Franz-Werner Haas, CureVac CEO (Christoph Schmidt/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Tak­ing an­oth­er shot at mR­NA glo­ry, Cure­Vac inks on­col­o­gy pact while keep­ing up with Covid work

Cure­Vac may have lost out on the ini­tial mR­NA race to bring a Covid-19 vac­cine to the mar­ket, but it’s still ea­ger to prove that it has what it takes to be a se­ri­ous play­er in the field.

As it up­dates in­vestors on its sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion vac­cine can­di­dates for in­fec­tious dis­eases in Q1 re­sults, the Ger­man biotech says it’s beef­ing up its on­col­o­gy pipeline.

To that end, it has struck a new col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bel­gium’s my­NEO, which boasts of a neoanti­gen dis­cov­ery and se­lec­tion plat­form, to iden­ti­fy new tar­gets for mR­NA im­munother­a­pies.

Build­ing on what it de­scribes as “re­cent tech­nol­o­gy plat­form ad­vances,” Cure­Vac said its on­col­o­gy ex­pan­sion will fea­ture a port­fo­lio of can­cer vac­cines to com­ple­ment the cur­rent work, in­clud­ing a Phase I TLR7/8/RIG-1 ag­o­nist.

On the in­fec­tious dis­ease side, the com­pa­ny is con­tin­u­ing work on new mR­NA vac­cines with part­ners at GSK. While its pre­vi­ous can­di­dates, in­clud­ing the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Covid shot CV2CoV, lever­ages non-chem­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied mR­NA, it ex­pects to be­gin clin­i­cal pro­grams for in­fluen­za and Covid-19 based on mod­i­fied mR­NA lat­er this year. The dif­fer­ences in un­mod­i­fied and mod­i­fied mR­NA had long been a point of de­bate with­in the space.

Pierre Kem­u­la

Be­cause of the wind­ing down of its first-gen­er­a­tion Covid-19 pro­gram, Cure­Vac added, it has trans­ferred the pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ty it re­served at a con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion to GSK. The phar­ma part­ner paid €32.5 mil­lion as re­im­burse­ment of pre-pay­ments and pro­duc­tion set­up ac­tiv­i­ties at the CMO.

“We have re­solved the ma­jor­i­ty of our past com­mit­ments and are now fo­cus­ing on con­trol­ling costs and ef­fec­tive­ly dri­ving mo­men­tum for key pro­grams with a strong fo­cus on our sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion mR­NA back­bone in vac­cines and on­col­o­gy as well as on man­u­fac­tur­ing,” said CFO Pierre Kem­u­la.

Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis de­tails plans to axe 8,000 staffers as Narasimhan be­gins sec­ond phase of a glob­al re­org

We now know the number of jobs coming under the axe at Novartis, and it isn’t small.

The pharma giant is confirming a report from Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger that it is chopping 8,000 jobs out of its 108,000 global staffers. A large segment will hit right at company headquarters in Basel, as CEO Vas Narasimhan axes some 1,400 of a little more than 11,000  jobs in Switzerland.

The first phase of the work is almost done, the company says in a statement to Endpoints News. Now it’s on to phase two. In the statement, Novartis says:

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Lina Gugucheva, NewAmsterdam Pharma CBO

Phar­ma group bets up to $1B-plus on the PhI­II res­ur­rec­tion of a once dead-and-buried LDL drug

Close to 5 years after then-Amgen R&D chief Sean Harper tamped the last spade of dirt on the last broadly focused CETP cholesterol drug — burying their $300 million upfront and the few remaining hopes for the class with it — the therapy has been fully resurrected. And today, the NewAmsterdam Pharma crew that did the Lazarus treatment on obicetrapib is taking another big step on the comeback trail with a €1 billion-plus regional licensing deal, complete with close to $150 million in upfront cash.

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Bob Nelsen (Lyell)

As bear mar­ket con­tin­ues to beat down biotech, ARCH clos­es a $3B ear­ly-stage fund

One of the biggest names in biotech investing has a whole lot of new money to spend.

ARCH Venture Partners closed its 12th venture fund early Wednesday morning, the firm said, bringing in almost $3 billion to invest in early-stage biotechs. The move comes about a year and a half after ARCH announced its previous fund, for almost $2 billion back in January 2021.

In a statement, ARCH managing director and co-founder Bob Nelsen appeared to brush off concerns about the broader market troubles, alluding to the downturn that’s seen several biotechs downsize and the XBI fall back to almost pre-pandemic levels.

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Hank Safferstein, Generian CEO

Astel­las sub­sidiary to part­ner with Pitts­burgh up­start in search for 'un­drug­gable' pro­teins

As Astellas continues its drive to build out its gene therapy portfolio and capabilities, a subsidiary of the Japanese pharma company has entered into a collaboration with a little-known Pittsburgh biotech.

Astellas-owned Mitobridge and Generian Pharmaceuticals announced on Wednesday that they will work together in a new deal for “undruggable” protein targets. Generian will net an undisclosed upfront payment and could get up to $180 million in milestones, should anything from its platform prove successful, as well as single-digit royalties on global net sales.

How pre­pared is bio­phar­ma for the cy­ber dooms­day?

One of the largest cyberattacks in history happened on a Friday, Eric Perakslis distinctly remembers.

Perakslis, who was head of Takeda’s R&D Data Sciences Institute and visiting faculty at Harvard Medical School at the time, had spent that morning completing a review on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal. Moments after he turned it in, he heard back from the editor: “Have you heard what’s going on right now?”

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Sanofi to cut in­sulin prices for unin­sured from $99 to $35, match­ing the in­sulin cap com­ing through Con­gress

As the House-passed bill to cap the monthly price of insulin at $35 nationwide makes its way for a Senate vote soon, Sanofi announced Wednesday morning that beginning next month it will cut the monthly price of its insulins for uninsured Americans to $35, down from $99 previously.

The announcement from Sanofi, which allows the uninsured to buy one or multiple Sanofi insulins (Lantus, Insulin Glargine U-100, Toujeo, Admelog, and Apidra) at $35 for a 30-day supply effective July 1, follows House passage (232-193) of the monthly cap in March, with just 12 Republicans voting in favor of the measure.

Adam Simpson, Icosavax CEO

Reel­ing from Covid flop, Icosavax says its RSV can­di­date passed ear­ly test. But in­vestors need some more con­vinc­ing

Three months separated from a disappointing readout of its Covid-19 vaccine, Icosavax is back with what it calls positive topline data for a different VLP vaccine candidate — although investors aren’t impressed.

IVX-121, a vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), appeared to generate “robust” immune responses among both young and older adults, as measured by neutralizing antibodies, and appeared generally well-tolerated, Icosavax reported.

A Mer­ck part­ner is sucked in­to the fi­nan­cial quag­mire as key lender calls in a note

Another biotech standing on shaky financial legs has fallen victim to the bears.

Merck partner 4D Pharma has reported that a key lender, Oxford Finance, shoved the UK company into administration after calling in a $14 million loan they couldn’t immediately make good on. Trading in their stock was halted with a market cap that had fallen to a mere £30 million.

“Despite the very difficult prevailing market conditions,” 4D reported on Friday, the biotech had been making progress on finding some new financing and turned to Oxford with an alternative late on Thursday and then again Friday morning.

(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Some phar­ma com­pa­nies promise to cov­er abor­tion-re­lat­ed trav­el costs — while oth­ers won't go that far yet

As the US Department of Health and Human Services promises to support the millions of women who would now need to cross state lines to receive a legal abortion, a handful of pharma companies have said they will pick up employees’ travel expenses.

GSK, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, BeiGene, Alnylam and Gilead have all committed to covering abortion-related travel expenses just four days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

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