Mark Alles. Celgene

Mark Alles be­gins his post-Cel­gene ca­reer on the board of a US-Chi­na biotech led by a for­mer col­league

An­ten­gene had Cel­gene writ­ten all over its brand. Its founder and CEO, Jay Mei, was the big biotech’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in hema­tol­ogy/on­col­o­gy for eight years be­fore launch­ing his own start­up in Chi­na with his for­mer em­ploy­er as a part­ner and in­vestor. Cel­gene chipped in­to An­ten­gene’s $120 mil­lion round last year, and just days ago, it al­so wooed Cel­gene’s Chi­na gen­er­al man­ag­er to be its chief busi­ness of­fi­cer.

You can add one more promi­nent il­lus­tra­tion to the list. In one of his first moves since sell­ing Cel­gene to Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb for $74 bil­lion, for­mer CEO Mark Alles is join­ing An­ten­gene’s board of di­rec­tors.

“Mark brings out­stand­ing gov­er­nance and com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence that will help pro­mote our de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial strat­e­gy in Chi­na, the Asia Pa­cif­ic re­gions and the rest of the world,” Mei said in a state­ment.

While he was still work­ing for the New Jer­sey biotech, Mei had ac­com­pa­nied Alles on a trip to Bei­jing to meet with John Oyler re­gard­ing an as­set swap deal that would see BeiGene mar­ket­ing some of Cel­gene’s can­cer drugs in Chi­na, in ex­change for a made-in-Chi­na PD-1 (which they even­tu­al­ly dropped). In fact, he re­calls the ex­act date they met: May 14, 2016.

Jay Mei (End­points/Pharm­Cube)

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That part­ner­ship ce­ment­ed BeiGene’s sta­tus as a pi­o­neer­ing US-Chi­na biotech act­ing as a bridge be­tween Amer­i­can in­no­va­tion and the vast Chi­nese mar­ket, con­tribut­ing their share of R&D work along the way. Mei counts An­ten­gene, based in Shang­hai and Philadel­phia, as a mem­ber of this camp — con­sist­ing of hy­brids that work like a multi­na­tion­al drug­mak­er but un­der­stand the do­mes­tic mar­ket deeply.

“In fact I of­ten say Chi­na is a coun­try with three worlds,” he told re­porters at the End­points-Pharm­Cube BI­IS con­fer­ence in late 2018. “[Shang­hai] is in the heart of the first world; you dri­ve an hour or two and it might be the sec­ond world; dri­ve three to four hours and you ar­rive at the third world. Chi­na is very com­plex.”

But the coun­try has gone a long way in em­brac­ing emerg­ing biotechs from over­seas — speed­ing up reg­u­la­to­ry process­es and ap­provals dras­ti­cal­ly — as well as nur­tur­ing its own.

“Ten years ago when I first came to Chi­na to in­tro­duce Cel­gene’s prod­ucts, the ex­perts had heard of our drugs be­cause they’d been to ASH and AS­CO,” Mei re­called. “But no­body had heard of the com­pa­ny.”

Thanks in part to Alles’ busi­ness de­vel­op­ment strate­gies, that is no longer the case. And the in­dus­try vet, who’s al­so tak­en a board role at Sy­ros, said he’s now ex­cit­ed to bring all that ex­pe­ri­ence to An­ten­gene now that it’s ever clos­er to com­mer­cial­iza­tion.

The first an­tic­i­pat­ed launch would be of se­linex­or, or ATG-010, a con­tro­ver­sial mul­ti­ple myelo­ma drug li­censed from Karyopharm. Al­so work­ing to­ward that goal is new CBO John Chin, who spent 15 years with Cel­gene and was cred­it­ed for man­ag­ing the Revlim­id fran­chise.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

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FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.

James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

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Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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