Percival Barretto-Ko, Plexium CEO

More mol­e­c­u­lar glue: Plex­i­um pens Ab­b­Vie pact months af­ter Am­gen deal

A few months af­ter its deal with Am­gen, San Diego-based biotech Plex­i­um has inked a deal with an­oth­er Big Phar­ma – this time, it’s Ab­b­Vie.

While Am­gen’s deal fo­cused on the can­cer space, Ab­b­Vie hopes to use Plex­i­um’s “ag­nos­tic” tar­get­ed pro­tein degra­da­tion (TPD) plat­form to screen for new ther­a­pies for neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases, Plex­i­um an­nounced to­day.

The deal in­cludes $35 mil­lion up­front and $530 mil­lion in down­stream mile­stones, along with fu­ture roy­al­ties for each of the five un­spec­i­fied tar­gets that Plex­i­um will be screen­ing for new ther­a­pies, Plex­i­um CEO Per­ci­val Bar­ret­to-Ko told End­points News.

TPD takes ad­van­tage of the body’s pre-ex­ist­ing pro­tein de­struc­tion sys­tem via “mol­e­c­u­lar glues” and mono­va­lent de­graders that help jump­start that de­struc­tion process, what Bar­ret­to-Ko says is “quite an el­e­gant ther­a­peu­tic ap­proach.” Plex­i­um’s high-through­put screen­ing plat­form, which Bar­ret­to-Ko em­pha­sizes doesn’t fo­cus on any sin­gle modal­i­ty, al­lows a “di­rect mea­sure of degra­da­tion,” he said.

With the Ab­b­Vie deal, Plex­i­um plans on putting that plat­form to work in neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases, fo­cus­ing on five tar­gets to be­gin with, though Bar­ret­to-Ko did not dis­close what those tar­gets were.

Start­ed in 2019, Plex­i­um is an emerg­ing play­er in the TPD space, which fea­tures many oth­er com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Kymera, Ly­cia, and C4 Ther­a­peu­tics.

Bar­ret­to-Ko notes that the Ab­b­Vie deal is “one of a tril­o­gy of events” for Plex­i­um, start­ing with their Am­gen deal as well as their $102 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing round from Soft­Bank just a few weeks af­ter.

“It’s no se­cret that the mar­ket has been very dif­fi­cult out there for a lot of dif­fer­ent biotech com­pa­nies,” Bar­ret­to-Ko said. How­ev­er, with their re­cent fi­nanc­ing and deals, “It not on­ly val­i­dates the plat­form and the pro­grams that we have … It al­lows us to head down and do the work we do best, and be thought­ful and in­tent­ful in terms of what po­ten­tial next steps we might con­sid­er.”

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:

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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.

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

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?”

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Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode Therapeutics CEO (Photo by Jennifer Leahy)

Pfiz­er, Sanofi-backed LNP out­fit goes back to the well and draws $120M for its trek to the clin­ic

A preclinical biotech touting a five-lipid drug delivery platform is looking to break out of its preclinical mold, and it just secured a sizable raise to do just that.

ReCode Therapeutics reported Wednesday morning that Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya co-led a Series B extension round, adding $120 million to the biotech’s previous Series B haul of $80 million. The biotech has been backed by several players in Big Pharma, notably Pfizer and Sanofi from its original Series B close last fall. And in this extension — featuring all new investors, CEO Shehnaaz Suliman tells Endpoints News — Amgen’s VC arm jumped on board.

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A Mer­ck part­ner is sucked in­to the fi­nan­cial quag­mire as key lender calls in a note

Another biotech standing on shaky financial legs has fallen victim to the bears.

Merck partner 4D Pharma has reported that a key lender, Oxford Finance, shoved the UK company into administration after calling in a $14 million loan they couldn’t immediately make good on. Trading in their stock was halted with a market cap that had fallen to a mere £30 million.

“Despite the very difficult prevailing market conditions,” 4D reported on Friday, the biotech had been making progress on finding some new financing and turned to Oxford with an alternative late on Thursday and then again Friday morning.