Simon Read, Curie Therapeutics CEO

Look­ing to run with Big Phar­ma, a ra­dio­phar­ma start­up with back­ing from At­las, RA thinks it has the chops to com­pete

Amid a re­nais­sance in the field of ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, a grow­ing cho­rus of bio­phar­ma play­ers is rush­ing the stage to cap­i­tal­ize on tech break­throughs. Biotech blue-chip­pers RA Cap­i­tal and At­las Ven­ture, sens­ing an op­por­tu­ni­ty, are now set­ting up their own start­up to chal­lenge the big boys.

Curie Ther­a­peu­tics un­cloaked from stealth Wednes­day with $75 mil­lion in Se­ries A fund­ing from At­las, RA and Ac­cess Biotech­nol­o­gy, with the goal of lever­ag­ing a sea­soned team of ex­perts to get the jump on the grow­ing class of can­cer ther­a­peu­tics, the biotech said.

In an un­usu­al arrange­ment, Curie was in­cu­bat­ed by all three of its found­ing fun­ders, run­ning for about 18 months in stealth mode be­fore mak­ing its de­but. Ac­cord­ing to CEO Si­mon Read, for­mer­ly chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer at Ra Phar­ma be­fore its ac­qui­si­tion by UCB in ear­ly 2020, the Curie team in that time built a lead­er­ship team of 15 spe­cial­iz­ing in all as­pects of ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which link ra­dioac­tive iso­topes to a small mol­e­cule to tar­get tu­mors.

While pipeline de­tails are slim, Curie’s mis­sion is broad — and that’s not an ac­ci­dent. The team sees ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals as a po­ten­tial­ly ex­pan­sive class of ther­a­peu­tics and has spent its year and a half be­hind the scenes div­ing deep not on­ly in­to ra­dio­chem­istry and bi­ol­o­gy but al­so CMC, sup­ply and clin­i­cal trans­la­tion. The class has his­tor­i­cal­ly suf­fered from both sup­ply chain is­sues — it’s hard to con­tin­u­ous­ly source the ra­dioac­tive ma­te­r­i­al used in these drugs — as well as at the bed­side, with ear­li­er-gen­er­a­tion ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals do­ing a poor job of tar­get­ing spe­cif­ic tis­sues.

“Sol­id tu­mors are re­al­ly poor­ly treat­ed by ex­ist­ing tar­get­ed tech­nolo­gies, and al­though there are some ad­van­tages, there are still chal­lenges with tech­nolo­gies like CAR-T, BiTEs, AD­Cs in sol­id tu­mors,” Read said. “So we be­gan to sit up and take no­tice, I think, of some of the da­ta that was com­ing from break­through ther­a­pies … (that) gal­va­nized the en­thu­si­asm to be­gin think­ing about ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.”

Where Curie hopes to set it­self apart is in its holis­tic strat­e­gy for ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment, look­ing at the drug’s PD and PK prop­er­ties as a whole rather than op­ti­miz­ing each mod­u­lar el­e­ment of a drug’s com­po­si­tion be­fore con­sid­er­ing its po­ten­tial ef­fi­ca­cy in hu­mans. Mean­while, the com­pa­ny is fo­cus­ing on both pep­tide and non-pep­tide lig­ands to iden­ti­fy the best pos­si­ble so­lu­tions for deep tis­sue pen­e­tra­tion, hope­ful­ly lim­it­ing off-tar­get side ef­fects in or­gans like the kid­ney.

Read ad­mits the class — which has seen some big break­throughs in re­cent years from the likes of No­var­tis’ Lu­tathera and Lu-PS­MA-617, a ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal tar­get­ing a prostate can­cer re­cep­tor with a ra­dioac­tive form of lutetium — has grown in­creas­ing­ly con­gest­ed in re­cent years. But Curie’s ex­pert sci­en­tif­ic team could help it get a head start on the grow­ing field.

“We be­lieved that if we could get lead­ers from all of those spaces un­der one roof, we would be able to tru­ly build best-in-class type med­i­cines,” he said. “Curie be­gan with that ba­sic con­cept of build­ing the com­pa­ny in the space and fo­cus­ing on not can you do it, but how do you do it the best.”

So far, Curie’s pipeline re­mains a mys­tery with Read stay­ing mum on ex­act­ly which tar­gets are in the gun­sights first and the com­pa­ny’s re­lease on the mat­ter ref­er­enc­ing on­ly “high un­met need sol­id tu­mors.” How­ev­er, a pipeline had be­gun to round in­to form dur­ing Curie’s stealth mode, and Read ex­pects that more would be on the way on that front in the com­ing year.

Read hint­ed that the biotech would uti­lize both al­pha-emit­ting ra­dioiso­topes for its ther­a­pies — the modal­i­ty du jour in the space — but al­so fo­cus on be­ta emit­ters, like lutetium, which he said could still have a place in clin­i­cal prac­tice in tack­ling larg­er tu­mors.

Mean­while, the team of 15 is ex­pect­ed to in­crease to 45 by this time next year, Read said, as the com­pa­ny ap­proach­es hu­man tri­als.

Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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Aurobindo Pharma co-founders P. V. Ram Prasad Reddy (L) and K. Nityananda Reddy

Au­robindo Phar­ma re­ceives warn­ing let­ter from In­di­a's SEC fol­low­ing more FDA ques­tion marks

Indian-based generics manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma has been in the crosshairs of the FDA for several years now, but the company is also attracting attention from regulators within the subcontinent.

According to the Indian business news site Business Standard, a warning letter was sent to the company from the Securities Exchange Board of India, or SEBI.

The letter is related to disclosures made by the company on an ongoing FDA audit of the company’s Unit-1 API facility in Hyderabad, India as well as observations made by the US regulator between 2019 and 2022.

New Charles River Laboratories High Quality (HQ) Plasmid DNA Centre of Excellence at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. (Charles River)

Charles Riv­er Lab­o­ra­to­ries to start cell and gene ther­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing at UK site in Sep­tem­ber

While Massachusetts-based Charles River Laboratories has been on an acquisition spree, they are not against planting their flag. The latest move by the company sees them crossing the pond to establish a manufacturing site in the UK.

The company on Tuesday opened its cell and gene therapy manufacturing center at Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park in Cheshire, United Kingdom. The expansion follows Charles River’s acquisition of Cognate BioServices and Cobra Biologics in 2021 for $875 million. Cognate is a plasmid DNA, viral vector and cell therapy CDMO.

Bristol Myers Squibb (Alamy)

CVS re­sumes cov­er­age of block­buster blood thin­ner af­ter price drop fol­lows Jan­u­ary ex­clu­sion

Following some backlash from the American College of Cardiology and patients, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer lowered the price of their blockbuster blood thinner Eliquis, thus ensuring that CVS Caremark would cover the drug after 6 months of it being off the major PBM’s formulary.

“Because we secured lower net costs for patients from negotiations with the drug manufacturer, Eliquis will be added back to our template formularies for the commercial segment effective July 1, 2022, and patient choices will be expanded,” CVS Health said in an emailed statement. “Anti-coagulant therapies are among the non-specialty products where we are seeing the fastest cost increases from drug manufacturers and we will continue to push back on unwarranted price increases.”