Adrian Rawcliffe, Adaptimmune

James No­ble is tak­ing his last lap at the biotech he found­ed, and saved. It's Adri­an Raw­clif­fe's turn now

Back in the sum­mer of 2014, Adap­ti­m­mune CEO James No­ble had about a mil­lion pounds in the bank. Not too much to sur­vive on, as he told me lat­er in re­count­ing the tale. But af­ter steer­ing the start­up in and out of a buy­out in or­der to stay in busi­ness, it wasn’t his first look over the cliff.

James No­ble [Cred­it: Lon­car Funds]

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

A few months lat­er Glax­o­SmithK­line stepped up with a $350 mil­lion col­lab­o­ra­tion deal, where it is still ac­tive­ly in­volved in push­ing through a lead­ing pro­gram in the T-cell re­cep­tor (TCR) field.

To­day, Adap­ti­m­mune is a much larg­er, pub­lic com­pa­ny $ADAP with op­er­a­tions in the UK and Philadel­phia, much fur­ther along the way in its de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. And No­ble — a 30-year vet­er­an who once op­er­at­ed as co-CEO of Im­muno­core — is hand­ing the reins over to a GSK vet to run the com­pa­ny.

David Mott NEA

Adri­an Raw­cliffe, re­cruit­ed from the phar­ma gi­ant in 2015 as its CFO — just ahead of rak­ing in $191 mil­lion in an IPO — will be of­fi­cial­ly tak­ing the helm on Sep­tem­ber 1. Raw­cliffe spent 27 years at GSK, wind­ing up as head of fi­nance for their North Amer­i­can Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals busi­ness.

David Mott from New En­ter­prise As­so­ci­ates still chairs the board at Adap­ti­m­mune, and he cit­ed that Big Phar­ma ex­pe­ri­ence in of­fer­ing Raw­cliffe the thumbs-up to­day on his new post. Mott and the board will now turn to find­ing Raw­cliffe’s re­place­ment as CFO.

He’ll have some chal­lenges to deal with. The biotech’s shares have dwin­dled sharply since last fall, drop­ping about $10 off the price, which opened to­day at $4.05. The mar­ket cap has dwin­dled to a lit­tle more than $400 mil­lion — which is still a long way from that last mil­lion No­ble was down to in 2014.

Patrick Soon-Shiong at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Jan. 13, 2020 (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter falling be­hind the lead­ers, dissed by some ex­perts, biotech show­man Patrick Soon-Sh­iong fi­nal­ly gets his Covid-19 vac­cine ready for a tri­al. But can it live up to the hype?

In January, when dozens of scientists rushed to start making a vaccine for the then-novel coronavirus, they were joined by an unlikely compatriot: Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire doctor most famous for making big, controversial promises on cancer research.

Soon-Shiong had spent the last 4 years on his “Cancer Moonshot,” but part of his project meant buying a small Seattle biotech that specialized in making common-cold vectors, called adenoviruses, to train the immune system. The billionaire had been using those vectors for oncology, but the company had also developed vaccine candidates for H1N1, Lassa fever and other viruses. When the outbreak began, he pivoted.

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Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks at the Rose Garden, May 26, 2020 (Evan Vucci/AP Images)

Eli Lil­ly lines up a block­buster deal for Covid-19 an­ti­body, right af­ter it failed a NI­AID tri­al

Two days after Eli Lilly conceded that its antibody bamlanivimab was a flop in hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the US government is preparing to make it a blockbuster.

The pharma giant reported early Wednesday that it struck a deal to supply the feds with 300,000 vials of the drug at a cost of $375 million — once it gets an EUA stamp from the FDA. And once that 2-month supply deal is done, the government has an option on another 650,000 doses on the same terms — which could potentially add another $812 million.

Jude Samulski, Marianne De Backer

Bay­er buys a biotech ‘race horse’ with a $4B deal — $2B in cash — aimed at go­ing big in­to gene ther­a­py

In the latest sign that Big Pharma wants a leading place in the push to develop a new generation of cell and gene therapies, Bayer is stepping up today with a $2 billion cash deal to buy out one of the fast-moving pioneers in the field, while adding up to $2 billion more in milestones if the new pharma subsidiary can deliver the goods.

As part of a continuing series of deals engineered by Bayer BD chief Marianne De Backer, the pharma player has snapped up Asklepios, more commonly referred to in more casual fashion as AskBio. And they are paying top dollar for a Research Triangle Park-based company that raised $225 million a little more than a year ago to back the brainchild of Jude Samulski, the gene therapy pioneer out of the University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center.

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Chi­nese rare dis­ease play­er inks first deal around nar­colep­sy drug Wak­ix af­ter grab­bing $80M to build an ecosys­tem

Two months ago, the narcolepsy therapy Wakix propelled Harmony Biosciences to a $128 million debut on Nasdaq. Now, the same drug is serving as the foundation for a Chinese biotech looking to pioneer a rare disease platform in the country.

Citrine Medicine — which closed $80 million in Series A funding in July — was incubated by F-Prime and Eight Roads, two VC funds affiliated with Fidelity Investments that saw an opening in China to replicate in the vibrant orphan drug landscape in the US (and to a lesser extent, Europe).

Christian Rommel (via Roche)

Bay­er fol­lows R&D deal spree by raid­ing Roche's can­cer group for its new re­search chief

The day after Bayer signed off on a $4 billion deal designed to put the company among the leaders in gene therapy development, the pharma giant has recruited a new chief for its R&D division. And they opted for an expert in the cancer field.

Christian Rommel, Roche’s head of discovery and early-stage oncology development, has been tapped to take over the job. Joerg Moeller, who got the top research post after early- and late-stage development roles were combined 2 years ago, is hitting the exit “to pursue other career opportunities.”

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En­her­tu picks up an­oth­er win for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi Sankyo, join­ing the pri­or­i­ty re­view lane for gas­tric can­cer

Five months after Enhertu received twin breakthrough therapy designations, AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo are one step closer to nabbing another approval for their potential blockbuster drug.

The companies announced Wednesday morning that their billion-dollar antibody-drug conjugate has received priority review for HER2 positive metastatic gastric cancer. Already approved in the US for third-line metastatic breast cancer patients that are HER2 positive, Enhertu’s gastric cancer PDUFA date is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.

Sci­en­tists warn Amer­i­cans are ex­pect­ing too much from a coro­n­avirus vac­cine

The White House and many Americans have pinned their hopes for defeating the Covid-19 pandemic on a vaccine being developed at “warp speed.” But some scientific experts warn they’re all expecting too much, too soon.

“Everyone thinks COVID-19 will go away with a vaccine,” said William Haseltine, chair and president of Access Health International, a foundation that advocates for affordable care.

No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan signs off on a $231M deal to try some­thing new in the R&D fight against SARS-CoV-2

Patrick Amstutz was baptized by pandemic fire early on.

He and colleagues attended the notorious Cowen conference in early March that included some of the top Biogen execs who helped trigger a superspreader event in Boston. Heading back to his post as CEO of Molecular Partners in Switzerland, the outbreak was sweeping through Italy, triggering near panic in some quarters and creeping into the voices of people he knew, including one friend on the Italian side of the country.

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Cedric Francois, Apellis CEO (Optum via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: So­bi bets $250M cash, about $1B in mile­stones for rights to a C3 ther­a­py be­ing pushed through 5 piv­otal tri­als

A couple years after licensing Novimmune’s emapalumab and turning around a quick FDA OK, Stockholm-based Sobi is betting up to $1.2 billion for rights to another rare disease drug.

The company is shelling out $250 million upfront and adding up to $915 million in milestones for rights to develop and commercialize Apellis Pharmaceuticals’ drug pegcetacoplan outside the US. Together, the companies will see the systemic C3 therapy through five registrational trials in hematology, nephrology and neurology.