Jean-Paul Kress, MorphoSys CEO

Mor­phoSys out-li­cens­es two an­ti­bod­ies to se­cre­tive ARCH biotech as it push­es for­ward with lead Con­stel­la­tion work

Mor­phoSys is part­ner­ing and in­vest­ing in a se­cre­tive ARCH-backed biotech as it con­tin­ues re­or­ga­niz­ing the pipeline fol­low­ing a $1.7 bil­lion June 2021 buy­out of Con­stel­la­tion and sub­se­quent punt­ing of ear­ly-stage as­sets.

The Ger­man com­pa­ny will team up with ARCH’s Hu­man Im­munol­o­gy Bio­sciences, or HI­Bio for short, in a deal for two clin­i­cal pro­grams. Mor­phoSys will re­ceive a 15% eq­ui­ty stake in HI­Bio and net a $15 mil­lion up­front pay­ment, as well as be­come el­i­gi­ble for up to $1 bil­lion in mile­stone pay­ments.

In ex­change, HI­Bio will get li­cens­es for the an­ti-CD38 an­ti­body felzartam­ab and the an­ti-C5aR1 an­ti­body MOR210. HI­Bio will have rights to these com­pounds every­where ex­cept Chi­na, Hong Kong, Tai­wan and Macau, where Mor­phoSys had signed pre­vi­ous li­cens­ing deals with I-Mab. (I-Mab al­so has rights to MOR210 in South Ko­rea).

Tues­day’s deal is Mor­phoSys’ lat­est ef­fort to re­or­ga­nize af­ter it bought out Con­stel­la­tion last June for a ten-fig­ure sum. At the time, Mor­phoSys made no se­cret of its ul­ti­mate prize: pelabre­sib, an ex­per­i­men­tal BET in­hibitor, cur­rent­ly in Phase III in myelofi­bro­sis.

Con­stel­la­tion re­vealed at De­cem­ber 2020’s ASH con­fer­ence that 67% of Phase II pa­tients giv­en pelabre­sib in com­bi­na­tion with Jakafi as a first-line treat­ment saw a re­duc­tion in spleen vol­ume of 35% or greater at 24 weeks. In a state­ment Tues­day, Mor­phoSys CEO Jean-Paul Kress said the deal would al­low the com­pa­ny to fo­cus its re­sources on de­vel­op­ing the pro­gram.

A few months ago, Mor­phoSys made its first move to fun­nel cash to­ward this can­di­date by writ­ing off all oth­er Con­stel­la­tion-re­lat­ed work for $250 mil­lion, save for one oth­er clin­i­cal pro­gram. In tan­dem, the com­pa­ny dis­con­tin­ued its US-based dis­cov­ery work for those Con­stel­la­tion projects and cen­tral­ized all lab ef­forts in Ger­many, ef­fec­tive­ly end­ing its ear­ly pipeline projects.

The write-off al­so helped Mor­phoSys bet­ter com­mer­cial­ize its on­ly ap­proved drug, Mon­ju­vi, the com­pa­ny said at the time. FDA ap­proved Mon­ju­vi, a CD-19-di­rect­ed ther­a­py, for re­frac­to­ry dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma in Au­gust 2020.

Travis Mur­doch

HI­Bio, mean­while, has re­mained un­der the se­cre­tive ARCH in­cu­ba­tor um­brel­la with all the mak­ings of an­oth­er big Bob Nelsen project. The com­pa­ny’s web­site does not re­lay much in­fo, but does note its pri­ma­ry fo­cus will be au­toim­mune and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases.

Its co-founder and CEO, Travis Mur­doch, pre­vi­ous­ly worked at Soft­Bank, Third Rock and McK­in­sey while serv­ing on a few com­pa­ny boards such as Zymer­gen, per his LinkedIn page. ARCH man­ag­ing part­ner Paul Berns al­so chairs HI­Bio’s board.

2023 Spot­light on the Fu­ture of Drug De­vel­op­ment for Small and Mid-Sized Biotechs

In the context of today’s global economic environment, there is an increasing need to work smarter, faster and leaner across all facets of the life sciences industry.  This is particularly true for small and mid-sized biotech companies, many of which are facing declining valuations and competing for increasingly limited funding to propel their science forward.  It is important to recognize that within this framework, many of these smaller companies already find themselves resource-challenged to design and manage clinical studies themselves because they don’t have large teams or in-house experts in navigating the various aspects of the drug development journey. This can be particularly challenging for the most complex and difficult to treat diseases where no previous pathway exists and patients are urgently awaiting breakthroughs.

Spe­cial re­port 2022: Meet 20 women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D

When you run a special report for a fourth year, it can start feeling a little bit like a ritual. You go through the motions — in our case opening up nominations for top women in biopharma R&D and reviewing more than 500 entries — you make your choices of inclusion and exclusion. You host a ceremony.

But then things happen that remind you why you do it in the first place. Perhaps a Supreme Court rules to overturn the constitutional right to abortion and a group of women biotech leaders makes it clear they strongly dissent; perhaps new data on gender diversity in the industry come out that look all too similar to the old ones, suggesting women are still dramatically underrepresented at the top; perhaps protests and conflicts around the world put in stark terms the struggles that many women still face in earning the most basic recognition.

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Kristen Hege, Bristol Myers Squibb SVP, early clinical development, oncology/hematology and cell therapy (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: Bris­tol My­er­s' Kris­ten Hege on cell ther­a­py, can­cer pa­tients and men­tor­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

Kristen Hege leads Bristol Myers Squibb’s early oncology discovery program carrying on from the same work at Celgene, which was acquired by BMS in 2019. She’s known for her early work in CAR-T, having pioneered the first CAR-T cell trial for solid tumors more than 25 years ago.

However, the eminent physician-scientist is more than just a drug developer mastermind. She’s also a practicing physician, mother to two young women, an avid backpacker and intersecting all those interests — a champion of young women and people of color in STEM and life sciences.

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Gossamer Bio CEO Faheem Hasnain at Endpoints' #BIO22 panel (J.T. MacMillan Photography for Endpoints News)

Gos­samer’s Fa­heem Has­nain de­fends a round of pos­i­tive PAH da­ta as a clear win. But can these PhII re­sults stand up to scruti­ny?

Gossamer Bio $GOSS posted a statistically significant improvement for its primary endpoint in the key Phase II TORREY trial for lead drug seralutinib on Tuesday morning. But CEO Faheem Hasnain has some explaining to do on the important secondary of the crucial six-minute walk distance test — which will be the primary endpoint in Phase III — as the data on both endpoints fell short of expectations, missing one analyst’s bar on even modest success.

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Vikram Sheel Kumar, Clear Creek Bio CEO

In search for next-gen Covid treat­ment, Pfiz­er taps tiny biotech for re­search deal

Pfizer has inked a deal to develop a new Covid therapy with Clear Creek Bio — a 10-person biotech out of RA Capital with an office in Cambridge, MA, but one that operates fully remotely.

Paxlovid has become a big moneymaker for Pfizer this year, projecting $22 billion in sales on the year. But the Big Pharma has begun its search for a next-generation Covid antiviral and potential combination therapies as supply of Paxlovid greatly eclipses actual use of the antiviral.

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Prometheus moves to raise cash hours af­ter PhII da­ta leads to stock surge

After releasing better-than-anticipated data on two mid-stage studies Wednesday morning, Prometheus Biosciences’ CEO said the company would “take some time to assess” its next financing options.

It only needed about seven hours. Wednesday afternoon after the market closed, the biotech announced it would seek $250 million through an equity offering as the company looks to edge out anti-TL1A competitor Pfizer and its new partner Roivant.

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Piper Trelstad, head of CMC, Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute

Q&A with Gates leader: Women tak­ing on more roles in phar­ma man­u­fac­tur­ing, but still work to do

More and more women are driving innovation and taking leadership roles in biotech – as evidenced today in the release of Endpoints News’ list of the top 20 women in the R&D world – but those gains are beginning to extend across pharma sectors.

In pharma manufacturing in the US today, around 46% of all roles are occupied by women, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2021. And according to a Bloomberg report, women’s roles across manufacturing roles had a massive boost after the start of the pandemic.

Phar­ma rep­u­ta­tion re­tains 'halo' even as pan­dem­ic me­dia cov­er­age re­cedes — sur­vey

The Covid-19 halo effect on the pharma industry is continuing, according to a new global study from Ipsos. The annual survey for the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) finds considerable goodwill from consumers across measures of trust, cooperation with governments, and advancing research and drug development.

“Despite the pandemic in many countries no longer being the top of mind concern generally – although it does remain the top concern as a health issue – the industry’s reputation has remained positive,” said Ipsos research director Thomas Fife-Schaw.

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FDA commissioner Robert Califf (Jose Luis Magana/AP Images)

FDA pulls On­copep­tides' Pepax­to in­di­ca­tion, open­ing the door for dan­gling ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval en­force­ment

In a move all but ensured after an overwhelmingly negative adcomm vote this September, the FDA is yanking Oncopeptides’ dangling accelerated approval. And there may be more to come.

In recent months, US regulators have honed in on reforming the accelerated approval pathway and preventing drugmakers from continuing to sell their medicines in the event of a confirmatory study flop. The moves come after commissioner Rob Califf has called for companies to do more to produce post-marketing evidence quickly earlier this year.

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