Lit­tle Neu­rotrope makes some big claims on an­oth­er failed Alzheimer’s study, but shares col­lapse

Daniel Alkon, Neu­rotrope

A low pro­file, small biotech named Neu­rotrope $NTRP teased out a pock­et of da­ta from a small Phase II Alzheimer’s study which its in­ves­ti­ga­tors her­ald­ed as ‘pos­i­tive.’

So why did its stock just plunge 53%?

Be­cause the study failed, like vir­tu­al­ly every­thing else that’s hap­pened in Alzheimer’s R&D over the last 15 years.

To get to its “pos­i­tive” nugget of da­ta, in­ves­ti­ga­tors nar­rowed the field to a sub­group of mod­er­ate to se­vere pa­tients who com­plet­ed all six low dos­es of Bryo­statin-1, de­signed to boost synaps­es in the brain that de­te­ri­o­rate rapid­ly in the dis­ease, wreak­ing hav­oc in the brain.

It wasn’t sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant, but the sub­group re­spond­ed bet­ter than the place­bo arm on the Se­vere Im­pair­ment Bat­tery test used to eval­u­ate cog­ni­tion. Af­ter 12 weeks their score went up 1.5 points while the place­bo arm ex­pe­ri­enced a 1.1 point de­crease, a 2.6 point gap fa­vor­ing the drug.

The num­ber of “com­pleters,” though, was so small, the im­prove­ment so low and the time the drug was test­ed was so short that the da­ta nev­er­the­less in­di­cat­ed that the gap — such as it was — could be the re­sult of chance.

That’s a failed study. But Neu­rotrope be­lieves that hint of ef­fi­ca­cy needs to be ex­plored in a larg­er tri­al — not the first time that’s hap­pened in Alzheimer’s.

In­vestors weren’t in a gen­er­ous mood, though. Big phar­ma has done a bat­tery of tests of var­i­ous new drugs. Roivant’s Ax­o­vant is one of the fur­thest along in the clin­ic, look­ing for da­ta be­fore the end of this year on an­oth­er drug aimed at pre­serv­ing cog­ni­tion which GSK had tried, and failed, with. And Bio­gen has one of the most close­ly watched drugs — ad­u­canum­ab — that looks to mod­i­fy the course of the dis­ease, which is now in late-stage tri­als.

Bil­lions have been spent on failed tri­als in Alzheimer’s. Neu­rotrope just added a small con­tri­bu­tion of their own, adding some big spin in the process.

“These re­sults, which show im­prove­ment in pa­tients with mod­er­ate to se­vere Alzheimer’s dis­ease, the pop­u­la­tion that is gen­er­al­ly rec­og­nized as the most dif­fi­cult to treat, pro­vide ex­cit­ing ev­i­dence of a new ther­a­peu­tic ap­proach po­ten­tial­ly could re­ju­ve­nate synap­tic net­works in the brain. Im­prove­ments across the range of im­por­tant man­i­fes­ta­tions of the un­der­ly­ing neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease, as shown in this Phase II study, could po­ten­tial­ly rep­re­sent a shift in the par­a­digm to treat Alzheimer’s dis­ease,” said Daniel Alkon, Pres­i­dent and Chief Sci­en­tif­ic Of­fi­cer of Neu­rotrope.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Francesco De Rubertis

Medicxi is rolling out its biggest fund ever to back Eu­rope's top 'sci­en­tists with strange ideas'

Francesco De Rubertis built Medicxi to be the kind of biotech venture player he would have liked to have known back when he was a full time scientist.

“When I was a scientist 20 years ago I would have loved Medicxi,’ the co-founder tells me. It’s the kind of place run by and for investigators, what the Medicxi partner calls “scientists with strange ideas — a platform for the drug hunter and scientific entrepreneur. That’s what I wanted when I was a scientist.”

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Af­ter a decade, Vi­iV CSO John Pot­tage says it's time to step down — and he's hand­ing the job to long­time col­league Kim Smith

ViiV Healthcare has always been something unique in the global drug industry.

Owned by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer — with GSK in the lead as majority owner — it was created 10 years ago in a time of deep turmoil for the field as something independent of the pharma giants, but with access to lots of infrastructural support on demand. While R&D at the mother ship inside GSK was souring, a razor-focused ViiV provided a rare bright spot, challenging Gilead on a lucrative front in delivering new combinations that require fewer therapies with a more easily tolerated regimen.

They kept a massive number of people alive who would otherwise have been facing a death sentence. And they made money.

And throughout, John Pottage has been the chief scientific and chief medical officer.

Until now.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Chas­ing Roche's ag­ing block­buster fran­chise, Am­gen/Al­ler­gan roll out Avastin, Her­ceptin knock­offs at dis­count

Let the long battle for biosimilars in the cancer space begin.

Amgen has launched its Avastin and Herceptin copycats — licensed from the predecessors of Allergan — almost two years after the FDA had stamped its approval on Mvasi (bevacizumab-awwb) and three months after the Kanjinti OK (trastuzumab-anns). While the biotech had been fielding biosimilars in Europe, this marks their first foray in the US — and the first oncology biosimilars in the country.

Seer adds ex-FDA chief Mark Mc­Clel­lan to the board; Her­cules Cap­i­tal makes it of­fi­cial for new CEO Scott Bluestein

→ On the same day it announced a $17.5 million Series C, life sciences and health data company Seer unveiled that it had lured former FDA commissioner and ex-CMS administrator Mark McClellan on to its board. “Mark’s deep understanding of the health care ecosystem and visionary insights on policy reform will be crucial in informing our thinking as we work to bring our liquid biopsy and life sciences products to market,” said Seer chief and founder Omid Farokhzad in a statement.

Daniel O'Day

No­var­tis hands off 3 pre­clin­i­cal pro­grams to the an­tivi­ral R&D mas­ters at Gilead

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day’s new task hunting up a CSO for the company isn’t stopping the industry’s dominant antiviral player from doing pipeline deals.

The big biotech today snapped up 3 preclinical antiviral programs from pharma giant Novartis, with drugs promising to treat human rhinovirus, influenza and herpes viruses. We don’t know what the upfront is, but the back end has $291 million in milestones baked in.

Vas Narasimhan, AP Images

On a hot streak, No­var­tis ex­ecs run the odds on their two most im­por­tant PhI­II read­outs. Which is 0.01% more like­ly to suc­ceed?

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan is living in the sweet spot right now.

The numbers are running a bit better than expected, the pipeline — which he assembled as development chief — is performing and the stock popped more than 4% on Thursday as the executive team ran through their assessment of Q2 performance.

Year-to-date the stock is up 28%, so the investors will be beaming. Anyone looking for chinks in their armor — and there are plenty giving it a shot — right now focus on payer acceptance of their $2.1 million gene therapy Zolgensma, where it’s early days. And CAR-T continues to underperform, but Novartis doesn’t appear to be suffering from it.

So what could go wrong?

Actually, not much. But Tim Anderson at Wolfe pressed Narasimhan and his development chief John Tsai to pick which of two looming Phase III readouts with blockbuster implication had the better odds of success.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

On a glob­al romp, Boehringer BD team picks up its third R&D al­liance for Ju­ly — this time fo­cused on IPF with $50M up­front

Boehringer Ingelheim’s BD team is on a global deal spree. The German pharma company just wrapped its third deal in 3 weeks, going back to Korea for its latest pipeline pact — this time focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

They’re handing over $50 million to get their hands on BBT-877, an ATX inhibitor from Korea’s Bridge Biotherapeutics that was on display at a science conference in Dallas recently. There’s not a whole lot of data to evaluate the prospects here.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 55,100+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Servi­er scoots out of an­oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with Macro­Gen­ics, writ­ing off their $40M

Servier is walking out on a partnership with MacroGenics $MGNX — for the second time.

After the market closed on Wednesday MacroGenics put out word that Servier is severing a deal — inked close to 7 years ago — to collaborate on the development of flotetuzumab and other Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) drugs in its pipeline.

MacroGenics CEO Scott Koenig shrugged off the departure of Servier, which paid $20 million to kick off the alliance and $20 million to option flotetuzumab — putting a heavily back-ended $1 billion-plus in additional biobuck money on the table for the anti-CD123/CD3 bispecific and its companion therapies.