Reg­u­lus dumps first-gen ADP­KD treat­ment in fa­vor of sec­ond it­er­a­tion; Sutro joins BioNo­va in $200M deal

Reg­u­lus Ther­a­peu­tics just fin­ished dos­ing in IND-en­abling tox­i­c­i­ty stud­ies for its sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion au­to­so­mal dom­i­nant poly­cys­tic kid­ney dis­ease (ADP­KD) can­di­date RGLS8429.

Based on FDA dis­cus­sions and da­ta from a Phase Ib tri­al on orig­i­nal ADP­KD can­di­date RGLS4326, Reg­u­lus is shift­ing away from the first-gen­er­a­tion can­di­date and pri­or­i­tiz­ing the new­er can­di­date, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

“We have de­ter­mined that ad­vanc­ing our next-gen­er­a­tion com­pound RGLS8429 is more com­pelling than fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of RGLS4326,” said Reg­u­lus CEO Jay Ha­gan. “The ex­ten­sive work and in­vest­ment we have made in RGLS4326 will di­rect­ly in­form the ad­vance­ment of RGLS8429, and we be­lieve will make this tran­si­tion both ex­pe­di­tious and pro­duc­tive.”

The Cal­i­for­nia biotech is ex­pect­ing to meet with the FDA pre-IND by the end of the year —  and pend­ing an FDA de­ci­sion on their IND, they an­tic­i­pate start­ing a Phase I study on their can­di­date in Q2 next year.  By ear­ly 2023, Reg­u­lus ex­pects to be able to re­port top-line da­ta in the first co­hort of RGLS8429-treat­ed pa­tients.

Sutro and BioNo­va launch op­tion agree­ment for an­ti-CD74 ADC worth $200M

The San Fran­cis­co biotech Sutro Bio­phar­ma and Shang­hai-based BioNo­va joint­ly an­nounced an op­tion agree­ment for BioNo­va to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize an­ti-CD74 ADC STRO-001 for pa­tients with hema­to­log­ic can­cers. The com­mer­cial­iza­tion deal is for cer­tain Asian mar­kets, in­clud­ing Chi­na, Hong Kong, Macau and Tai­wan.

As part of the agree­ment, BioNo­va has the op­tion to re­ceive ex­clu­sive rights to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize the ADC in those spe­cif­ic Asian mar­kets. In the mean­time, BioNo­va will pur­sue clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval, and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of STRO-001 in mul­ti­ple in­di­ca­tions, in­clud­ing non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma, mul­ti­ple myelo­ma, and leukemia.

Sutro will re­tain both de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial rights of STRO-001 glob­al­ly out­side of those Asian mar­kets, in­clud­ing the US.

BioNo­va will pay Sutro an ini­tial li­cens­ing op­tion pay­ment of $4 mil­lion, with po­ten­tial mile­stone pay­ments to­tal­ing up to $200 mil­lion. Sutro will al­so re­ceive tiered and dou­ble-dig­it roy­al­ties based on an­nu­al net sales in those Asian mar­kets.

Sutro will pro­vide STRO-001 to BioNo­va un­der ap­pro­pri­ate clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial sup­ply ser­vice agree­ments.

“This strate­gic part­ner­ship of STRO-001 at this stage of its clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment demon­strates the shared vi­sion of Sutro and BioNo­va of the po­ten­tial for this promis­ing ADC,” said Sutro CEO Bill Newell in a state­ment.

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb shows in­ter­im re­sults from five-year ex­ten­sion tri­al on Zeposia

Bris­tol My­ers Squibb un­veiled in­ter­im re­sults to­day from the Phase III open-la­bel ex­ten­sion tri­al Day­break, show­ing five years of da­ta on the ap­proved MS drug ozan­i­mod in pa­tients with re­laps­ing mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

In the ex­ten­sion study, safe­ty was con­sis­tent with pri­or find­ings. Treat­ment with ozan­i­mod, al­so known as Zeposia, lead to a low re­lapse rate — 0.103. Ac­cord­ing to a Bris­tol My­ers state­ment, 75% and 71% of pa­tients were re­lapse-free when test­ed at the 3- and 4-year mark, re­spec­tive­ly.

“Ear­ly and ef­fec­tive in­ter­ven­tion can sig­nif­i­cant­ly im­pact phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive re­sults over time, with low re­lapse rates an im­por­tant in­di­ca­tor of pa­tient out­comes,” said study in­ves­ti­ga­tor and clin­i­cal re­search di­rec­tor for the UCSF MS Cen­ter in San Fran­cis­co Bruce Cree. “These da­ta from the DAY­BREAK tri­al pro­vide a clear pic­ture of the long-term safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy pro­file of Zeposia, and re­in­force its po­ten­tial when used ear­ly in the treat­ment process for peo­ple liv­ing with re­laps­ing forms of MS.”

This sto­ry has been cor­rect­ed to clar­i­fy that RGLS8429 has not yet reached clin­i­cal test­ing.

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

So — that pig-to-hu­man trans­plant; Po­ten­tial di­a­betes cure reach­es pa­tient; Ac­cused MIT sci­en­tist lash­es back; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

We’re incredibly excited to welcome Beth Bulik, seasoned pharma marketing reporter, to the team. You can find much of her work in our new Marketing channel — and in her weekly newsletter, Endpoints PharmaRx, which will launch in early November. Add it to your subscriptions here.

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NYU surgeon transplants an engineered pig kidney into the outside of a brain-dead patient (Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

No, sci­en­tists are not any clos­er to pig-to-hu­man trans­plants than they were last week

Steve Holtzman was awoken by a 1 a.m. call from a doctor at Duke University asking if he could put some pigs on a plane and fly them from Ohio to North Carolina that day. A motorcyclist had gotten into a horrific crash, the doctor explained. He believed the pigs’ livers, sutured onto the patient’s skin like an external filter, might be able to tide the young man over until a donor liver became available.

UP­DAT­ED: Agenus calls out FDA for play­ing fa­vorites with Mer­ck, pulls cer­vi­cal can­cer BLA at agen­cy's re­quest

While criticizing the FDA for what may be some favoritism towards Merck, Agenus on Friday officially pulled its accelerated BLA for its anti-PD-1 inhibitor balstilimab as a potential second-line treatment for cervical cancer because of the recent full approval for Merck’s Keytruda in the same indication.

The company said the BLA, which was due for an FDA decision by Dec. 16, was withdrawn “when the window for accelerated approval of balstilimab closed,” thanks to the conversion of Keytruda’s accelerated approval to a full approval four months prior to its PDUFA date.

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How to col­lect and sub­mit RWD to win ap­proval for a new drug in­di­ca­tion: FDA spells it out in a long-await­ed guid­ance

Real-world data are messy. There can be differences in the standards used to collect different types of data, differences in terminologies and curation strategies, and even in the way data are exchanged.

While acknowledging this somewhat controlled chaos, the FDA is now explaining how biopharma companies can submit study data derived from real-world data (RWD) sources in applicable regulatory submissions, including new drug indications.

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David Livingston (Credit: Michael Sazel for CeMM)

Renowned Dana-Far­ber sci­en­tist, men­tor and bio­phar­ma ad­vi­sor David Liv­ingston has died

David Livingston, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Med scientist who helped shine a light on some of the key molecular drivers of breast and ovarian cancer, died unexpectedly last Sunday.

One of the senior leaders at Dana-Farber during his nearly half century of work there, Livingston was credited with shedding light on the genes that regulate cell growth, with insights into inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that helped lay the scientific foundation for targeted therapies and earlier detection that have transformed the field.

No­vo CEO Lars Fruer­gaard Jør­gensen on R&D risk, the deal strat­e­gy and tar­gets for gen­der di­ver­si­ty


I kicked off our European R&D summit last week with a conversation involving Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen. Novo is aiming to launch a new era of obesity management with a new approval for semaglutide. And Jørgensen had a lot to say about what comes next in R&D, how they manage risk and gender diversity targets at the trendsetting European pharma giant.

John Carroll: I’m here with Lars Jørgensen, the CEO of Novo Nordisk. Lars, it’s been a really interesting year so far with Novo Nordisk, right? You’ve projected a new era of growing sales. You’ve been able to expand on the GLP-1 franchise that was already well established in diabetes now going into obesity. And I think a tremendous number of people are really interested in how that’s working out. You have forecast a growing amount of sales. We don’t know specifically how that might play out. I know a lot of the analysts have different ideas, how those numbers might play out, but that we are in fact embarking on a new era for Novo Nordisk in terms of what the company’s capable of doing and what it’s able to do and what it wants to do. And I wanted to start off by asking you about obesity in particular. Semaglutide has been approved in the United States for obesity. It’s an area of R&D that’s been very troubled for decades. There have been weight loss drugs that have come along. They’ve attracted a lot of attention, but they haven’t actually ever gained traction in the market. My first question is what’s different this time about obesity? What is different about this drug and why do you expect it to work now whereas previous drugs haven’t?

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Marty Duvall, Oncopeptides CEO

On­copep­tides stock craters as it pulls can­cer drug Pepax­to from the mar­ket

Shares of Oncopeptides crashed more than 70% in early Friday trading after the company said it’s pulling its multiple myeloma drug Pepaxto (melphalan flufenamide) from the US market after failing a confirmatory trial. The move will force the company to close its US and EU business units and enact significant layoffs.

The FDA had scheduled an adcomm meeting next Thursday to discuss Pepaxto, which first won accelerated approval in February and costs about $19,000 per course of treatment. The committee was to weigh in on whether the confirmatory trial demonstrated a worse overall survival in the treatment arm compared to the control arm.

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Pfiz­er pitch­es its Covid-19 vac­cine for younger chil­dren ahead of ad­comm next week

Pfizer will present its case to the FDA’s vaccine adcomm next week, seeking authorization for a lower-dose version of its Covid-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 through 12, which the Biden administration said will likely begin rolling out early next month.

Two primary doses of the 10 µg vaccine (the dose for those ages 12 and up is 30 μg) given 3 weeks apart in this group of children “have shown a favorable safety and tolerability profile, robust immune responses against all variants of concern including Delta, and vaccine efficacy of 90.7% against laboratory-confirmed symptomatic COVID-19,” the company said in briefing documents ahead of next Tuesday’s meeting of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.