Strug­gling Unum ex­ecs are ready to con­sid­er a sale, merg­er or any deal that comes its way

Unum $UM­RX is work­ing its way through a sur­vival plan of sorts.

Af­ter get­ting hit with a trio of FDA holds in its brief pub­lic his­to­ry and trig­ger­ing its sec­ond piv­ot to a new lead drug pro­gram while lay­ing off 60% of the staff, the trou­bled pen­ny stock biotech Unum Ther­a­peu­tics has hatched new plans to se­cure fi­nan­cial back­ing while lin­ing up a go-for­ward strat­e­gy for the com­pa­ny.

First, Lin­coln Park Cap­i­tal Fund has agreed to buy up to $25 mil­lion of the long-suf­fer­ing stock, as Unum di­rects. And the ex­ec­u­tive team — led by CEO Chuck Wil­son — has put every­thing on the ta­ble for con­sid­er­a­tion: a sale, ac­qui­si­tion, merg­er, li­cens­ing deal, you name it. The AC­TR707 pro­gram, mean­while, is be­ing for­mal­ly wrapped up — their sec­ond failed lead pro­gram.

Chuck Wil­son

“We re­cent­ly an­nounced the con­clu­sion of our Phase 1 AC­TR707 pro­grams and re­struc­tur­ing to pri­or­i­tize our ca­pa­bil­i­ties and re­sources to­wards ad­vanc­ing our pre­clin­i­cal pro­gram, BOXR1030, and BOXR plat­form aimed at dis­cov­er­ing nov­el ‘bolt-on’ trans­genes to help T cells sur­vive longer and per­form bet­ter in the sol­id tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment,” said Wil­son in a pre­pared state­ment. “While tak­ing steps in­ter­nal­ly to ad­vance BOXR1030 and the BOXR plat­form giv­en the broad po­ten­tial we see to im­prove cell ther­a­pies in sol­id tu­mors, we are al­so tak­ing steps to eval­u­ate ex­ter­nal op­por­tu­ni­ties as well and in this con­text, and with align­ment from our Board of Di­rec­tors, we are al­so ac­tive­ly seek­ing strate­gic al­ter­na­tives to max­i­mize share­hold­er val­ue, in­clud­ing a sale or merg­er of the Com­pa­ny at this time.”

Wed­bush’s David Nieren­garten says he’s en­cour­aged to see the com­pa­ny’s shift in­to sur­vival mode.

While UM­RX has se­cured a stock pur­chase agree­ment for up to $25M of its com­mon stock over a 36-month pe­ri­od with Lin­coln Park Cap­i­tal Fund, the com­pa­ny’s share price has most­ly trad­ed be­low $1 since mid-No­vem­ber and mean­ing­ful da­ta read­outs are out of most in­vestors’ time win­dows.

Laden­burg Thal­mann has been brought in to ad­vise the biotech.

Big Phar­ma's Twit­ter ex­o­dus; Mer­ck wa­gers $1.35B on buy­out; $3.5M gene ther­a­py; 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.

As you start planning for #JPM23, we hope you will consider joining Endpoints News for our live and virtual events. For those who are celebrating Thanksgiving, we hope you are enjoying the long weekend with loved ones. And if you’re not — we’ll see you next week!

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Paul Perreault, CSL Behring CEO

CSL lands FDA ap­proval for he­mo­phil­ia B gene ther­a­py, sets $3.5M list price

The FDA has approved the world’s first gene therapy for hemophilia B, ushering into the market a treatment that’s historic in both what it promises to do and how much it will cost.

CSL will be marketing the drug, Hemgenix, at a list price of $3.5 million — which sets a new record for the most expensive single-use gene therapy in the US.

In a statement provided to Endpoints News, the Australian company noted that the current costs of treating people with moderate to severe hemophilia B can be significant over a lifetime. By some estimates, healthcare systems could spend more than $20 million per person.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

J&J's Spra­va­to pulls a PhI­II win against Sero­quel XR in treat­ment-re­sis­tant de­pres­sion

A day before Thanksgiving, J&J’s Janssen has a new cut of Phase III Spravato data to be grateful for.

The pharma giant announced on Wednesday that its nasal spray, also known as esketamine, beat extended-release quetiapine, previously sold by AstraZeneca as Seroquel XR, in treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Of 676 adults, a significantly higher number of patients on Spravato were able to achieve remission and avoid relapse after 32 weeks, according to J&J.

Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Biggest drug com­pa­nies halt­ed Twit­ter ad buys af­ter Lil­ly in­sulin spoof

Almost all of the drug industry’s biggest advertisers cut their spending on Twitter to zero or near-zero over the last two weeks amid worries about impersonation of their brands by pranksters and the future of the social media company.

Among 18 of the biggest pharmaceutical advertisers in the US market, 12 cut their Twitter ad spending to nothing for the week beginning Nov. 14, according to Pathmatics, which tracks data on prescription drug ad spending as well as general corporate advertising. The list of drugmakers cutting spending to zero includes Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and others.

Rob Davis, Merck CEO

Up­dat­ed: No Seagen here: 'Do more' means a small $1.35B pur­chase of Ima­go for Mer­ck

Merck is making an acquisition, the Big Pharma announced before Monday’s opening bell. No, Seagen is not entering the fold, as had been speculated for quarters.

Folding under Merck’s wings will be Pfizer-backed Imago BioSciences. For nearly a year, Merck CEO Rob Davis has been saying the pharma giant needs to “do more” on the business development front after its 2021 $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Isao Teshirogi, Shionogi president and CEO (Kyodo via AP Images)

Sh­ionogi's Covid an­tivi­ral lands first ap­proval in Japan's new emer­gency ap­proval path­way

Japanese regulators on Tuesday signed off on Shionogi’s homegrown antiviral for Covid-19, known as Xocova (ensitrelvir), making it the first approval under Japan’s emergency regulatory approval system.

The emergency approval, following a back-and-forth with regulators since last February, is based on a safety profile with more than 2,000 patients who have accessed the pill, and clinical symptomatic efficacy for five typical Omicron-related symptoms (primary endpoint) and antiviral efficacy (key secondary endpoint) in patients with mild to moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of risk factors or vaccination status, and during the Omicron-dominant phase of the pandemic.

Alzheimer’s drug bites the dust; Re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture, re­struc­ture; Land­mark di­a­betes OK; 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.

Being in the news business can give one a warped sense of time — it feels like quite a while since we published some of these stories below. But next Saturday’s Endpoints Weekly will definitely be shorter, as we take off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We will still have the abbreviated edition in your inbox at the usual time.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Image: Shutterstock

MIT re­searchers re­veal DNA "Paste" tech be­hind lat­est gene edit­ing start­up

MIT scientists have developed a tool that they say can insert large gene sequences where they want in the genome.

In a paper published Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, MIT fellows Omar Abudayyeh, Jonathan Gootenberg and colleagues detail a technology they call PASTE, which they say can potentially be used to insert long strands of DNA and treat genetic diseases caused by many different mutations, such as cystic fibrosis and Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare eye disorder that causes blindness.

Karen Aiach, Lysogene CEO (RE(ACT) Discovery Institute)

Gene ther­a­py flunks PhII/III study, but for­mer Sarep­ta part­ner sees a path for­ward — if it can find the cash

The development path for Lysogene’s gene therapy for MPS IIIA has been a rocky one. After the FDA slapped a partial clinical hold on a Phase II/III study, a patient already dosed in the trial died, although it was deemed unrelated to treatment. Then earlier this year, Sarepta pulled out of their three-year partnership due to disagreements on who will handle commercial supply.

And now, Lysogene reported the trial has failed its primary endpoint.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 154,000+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.