President Biden delivers a speech on the Cancer Moonshot initiative at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Monday, Sept. 12 (Evan Vucci/AP Images)

Moon­shot re­fresh: Biden calls to cut can­cer death rate by at least 50% in 25 years

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has long been an al­ly for the fight against can­cer, hav­ing lost his son Beau to an ag­gres­sive brain can­cer in 2015, af­ter which he launched the first Can­cer Moon­shot pro­gram in 2016 as VP.

On Mon­day, Biden looked to hit the re­set but­ton on the moon­shot pro­gram, an­nounc­ing a new goal to cut can­cer in the same way that for­mer Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy pur­sued the moon, Biden said at the John F. Kennedy Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­se­um in Boston.

Biden’s speech came ex­act­ly 60 years to the day af­ter Kennedy spoke at Rice Uni­ver­si­ty about send­ing the US to the moon, ex­plain­ing that as a na­tion in 1962,

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the oth­er things not be­cause they are easy, but be­cause they are hard. Be­cause that goal will serve to or­ga­nize and mea­sure the best of our en­er­gies and skills, be­cause that chal­lenge is one that we’re will­ing to ac­cept. One we are un­will­ing to post­pone.

Biden, mean­while, called for Amer­i­cans to work to­geth­er to cut the can­cer death rate.

“The goal is to cut can­cer death rates by at least 50 per­cent — at least 50 per­cent — in the next 25 years,” Biden said. “I’m call­ing on the pri­vate sec­tor to de­vel­op and test new treat­ments, make drugs more af­ford­able, share more da­ta and knowl­edge that can in­form the pub­lic and ben­e­fit every com­pa­ny’s re­search. And I’m re­spect­ful­ly call­ing on peo­ple liv­ing with can­cer, and care­givers and fam­i­lies, to keep shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence and push­ing for progress.”

The speech came amid a busy day of sci­ence and biotech-fo­cused an­nounce­ments for the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion: from new plans that were hatched to fur­ther grow do­mes­tic bio­man­u­fac­tur­ing with new train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion­al pro­grams, to an ex­ec­u­tive or­der that will ig­nite a new ge­nom­ic da­ta ini­tia­tive and look in­to reg­u­la­to­ry re­forms, to re­veal­ing his ap­point­ment of Re­nee We­grzyn, VP of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Gink­go Bioworks, as the first di­rec­tor of the Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), which aims to en­gage in riski­er bio­phar­ma R&D.

To­mor­row, the White House will host a sum­mit on its Na­tion­al Biotech­nol­o­gy and Bio­man­u­fac­tur­ing Ini­tia­tive dur­ing which cab­i­net agen­cies will an­nounce a wide range of new in­vest­ments and re­sources that will al­low the Unit­ed States to har­ness the full po­ten­tial of biotech­nol­o­gy and bio­man­u­fac­tur­ing and ad­vance the Pres­i­dent’s Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der.

The EO al­so called on FDA and oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies to de­ter­mine what might be re­formed, call­ing for new “process­es and time­lines to im­ple­ment reg­u­la­to­ry re­form, in­clud­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the reg­u­la­tions and guid­ance doc­u­ments that can be up­dat­ed, stream­lined, or clar­i­fied; and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of po­ten­tial new guid­ance or reg­u­la­tions.”

Each year, the FDA com­mis­sion­er will be tasked with iden­ti­fy­ing “any gaps in statu­to­ry au­thor­i­ty that should be ad­dressed to im­prove the clar­i­ty and ef­fi­cien­cy of the reg­u­la­to­ry process for biotech­nol­o­gy prod­ucts, and shall rec­om­mend ad­di­tion­al ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions and leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als to achieve such goals,” the EO text adds.

And this now-re­vi­tal­ized Can­cer Moon­shot was in­fused re­cent­ly with a CDC check to the tune of $215 mil­lion as part of a 5-year, $1.1 bil­lion grant to fund the first year of three na­tion­al pro­grams es­tab­lished in the 1990s to im­prove can­cer pre­ven­tion, de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis and con­trol.

“With progress over the last 25 years, the death rate from can­cer has fall­en more than 25 per­cent,” Biden said Mon­day. “But de­spite the progress of lives ex­tend­ed, lives saved, can­cer is still the num­ber two cause of death in Amer­i­ca, sec­ond on­ly to heart dis­ease.”

Biden al­so pre­vi­ous­ly ap­point­ed three doc­tors to serve three-year terms on his Can­cer Cab­i­net: chair Eliz­a­beth Jaf­fee, a deputy di­rec­tor at Johns Hop­kins’ can­cer cen­ter and a pre­vi­ous AACR pres­i­dent; Mitchel Berg­er, di­rec­tor of UCSF’s Brain Tu­mor Cen­ter; and Car­ol Brown, an on­col­o­gist, SVP and chief health eq­ui­ty of­fi­cer at Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for new Bio­haven with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the new Biohaven post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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Benjamine Liu, TrialSpark CEO

Paul Hud­son and Tri­alSpark's mu­tu­al de­sire to speed up de­vel­op­ment con­verges in three-year, six-drug goal

A unicorn startup that originally set out to hasten clinical studies for biopharma partners dug further into its revised path of internal drug development by linking arms with Sanofi in a pact that the biotech’s CEO said originated from the top.

TrialSpark and the Big Pharma on Tuesday committed to in-licensing and/or acquiring six Phase II/Phase III drugs within the next three years.

“I’ve known Paul Hudson for a while and we were discussing the opportunity to really re-imagine a lot of different parts of pharma,” TrialSpark CEO Benjamine Liu told Endpoints News, “and one of the things that we discussed was this opportunity to accelerate the development of new medicines in mutual areas of interest.”

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Christophe Bourdon, Leo Pharma CEO

Leo Phar­ma looks 'be­yond the skin' in atopic der­mati­tis aware­ness cam­paign

As Leo Pharma aims to take on heavyweight champ Dupixent in atopic dermatitis, the company is launching “AD Days Around the World,” an awareness campaign documenting real patient stories across Europe.

The project, unveiled on Monday, spotlights four patients: Marjolaine, Laura, Julia and África from France, Italy, Germany and Spain, respectively, in short video clips on the challenges of living with AD, the most common form of eczema.