Luca Santarelli, VectivBio CEO

Lu­ca Santarel­li's Vec­tivBio buys out small Mass­a­chu­setts biotech, re­dou­bling fo­cus on meta­bol­ic dis­ease

Lu­ca Santarel­li moved quick­ly af­ter spin­ning out Vec­tivBio from Ther­a­chon, get­ting an IPO set­tled in less than two years. On Tues­day, he con­tin­ued charg­ing for­ward with a new buy­out that will see Vec­tivBio ex­pand its pipeline sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the next year and a half.

Vec­tivBio has ac­quired Comet Ther­a­peu­tics for an undis­closed eq­ui­ty and cash sum, the biotech an­nounced Tues­day, aim­ing to tar­get a swath of rare meta­bol­ic dis­eases. The goal is to hit the ground run­ning, Santarel­li told End­points News, with four new pro­grams ex­pect­ed to launch at once and plans to en­ter the clin­ic in 18 months.

“This deal is im­por­tant for us but al­so some­thing we’ve been plan­ning for a long time,” Santarel­li told End­points.

In ad­di­tion to the sums paid up­front, Vec­tivBio could be on the hook for more eq­ui­ty and cash pay­ments should the new projects reach cer­tain mile­stones.

As their teams start work­ing to­geth­er, Vec­tivBio and Comet will go af­ter a fam­i­ly of con­di­tions known as in­her­it­ed meta­bol­ic dis­eases, or IMDs. These ge­net­ic dis­or­ders re­sult in in­fants be­ing un­able to prop­er­ly con­vert food in­to en­er­gy, re­sult­ing in the buildup of tox­ic metabo­lites and some­times life-threat­en­ing con­di­tions that have lim­it­ed treat­ment op­tions.

Comet, how­ev­er, has de­vel­oped a plat­form to at­tack these dis­eases with a “unique” bit of chem­istry, Santarel­li said. By fo­cus­ing on coen­zyme A, an en­zyme im­pli­cat­ed in many meta­bol­ic path­ways, re­searchers the­o­rized a way to re­store its nor­mal func­tion while de­liv­er­ing pay­loads spe­cif­ic to each IMD.

“It al­lows CoA to be used as a back­bone,” Santarel­li said of the Comet tech­nol­o­gy. “It al­lows for sys­temic ad­min­is­tra­tion and ex­po­sure, al­lows for sys­temic in­te­gra­tion and can car­ry var­i­ous car­goes in­to the cells.”

The first pro­gram that will come out of the ac­qui­si­tion will tar­get or­gan­ic acid dis­or­ders such as methyl­malonic acidemia and pro­pi­onic acidemia, Santarel­li added. Their goal is to de­liv­er car­go that can stim­u­late the dis­reg­u­lat­ed meta­bol­ic path­ways.

Vec­tivBio got start­ed back in 2019, spin­ning out from Ther­a­con af­ter Pfiz­er bought it out for $340 mil­lion up­front and $470 mil­lion in po­ten­tial mile­stones. The biotech al­most im­me­di­ate­ly got to work on a Phase II drug for short bow­el syn­drome, and Santarel­li raised $110 mil­lion last Oc­to­ber to get the pro­gram through Phase III.

He fol­lowed that up with an IPO ear­li­er this year, and the com­pa­ny is ex­pect­ing topline re­sults for SBS in­testi­nal fail­ure in 2023. But with the Comet ac­qui­si­tion Tues­day, Santarel­li is start­ing work on Vec­tivBio’s next chap­ter in the mean­time.

Comet launched back in 2018 and re­ceived $28.5 mil­lion in a Se­ries A in June 2019. The Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech has seen in­vest­ment from Sofinno­va Part­ners, INKEF Cap­i­tal, Canaan and Mis­sion Bio­Cap­i­tal.

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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

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:

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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?”

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

(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.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

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.”

#Can­nes­Lions2022: Con­sumer health ex­ecs call on agen­cies to in­volve pa­tients in cre­ative process

CANNES — When Tamara Rogers joined GSK back in 2018, “science was king and R&D were the gods.” Now the global chief marketing officer of consumer healthcare wants to make room for another supreme being: the consumer.

As health and wellness becomes more relevant to consumers amid the pandemic, four health-focused executives called on marketers to involve patients in their creative process in a panel discussion at the Cannes Lions advertising creativity festival.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 144,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.