Record lev­els of VC fi­nanc­ing and R&D boom left bio­phar­ma com­pa­nies clam­or­ing for space. How bad is it?

There are mul­ti­ple ways to mea­sure just how vi­brant the life sci­ence in­dus­try is: the in­flux of ven­ture cap­i­tal (now re­treat­ing slight­ly from a record high), the num­ber of new in­cu­ba­tors and star­tups and Big Phar­ma spin­offs (still go­ing strong de­spite slow­ing down), the M&A as well as part­ner­ship deals (mega­bil­lions in cash were ex­changed just last year), and so on. But one met­ric is par­tic­u­lar­ly help­ful if you want to track ac­tiv­i­ties on the ground, and that is re­al es­tate oc­cu­pan­cy.

The big pic­ture: Va­can­cy for lab space is at 7.1% across the 12 ma­jor life sci­ences clus­ters in North Amer­i­ca iden­ti­fied by Cush­man & Wake­field, a re­al es­tate ser­vices com­pa­ny. That’s low­er than the of­fice va­can­cy rate (12.4%) in these mar­kets, while rents are gen­er­al­ly high­er.

In the buzzing bio­phar­ma hub of Boston, on­ly 0.8% of lab space is still avail­able for rent, with East Cam­bridge — which hous­es the ven­er­a­ble Kendall Square — re­port­ing a va­can­cy rate of 0.0%. A cou­ple of oth­er neigh­bor­hoods are al­so ful­ly oc­cu­pied, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

At the same time, Boston al­so has the high­est ask­ing rent among the mar­kets sur­veyed at $108 per square foot, an all-time high.

Rent vs va­can­cy com­par­i­son in Boston (Cred­it: Cush­man & Wake­field)

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

The re­al­i­ty has not es­caped those liv­ing in it. Arie Bellde­grun, the biotech en­tre­pre­neur best known for his work at Kite Phar­ma, has launched a new re­al es­tate ven­ture with de­vel­op­er Tish­man Spey­er. Break­through Prop­er­ties’ first cam­pus — de­signed to fos­ter a sense of com­mu­ni­ty — is slat­ed to open in the Sea­port com­plex next year.

“There is plen­ty of life sci­ences sup­ply un­der con­struc­tion or pro­posed,” Cush­man & Wake­field not­ed. “The lab mar­ket could grow by 55% to 32 msf by 2024. While the mar­ket is in­cred­i­bly tight, it is one of the few mar­kets in the coun­try that is build­ing ag­gres­sive­ly enough to pla­cate de­mand.”

When you zoom out to the broad­er mar­ket of San Fran­cis­co, the area just trail­ing Boston in the cost of rent­ing a lab space, has a va­can­cy of just 7.5% — mid­dle of the pack, high­er than Chica­go (1.3%), Seat­tle (6%) and even the Wash­ing­ton DC area (4.1%). But drill down to San Fran­cis­co Coun­ty and you’ll find an­oth­er 0.0%.

To put the av­er­age rent of $84 in­to per­spec­tive, the San Fran­cis­co Busi­ness Times re­cent­ly re­port­ed that lease rates were in the $30 range a decade ago in the high­ly cov­et­ed vicin­i­ty of South San Fran­cis­co, where Genen­tech and Gilead call home.

What does this mean for the oth­er cities vy­ing for bio­phar­ma hub sta­tus?

Philadel­phia cur­rent­ly claims the third spot on the list for most lab space, and you can ex­pect it to keep ex­pand­ing with a key fo­cus around its “Cel­li­con Val­ley” brand. Then there’s San Diego and New Jer­sey, which could soon reach sat­u­ra­tion if there’s no new con­struc­tion. And where New York City falls far be­hind in terms of space, it plans to make up with in­cen­tives and the lure of its tal­ent pool.

“With the strong un­der­ly­ing fun­da­men­tals it looks like the life sci­ences era is here,” Cush­man & Wake­field con­clud­ed.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

FDA chief Stephen Hahn on Capitol Hill earlier this week (Getty Images)

As FDA buck­les un­der the strain of a pan­dem­ic work­load, Trump again ac­cus­es the agency of a po­lit­i­cal hit job

Peter Marks appeared before a virtual SVB Leerink audience yesterday and said that his staff at FDA’s CBER is on the verge of working around the clock. Manufacturing inspections, policy work and sponsor communications have all been pushed down the to-do list so that they can be responsive to Covid-related interactions. And the agency’s objective right now? “To save as many lives as we can,” Marks said, likening the mortality on the current outbreak as equivalent to “a nuclear bomb on a small city.”

Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Play-by-play of Gilead­'s $21B Im­munomedics buy­out de­tails a fren­zied push — and mints a new biotech bil­lion­aire

Immunomedics had not really been looking for a buyout when the year began. Excited by its BLA for Trodelvy, submitted to the FDA in late 2019, executive chairman Behzad Aghazadeh started off looking for potential licensing deals and zeroed in on four potential partners, including Gilead, following January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Such talks advanced throughout the year, with discussions advancing to the second round in mid-August.

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President Donald Trump reacts after signing an executive order following his remarks on his healthcare policies yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina (Getty Images)

Op-ed: Will phar­ma re­al­ly pay for Trump’s lat­est law­less promise to 33 mil­lion Medicare ben­e­fi­cia­ries? Not like­ly

Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.

What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.

President Donald Trump and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn (AP Images)

FDA is­sues fi­nal rule al­low­ing im­por­ta­tion of drugs from Cana­da — but al­so keeps the pow­er to re­voke it

Just over a month away from the presidential election, the FDA has issued a final regulation fulfilling President Trump’s promise to let states import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

On Thursday, Trump told a crowd in North Carolina that the new rule goes into effect “today.” But the published regulation states that it won’t take effect for 60 days. And even then, it could be a while before cheaper drugs make it across the border.

The win­dow is wide open as four more biotechs join the go-go IPO class of 2020

It’s another day of hauling cash in the biopharma world as four more IPOs priced Friday and a fifth filed its initial paperwork.

The biggest offering comes from PMV Pharma, an oncology biotech focusing on p53 mutations, which raised $211.8 million after pricing shares at $18 apiece. Prelude Therapeutics, developing PRMT5 inhibitors for rare cancers, was next with a $158 million raise, pricing shares at $19 each. Graybug Vision raised $90 million after pricing at $16 per share for its wet AMD candidates, and breast cancer biotech Greenwich Lifesciences brought up the rear with a small, $7 million raise after pricing shares at $5.75.

J&J of­fers PhI/IIa da­ta show­ing its sin­gle-dose vac­cine can stir up suf­fi­cient im­mune re­sponse

Days after J&J dosed the first participants of its Phase III ENSEMBLE trial, the pharma giant has detailed the early-stage data that gave them confidence in a single-dose regimen.

Testing two dose levels either as a single dose or in a two-dose schedule spaced by 56 days in, the scientists from Janssen, the J&J subsidiary developing its vaccine, reported that the low dose induced a similar immune response as the high dose. The interim Phase I/IIa results were posted in a preprint on medRxiv.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo (AP Images)

An­drew Cuo­mo says New York will un­der­take its own vac­cine re­view process, and wouldn’t rec­om­mend trust­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment

The concerns keep mounting over President Donald Trump’s politicization of the FDA and other federal agencies guiding the development of a safe and effective vaccine. And today, the telegenic New York governor Andrew Cuomo appeared to introduce even more politics into the matter — latest in an ongoing series of incidents that have cast the proudly independent FDA in starkly political terms.

During his daily press conference Cuomo said that the state will review any coronavirus vaccines approved by the federal government, citing a lack of trust in the Trump administration. The announcement comes one day after Trump accused the FDA of making an “extremely political” move in proposing stricter vaccine guidance.

Sil­ver­back dish­es out two pro­mo­tions in C-suite; Leg­end CEO post changes hands again

→ Accompanying the news that they just scored an $85 million Series C round, Laura Shawver-led Silverback Therapeutics has promoted two execs, with Valerie Odegard adding president to her CSO duties and Naomi Hunder moving to CMO. A Novo Nordisk alum, Odegard has been with the Seattle-based biotech since 2016 and the CSO the last 2 years. Before Silverback, she was VP of research at Juno Therapeutics.