Bei­jing-based In­no­Care in­to a $4 bil­lion com­pa­ny large­ly on the strength of a sin­gle BTK in­hibitor and a clutch of ear­li­er stage as­sets.

But on Tues­day, the biotech ex­pand­ed its pipeline, strik­ing a deal with In­cyte for the Delaware biotech’s new­ly US-ap­proved CD-19 an­ti­body Mon­ju­vi. Un­der the agree­ment, In­no­Care will pay In­cyte $35 mil­lion and promise $82.5 mil­lion in mile­stones for rights to mar­ket the can­cer drug in Chi­na and its sur­round­ing re­gions.

The new part­ner­ship rep­re­sents an ex­pan­sion of sorts for In­no­Care. The eight-year-old biotech quick­ly as­cend­ed the ranks of Chi­nese phar­ma by de­vel­op­ing its own mol­e­cules from scratch, a de­par­ture from the old mod­el of in-li­cens­ing es­tab­lished drugs from com­pa­nies in the US and Eu­rope.

That ef­fort has large­ly been fruit­ful. Its BTK in­hibitor, ore­labru­ti­nib, gained Chi­nese ap­proval for two blood can­cers and en­tered Phase I or Phase II test­ing for sev­er­al oth­ers. Last month, Bio­gen paid $125 mil­lion cash to li­cense ore­labru­ti­nib for the US mar­ket, bet­ting that be­cause it can cross the blood-brain bar­ri­er, the drug could prove a po­tent ther­a­py for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

Now, though, In­no­Care is go­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, li­cens­ing in a proven US drug. In do­ing so, they’re join­ing oth­er re­search-cen­tric Chi­nese biotechs like Hutchmed that, hav­ing es­tab­lished their own abil­i­ty to build a pipeline, are now com­ple­ment­ing it with mol­e­cules from oth­er coun­tries.

And the com­pa­ny has good rea­son to add Mon­ju­vi. In ad­di­tion to the drug’s ef­fi­ca­cy alone — a safer and eas­i­er-to-ad­min­is­ter ri­val to Kym­ri­ah and oth­er first-gen­er­a­tion CAR-Ts, the an­ti­body showed a 55% over­all re­sponse rate and a 37% com­plete re­sponse rate in re­frac­to­ry dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma — In­no­Care al­so plans on test­ing Mon­ju­vi in com­bi­na­tion with the BTK block­er.

It will join ore­labru­ti­nib and ear­ly stage FGFR and TRK in­hibitors in the com­pa­ny’s grow­ing port­fo­lio.

“The strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­cyte will not on­ly en­hance our strength in the field of hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy, but al­so of­fer us good op­por­tu­ni­ty to ex­plore the po­ten­tial clin­i­cal ben­e­fit of our BTK in­hibitor ore­labru­ti­nib in com­bi­na­tion with taf­a­sita­m­ab,” Cui said in a state­ment, us­ing the chem­i­cal name for Mon­ju­vi. “In ad­di­tion, we be­lieve that taf­a­sita­m­ab, an in­no­v­a­tive CD19 an­ti­body, is crit­i­cal to so­lid­i­fy­ing our long-term strat­e­gy to strength­en our large mol­e­cule ca­pa­bil­i­ties and to en­hance com­bi­na­tion­al ther­a­pies with our ex­ist­ing pipelines.”

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

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

FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,700+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.