Pfizer plans $465M manufacturing facility at Michigan base; China's Tsinghua University inks discovery deal with Bristol-Myers
→ Recently battling some troubling shortages in sterile injectables, Pfizer $PFE announced it’s stepping up its manufacturing game by spending $465 million on a new facility on its Portage, MI site. Commanding 400,000 square feet, construction of the new facility is planned for next spring and scheduled to wrap up in 2021, with goals to begin production by 2024. The expansion will add 450 staffers to the 2,200 Pfizer already employs at its Portage plant under the unit name Modular Aseptic Processing.
→ Six years after Bristol-Myers Squibb $BMY first tapped experts at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University to research on autoimmune targets, the pharma giant is doubling down the collaboration. In the new deal, Tsinghua’s Innovation Center for Immune Therapy will identify therapeutic agents against novel targets for autoimmune diseases and cancer, which Bristol-Myers will then have an option to exclusively license. Other than target discovery, Tsinghua was also conducting structural biology research and mapping 3D protein structure of biological molecular targets for its pharma partner.
→ Inversago Pharma’s promise to bring back cannabinoid-1 receptor blockers — a class doomed by psychiatric adverse events — has attracted them $7 million in Series A financing. Coming mainly from Genesys Capital and Amorchem with assists from the JDRF T1D Fund, Accel-Rx, Anges Québec Capital, Tarnagulla Ventures and others, the investment marks the official launch of the Montreal-based biotech out of George Kunos’ lab at the NIH. While the second-gen CB1 blockers tend to focus on obesity and NASH, Inversago believes their peripherally restricted drug also has potential to treat liver fibrosis, diabetes and a rare genetic condition called Prader-Willi syndrome. “The clear demonstration of peripheral action with very low brain occupancy shapes the path toward the reinstated first-in-class therapeutics for several unmet medical needs,” commented Elizabeth Douville, managing partner at AmorChem, in a statement.
→ Eli Lilly $LLY has inked a deal with a Silicon Valley tech company that makes a robotic cloud laboratory platform, with plans to implement the tech into its San Diego drug discovery site. The company, called Transcriptic, brings together lab processes, protocols, and instruments with “internet-of-things technologies” through one user interface. The idea is to enable automation of lab workflow tasks, boost scalability, and allow remote instrument monitoring. The tech, they say, will allow researchers across the globe to remotely design, synthesize, and screen investigational molecules at the Lilly Life Science Studio.