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).

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

UP­DAT­ED: Boehringer nabs FDA's first in­ter­change­abil­i­ty des­ig­na­tion for its Hu­mi­ra com­peti­tor — but will it mat­ter?

The FDA late Friday awarded Boehringer Ingelheim the first interchangeability designation for its Humira biosimilar Cyltezo, meaning that when it launches in July 2023, pharmacists will be able to automatically substitute the Boehringer’s version for AbbVie’s mega-blockbuster without a doctor’s input.

The designation will likely give Boehringer, which first won approval for Cyltezo in 2017, the leg up on a crowded field of Humira competitors.

Bio­gen hit by ALS set­back with PhI­II fail­ure for tofersen — but fol­lows a fa­mil­iar strat­e­gy high­light­ing the pos­i­tive

Patients and analysts waiting to hear Sunday how Biogen’s SOD1-ALS drug tofersen fared in Phase III didn’t have to wait long for the top-line result they were all waiting for. The drug failed the primary endpoint on significantly improving the functional and neurologic decline of patients over 28 weeks as well as the extension period for continued observation.

In fact, there was very little difference in response.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 120,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Langer, Ciechanover god­fa­ther the lat­est AI up­start; Ipsen forges $446M AML de­vel­op­ment pact

There’s a new AI player jumping into the drug discovery game. And they have some high-powered scientific advisors in their corner.

Tel Aviv-based Quris has built what it calls a “patient-on-a-chip” AI platform that it’s touting as a way to circumvent unreliable animal testing with a more efficient way to judge safety and efficacy. Animal testing, particularly involving mice, has proven a notoriously unreliable way to do preclinical testing — though it is well-established with regulators.

Two drug­mak­ers hit with PDU­FA date de­lays from FDA amid back­log of in­spec­tions

As the FDA is weighed down with more and more pandemic responsibilities, the agency is beginning to miss PDUFA dates with more frequency too. Two different companies on Monday said they received notices that the FDA has not completed their drug reviews on time.

The review of an NDA for Avadel Pharmaceuticals’ candidate treatment for narcolepsy is not coming this month, the company said, and the review of UCB’s BLA for bimekizumab, used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, will miss its target date as well.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 120,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Reshma Kewalramani, Vertex CEO (YouTube)

Ver­tex gets much-need­ed win with ‘ex­tra­or­di­nary’ first pa­tient re­sults on po­ten­tial di­a­betes cure

Vertex said Monday that the first patient dosed with its cell therapy for type 1 diabetes saw their need for insulin injections vanish almost entirely, a key early step in the decades-long effort to develop a curative treatment for the chronic disease.

The patient, who had suffered five potentially life-threatening hypoglycemic — or low blood sugar — episodes in the year before the therapy, was injected with synthetic insulin-producing cells. After 90 days, the patient’s new cells produced insulin steadily and ramped up their insulin production after a meal like normal cells do, as measured by a standard biomarker for insulin production.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 120,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; 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.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 120,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Scott Struthers, Crinetics CEO

Cri­net­ics spins out ra­dio­phar­ma ef­forts in­to a new com­pa­ny, high­light­ing the grow­ing field­'s al­lure

Largely known for its nonpeptide small molecule research, Crinetics has been keeping its radiopharma work comparatively under wraps. But that changed Monday afternoon as the California biotech spun out a new company focused solely on the burgeoning field.

Crinetics launched Radionetics after the closing bell Monday, the company announced, seeding the new entity with $30 million raised from 5AM Ventures and Frazier Healthcare Partners. Radionetics will start with its own radiopharma-centric platform and a pipeline of 10 programs aimed at solid tumors.