Porges sees the pros — and cons — for Biogen in Lilly’s Alzheimer’s snafu; Idera forges development pact; UK government adds more cash for R&D programs


Geoffrey Porges, Leerink

Geoffrey Porges, Leerink

Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges had some good news and some bad news to relate to Biogen $BIIB on Friday. The good news is that Eli Lilly’s flop heard round the world on Alzheimer’s with their latest Phase III for solanezumab means that a success for aducanumab would be worth much, much more now in terms of potential revenue, now that the pharma giant is out of the game. The bad news: Now that Lilly $LLY has thrown even more cold water on the amyloid beta theory behind the memory-wasting disease, aducanumab is far less likely to succeed — even though it’s a distinctly different program. Porges cut his probability of success from a quite high 65% to a quite low 35%.

Cambridge, MA-based Idera $IDRA has struck a deal to out-license IMO-9200, an antagonist of TLR 7, 8 and 9 for non-malignant gastrointestinal disorders, to the Bermuda-based biotech Vivelix Pharmaceuticals. Idera gets $15 million in cash and up to $140 million in milestones. Idera also has a responsibility to carry out additional research on backup drug candidates, at the request of Vivelix, which creates another $52.5 million in milestones.

UK scientists have turned cautiously optimistic that the British government will actually follow through on promises of increased spending on R&D. A new agency is envisioned in the government’s plan, unveiled last week, to boost R&D spending by about $6 billion over the next 5 years. Some of that will be managed by a new “challenge fund” that will be modeled on DARPA in the US. And some will no doubt find itself funding drug R&D, where the country has a long tradition of cutting-edge science.

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