Mi­to­conix lands $20M to de­vel­op neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive plat­form out of Stan­ford; RaNA gets a new name fol­low­ing mR­NA deal with Shire

→ Mi­to­conix has a neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion plat­form tech from Stan­ford and a base in Is­rael from which it plans to push its lead ther­a­py in­to clin­i­cal test­ing with the help of a $20 mil­lion A round. The sci­ence comes from the lab of Stan­ford’s Daria Mochly-Rosen, who has been study­ing the ef­fect of ex­ces­sive fis­sion on mi­to­chon­dria. Their lead drug is the pre­clin­i­cal MTC-1203, an in­hibitor for fis­sion that’s been put through an­i­mal tests for Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease. The fledg­ling biotech al­so be­lieves it can work in a va­ri­ety of oth­er neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases like Parkin­son’s. Remiges Ven­tures led the round with help from Or­biMed, De­men­tia Dis­cov­ery Fund, Ar­ix Bio­science, RMGP Bio-Phar­ma in­vest­ment Fund and oth­ers.

Ron Re­naud, RaNA CEO

→ Cam­bridge, MA-based RaNA Ther­a­peu­tics is get­ting a makeover. The biotech has changed its name to Trans­late Bio fol­low­ing its ac­qui­si­tion of a mes­sen­ger RNA plat­form from Shire. In ad­di­tion, Michael Heartlein has been named chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer and Bri­an Fen­ton has been brought in as chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. “Trans­late Bio is the com­bi­na­tion of two pas­sion­ate teams of sci­en­tists com­ing to­geth­er un­der one shared mis­sion: to trans­late RNA sci­ence in­to rev­o­lu­tion­ary med­i­cines,” said CEO Ron Re­naud.

→ The Dutch VC Bio­Gen­er­a­tion Ven­tures Fund has raised €66 mil­lion for its third out­ing. Fo­cus­ing on ther­a­peu­tics, med­ical de­vices and di­ag­nos­tics in Eu­rope, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Benelux and Ger­many, the VC says it has al­ready made 4 in­vest­ments out of the fund and plans a to­tal of 15 through its life. Ed­ward van Wezel, Man­ag­ing Part­ner said: “Our third fund makes BGV amongst the largest life sci­ences funds ded­i­cat­ed to seed in­vest­ments in Eu­rope.”

→ Av­enue Ther­a­peu­tics has suc­cess­ful­ly made the leap in­to the pub­lic mar­kets $ATXI. The biotech — de­vel­op­ing an IV ver­sion of tra­madol, sold 5.5 mil­lion shares at $6, the mid­dle of the range.

→ Switzer­land’s Se­lex­is has struck a deal to work with Take­da on re­com­bi­nant fu­sion pro­teins.

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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No­var­tis jumps in­to Covid-19 vac­cine hunt, as Big Phar­ma and big biotech com­mit to bil­lions of dos­es

After spending most of the pandemic on the sidelines, Novartis is offering its aid in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

AveXis, the Swiss pharma’s gene therapy subsidiary, has agreed to manufacture the vaccine being developed by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital. The biotech will begin manufacturing this month, while the vaccine undergoes further preclinical testing. They’ve agreed to provide the vaccine for free for clinical trials beginning in the second half of 2020, but have not disclosed financials for after.

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