Tak­ing on gam­ma delta T cells, blue­bird pays $16M for TC Bio­Phar­m's tu­mor in­vad­ing tech plat­form

Gene ther­a­py pi­o­neer blue­bird bio is team­ing up with Scot­land’s TC Bio­Pharm to get its hands on an ex­per­i­men­tal pro­gram in­volv­ing an emerg­ing im­munother­a­py plat­form: CAR-en­gi­neered gam­ma delta T cells.

As part of the deal, blue­bird $BLUE is pay­ing TC Bio­Pharm (TCB) a $16 mil­lion up­front pay­ment, with undis­closed mile­stones and roy­al­ties down the road. TCB will be re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing tar­gets through Phase I/II, while blue­bird has the ex­clu­sive op­tion to take on fur­ther clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion world­wide.

Philip Gre­go­ry

Gam­ma delta T cells are tar­gets for re­search for their po­ten­tial to in­vade tis­sue and per­haps be bet­ter at in­vad­ing tu­mors, which would be a ground­break­er in im­muno-on­col­o­gy. Where CAR-Ts have proved ef­fec­tive blood can­cers, it’s been a chal­lenge get­ting them in­to tu­mors And while check­point ther­a­pies like Keytru­da and Op­di­vo re­quire an en­vi­ron­ment with a heavy mu­ta­tion load to be ef­fec­tive, gam­ma delta cells – at least in the pre­clin­i­cal work — don’t. Gam­ma delta cells have the es­sen­tial prop­er­ties to get in­side tu­mors to do their work.

“Emerg­ing re­search sug­gests that gam­ma delta T cells may con­sti­tute a pow­er­ful plat­form for CAR T cell ther­a­pies,” said Philip Gre­go­ry, chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer at blue­bird bio, in a state­ment. “TCB is a leader in the gam­ma delta T cell field, with ex­ten­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties span­ning ear­ly re­search, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing. The com­bi­na­tion with our deep ex­per­tise in CAR T cell bi­ol­o­gy, trans­la­tion­al and clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence with lead­ing CAR T cell drug prod­ucts, and pow­er­ful gene ther­a­py tool­box, of­fers a high de­gree of syn­er­gy. This part­ner­ship aims to help re­al­ize the full po­ten­tial of the gam­ma delta T cell plat­form to bring nov­el and trans­for­ma­tive ther­a­pies to can­cer pa­tients with high un­met med­ical need.”

A new chap­ter in the de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal tri­al ap­proach

Despite the promised decentralized trial revolution, we haven’t yet moved the needle in a significant way, although we are seeing far bolder commitments to this as we continue to experience the pandemic restrictions for some time to come. The vision of grandeur is one thing, but operationalizing and execution are another and recognising that change, particularly mid-flight on studies, is worthy of thorough evaluation and consideration in order to achieve success. Here we will discuss one of the critical building blocks of a Decentralized and Remote Trial strategy: TeleConsent; more than paper under glass, it is a paradigm change and key digital enabler.

Su­per-se­cre­tive an­ti-ag­ing biotech Cal­i­co tees up the first vis­i­ble clin­i­cal tri­al of an ex­per­i­men­tal drug. And it’s for can­cer?

Over the past 7 years, Calico has been so much more than your average, run-of-the-mill secretive biotech players. It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, to repurpose an old Winston Churchill line dating from the time he confronted the Iron Curtain surrounding Stalin’s thoughts.

Launched by industry legend Art Levinson of Genentech fame, with the infinitely deep pockets of Google for support, one of the few big headlines the anti-aging biotech has sparked focused on a major alliance with AbbVie — a giant outfit that conversely likes to show off its drug prospects whenever it can. Together, they’ve been focused on diseases that limit life span — quite an arc of ailments.

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RBC's Bri­an Abra­hams holds a mock ad­comm on Bio­gen's iffy ad­u­canum­ab da­ta — and most of these ex­perts don't see a path to an ap­proval

As catalysts go, few loom larger than the aducanumab adcomm slated for Nov. 6.

With its big franchise under assault, Biogen is betting the ranch that its mixed late-stage Alzheimer’s data can squeak past the experts and regulators and get onto the market. And the topic — after a decade of Alzheimer’s R&D disasters in what still represents the El Dorado of drug markets — remains in the center ring of discussions around late-stage pipeline prospects.

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Joe Biden (Carolyn Kaster, AP Images)

What about the Ger­man ne­go­ti­a­tion mod­el? Biden steers drug pric­ing de­bate to a show­down

From an ill-fated proposal to ban rebates for pharmacy benefit managers to an executive order demanding a “most-favored-nation price” for Medicare, if nothing else President Donald Trump has introduced Americans to a flurry of ideas to rein in pharma, an industry he once accused of “getting away with murder.” And now we’re getting the first glimpse of what a Joe Biden presidency might mean for prescription drug pricing.

Covid-19 roundup: Pars­ing Bourla, a top an­a­lyst sees im­proved chances for Pfiz­er vac­cine; Fau­ci: No sur­prise that Trump was hit by Covid-19

With a medley of adverse events hobbling the late-stage development of vaccines and drugs, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s latest — extended — timeline for the mRNA approach they’re working on with BioNTech is giving some top analysts added confidence that the pharma giant can come up with the regulatory goods next month.

Parsing Bourla’s language in his comments last week, SVB Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges notes that Bourla’s decision to say they “may” be able to nail down the positive efficacy of their vaccine in a matter of days — a big change from his earlier certainty — may also indicate a delay on that to early November.

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IN8bio CEO William Ho (IN8bio)

Bring­ing their ge­net­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied gam­ma delta T cells to Nas­daq, IN8bio files for $86M IPO

The biotech IPO parade continues marching forward as 2020 turns toward the fourth quarter.

IN8bio, a New York-based company focused on genetically modified gamma delta T cell therapies, filed to go public Friday seeking an $86 million raise. The company has two clinical-stage candidates being studied in glioblastoma and leukemia, respectively.

By any stretch of the imagination, 2020 has already been a huge year for biotech, and nowhere does it appear more obvious than the vast amounts of companies hitting the public market.

Daniel O'Day, Gilead CEO (Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Gilead feels the heat as close al­ly Gala­pa­gos re­ports a big set­back on one of their top ex­per­i­men­tal drugs

The bad news keeps stacking up at Galapagos — which quite likely just lost control of a billion-dollar deal — and by extension their close partners at Gilead.

The biotech $GLPG reported after the bell Thursday that GLPG1972, one of their top development programs, flat failed a mid-stage study for osteoarthritis, flunking the primary and all secondary endpoints.

Testing 3 different doses of their drug, which relies on ADAMTS-5 inhibition, investigators concluded that none of them triggered a statistically significant response — as measured by cartilage thickness.

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News brief­ing: Ab­b­Vie and Roche's Ven­clex­ta scores an­oth­er FDA OK; Im­muno­Gen nabs Chi­na deal with $40M cash

AbbVie and Roche’s Venclexta has gotten a new FDA thumbs up.

The pair announced Monday that regulators have approved the drug in combination with azacitidine or low-dose cytarabine for newly-diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia in adults who are 75 or older or those who can’t undergo intensive chemotherapy. This follows the drug’s accelerated approval in 2018 and positive data from two Phase III confirmatory trials.

James Sabry (Roche)

Roche's James Sabry inks his sec­ond AI deal in back-to-back pacts — this time part­ner­ing Genen­tech with Stan­ford spin­out Gen­e­sis Ther­a­peu­tics

Less than a week after Roche joined forces with Dyno Therapeutics to develop gene therapies using artificial intelligence, its giant subsidiary Genentech is hopping on the AI bandwagon with a different player.

Genentech has inked a deal with Stanford spinout Genesis Therapeutics to harness its AI power for drug development and discovery. Genesis is getting an upfront payment and milestones, but the companies are keeping the details under wraps for now. The Burlingame, CA-based biotech also stands to earn future royalties on any approved Genentech drugs that come from the deal.