James Sabry adds another weapon to Roche-Genentech arsenal; Daiichi Sankyo adds ADC #6
James Sabry and Aviv Regev at Roche and Genentech have been racking up early stage partnerships, tying up with early stage biotechs developing everything from new AI engines to new ways of delivering gene therapy. Now, they’ve signed on with an older player, joining a small molecule biotech that’s already collaborated with many of the biggest names in drug development.
Genentech and X-Chem, a biotech that specializes in DNA-encoded libraries, have signed an agreement that will allow the big biotech to both use their technology to find new molecules and give them an exclusive license on a pre-existing program. Details for that program were undisclosed, as were upfront payment and milestones.
One of the first biotechs to specialize in massive DNA-encoded libraries — huge sets of molecules that can be rapidly screened for various properties because they’re tagged with DNA identifiers — X-Chem has racked up partnerships with over a dozen major drug developers. That includes Servier, Otsuka, Bristol Myers Squibb, Vertex, AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Alexion, Astellas, Bayer, Gilead, J&J, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi.
Founded a decade ago by GlaxoSmithKline’s head of discovery chemistry, Matt Clark, X-Chem was bought out last year for an undisclosed sum by the British firm GHO Capital. — Jason Mast
Daiichi Sankyo finds a sixth ADC to love — hitting a first-in-class target
Daiichi Sankyo’s prolific antibody-drug conjugate platform has spawned a sixth clinical candidate, with the first patient dosed in a Phase I trial targeting advanced renal cell carcinoma and ovarian cancer that progressed following standard treatment.
DS-6000 is directed against CDH6, a cadherin family protein overexpressed in several cancers.
Five-year survival rates for renal cell carcinoma and ovarian cancer, Daiichi said, remain low despite advances in targeted treatment.
There aren’t currently any marketed drugs hitting CDH6, making theirs a potential first-in-class play — right alongside the programs against known targets that AstraZeneca has bet big money to partner with Daiichi on, including HER2 and TROP2.
This new drug is the third developed in collaboration with Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, TN, Daiichi added. — Amber Tong
Junshi hands Coherus back a few dollars
Here’s an unusual way to spend cash from a collaboration announcement: handing it back to your collaborator.
A day after the biosimilar company Coherus announced they would pay Junshi Biosciences $150 million for the PD-1 antibody toripalimab, Junshi announced they would invest $50 million into Coherus. Although the staggered nature of the move was unusual, Junshi CEO Ning Li said it was all part of a cogent plan.
“We view our collaboration with Coherus as a strategic long-term partnership for the development and commercialization of toripalimab and promising PD-1 combination candidates,” Li said in a statement. “We wanted to invest in Coherus so we could share our future growth together and mutual success with these programs.”
The Junshi deal represented a shift for Coherus, which has focused exclusively on copycat drugs to date. Although developing a PD-1 is hardly novel — six are already approved in the US — the biotech said this would be the beginning of a push into new cancer drug R&D. — Jason Mast
Nan Fung-backed Engrail nabs a buyout
Engrail Therapeutics has only been out of stealth for 7 months but they’ve already secured a buyout, scooping up NeuroCycle Therapeutics and their GABA-A molecules for an undisclosed sum Tuesday morning.
The deal is the first public step in Engrail’s larger strategy of identifying and licensing in promising molecules for brain disorders. Founded in 2017 by GlaxoSmithKline vet Matthew Toczko and ETH Zurich scientist Jed Hubbs, NeuroCycle had been developing a small molecule drug for the seizure disorder Dravet syndrome and other diseases, and had largely relied on grant money. — Jason Mast