News brief­ing: Spring­Works, Jazz ex­change $35M and PTSD drug; Dr. Red­dy's says cy­ber­at­tack was ran­somware

Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals is grab­bing an ex-Pfiz­er drug to beef up its mid-stage neu­ro­science port­fo­lio, pay­ing Spring­Works $35 mil­lion in cash for a new med for post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der.

PF-04457845 is a FAAH in­hibitor that was orig­i­nal­ly test­ed for os­teoarthri­tis. But Spring­Works — and now Jazz — has po­ten­tial to ad­dress mul­ti­ple core symp­toms of PTSD, in­clud­ing fear ex­tinc­tion, anx­i­ety and dis­rupt­ed sleep ar­chi­tec­ture.

Saqib Is­lam

Da­ta from 100 healthy vol­un­teers and around 80 pa­tients have so far backed up that promise, the com­pa­nies said.

“(G)iv­en there has been no new med­ica­tion ap­proved to treat PTSD for near­ly two decades, we be­lieve there is a sig­nif­i­cant pa­tient need,” Robert Ian­none, Jazz’s EVP of R&D, said in a state­ment.

Spring­Works CEO Saqib Is­lam praised Jazz’s ex­per­tise in neu­ropsy­chi­atric drugs. At the same time, with $375 mil­lion in mile­stones on the ta­ble, the deal al­lows his biotech to groom the tar­get on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio it al­so li­censed from Pfiz­er back in 2017, in­clud­ing “late-stage rare on­col­o­gy, BC­MA com­bi­na­tions in mul­ti­ple myelo­ma and bio­mark­er-de­fined metasta­t­ic sol­id tu­mors.” — Am­ber Tong

Dr. Red­dy’s cy­ber­at­tack was ran­somware, com­pa­ny says

The ap­par­ent cy­ber­at­tack on In­di­an man­u­fac­tur­er Dr. Red­dy’s last week, which forced the com­pa­ny to shut down all of its glob­al fa­cil­i­ties, has been de­ter­mined to be ran­somware. Dr. Red­dy’s con­firmed the na­ture of the at­tack Wednes­day, ac­cord­ing to a Times of In­dia re­port.

In such an at­tack, an in­di­vid­ual or a group breaks in­to an­oth­er sys­tem, steals da­ta and in­for­ma­tion, en­crypts the da­ta and then de­mands a ran­som for its re­turn. Dr. Red­dy’s did not say whether or not the hack­ers have asked for pay­ment.

The at­tack came less than a week af­ter In­di­an reg­u­la­tors ap­proved a Phase II/III study of Rus­sia’s Covid-19 vac­cine to com­mence in the coun­try. A sep­a­rate re­port cit­ed a state­ment from Dr. Red­dy’s CEO Erez Is­raeli that the Russ­ian vac­cine had noth­ing to do with the at­tack.

“Re­cov­ery and restora­tion of all ap­pli­ca­tions and da­ta is un­der­way. All crit­i­cal op­er­a­tions are be­ing en­abled in a con­trolled man­ner,” the com­pa­ny said in a reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ing in­form­ing the In­di­an stock ex­change of the at­tack. — Max Gel­man

Crown­Bio opens new con­tract re­search fa­cil­i­ty in Zhong­shan, Chi­na

Zhong­shan, Chi­na is the lo­ca­tion for Crown Bio­science’s lat­est re­search fa­cil­i­ty as the San Diego-based pre­clin­i­cal CRO ex­pands its Asia Pa­cif­ic pres­ence.

Join­ing sites in Bei­jing, Taicang, Suzhou and Tai­wan, Crown­Bio’s new build­ing will sup­port its on­col­o­gy plat­forms and host a vi­var­i­um space, with full op­er­a­tional ca­pac­i­ty ex­pect­ed in ear­ly 2021. The com­pa­ny has an­oth­er four fa­cil­i­ties across the US and Eu­rope.

A port­fo­lio com­pa­ny of JSR Life Sci­ences, Crown­Bio of­fers ser­vices for CAR-T and oth­er on­col­o­gy drugs in ad­di­tion to in­flam­ma­tion, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and meta­bol­ic dis­ease. — Am­ber Tong

Pen­ny stock play­er Ti­tan Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals buys pru­ri­tus pep­tide for $8 mil­lion

Ti­tan $TTNP has added a new pro­gram to its pipeline.

The com­pa­ny an­nounced that it’s pur­chas­ing JT Phar­ma’s kap­pa opi­oid ag­o­nist pep­tide, JT-09, to use in com­bi­na­tion with Ti­tan’s pro­pri­etary plat­form for the treat­ment of chron­ic pru­ri­tus. Ti­tan is shelling out $8 mil­lion for the pep­tide and JT will get reg­u­la­to­ry mile­stone pay­ments and sin­gle-dig­it per­cent­age roy­al­ties on fu­ture sales.

In a state­ment, Ti­tan pres­i­dent Kate De­Var­ney not­ed the com­pa­ny hopes the com­bi­na­tion, us­ing im­plant tech­nol­o­gy, could de­liv­er the treat­ment for six months or longer. De­Var­ney added that proof-of-con­cept da­ta will come some­time in the first half of 2021.

Ti­tan’s pen­ny stock was up rough­ly 60% in ear­ly Wednes­day trad­ing. — Max Gel­man

The top 100 bio­phar­ma VCs, Bob Brad­way places $2B bet in can­cer, gene edit­ing pi­o­neer's new big idea, 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.

Before diving in, we had some news to share: Endpoints is launching a premium weekly report focusing on all things regulatory. Coverage will be led by our new senior editor, Zachary Brennan, who joins us from POLITICO. Arsalan Arif has more details in his Publisher’s Note.

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Robert Bradway (Photographer: Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Am­gen snaps up can­cer drug play­er Five Prime, adding PhI­II-ready FGFR2b drug in $2B M&A play

Amgen is making a long-awaited move on the M&A side, buying South San Francisco-based Five Prime $FPRX for close to $2 billion and adding a slate of new cancer drugs to the pipeline.

Amgen is paying $38 a share, putting the deal value at $1.9 billion. The stock closed at $21.26 last night, giving investors a 78% premium.

The jewel in the crown of this deal is bemarituzumab, which Amgen describes as a first-in-class, Phase III-ready anti-FGFR2b antibody. Amgen was drawn to the bargaining table by Five Prime’s mid-stage data on gastric cancer, satisfied by PFS and OS data helping to validate FGFR2b as a target. Amgen researchers will now expand on the R&D program in other epithelial cancers, including lung, breast, ovarian and other cancers.

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David Liu (Casey Atkins Photography courtesy Broad Institute)

David Liu has a new big idea: pro­teome edit­ing. It could one day shred tau, RAS and some of the worst dis­ease-caus­ing pro­teins

Before David Liu became famous for inventing new forms of gene editing, he was known around academia in part for a more obscure innovation: a Rube Goldberg-esque system that uses bacteria-infecting viruses to take one protein and turn it into another.

Since 2011, Liu’s lab has used the system, called PACE, to dream up fantastical new proteins: DNA base editors far more powerful than the original; more versatile forms of the gene editor Cas9; insecticides that kill insecticide-resistant bugs; enzymes that slide synthetic amino acids into living organisms. But they struggled throughout to master one of the most common and powerful proteins in the biological world: proteases, a set of Swiss army knife enzymes that cut, cleave or shred other proteins in everything from viruses to humans.

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The 2021 top 100 bio­phar­ma in­vestors: As the pan­dem­ic hit and IPOs boomed, VCs swung in­to ac­tion like nev­er be­fore

The global pandemic may have roiled economies, killed hundreds of thousands and throttled entire industries, but the only effect it had on biopharma venture investing was to help turbocharge the field to giddy new heights.

Below you’ll find the new top 100 venture investors in the industry, ranked by the number of deals they were publicly involved in, as tracked by DealForma chief Chris Dokomajilar. The numbers master then calculated the estimated amount of money they put into each deal — divvying up the cash by the number of players — to indicate how they managed their syndicates.

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Bruce Cozadd, Jazz CEO (Jazz Pharmaceuticals)

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd cam­paigned for 6 months to buy GW Phar­ma. A 90% pre­mi­um sealed the deal — along with $17.6M in ‘re­ten­tion’ in­cen­tives

Jazz CEO Bruce Cozadd didn’t beat around the bush.

In his first video meeting with GW Pharma chief Justin Gover last July 8, he offered to pay $172 a share to get the company, which had beaten the odds in getting its remarkable cannabinoid drug Epidiolex across the regulatory finish line for epilepsy. GW’s stock closed at $129 that day.

Cozadd had already done his homework on the financing to make sure he could swing it the way he wanted. He just needed to do some due diligence before making the non-binding bid firm.

Seagen warns in­vestors against TRC Cap­i­tal’s lat­est 'mi­ni-ten­der of­fer'; BeiGene goes af­ter a new in­di­ca­tion for top PD-1 play­er

TRC Capital, which has selected various biotechs like Vertex and Biogen for the “mini-tender” treatment, jumped back into the game last month with an offer to buy shares in Seagen for $151. The problem, says Seagen, is that price was 4.28% lower than what the stock was selling for at the time they made the offer on Feb. 20, giving TRC a shot at an instant windfall.

So why sell for less than what it’s worth? Seagen notes warnings from regulatory authorities that these offers essentially try to trick investors into believing that they’re being offered a premium for the stock.

UP­DAT­ED: Not 3 weeks af­ter tak­ing Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic, Ra­jiv Shuk­la launch­es an­oth­er blank check com­pa­ny

One of biotech’s earliest SPAC investors is back with another blank-check company, less than a month after his last effort announced its intent to merge.

Rajiv Shukla is intending to take a third lucky winner public with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition III, filing to go public Thursday with a $150 million raise penciled in. The move comes just a couple of weeks after Shukla’s second SPAC said it would jump to Nasdaq in tandem with Laura Niklason’s Humacyte in a $255 million new investment.

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Paul Hudson, Getty Images

How does Paul Hud­son's $13.5M comp pack­age stack up against oth­er CEOs? He's in the 'first quar­tile'

Paul Hudson arrived at Sanofi like a hurricane, chopping off duds in the pipeline, shaking up the C-suite, striking big M&A deals and jumping into the Covid-19 vaccine race — all in an attempt to reboot a pharma giant notorious for its setbacks.

Now, we’re getting a look at what the CEO brought home in his first year on the job.

When all is said and done, Hudson will have made about $6.7 million in 2020, about $2.5 million of which has already been paid. The bigger figure includes a $2.3 million bonus that’s subject to approval at an April meeting, and another $1.8 million in variable compensation that has yet to be paid.

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Af­ter three years of courtship (and turn­downs), Mer­ck pounced on the first glance of clin­i­cal da­ta in $1.85B Pan­dion takeover

It’s almost become cliché for biotech executives to talk about the importance of keeping your options open and being prepared to go all the way. But when it comes to negotiating with a giant like Merck, a little patience can indeed go a long way.

Just ask Pandion Therapeutics.

Days ago we already learned that Merck is shelling out $1.85 billion to pick up the biotech and its slate of autoimmune hopefuls. What we didn’t know until the SEC disclosure dropped Thursday is that the deal comes after Pandion turned down two other proposals from Merck over the past three years and held out until the last minute for a sweetened deal.

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