Gary Owens, Mesa Laboratories CEO

Ser­vices firm Mesa buys out mol­e­c­u­lar di­ag­nos­tics play­er for a cool $300M as ge­net­ics test­ing gains steam

The rise in ge­net­ic test­ing has spurred a rev­o­lu­tion in drug de­vel­op­ment, and now a bio­phar­ma ser­vices firm is look­ing to jump on board in a big way.

Mesa Lab­o­ra­to­ries will ac­quire Age­na Bio­science, a ge­net­ic di­ag­nos­tics com­pa­ny based out of San Diego, for $300 mil­lion, the com­pa­ny an­nounced Tues­day.

Age­na is ex­pect­ed to reel in be­tween $63 mil­lion and $67 mil­lion in rev­enue in Mesa’s first year of own­er­ship. That num­ber doesn’t in­clude any pos­si­ble Covid-19 rev­enue, which is ex­pect­ed to bring in an­oth­er $3 mil­lion to $5 mil­lion in rev­enue.

The ac­qui­si­tion is ex­pect­ed to close in Mesa’s Q3, which ends Dec. 31.

Mesa fo­cus­es on qual­i­ty con­trol de­vices that of­fer ster­il­iza­tion and dis­in­fec­tion and bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment.

“We be­lieve that ‘The Mesa Way’ ap­proach to con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment will help the Age­na team to con­tin­ue to rapid­ly scale both com­mer­cial­ly and op­er­a­tional­ly,” CEO Gary Owens said in a press re­lease.

Pe­ter Dan­sky

Mesa’s stock price was up near­ly 4.5% fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment. Dur­ing a meet­ing with in­vestors dis­cussing its Q1 re­sults, the com­pa­ny re­vealed that rev­enue in­creased 17% while op­er­at­ing de­creased 13%. Owens cit­ed the Delta vari­ant of Covid-19, say­ing a col­li­sion be­tween that and the in­crease in vac­ci­na­tions across the world left un­cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tions for the com­pa­ny eco­nom­i­cal­ly.

Age­na of­fers mol­e­c­u­lar test­ing for ge­net­ics labs and boasts of its Mas­sAr­ray sys­tem that al­lows labs to fo­cus on a set of re­gions that have a known as­so­ci­a­tion with a dis­ease, which can sim­pli­fy the test­ing process.

Age­na’s CEO Pe­ter Dan­sky will come aboard Mesa as its new leader of the clin­i­cal ge­nomics di­vi­sion. In a press re­lease, he said:

We are proud of our track record in bring­ing the pow­er of ge­nomics to the clin­i­cal set­ting in hered­i­tary dis­eases, phar­ma­coge­nomics, on­col­o­gy, in­fec­tious dis­ease and sam­ple in­tegri­ty test­ing. Our ro­bust tech­nol­o­gy plat­form along with deep cus­tomer part­ner­ship has been the foun­da­tion of our suc­cess. We built our com­pa­ny based on a strong team-ori­ent­ed val­ues sys­tem, and we see a great fit with the Mesa cul­ture. We look for­ward to work­ing with the Mesa team to ex­pand the ap­pli­ca­tions we de­liv­er and in­no­vate new tech­nolo­gies for clin­i­cal ge­nomics.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.