Swiss court keeps ex-GSK sci­en­tist's broth­er be­hind bars as US push­es to ex­tra­dite him on R&D theft charges

A Swiss crim­i­nal court is keep­ing Chi­nese sci­en­tist Gong­da Xue in jail for now as US of­fi­cials look to ex­tra­dite him for his role in a fam­i­ly en­ter­prise that stole more than a half bil­lion dol­lars in drug se­crets and trans­ferred them to Chi­na.

Lo­cal news sources in Switzer­land re­port that the crim­i­nal court re­ject­ed the sci­en­tist’s ap­peal, say­ing that a po­ten­tial 20-year prison sen­tence makes him a clear flight risk.

The US has been af­ter Gong­da Xue for his al­leged in­volve­ment in a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy with his sis­ter, Yu “Joyce” Xue, a GSK sci­en­tist in Up­per Meri­on, PA, who pled guilty to one count of trans­fer­ring the phar­ma gi­ant’s trade se­crets to a com­pa­ny they had cre­at­ed called Renophar­ma in Nan­jing. That biotech was sub­si­dized by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to US charges, Yu Xue stole se­crets and trans­ferred them to her broth­er in Switzer­land, where he did work on them at the Friedrich Mi­esch­er In­sti­tute. Reuters con­firmed with the in­sti­tute that he had been a post-doc there. From there the se­crets went to Chi­na, where they were mar­ket­ed by an al­leged ac­com­plice.

Yu Xue’s guilty plea last sum­mer came with the caveat that she nev­er be­lieved she was steal­ing ac­tu­al se­crets, say­ing that the in­for­ma­tion on patents was all pub­licly avail­able.

Yu Xue leaves court in Au­gust 2018. Matt Rourke, AP Im­ages

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

The FBI ar­rest­ed an­oth­er Chi­nese sci­en­tist, Tao Li, in 2016 and found “a num­ber of GSK doc­u­ments con­tain­ing trade se­cret and con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion” on his com­put­er re­gard­ing prod­ucts un­der de­vel­op­ment, re­search da­ta as well as re­search, man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­vel­op­ment process­es. He al­so pled guilty to one charge.

The con­spir­a­cy case that US of­fi­cials made against Yu Xue came just ahead of sev­er­al re­cent in­stances where Chi­nese sci­en­tists were ex­pelled from their jobs at MD An­der­son and Emory for mis­con­duct — fail­ing to dis­close re­search and busi­ness ties in Chi­na. In the most re­cent case, Emory fired two sci­en­tists born in Chi­na — nat­u­ral­ized US cit­i­zens Xi­ao­jiang Li and Shi­hua Li — and shut down their lab, or­der­ing sev­er­al post-docs in the lab back to Chi­na.

The sci­en­tists, though, have fired back, say­ing that the uni­ver­si­ty had act­ed im­prop­er­ly and that their ties to Chi­nese re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions were dis­closed.

There may well be more of these cas­es com­ing up, as the US gov­ern­ment and the NIH have put uni­ver­si­ties on no­tice that they’re be­ing vig­i­lant about los­ing im­por­tant and ex­pen­sive re­search in­for­ma­tion to the Asian pow­er­house.

The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

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With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Trodelvy notch­es a win in most com­mon form of breast can­cer

Following a promise last year to go “big and fast in breast cancer,” Gilead has secured a win for Trodelvy in the most common form.

The drug was approved to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer patients who’ve already received endocrine-based therapy and at least two other systemic therapies for metastatic cancer, Gilead announced on Friday.

Trodelvy won its first indication in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer back in 2020, and has since added urothelial cancer to the list. HR-positive HER2-negative breast cancer accounts for roughly 70% of new breast cancer cases worldwide per year, according to senior VP of oncology clinical development Bill Grossman, and many patients develop resistance to endocrine-based therapies or worsen on chemotherapy.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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Raymond Stevens, Structure Therapeutics CEO

Be­hind Fri­day's $161M IPO: A star sci­en­tist, GPCR drug dis­cov­ery and a plan to chal­lenge phar­ma in di­a­betes

What does it take to pull off a $161 million biotech IPO these days?

In Structure Therapeutics’ case, it means having a star scientist co-founder paired with the computational drug discovery company Schrödinger, $198 million in private funding from blue-chip investors, almost six years of research work on G protein-coupled receptors and a slate of oral, small-molecule drugs, with an eye on the huge and growing diabetes and weight-loss market.

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Af­ter 13 years, Ramy Mah­moud steps in­to CEO seat at Opti­nose; Ru­pert Vessey set to ex­it Bris­tol My­ers in Ju­ly

After 13 years as president and COO at Optinose, Ramy Mahmoud has stepped into a new role as its CEO. He is taking the place of Peter Miller, who stepped down earlier this week, though Miller is still staying with the company as a consultant.

In 2010, the two business partners joined Optinose to take it in a new direction, transforming it from a delivery platform to product company. They previously worked together at Johnson & Johnson, when Miller was president at Janssen and Mahmoud headed medical affairs. Miller said after he learned about Optinose, “I did what I always do, which is find people smarter than me to talk with about the idea. And the first person I called was Ramy … and I said, ‘Hey, Ramy, what do you think of this technology?’”

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Ma­gen­ta halts stem cell work and may sell it­self fol­low­ing pa­tient death, clin­i­cal hold

Magenta Therapeutics said it is halting work on its stem cell transplant drug pipeline and may sell itself, a week after the company reported the death of a patient in an early stage trial of its antibody-drug conjugate.

The Cambridge, MA-based company said it will conduct a “review of strategic alternatives,” and that could include an “acquisition, merger, business combination, or other transaction.”

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Te­va drops out of in­dus­try trade group PhRMA

Following in AbbVie’s footsteps, Teva confirmed on Friday that it’s dropping out of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Teva didn’t give a reason for its decision to leave, saying only in a statement to Endpoints News that it annually reviews “effectiveness and value of engagements, consultants and memberships to ensure our investments are properly seated.”

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Sanofi CFO Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon (L) and CEO Paul Hudson (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi sees downtick in flu sales as it preps for launch of RSV an­ti­body

Sanofi expects its RSV antibody jointly developed with AstraZeneca will be available next season, executive VP of vaccines Thomas Triomphe announced on the company’s quarterly call.

Beyfortus, also known as nirsevimab, was approved in the EU back in November and is currently under FDA review with an expected decision coming in the third quarter of this year. The news comes as the FDA plans to hold advisory committee meetings over the next couple months to review RSV vaccines from Pfizer and GSK.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Photographer: Shoko Takayasu/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Take­da fo­cus­es on ‘di­verse’ pipeline prospects on heels of two ac­qui­si­tions

After a whopping $4 billion asset buy from Nimbus Therapeutics, along with a $400 million deal with Hutchmed for a colorectal cancer drug, Takeda executives touted pipeline optimism on its latest earnings call this week.

That’s because the TYK2 inhibitor for psoriasis Takeda is getting from Nimbus, along with the Hutchmed fruquintinib commercialization outside of China, are just two of what it reports are 10 late-stage development programs of promising candidates.