Sanofi walks away from MyoKar­dia heart drug part­ner­ship, long be­fore key da­ta read­out

Last June, MyoKar­dia launched its keen­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed piv­otal tri­al for its ge­net­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed lead heart drug. Da­ta are ex­pect­ed next year, but part­ner Sanofi is not wait­ing around. On Wednes­day, the San Fran­cis­co-based biotech said its French part­ner had elect­ed to cease their part­ner­ship that was forged in 2014.

The drug, mava­camten, is ex­pect­ed to break new ground in heart dis­ease, a field mo­nop­o­lized by phar­ma ma­jors large­ly due to the long, ar­du­ous and ex­pen­sive tri­als that are com­mon­place in heart drug de­vel­op­ment. Un­like oth­er com­pa­nies fo­cus­ing on com­mon heart dis­or­ders, MyoKar­dia’s lead ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment is al­so tar­get­ing a so-far un­tapped con­di­tion — ob­struc­tive hy­per­trophic car­diomy­opa­thy — in which a heart pro­tein mu­ta­tion forces the or­gan to squeeze more, thick­en­ing heart mus­cles and cre­at­ing a cas­cade of con­se­quences that can cul­mi­nate in death.

In the sec­ond tranche of the drug’s Phase II tri­al in a small group of pa­tients re­port­ed in March, the com­pa­ny said its low dose ap­proach was large­ly suc­cess­ful across a crop of end­points, ex­cept one for peak VO2 (ex­er­cise ca­pac­i­ty mea­sured by an in­crease in oxy­gen con­sump­tion).

MyoKar­dia’s ap­proach to re­search is to de­vel­op drugs for ge­net­i­cal­ly de­fined pa­tient groups, which is al­so re­flect­ed in its sec­ond pro­gram, MYK-491, un­der de­vel­op­ment for di­lat­ed car­diomy­opa­thy. The Sanofi part­ner­ship inked in 2014 in­volved the de­vel­op­ment of up to three pro­grams through dis­cov­ery and in­to clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for the treat­ment of hy­per­trophic car­diomy­opa­thy (HCM) and di­lat­ed car­diomy­opa­thy (DCM).

On Wednes­day, MyoKar­dia said it had re­gained the glob­al rights to all the pro­grams (in­clud­ing mava­camten and MYK-491) un­der the re­search and col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment with Sanofi, which will not be ex­tend­ed be­yond the ini­tial re­search term, which end­ed on De­cem­ber 31, 2018. The biotech’s $MYOK shares were down about 8.5% in ear­ly trad­ing.

As part of the deal, MyoKar­dia re­ceived rough­ly $230 mil­lion in fund­ing from Sanofi, and has ad­vanced mava­camten from pre­clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment in­to a late-stage piv­otal study for the treat­ment of HCM, and MYK-491 from dis­cov­ery to a Phase II proof-of-con­cept study in pa­tients with DCM.

Mean­while, Phase II da­ta for mava­camten in non-ob­struc­tive HCM are ex­pect­ed in the sec­ond half of this year and Phase IIa proof-of-con­cept da­ta for MYK-491 in DCM are ex­pect­ed be­fore the end of 2019.

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO

'This is not go­ing to be good': Mod­er­na CEO Ban­cel warns of a 'ma­te­r­i­al drop' in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy as Omi­cron spreads

Even as public health officials remain guarded about their comments on the likelihood Omicron will escape the reach of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccines, there’s growing scientific consensus that we’re facing a variant that threatens to overwhelm the vaccine barricades that have been erected.

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, one of the leading mRNA players whose quick vault into the markets with a highly effective vaccine created an instant multibillion-dollar market, added his voice to the rising chorus early Tuesday. According to Bancel, there will be a significant drop in efficacy when the average immune system is confronted by Omicron. The only question now is: How much?

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Philip Dormitzer, new GSK global head of vaccines R&D

Glax­o­SmithK­line poach­es Pfiz­er's vi­ral vac­cines lead in rush to cap­i­tal­ize on fu­ture of mR­NA

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Philip Dormitzer, formerly chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s viral vaccines unit, as its newest global head of vaccines R&D, looking to leverage one of the leading minds behind Pfizer and BioNTech’s RNA collaboration that led to Covid-19 jab Comirnaty, the British drug giant said Tuesday.

Dormitzer had been with Pfizer for a little more than six years, joining up after a seven-year stint with Novartis, where he reached the role of US head of research and head of global virology for the company’s vaccines and diagnostics unit.

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In­tro­duc­ing End­points Stu­dio, a new way to ad­ver­tise with End­points-craft­ed brand­ing cam­paigns

Since our start in 2016, Endpoints has grown fast while executing our mission to cover biopharma’s most critical developments for industry pros worldwide. As readership has grown, our advertising business has too. Endpoints advertising partners support the mission and engage their desired audiences through announcements on our email and web platforms, brand recognition in our event coverage and sponsorships of Endpoints daily and weekly reports.

Reshma Kewalramani, Vertex CEO (Vertex via YouTube)

Bat­tling a line­up of skep­tics, Ver­tex claims an­oth­er ear­ly clin­i­cal win — this time in kid­ney dis­ease

Vertex claimed its second early-stage win of the fall Wednesday, announcing positive results in a small study on a genetically defined form of kidney disease.

The 16-patient, Phase II trial focused on patients with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a rare disease where kidneys are unable to filter blood properly. Over 13 weeks on an experimental pill, the level of protein in the patients’ urine fell by an average of 47.6%.

With on­ly burns to show in gene ther­a­py, Astel­las inks deal with AAV spe­cial­ist Dyno in push for a bet­ter cap­sid

On the hunt for a better AAV capsid for gene therapy, Eric Kelsic’s Dyno Therapeutics has set itself apart with its focus on machine learning to help speed discovery. Now, Japanese drugmaker Astellas — fresh off a slate of gene therapy burns — is taking a bet on Dyno as it looks to the future.

Astellas and Dyno will work together as part of an R&D pact to develop next-gen AAV vectors for gene therapy using Dyno’s CapsidMap platform directed at skeletal and cardiac muscle, the companies said Wednesday. Under the terms of the deal, Dyno will design AAV capsids for gene therapy, while Astellas will be responsible for conducting preclinical, clinical and commercialization activities for gene therapy product candidates using the capsids.

As first Omi­cron case in US crops up, re­searchers won­der: which an­ti­bod­ies, vac­cines will hold up?

As Covid-19 drug and vaccine developers race to figure out which of their products might be hampered by the new variant, the CDC on Wednesday afternoon announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in the US, found in San Francisco.

The unidentified individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, 2021, was fully vaccinated, and had mild symptoms that the CDC described as improving. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative, the centers said.

As lead drug runs in­to a wall, De­ci­phera slims down its pipeline, puts 140 jobs on the chop­ping block

Barely a month after disappointing data shattered hopes for a major label expansion for the GI tumor drug Qinlock, Deciphera is making a major pivot — scrapping development plans for that drug and discarding another while it hunkers down and focuses on two remaining drugs in the pipeline.

As a result, 140 of its staffers will be laid off.

The restructuring, which claims the equivalent of 35% of its total workforce, will take place across all departments including commercial, R&D as well as general and administrative support functions, Deciphera said, as it looks to streamline Qinlock-related commercial operations in the US while concentrating only on a “select number of key European markets.”

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How to use reg­istry da­ta to sup­port FDA de­ci­sion mak­ing: Agency ex­plains in new guid­ance

Drugmakers looking to design a new registry or use an existing one to support a regulatory decision on a drug’s effectiveness or safety will need to consult with a new draft guidance released Monday by the FDA.

The agency’s reliance on registry data for regulatory decisions dates back more than two decades, at least, as in 1998 Bayer won approval for its anticoagulant Refludan (withdrawn from the market in 2013 for commercial reasons) based in part on a historical control group pulled from a registry.