Brian Thomas, Metagenomi CEO

Io­n­is part­ners up with Metageno­mi on drug dis­cov­ery pact, shelling out $80M up­front

Io­n­is is no stranger to large deals and work­ing with oth­er en­ti­ties, but its lat­est deal will see the com­pa­ny work Metageno­mi to go af­ter the liv­er.

The pair will con­duct re­search to de­liv­er up to four ge­net­ic tar­gets, with Io­n­is hav­ing the right to add four ad­di­tion­al tar­gets once cer­tain mile­stones have been hit. The terms of the agree­ment have Io­n­is pay­ing $80 mil­lion up­front to Metageno­mi, plus the po­ten­tial for fu­ture mile­stone pay­ments, which re­main undis­closed.

Metageno­mi’s CEO Bri­an Thomas, in an in­ter­view with End­points News, said that the two com­pa­nies were in­tro­duced ear­li­er this year af­ter Metageno­mi fin­ished its Se­ries B. Metageno­mi and Io­n­is work well to­geth­er, he said, due to a “sci­ence-first” phi­los­o­phy that both com­pa­nies are cul­ti­vat­ing, as well as a share of core val­ues and a low at­tri­tion rate for both Metageno­mi and Io­n­is.

Thomas said that the “first wave” of the part­ner­ship is pri­mar­i­ly fo­cused on meta­bol­ic dis­or­ders in the liv­er. Io­n­is’ liv­er re­search will not on­ly help ac­cel­er­ate the process, but with in act­ing as a full part­ner, Thomas said it will help Metageno­mi grow and learn from an ex­pe­ri­enced com­pa­ny.

How­ev­er, the deal does not plan to stop there, with “wave two” com­ing with four more tar­gets and an­oth­er up­front pay­ment. Those may not en­tire­ly fo­cus on the liv­er, as Thomas said to End­points: “There’s so much more po­ten­tial that we can go af­ter us­ing gene edit­ing if we can get out­side of the liv­er. And so re­al­ly what we want these ‘wave two’ tar­gets to be is to be fo­cused on or­gans oth­er than the liv­er. And right now, we are very broad, we’re think­ing about every­thing from kid­ney to lung to mus­cle to CNS.”

There’s no de­fin­i­tive time­line be­ing an­nounced right now, but Thomas is con­fi­dent that the process will move quick­ly.

The tim­ing of the deal comes as both com­pa­nies have made in­vest­ments in new man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties, with Io­n­is ex­pand­ing a site in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Metageno­mi just open­ing its site in Emeryville, CA. Thomas, who al­so men­tioned that he an­tic­i­pates ex­pand­ing that fa­cil­i­ty as well, will come in­to play with the Io­n­is deal.

Thomas said:

We re­al­ly tried to fo­cus our man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties around both be­ing able to pro­duce not on­ly the pro­tein but al­so the mes­sen­ger RNA in the event that we want to do that and so the fa­cil­i­ty is re­al­ly ver­sa­tile, and we can ba­si­cal­ly use it for ei­ther of those. And so, we will be in­clud­ing that as part of the clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment process in the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Io­n­is.

Mon­day’s deal al­so comes amidst oth­er re­cent news for Io­n­is. Back in Sep­tem­ber, Io­n­is and As­traZeneca pre­sent­ed Phase III re­sults of As­traZeneca’s eplon­ter­sen in pa­tients with the rare dis­ease known as hered­i­tary transthyretin-me­di­at­ed amy­loid polyneu­ropa­thy (AT­TRv-PN).

In the sum­mer, Io­n­is al­so an­nounced that Roche had in-li­censed and would ad­vance the an­ti­sense drug can­di­date known as IO­N­IS-FB-LRx in­to a Phase III clin­i­cal study. It will be in­ves­ti­gat­ed for im­munoglob­u­lin A nephropa­thy (IgAN), a kid­ney dis­ease that can lead to re­nal fail­ure.

Up­dat­ed: FDA re­mains silent on or­phan drug ex­clu­siv­i­ty af­ter last year's court loss

Since losing a controversial court case over orphan drug exclusivity last year, the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development has remained entirely silent on orphan exclusivity for any product approved since last November, leaving many sponsors in limbo on what to expect.

That silence means that for more than 70 orphan-designated indications for more than 60 products, OOPD has issued no public determination on the seven-year orphan exclusivity in the Orange Book, and no new listings of orphan exclusivity appear in OOPD’s searchable database, as highlighted recently by George O’Brien, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, DC office.

Thomas Gad, Y-mAbs Therapeutics founder and interim CEO

FDA re­jects Y-mAbs’ neu­rob­las­toma drug af­ter tak­ing is­sue with clin­i­cal tri­al de­sign

Uncertainty about clinical trial evidence has led the FDA to hand down a complete response letter for Y-mAbs’ neuroblastoma drug, casting a cloud on the future of a candidate that had gone through a long development journey in a rare pediatric cancer.

Y-mAbs said it’s disappointed “but not surprised” given that the agency’s oncology drug advisory committee had voted 16-0 against its drug’s approval a few weeks ago.

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Tim Pearson, Carrick Therapeutics CEO

Pfiz­er backs $60M in­fu­sion in­to Car­rick, teams up on breast can­cer treat­ment

In a big week for Carrick Therapeutics, the company announced $60 million in funding for its lead breast cancer drug and development of a second program, as well as a collaboration with Pfizer for combo development.

The $35 million from Pfizer comes with an agreement under which Pfizer will support Carrick’s Phase II study of samuraciclib in combination with Pfizer’s Faslodex for advanced breast cancer. Along with the investment, Adam Schayowitz, vice president and development head of breast cancer, colorectal cancer and melanoma at Pfizer global product development, will join Carrick’s scientific advisory board.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi and Am­gen are bring­ing cash to cov­er the ta­ble stakes for the Hori­zon M&A game

With the market cap on Horizon Therapeutics $HZNP pushed up to the $23 billion mark today, one of the Big Pharmas in the hunt for a major league buyout deal signaled it’s playing the M&A game with cash.

Paris-based Sanofi, where CEO Paul Hudson has been largely focused on some risky biotech acquisitions to win some respect for its future pipeline prospects, issued a statement early Friday — complying with Rule 2.12 of the Irish takeover rules — making clear that while the certainty or size of an offer can’t be determined, any offer “will be solely in cash.” And Amgen CEO Robert Bradway came right in behind him, filing a statement on the London Stock Exchange overnight that any offer they may make will “likely” be in cash as well.

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Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

As mon­ey pours in­to dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics, in­sur­ance cov­er­age crawls



Talk therapy didn’t help Lily with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. But a video game did.

As the 10-year-old zooms through icy waters and targets flying creatures on the snow-capped planet Frigidus, she builds attention skills, thanks to Akili Interactive Labs’ video game EndeavorRx. She’s now less anxious and scattered, allowing her to stay on a low dose of ADHD medication, according to her mom Violet Vu.

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Eli Lil­ly’s Alzheimer’s drug clears more amy­loid ear­ly than Aduhelm in first-ever head-to-head. Will it mat­ter?

Ahead of the FDA’s decision on Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug donanemab in February, the Big Pharma is dropping a first cut of data from one of the more interesting trials — but less important in a regulatory sense — at an Alzheimer’s conference in San Francisco.

In the unblinded 148-person study, Eli Lilly pitted its drug against Aduhelm, Biogen’s drug that won FDA approval but lost Medicare coverage outside of clinical trials. Notably, the study didn’t look at clinical outcomes, but rather the clearance of amyloid, a protein whose buildup is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain.

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Matt Gline, Roivant Sciences CEO (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Pfiz­er and Roivant team up again for an­oth­er 'Van­t', set­ting up an­ti-in­flam­ma­to­ry show­down with Prometheus

Pfizer and Roivant are teaming up to launch a new ‘Vant’ aimed at bringing a mid-stage anti-inflammatory drug to market, the pair announced Thursday.

There’s no name for the startup yet, nor are there any employees. Thus far, the new company and Roivant can be considered “one and the same,” Roivant CEO Matt Gline tells Endpoints News. But Pfizer is so enthusiastic about the target that it elected to keep 25% of equity in the drug rather than take upfront cash from Roivant, Gline said.

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Philip Tagari switch­es Am­gen's dis­cov­ery lab for in­sitro's ma­chine learn­ing tools; CEO Joaquin Du­a­to to chair J&J's board

In February, Philip Tagari will take a few days of retirement and then immediately return to industry. He won’t be leading the therapeutics discovery unit for a large biopharma, though.

He’ll trade in his Amgen hat for chief scientist at a machine learning startup that has reeled in hundreds of millions in capital to lay the groundwork for a much-hyped new model of drug discovery that aims to speed up the time to new clinical assets.

Raul Rodriguez, Rigel Pharma CEO

Rigel Phar­ma scores FDA ap­proval for leukemia, kick­ing off show­down with Servi­er in IDH1

When Rigel Pharma bought olutasidenib from Forma Therapeutics, it acquired a drug that already secured a PDUFA date at the FDA — for February 2023. But regulators are ready to give their OK sooner than that.

The FDA has approved the IDH1 inhibitor as a treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia who have a susceptible IDH-1 (isocitrate dehydrogenase-1) mutation as detected by an FDA-greenlit test. Rigel will market it as Rezlidhia.