News brief­ing: Boehringer In­gel­heim ex­pands pro­tein degra­da­tion ef­forts; Pfiz­er en­lists a new AI part­ner

Boehringer In­gel­heim is ex­pand­ing its ef­forts in pro­tein degra­da­tion, sign­ing a pact with the Aus­tri­an biotech Prox­y­gen to de­vel­op a tech­nol­o­gy known as “mol­e­c­u­lar glue de­graders.”

Sim­i­lar to the PRO­TACS that com­pa­nies have fo­cused on to date, mol­e­c­u­lar glue de­graders are de­signed to bridge pro­teins to the body’s own in­ter­nal dis­pos­al sys­tem, al­low­ing re­searchers to tar­get pro­teins that can’t be hit by tra­di­tion­al small mol­e­cules. The mul­ti­ple myelo­ma drugs Revlim­id and Po­m­a­lyst work in this man­ner. Found­ed in 2016, Prox­y­gen has worked to de­vel­op meth­ods of sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly find­ing new ones.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion will fo­cus on can­cer, an ear Boehringer has di­rect­ed much of its pro­tein degra­da­tion work to date. In 2016, the Ger­man com­pa­ny be­came one of the first Big Phar­mas to go in on the field, sign­ing a can­cer pact with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Dundee.  — Ja­son Mast

FDA rolls out red car­pet for Scynex­is’ su­per bug an­tibi­ot­ic.

Scynex­is is get­ting a ready wel­come as it heads for its first an­ti-fun­gal ap­proval.

The New Jer­sey biotech an­nounced Mon­day that its ap­pli­ca­tion for ap­proval for the drug ibrex­a­fungerp for vagi­nal yeast in­fec­tions had been ac­cept­ed and giv­en pri­or­i­ty re­view by the agency. The drug suc­ceed­ed in a 376-per­son Phase III tri­al last year, clear­ing pa­tients of in­fec­tion bet­ter than in­fec­tion.

Vagi­nal yeast in­fec­tion has long been their lead in­di­ca­tions, but Scynex­is al­so be­came fa­mous last year for hav­ing one of the drugs in de­vel­op­ment for Can­di­da Au­ris, a fun­gal in­fec­tion that has cropped up around the world, alarm­ing health of­fi­cials. Stud­ies in that in­di­ca­tion are on­go­ing. — Ja­son Mast

4D is ready to throw down as the red-hot biotech IPO mar­ket rocks on

4D Mol­e­c­u­lar Ther­a­peu­tics is lin­ing up the lat­est IPO in the trendy gene ther­a­py field.

The AAV biotech is look­ing to raise $100 mil­lion-plus from the IPO, auc­tion­ing off close to 5 mil­lion shares at a range of $20 to $25 a share.

Those up­sized num­bers put 4D back in the hunt for the 9-fig­ure sum it had in mind when the ex­ecs first filed to go pub­lic in the fall of 2019.

There have been 82 biotech IPOs count­ed in the US this year, a record num­ber that brought in a chart-top­ping $15 bil­lion in pro­ceeds. And Nas­daq clear­ly isn’t ready to close the win­dow on 2020. — John Car­roll

Pfiz­er col­labs with AI play­er PostEra to de­vel­op new pre­clin­i­cal drug mod­els

Pfiz­er has a new part­ner in the nascent field of gen­er­a­tive chem­istry.

The big phar­ma is team­ing up with PostEra, a San Fran­cis­co com­pa­ny found­ed last year that fo­cus­es on the AI-in­flu­enced field and spe­cial­izes in min­ing large datasets. Fi­nan­cial terms of the deal were not dis­closed, but PostEra re­ceived an up­front pay­ment with po­ten­tial mile­stones avail­able down the road. PostEra not­ed that it will re­tain own­er­ship rights to all al­go­rithms de­vel­oped dur­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tion.

PostEra has de­vel­oped a ma­chine learn­ing-based plat­form that it says de­signs mol­e­c­u­lar struc­tures with op­ti­mized po­ten­cy and drug-like prop­er­ties. Ul­ti­mate­ly, PostEra hopes that its mod­el can help ac­cel­er­ate the drug de­vel­op­ment process.

Mon­day’s col­lab­o­ra­tion will pair Pfiz­er’s vast reach and re­sources with PostEra’s tech­nol­o­gy, in an ef­fort to both ad­vance the field of gen­er­a­tive chem­istry and pro­duce scal­able mod­els for in-house, pre­clin­i­cal drug dis­cov­ery projects.

The com­pa­ny orig­i­nal­ly spawned out of aca­d­e­m­ic re­search from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge. Ear­li­er this year, PostEra al­so launched Covid Moon­shot, a crowd­sourced ini­tia­tive to speed the de­vel­op­ment of an an­tivi­ral for Covid-19. — Max Gel­man

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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Joel Dudley, new partner at Innovation Endeavors (Bosch Health Campus)

For­mer Google CEO’s VC is mak­ing a big­ger push in­to the biotech world, hir­ing promi­nent Ther­a­nos skep­tic

Venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has mainly had its focus on investments across the tech space, but it has been slowly turning its attention to the biotech world. Now, a new partner is coming into the fold showing that its interest in biotech is likely to grow further.

The Silicon Valley-based company, which is headed up by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, has brought on Joel Dudley as a partner. According to Dudley’s LinkedIn page, he is joining Innovation Endeavors after serving as the chief science officer of biotech startup Tempus Labs since 2020.

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