Neu­rotrope bat­tered in lat­est Alzheimer's flop; Platelet Bio­Gen­e­sis rais­es $26M-plus

Neu­rotrope be­came the lat­est ca­su­al­ty in the high-risk Alzheimer’s R&D field. The biotech re­port­ed that their Phase II study of Bryo­statin-1 failed to show any im­prove­ment over place­bo us­ing the Se­vere Im­pair­ment Bat­tery (SIB) to­tal score at week 13. In fact, the drug arm did a lit­tle worse than a sug­ar pill, with an av­er­age in­crease of 1.3 points for the drug and 2.1 points for place­bo. Their shares $NTRP cratered in the rout that fol­lowed, plung­ing 78%. It’s cur­rent­ly a pen­ny stock.

The Alzheimer’s R&D field hasn’t record­ed a suc­cess in chang­ing the tra­jec­to­ry of the dis­ease, with re­cent piv­otal fail­ures forc­ing all the play­ers to re­con­sid­er their strate­gies.

Platelet Bio­Gen­e­sis (PBG) — a com­pa­ny fo­cused on stem cell-de­rived, on-de­mand hu­man platelets and platelet-based ther­a­peu­tics — has raised more than $26 mil­lion in Se­ries A-1 fi­nanc­ing. In com­bi­na­tion to this round, as well as Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing and grants, the com­pa­ny’s to­tal fund­ing is brought to about $45 mil­lion. The fi­nanc­ing was co-led by Ziff Cap­i­tal Part­ners and Qim­ing Ven­ture Part­ners USA in ad­di­tion to ex­ist­ing in­ves­tures Nest.Bio Ven­tures and eCoast An­gels.

The com­pa­ny said that it “will use the funds from the Se­ries A-1 round to ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of its donor-in­de­pen­dent platelet man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ad­vance its proof of con­cept work around platelet-based ther­a­peu­tics.” PBG plans to dou­ble its staff to ap­prox­i­mate­ly 50 em­ploy­ees in 2020.

Stu­art Levy, co-founder of Paratek Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, passed away last week.

“Stu­art was a dis­tin­guished physi­cian who was the fore­front of an­tibi­ot­ic de­vel­op­ment and a ded­i­cat­ed cham­pi­on for the pru­dent use of an­tibi­otics,” said Evan Loh, Paratek CEO. “More im­por­tant­ly, he was a dear friend and men­tor to so many and his pas­sion lives on in each of us as we work to con­tin­ue his mis­sion of com­bat­ing the dai­ly threat of life-threat­en­ing in­fec­tions. We will great­ly miss him.”

Levy co-found­ed Paratek more than 20 years ago along with Wal­ter Gilbert. He was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of the com­pa­ny’s lead an­tibi­otics, Nuzyra and Seysara. Levy dis­cov­ered the ef­flux mech­a­nism for drug (tetra­cy­cline) re­sis­tance and was among the first sci­en­tists to doc­u­ment the trans­fer of re­sis­tant bac­te­ria from an­i­mals to farm­work­ers. His 1992 book, The An­tibi­ot­ic Para­dox: How Mir­a­cle Drugs Are De­stroy­ing the Mir­a­cle, has been cit­ed wide­ly and trans­lat­ed in­to four lan­guages.

The news comes a few weeks af­ter the com­pa­ny pub­lished pos­i­tive Phase III da­ta for Nuzyra for pa­tients with AB­SS­SI.

→ In the midst of a sur­prise in­ter partes re­view by the US Patent Tri­als Ap­peal Board (PT­AB) for Alex­ion’s Soliris, the com­pa­ny and Bridge­Bio’s sub­sidiary Ei­dos Ther­a­peu­tics have inked an agree­ment grant­i­ng Alex­ion an ex­clu­sive li­cense to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize their oral­ly-ad­min­is­tered small mol­e­cule AG10 — de­signed to treat transthyretin amy­loi­do­sis (AT­TR) by bind­ing and sta­bi­liz­ing transthyretin (TTR) in the blood— in Japan.

“Ei­dos is cur­rent­ly eval­u­at­ing AG10 in a Phase III study in the US and Eu­rope for AT­TR car­diomy­opa­thy (AT­TR-CM) – a pro­gres­sive, fa­tal dis­ease caused by the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of mis­fold­ed TTR amy­loid in the heart – and plans to be­gin a Phase III study in AT­TR polyneu­ropa­thy (AT­TR-PN) – a pro­gres­sive, fa­tal dis­ease caused by the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of mis­fold­ed TTR amy­loid in the pe­riph­er­al ner­vous sys­tem.”

→ A few months af­ter Ac­celeron and its part­ner at Cel­gene se­cured pri­or­i­ty re­view for their red blood cell boost­ing drug, lus­pa­ter­cept — to man­age ane­mia re­sult­ing from myelodys­plas­tic syn­drome (MDS) as well as be­ta tha­lassemia — the com­pa­ny has an­nounced an­oth­er win. This time they’ve gained an or­phan drug des­ig­na­tion by the FDA for its in­ves­ti­ga­tion­al ther­a­py so­tater­cept for the treat­ment of pa­tients with pul­monary ar­te­r­i­al hy­per­ten­sion (PAH).

A new era of treat­ment: How bio­mark­ers are chang­ing the way we think about can­cer

AJ Patel was recovering from a complicated brain surgery when his oncologist burst into the hospital room yelling, “I’ve got some really great news for you!”

For two years, Patel had been going from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose his wheezing, only to be dealt the devastating news that he had stage IV lung cancer and only six months to live. And then they found the brain tumors.

“What are you talking about?” Patel asked. He had never seen an oncologist so happy.

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Mihael Polymeropoulos, Vanda Pharmaceuticals CEO

Phar­ma com­pa­ny con­tin­ues its FDA law­suit spree, this time af­ter agency de­nies fast-track des­ig­na­tion

Vanda Pharmaceuticals is making a name for itself, at least in terms of suing the FDA.

The DC-headquartered firm on Monday filed its latest suit against the agency, with the company raising concerns over the FDA’s failure to grant a fast track designation for Vanda’s potential chronic digestive disorder drug tradipitant, which is a neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist.

Specifically, Vanda said FDA’s “essential point” in its one-page denial letter on the designation pointed to “the lack of necessary safety data,” which was “inconsistent with the criteria for … Fast Track designation.”

Mod­er­na seeks to dis­miss Al­ny­lam suit over Covid-19 vac­cine com­po­nent, claim­ing wrong venue

RNAi therapeutics juggernaut Alnylam Pharmaceuticals made a splash in March when it sued and sought money from both Pfizer and Moderna regarding their use of Alnylam’s biodegradable lipids, which Alnylam claims have been integral to the way both companies’ mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines work.

But now, Moderna lawyers are firing back, telling the same Delaware district court that Alnylam’s claims can only proceed against the US government in the Court of Federal Claims because of the way the company’s contract is set up with the US government. The US has spent almost $10 billion on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine so far.

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Cracks in the fa­cade: Is phar­ma's pan­dem­ic ‘feel good fac­tor’ wan­ing?

The discordant effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pharma reputation continues. While the overall industry still retains a respectable halo from its Covid-19 quick response and leadership, a new patient group study reveals a different story emerging in the details.

On one hand, US patient advocacy groups rated the industry higher-than-ever overall. More than two-thirds (67%) of groups gave the industry a thumbs up for 2021, a whopping 10 percentage point increase over the year before, according to the PatientView annual study, now in its 9th year.

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FDA ac­cepts pri­or­i­ty re­view of CSL-uniQure he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py; Fo­s­un Phar­ma nets an­oth­er deal

The first potential gene therapy for hemophilia B has gotten one step closer to reaching patients as the FDA has accepted CSL Behring’s BLA for its uniQure-partnered one-time treatment. The therapy, dubbed etranacogene dezaparvovec, was accepted under “accelerated assessment” by the European Medicines Agency in March.

A priority review will be conducted for the gene therapy intended for patients with the hereditary bleeding disorder, CSL said Tuesday morning. The Pennsylvania biotech did not indicate the regulator’s decision date, but a priority review generally means the treatment’s fate will be handed down within six months rather than 10.

Michael Corbo, Pfizer CDO of inflammation & immunology

UP­DAT­ED: Plan­ning ahead for crowd­ed ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis mar­ket, Pfiz­er spells out PhI­II da­ta on $6.7B Are­na drug

Pfizer has laid out the detailed results behind its boast that etrasimod — the S1P receptor modulator at the center of its $6.7 billion buyout of Arena Pharma — is the winner of the class, potentially leapfrogging an earlier entrant from Bristol Myers Squibb.

Pivotal data from the ELEVATE program in ulcerative colitis — which consists of two Phase III trials, one lasting 52 weeks and the other just 12 weeks — illustrate an “encouraging balance of efficacy and safety,” according to Michael Corbo, chief development officer of inflammation & immunology at Pfizer. The company is presenting the results as a late breaker at Digestive Disease Week.

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Robert Califf (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via AP Images)

House Re­pub­li­cans at­tack Chi­na-on­ly da­ta in FDA sub­mis­sions, seek new in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to re­search in­spec­tions

Three Republican representatives are calling on the FDA to take a closer look at the applications including only clinical data from China.

The letter to FDA commissioner Rob Califf late last week comes as the agency recently rejected Eli Lilly’s anti-PD-1 antibody, which attempted to bring China-only data but ran into a bruising adcomm that may crush the hopes of any other companies looking to bring cheaper follow-ons based only on Chinese data.

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Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Co­pay coupons gone wrong, again: Pfiz­er pays al­most $300K to set­tle com­plaints in four states

Pfizer has agreed to pay $290,000 to settle allegations of questionable copay coupon practices in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, and Vermont from 2014 to 2018.

While the company has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, Pfizer has agreed to issue restitution checks to about 5,000 consumers.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company has “enhanced its co-pay coupons to alleviate the concerns raised by states and agreed to a $30,000 payment to each.”