Roivant joins forces with Ko­re­a's iN­tRON Bio to fight su­per­bugs; Evotec inks deal to lever­age AI to de­vel­op drugs

→ An­tibi­ot­ic re­sis­tance is a prob­lem of epi­dem­ic pro­por­tions that should ar­guably en­tice a swarm of R&D dol­lars, but these drugs com­mand rel­a­tive­ly cheap prices and don’t last as long as, say, can­cer drugs, which has in­cen­tivized Big Phar­ma to fo­cus their at­ten­tion else­where. How­ev­er, a hand­ful of small and big names are keep­ing the R&D en­gine hot. Vivek Ra­maswamy’s Roivant Sci­ences on Mon­day an­nounced it was tak­ing a punt on Ko­re­an biotech iN­tRON Bio, with a $667.5 mil­lion li­cens­ing agree­ment for SAL200, an ex­per­i­men­tal bi­o­log­ic for in­fec­tious dis­eases caused by an­tibi­ot­ic-re­sis­tant staphy­lo­coc­ci. Roivant plans to ini­ti­ate a Phase II tri­al test­ing the drug next year.

For years now, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies have looked to har­ness the pow­er the pow­er of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to iden­ti­fy drug can­di­dates and con­duct re­search. Ger­many’s Evotec on Wednes­day said it had tied up with Cam­bridge, MA-based Im­muneer­ing to dis­cov­er small mol­e­cules for rare hered­i­tary meta­bol­ic dis­eases. Im­muneer­ing’s drug dis­cov­ery plat­form makes phar­ma R&D faster and more ef­fec­tive, us­ing AI and oth­er ad­vanced al­go­rithms.

→ OMass Ther­a­peu­tics, which was spun out of Ox­ford in 2016, has se­cured £14 mil­lion in a Se­ries A round of fund­ing led by Syn­cona, the life sci­ences in­vest­ment arm of the Well­come Trust that has al­so in­vest­ed in an­oth­er Ox­ford spin­out called Night­star Ther­a­peu­tics. OMass us­es mass spec­trom­e­try plat­forms to dis­cov­er and de­vel­op ther­a­peu­tics.

 

Tillman Gerngross, Adagio Therapeutics CEO

An­ti­body leg­end Till­man Gern­gross is el­bow­ing his way in­to the Covid-19 R&D cru­sade: 'I don’t see this end­ing any­time soon'

One of the most influential — and outspoken — scientists at work in the field of antibody discovery is jumping into the frenzied race to create new therapeutics to treat and prevent Covid-19. And he’s operating with the conviction that the current outbreak now once again spreading like wildfire will create plenty of demand for what he has in mind.

Dartmouth professor and Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross tells me he’s raised $50 million from a group of close VCs to spin out a new company — Adagio Therapeutics — with a full C-suite team assembled to hire up a staff and keep rolling toward the clinic.

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Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (Moderna via YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: NI­AID and Mod­er­na spell out a 'ro­bust' im­mune re­sponse in PhI coro­n­avirus vac­cine test — but big ques­tions re­main to be an­swered

The NIAID and Moderna have spelled out positive Phase I safety and efficacy data for their Covid-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 — highlighting the first full, clear sketch of evidence that back-to-back jabs at the dose selected for Phase III routinely produced a swarm of antibodies to the virus that exceeded levels seen in convalescent patients — typically in multiples indicating a protective response.

Moderna execs say plainly that this first stage of research produced exactly the kind of efficacy they hoped to see in humans, with a manageable safety profile.

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Trans­port Sim­u­la­tion Test­ing for Your Ther­a­py is the Best Way to As­sure FDA Ex­pe­dit­ed Pro­gram Ap­proval

Modality Solutions is an ISO:9001-registered biopharmaceutical cold chain engineering firm with unique transport simulation capabilities that support accelerated regulatory approval for biologics and advanced therapeutic medicinal products (ATMP). Our expertise combines traditional validation engineering approaches with regulatory knowledge into a methodology tailored for the life sciences industry. We provide insight and execution for the challenges faced in your cold chain logistics network.

Mer­ck KGaA takes its I/O op­tion on F-star Ther­a­peu­tics; Nephron spends $215M, eye­ing spot in Covid-19 vac­cine chain

→Merck KGaA has taken an early option on an immuno-oncology program developed at F-star Therapeutics. This is their second option in the collaboration. And they added a pair of preclinical discovery programs to the alliance as well.

Any biotech going public these days wouldn’t feel right if they didn’t upsize the offering. And that’s just what Phase I biotech Pandion Therapeutics did. The autoimmune company is now selling 7 million shares, a 1.5 million share bump, for $16 to $18 a share.

Full Bril­in­ta study re­sults show the blood thin­ner re­duces rate of sec­ondary stroke

AstraZeneca once projected its Brilinta drug to peak at $3.5 billion in sales, and though the blood thinner never reached that lofty goal, it received the latest positive signs in a string of recent good news.

The pharma released full details from its THALES study Thursday morning, which measured the effects of Brilinta and aspirin against aspirin alone in treating patients who had an acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. When taken twice daily with once-a-day aspirin for 30 days, the Brilinta combo reduced the risk of stroke and death by 17 percent, meeting the primary endpoint of the study.

GSK’s Shin­grix leader Guil­laume Pfe­fer has jumped on board Flag­ship to helm a biotech hy­brid as Afeyan’s lat­est CEO-part­ner

After spending 4 years in a senior post with GlaxoSmithKline’s star team positioning Shingrix for a blockbuster approval, Guillaume Pfefer is headed back to the biotech world — in style.

Pfefer has signed on to join Noubar Afeyan’s busy group of partners at Flagship, and he’s taking the helm of an upstart — which today is being merged with another Flagship startup — with some grand plans of its own. The announcement this morning notes that Pfefer will run Kintai Therapeutics, one of the grads of the Flagship labs.

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Who are the women blaz­ing trails in bio­phar­ma R&D and lead­ing the fight against Covid-19? Nom­i­nate them for End­points' spe­cial re­port

One of the many inequalities the pandemic has laid bare is the gender imbalance in biomedical research. A paper examining Covid-19 research authorship wondered out loud: Where are the women?

It’s a question that echoes beyond our current times. In the biopharma world, not only are women under-represented in R&D roles (particularly at higher levels), their achievements and talents could also be undermined by stereotypes and norms of leadership styles. The problem is even more dire for women of color.

Norbert Bischofberger, Kronos CEO

Gilead­'s ex-R&D chief Bischof­berg­er heads back to the biotech gi­ant to pick up a pair of late-stage drugs that had been put aside

Norbert Bischofberger knows entospletinib well.

Back during his long, blockbuster run as head of R&D at Gilead, researchers had once held some high hopes for this drug. But to make it work, he and the team felt it would need a new companion diagnostic to identify patients. There was talk of a combo approach to give it more punch. But the market was small, making them wonder if it would be worth going through a lengthy development cycle to get it through a pivotal.

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Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci (AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Rus­sia hack­ers tar­get US, UK vac­cine and drug re­searchers; Fau­ci fires back at White House cam­paign to un­der­mine him

Russia has tried to steal a Covid-19 vaccine and therapeutics researcher from pharmaceutical and academic institutions in the US, UK and Canada, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said Thursday.

The NCSC said that hacking attempts came from a group known as APT129, also known as “Cozy Bear,” that “almost certainly operate as part of Russian intelligence services.” The Canadian Communication Security Establishment, US Department for Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, and the National Security Agency shared the assessment, the NCSC said.

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