On­coSec signs on Dana-Far­ber as CAR-T part­ner; Do­va racks up an­oth­er Doptelet ap­proval

Dana-Far­ber is lend­ing a hand to lit­tle On­coSec’s nascent ef­fort to de­vel­op CAR-T ther­a­pies for sol­id tu­mor can­cers. The San Diego biotech has worked out an ex­clu­sive li­cens­ing deal with Wayne Maras­co — an ex­pert in an­ti­body en­gi­neer­ing — to ap­ply his method of link­ing two sin­gle-chain vari­able frag­ment (scFv) in a bis­pe­cif­ic CAR-T such that the T cells are on­ly ac­ti­vat­ed when both tar­gets are en­gaged, there­by lim­it­ing off-tu­mor tox­i­c­i­ty. On­coSec’s fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion in the re­search, which in­volves test­ing the ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment so­lo and in com­bi­na­tion with Ta­vo in triple-neg­a­tive breast can­cer, will be “mod­est” and spread over sev­er­al years, CEO Daniel O’Con­nor said.

→ Af­ter win­ning the FDA nod for low blood platelet count (throm­bo­cy­tope­nia) in adults with chron­ic liv­er dis­ease (CLD) who are sched­uled to un­der­go a med­ical or den­tal pro­ce­dure, the la­bel of Do­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal’s Doptelet on Thurs­day was ex­pand­ed to in­clude pa­tients with chron­ic im­mune throm­bo­cy­tope­nia (ITP) who have had an in­suf­fi­cient re­sponse to a pre­vi­ous treat­ment. The com­pa­ny’s shares $DO­VA leapt about 27.5% to $13.50 in morn­ing trad­ing. The FDA’s en­dorse­ment comes about a week af­ter Eu­ro­pean reg­u­la­tors al­so backed the drug for use in se­vere throm­bo­cy­tope­nia in adult pa­tients with CLD who are sched­uled to un­der­go an in­va­sive pro­ce­dure. Mean­while, late-stage da­ta from a study eval­u­at­ing the drug’s use in chemother­a­py-in­duced throm­bo­cy­tope­nia are ex­pect­ed in the first half of 2020.

→ The re­cent­ly-pub­lic Ver­ri­ca Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals$VR­CA ex­per­i­men­tal drug, VP-102, has cleared a mid-stage study in pa­tients with com­mon warts. The drug’s “ef­fi­ca­cy and tol­er­a­bil­i­ty has been fur­ther con­firmed with the pos­i­tive Phase II COVE-1 tri­al in com­mon warts, and is now de-risked in an ad­di­tion­al in­di­ca­tion. We be­lieve this pro­vides ad­di­tion­al (and not mod­eled) up­side for VR­CA as our val­u­a­tion tar­gets are based pure­ly on VP-102 in mol­lus­cum con­ta­gio­sum which re­mains on track for a po­ten­tial H2:2020 launch,” Cowen an­a­lysts wrote in a note. The com­pa­ny said it is on track to sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion to mar­ket the drug for pa­tients with mol­lus­cum con­ta­gio­sum — a vi­ral skin in­fec­tion some­times called wa­ter warts — lat­er this year.

Hal Barron, GSK

Break­ing the death spi­ral: Hal Bar­ron talks about trans­form­ing the mori­bund R&D cul­ture at GSK in a crit­i­cal year for the late-stage pipeline

Just ahead of GlaxoSmithKline’s Q2 update on Wednesday, science chief Hal Barron is making the rounds to talk up the pharma giant’s late-stage strategy as the top execs continue to woo back a deeply skeptical investor group while pushing through a whole new R&D culture.

And that’s not easy, Barron is quick to note. He told the Financial Times:

I think that culture, to some extent, is as hard, in fact even harder, than doing the science.

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UP­DAT­ED: Stay tuned: Bio­gen’s num­bers are great — it’s their wor­ri­some fu­ture that leaves an­a­lysts skit­tish

Biogen came out with an upbeat assessment of their Q2 numbers today, discounting the arrival of a key rival for its blockbuster Spinraza franchise. But the top execs remain grimly determined to not say much anything new about the sore points that have dragged down its stock, including the future of its big investment in Alzheimer’s or how it plans to invest the considerable cash that the big biotech continues to reap.

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PACT Phar­ma says it's per­fect­ed the tech to se­lect neoanti­gens for per­son­al­ized ther­a­py — now on­to the clin­ic

At PACT Pharma, the lofty goal to unleash a “tsunami” of T cells personalized for each patient has hinged on the ability to correctly identify the neoantigens that form something of a fingerprint for each tumor, and extract the small group of T cells primed to attack the cancer. It still has a long way to go testing a treatment in humans, but the biotech says it has nailed that highly technical piece of the process.

UP­DAT­ED: My­ovan­t's uter­ine fi­broid drug looks com­pet­i­tive in PhI­II — but can they van­quish mighty Ab­b­Vie?

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Myovant $MYOV has closely matched its positive first round of Phase III data for their uterine fibroid drug relugolix, setting up a head-to-head rivalry with pharma giant AbbVie as the little biotech steers to the market with a planned filing in Q4.

Here’s how Myovant plans to prevail over the AbbVie $ABBV empire.

In the study, 71.2% of women receiving once-daily relugolix combination therapy achieved the clinical response they were looking for, compared to only 14.7% in the control arm. The data comfortably reflected the same outcomes in the first Phase III — 73.4% of women receiving once-daily oral relugolix combination therapy achieved the responder criteria compared with 18.9% of women receiving placebo — which will reassure regulators that they are getting the carefully randomized data that qualifies for the FDA’s gold standard for success.

Lit­tle Mar­i­nus sees its shares eclipsed as the Sage ri­val fails to com­pare on PPD in PhII

The executive team at Sage $SAGE have skirted another potential pitfall on its way to racking up a big future for its depression drug Zulresso.

Little Marinus Pharmaceuticals $MRNS had sought to challenge the Sage drug with an IV formulation — followed by an oral version — of ganaxolone for postpartum depression. But researchers say their Phase II study failed to positively differentiate itself from a placebo at 28 days — leaving them to hold up “clinically meaningful” data within the first day of administration compared to the control arm.

Roche cuts loose Tam­i­flu OTC rights, hand­ing Sanofi the keys as the phar­ma gi­ant dou­bles down on Xofluza

Roche set out to make a better flu medicine than Tamiflu as that franchise was headed to a generic showdown. Now they’ll see just how well Xofluza stacks up against the mainstay drug after handing off over-the-counter rights in the US to Sanofi.

Sanofi $SNY says it will now step in to negotiate a deal with the FDA to steer Tamiflu into the OTC market, a role that could well involve new studies to ease passage of the drug out of doctor’s hands and into the consumer end of the market. And the French pharma giant will have first dibs over “selected” OTC markets around the world as they push ahead.

Aca­dia is mak­ing the best of it, but their lat­est PhI­II Nu­plazid study is a bust

Acadia’s late-stage program to widen the commercial prospects for Nuplazid has hit a wall. The biotech reported that their Phase III ENHANCE trial flat failed. And while they $ACAD did their best to cherry pick positive data wherever they can be found, this is a clear setback for the biotech.

With close to 400 patients enrolled, researchers said the drug flunked the primary endpoint as an adjunctive therapy for patients with an inadequate response to antipsychotic therapy. The p-value was an ugly 0.0940 on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, which the company called out as a positive trend.

Their shares slid 12% on the news, good for a $426 million hit on a $3.7 billion market cap at close.

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Some Big Phar­mas stepped up their game on da­ta trans­paren­cy — but which flunked the test?

The nonprofit Bioethics International has come out with their latest scorecard on data transparency among the big biopharmas in the industry — flagging a few standouts while spotlighting some laggards who are continuing to underperform.

Now in its third year, the nonprofit created a new set of standards with Yale School of Medicine and Stanford Law School to evaluate the track record on trial registration, results reporting, publication and data-sharing practice.

Busy Gilead crew throws strug­gling biotech a life­line, with some cash up­front and hun­dreds of mil­lions in biobucks for HIV deal

Durect $DRRX got a badly needed shot in the arm Monday morning as Gilead’s busy BD team lined up access to its extended-release platform tech for HIV and hepatitis B.

Gilead, a leader in the HIV sector, is paying a modest $25 million in cash for the right to jump on the platform at Durect, which has been using its technology to come up with an extended-release version of bupivacaine. The FDA rejected that in 2014, but Durect has been working on a comeback.