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.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.