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.

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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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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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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Scoop: Roche scraps one of two schiz­o­phre­nia PhII tri­als due to missed pri­ma­ry end­point

Roche has terminated one of two Phase II trials testing its drug ralmitaront in patients with schizophrenia, the Big Pharma confirmed to Endpoints News.

The study was terminated last month, according to a June 22 update to the registry on clinicaltrials.gov. Begun in September 2020, the trial was looking at ralmitaront in patients with acute schizophrenia. The trial enrolled 286 patients out of an originally planned 308.

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Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Matt Gline, Roivant CEO (John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Roivant chops sick­le cell gene ther­a­py, der­ma­tol­ogy drugs to fo­cus on 'high­er val­ue pro­ject­s'

Roivant is sweeping a suite of drugs, including a gene therapy for sickle cell disease already in the clinic, out of its pipeline.

Six programs from four of its “vants” are being wound down as part of “a company-wide cost optimization and pipeline reprioritization initiative to reduce our expected operating expenses and prioritize our capital resources.”

When reached by Endpoints News, a spokesperson said, “We don’t anticipate a material reduction in headcount but we will likely reassign some folks to higher value projects as part of winding down specific programs.”

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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.

Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.