Keen to stay out front in cell ther­a­py, Gilead­'s Kite builds its own vi­ral vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions

Days af­ter woo­ing Christi Shaw to the helm at Kite, Gilead is once again tout­ing just how se­ri­ous it is about grow­ing its pi­o­neer­ing CAR-T and fol­low-up cell ther­a­py busi­ness. The sub­sidiary is build­ing a new fa­cil­i­ty ded­i­cat­ed to vi­ral vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing with­in a bi­o­log­ics site at Ocean­side, Cal­i­for­nia.

Tim Moore BMWS

Right now, Kite gets it vi­ral vec­tors — crit­i­cal start­ing ma­te­r­i­al for edit­ing the T cells to ac­ti­vate can­cer-killing ca­pa­bil­i­ties — from con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ers, said Tim Moore, EVP of tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions. But amid a cell ther­a­py boom, the lim­its that place on com­mer­cial sup­ply and de­vel­op­ment is be­com­ing more ap­par­ent.

It’s not about ex­it­ing those pacts all to­geth­er, Moore em­pha­sized; rather, the new, 67,000-square-foot fa­cil­i­ty be com­ple­men­tary to what’s al­ready in place.

“We can still lever­age ex­ter­nal man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties but it’s go­ing to help ac­cel­er­ate our ca­pa­bil­i­ties and high­light our lead­er­ship in cell ther­a­py by leav­ing no stone un­turned,” he told me.

Un­der for­mer CEO John Mil­li­gan, Gilead had ini­ti­at­ed an ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion on the cell ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing front, plot­ting sites in the Nether­lands, Mary­land and Cal­i­for­nia last May. Daniel O’Day took it a notch up, re­veal­ing in his first an­a­lyst call weeks ago that bring­ing in a new CEO for the stand­alone Kite would be a top pri­or­i­ty. And he went for an in­dus­try heavy­weight in Shaw, the re­cent pres­i­dent of Eli Lil­ly’s Bio­Med­i­cines unit who has a per­son­al sto­ry to tell about can­cer.

Kite ex­pects to have the Ocean­side site com­plete and li­censed in the sec­ond half of 2021, Moore said. There will be some hir­ing for day-to-day op­er­a­tions, though he didn’t spec­i­fy how many.

So­cial im­age: Gilead, AP Im­ages

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Capitol Hill earlier this week (Getty Images)

As FDA buck­les un­der the strain of a pan­dem­ic work­load, Trump again ac­cus­es the agency of a po­lit­i­cal hit job

Peter Marks appeared before a virtual SVB Leerink audience yesterday and said that his staff at FDA’s CBER is on the verge of working around the clock. Manufacturing inspections, policy work and sponsor communications have all been pushed down the to-do list so that they can be responsive to Covid-related interactions. And the agency’s objective right now? “To save as many lives as we can,” Marks said, likening the mortality on the current outbreak as equivalent to “a nuclear bomb on a small city.”

Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Play-by-play of Gilead­'s $21B Im­munomedics buy­out de­tails a fren­zied push — and mints a new biotech bil­lion­aire

Immunomedics had not really been looking for a buyout when the year began. Excited by its BLA for Trodelvy, submitted to the FDA in late 2019, executive chairman Behzad Aghazadeh started off looking for potential licensing deals and zeroed in on four potential partners, including Gilead, following January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Such talks advanced throughout the year, with discussions advancing to the second round in mid-August.

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The win­dow is wide open as four more biotechs join the go-go IPO class of 2020

It’s another day of hauling cash in the biopharma world as four more IPOs priced Friday and a fifth filed its initial paperwork.

The biggest offering comes from PMV Pharma, an oncology biotech focusing on p53 mutations, which raised $211.8 million after pricing shares at $18 apiece. Prelude Therapeutics, developing PRMT5 inhibitors for rare cancers, was next with a $158 million raise, pricing shares at $19 each. Graybug Vision raised $90 million after pricing at $16 per share for its wet AMD candidates, and breast cancer biotech Greenwich Lifesciences brought up the rear with a small, $7 million raise after pricing shares at $5.75.

J&J of­fers PhI/IIa da­ta show­ing its sin­gle-dose vac­cine can stir up suf­fi­cient im­mune re­sponse

Days after J&J dosed the first participants of its Phase III ENSEMBLE trial, the pharma giant has detailed the early-stage data that gave them confidence in a single-dose regimen.

Testing two dose levels either as a single dose or in a two-dose schedule spaced by 56 days in, the scientists from Janssen, the J&J subsidiary developing its vaccine, reported that the low dose induced a similar immune response as the high dose. The interim Phase I/IIa results were posted in a preprint on medRxiv.

President Donald Trump reacts after signing an executive order following his remarks on his healthcare policies yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina (Getty Images)

Op-ed: Will phar­ma re­al­ly pay for Trump’s lat­est law­less promise to 33 mil­lion Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries? Not like­ly

Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.

What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo (AP Images)

An­drew Cuo­mo says New York will un­der­take its own vac­cine re­view process, and wouldn’t rec­om­mend trust­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment

The concerns keep mounting over President Donald Trump’s politicization of the FDA and other federal agencies guiding the development of a safe and effective vaccine. And today, the telegenic New York governor Andrew Cuomo appeared to introduce even more politics into the matter — latest in an ongoing series of incidents that have cast the proudly independent FDA in starkly political terms.

During his daily press conference Cuomo said that the state will review any coronavirus vaccines approved by the federal government, citing a lack of trust in the Trump administration. The announcement comes one day after Trump accused the FDA of making an “extremely political” move in proposing stricter vaccine guidance.

Vas Narasimhan (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Still held down by clin­i­cal hold, No­var­tis' Zol­gens­ma falls fur­ther be­hind Bio­gen and Roche as FDA asks for a new piv­otal study

Last October, the FDA slowed down Novartis’ quest to extend its gene therapy to older spinal muscular atrophy patients by slapping a partial hold on intrathecal administration. Almost a year later, the hold is still there, and regulators are adding another hurdle required for regulatory submission: a new pivotal confirmatory study.

The new requirement — which departs significantly from Novartis’ prior expectations — will likely stretch the path to registration beyond 2021, when analysts were expecting a BLA submission. That could mean more time for Biogen to reap Spinraza revenues and Roche to ramp up sales of Evrysdi in the absence of a rival.

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Scoop: ARCH’s Bob Nelsen is back­ing an mR­NA up­start that promis­es to up­end the en­tire man­u­fac­tur­ing side of the glob­al busi­ness

For the past 2 years, serial entrepreneur Igor Khandros relied on a small network of friends and close insiders to supply the first millions he needed to fund a secretive project to master a new approach to manufacturing mRNA therapies.

Right now, he says, he has a working “GMP-in-a-box” prototype for a new company he’s building — after launching 3 public companies — which plans to spread this contained, precise manufacturing tech around the world with a set of partners. He’s raised $60 million, recruited some prominent experts. And not coincidentally, he’s going semi-public with this just as a small group of pioneers appears to be on the threshold of ushering in the world’s first mRNA vaccines to fight a worldwide pandemic.

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