Mar­tin Shkre­li sud­den­ly changes his tune on Clin­ton threat; Genen­ta adds $8M for gene ther­a­py R&D

⇨ Look­ing to stay out of jail ahead of his sen­tenc­ing on three con­vic­tions on felony fraud charges, Mar­tin Shkre­li has apol­o­gized to the judge in his case for his “awk­ward at­tempt at hu­mor” in his Face­book post­ing of­fer­ing to pay any­one who grabbed a lock of Hillary Clin­ton’s hair $5,000. In the let­ter, Shkre­li says he’s a non­vi­o­lent per­son and nev­er in­tend­ed any­one harm. Fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors asked the judge to jail him, claim­ing that Shkre­li is a threat that should be be­hind bars now. CN­BC re­ports that Shkre­li took a dif­fer­ent ap­proach in re­spond­ing on Face­book. He wrote: ‘‘F— the gov­ern­ment. I will nev­er kiss their ring or snitch. Come at me with your hard­est be­cause I haven’t seen any­thing im­pres­sive yet.”

⇨ Mi­lan-based Genen­ta Sci­ence raised an $8 mil­lion B round for its work in hematopoi­et­ic stem cell gene ther­a­py for tu­mor treat­ment. The round was led by Ital­ian, British, and Swiss pri­vate in­vestors, fam­i­ly of­fices, and busi­ness an­gels, its Se­ries A in­vestors and Board Mem­bers. Genen­ta, led by CEO Pier­lui­gi Parac­chi, has raised more than $20 mil­lion for its work to date. No­var­tis vet Gui­do Gui­di joined the board and Dana-Far­ber’s Ken An­der­son joined the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry group at the com­pa­ny.

⇨ Alex­ion will have to pay some­thing of a fine be­fore it moves its head­quar­ters from New Haven, CT to Boston. The com­pa­ny got $26 mil­lion from the state in a loan and a grant for be­ing based there, re­ports the Hart­ford Courant, and now of­fi­cials say the biotech will have to re­pay that — along with penal­ties.

⇨ The UK’s Clin­i­gen Group has struck a deal to ac­quire Quan­tum Phar­ma for 150 mil­lion pounds.

Bay­er has turned to Berke­ley Lights’ Bea­con plat­form to au­to­mate bi­o­log­i­cal work­flows and gain ef­fi­cien­cies in its drug de­vel­op­ment process.

Late Fri­day ap­proval; Trio of biotechs wind down; Stem cell pi­o­neer finds new fron­tier; Biotech icon to re­tire; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

I hope your weekend is off to a nice start, wherever you are reading this email. As for me, I’m trying to catch the tail of the Lunar New Year festivities.

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Pfiz­er lays off em­ploy­ees at Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut sites

Pfizer has laid off employees at its La Jolla, CA, and Groton, CT sites, according to multiple LinkedIn posts from former employees.

The Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News it has let go of some employees, but a spokesperson declined to specify how many workers were impacted and the exact locations affected. Earlier this month, the drug developer had confirmed to Endpoints it was sharpening its focus and doing away with some early research on areas such as rare disease, oncology and gene therapies.

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Jake Van Naarden, Loxo@Lilly CEO

Lil­ly en­ters ripe BTK field with quick FDA nod in man­tle cell lym­phoma

Eli Lilly has succeeded in its attempt to get the first non-covalent version of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, or BTK, inhibitors to market, pushing it past rival Merck.

The FDA gave an accelerated nod to Lilly’s daily oral med, to be sold as Jaypirca, for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma.

The agency’s green light, disclosed by the Indianapolis Big Pharma on Friday afternoon, catapults Lilly into a field dominated by covalent BTK inhibitors, which includes AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, AstraZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukinsa.

Filip Dubovsky, Novavax CMO

No­vavax gets ready to take an­oth­er shot at Covid vac­cine mar­ket with next sea­son plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

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Eliot Forster, F-star CEO (Rachel Kiki for Endpoints News)

F-star gets down to the wire with $161M sale to Chi­nese buy­er as na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty con­cerns linger

With the clock ticking on F-star Therapeutics’ takeover by a Chinese buyer, the companies are still scrambling to remove a hold on the deal from the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

F-star and invoX Pharma said they are “actively negotiating” with CFIUS “about the terms of a mitigation agreement to address CFIUS’s concerns regarding potential national security risks posed by the transaction.”

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CBER Director Peter Marks (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

FDA ad­vi­so­ry com­mit­tee votes unan­i­mous­ly in fa­vor of bi­va­lent Covid shots re­plac­ing pri­ma­ry se­ries

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all current vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

The vote marks an effort to clear up confusion around varying formulations and dosing schedules for current primary series and booster vaccines, as well as “get closer to the strains that are circulating,” according to committee member Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Rodney Rietze, iVexSol CEO

Bris­tol My­ers, Charles Riv­er join Se­ries A fund­ing for iVex­Sol

Massachusetts-based iVexSol has secured funding to the tune of $23.8 million in its latest Series A round. The new investors include Bristol Myers Squibb, manufacturer Charles River Laboratories and Asahi Kasei Medical.

iVexSol is a manufacturer of lentiviral vectors (LVV), used in making gene therapies, and this latest round of fundraising brings its total Series A total over $39 million, which will be used to recruit more employees and bolster its technology.

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John Rim, Samsung Biologics CEO (Samsung/PR Newswire)

Sam­sung Bi­o­log­ics spells out ex­pan­sion plans in South Ko­rea and US

The CDMO arm of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates has posted its year-end results and plans for 2023, which include new construction.

Samsung Biologics netted north of KRW 3 trillion ($2.4 billion) in 2022 revenue and an operating profit of KRW 983.6 billion ($799 million), which the company touted on Friday as “record-high earnings.” The revenue boost was 55% compared to 2021.

No­var­tis' ap­proved sick­le cell dis­ease drug fails to beat place­bo in PhI­II

Novartis’ sickle cell drug, approved in 2019 and branded as Adakveo, has failed an ongoing Phase III, according to preliminary results.

The Swiss pharma giant unveiled early data from the ongoing STAND Phase III study on Friday, saying that crizanlizumab showed no statistically significant difference between the drug at two different dose levels compared to placebo in annualized rates of vaso-occlusive crises that lead to a healthcare visit over the first year since being randomized into the trial.