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.
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
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