→ Fresh off orchestrating the biggest biotech IPO in history, Moderna Therapeutics $MRNA has received a pat on the back from the FDA by granting orphan drug status to the company’s preclinical drug mRNA-3927. It’s to be investigated for propionic acidemia, a rare, inherited condition in which the body is unable to process certain proteins and fats properly.
→ After swapping top execs with Bayer in September, Sanofi $SNY has followed its German counterpart in axing jobs, although the cuts are nowhere as deep. On Wednesday, the French drugmaker disclosed to Reuters that it was cutting 670 positions domestically — on a voluntary basis — by 2020. CEO Olivier Brandicourt told investors at a London conference in September that Sanofi is forging ahead with its plans to cut costs, despite having reached a €1.5 billion cost reduction target a year ahead of its forecast.
→ Led by former GSK $GSK exec Al Gianchetti, gene therapy developer XyloCor Therapeutics earlier this week raised $17 million in a Series A round, co-led by Sofinnova Ventures and Life Sciences Partners.
→ This morning, UK health secretary Matt Hancock suggested that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, planes could be used to fly in drugs to ensure access to medicines. With the House of Commons not in session today, day four of parliamentary Brexit debate will reignite on Monday. Meanwhile, Theresa May has been peddling her Brexit deal ahead of the December 11 vote in an attempt to soften the staunch opposition to the controversial deal from members of her own party, as well as others.
→ Japan’s Shionogi has invested $4 million in Series A money to Vast Therapeutics, helping to get the little biotech’s anti-infective platform off the ground. Spun out of the lab of Mark Schoenfisch at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vast is developing a nitric oxide powder platform — an area that Shionogi says it’s been interested in for some time. A collaboration agreement and licensing discussions are in the works while the biotech recruits for several key positions.
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