The Broad wins an­oth­er — per­haps fi­nal — bat­tle in the war over Feng Zhang's CRISPR patents

Ed­i­tas $ED­IT and its ri­vals’ long run­ning le­gal bat­tle over the IP for the CRISPR/Cas9 tech used to ed­it genes may well be over.

A fed­er­al ap­peals court has ruled in fa­vor of the Broad In­sti­tute, con­firm­ing an ear­li­er US patent board de­ci­sion that their patents from the lab of in­ves­ti­ga­tor Feng Zhang did not “in­ter­fere” with the ones sought by UC.

And the judges came down so solid­ly in fa­vor of the Broad that there’s like­ly lit­tle hope for any con­tin­u­ing ap­peals moves — though the UC sys­tem quick­ly put out a state­ment say­ing they’re still eval­u­at­ing their op­tions on lit­i­gat­ing the is­sue.

The Broad, which quick­ly her­ald­ed the rul­ing, not­ed that their patents “are for genome edit­ing in eu­kary­ot­ic (in­clud­ing an­i­mal, hu­man, and plant) cells, while the claims in UCB’s ap­pli­ca­tion were based on stud­ies in cell-free sys­tems and not di­rect­ed to genome edit­ing in eu­kary­ot­ic cells.” The in­sti­tute con­tin­ued:

It is time for all in­sti­tu­tions to move be­yond lit­i­ga­tion. We should work to­geth­er to en­sure wide, open ac­cess to this trans­for­ma­tive tech­nol­o­gy.

Ed­i­tas, which has been di­rect­ly in­volved in pro­tect­ing these patents, will sec­ond that mo­tion. But it’s un­like­ly that the biotechs sup­port­ed by UC’s Jen­nifer Doud­na and her col­league Em­manuelle Char­p­en­tier — in­clud­ing CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics $CR­SP — will be hap­py about the news.

From to­day’s rul­ing:

The Board per­formed a thor­ough analy­sis of the fac­tu­al ev­i­dence and con­sid­ered a va­ri­ety of state­ments by ex­perts for both par­ties and the in­ven­tors, past fail­ures and suc­cess­es in the field, evi- dence of si­mul­ta­ne­ous in­ven­tion, and the ex­tent to which the art pro­vid­ed in­struc­tions for ap­ply­ing the CRISPR- Cas9 tech­nol­o­gy in a new en­vi­ron­ment. In light of this ex­haus­tive analy­sis and on this record, we con­clude that sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence sup­ports the Board’s find­ing that there was not a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion of suc­cess, and the Board did not err in its de­ter­mi­na­tion that there is no in­ter­fer­ence-in-fact.

We have con­sid­ered UC’s re­main­ing ar­gu­ments and find them un­per­sua­sive.

The UC sys­tem, though, may not be done wran­gling over the sub­ject. They of­fered this state­ment on Mon­day af­ter­noon:

We are eval­u­at­ing fur­ther lit­i­ga­tion op­tions. We al­so look for­ward to prov­ing that Drs. Doud­na and Char­p­en­tier first in­vent­ed us­age in plant and an­i­mal cells – a fact that is al­ready wide­ly rec­og­nized by the glob­al sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty – as the Doud­na-Char­p­en­tier team’s sev­er­al pend­ing patent ap­pli­ca­tions that cov­er use of CRISPR-Cas9 in plant and an­i­mal cells are now un­der ex­am­i­na­tion by the patent of­fice.

And af­ter the mar­ket closed Mon­day af­ter­noon, CRISPR, In­tel­lia and Cari­bou — all al­lied with the Doud­na/Char­p­en­tier side — of­fered a col­lec­tive har­rumph.

“The Fed­er­al Cir­cuit, like the PT­AB, did not de­cide whether UC or the Broad ac­tu­al­ly first in­vent­ed the CRISPR/Cas9 genome edit­ing tech­nol­o­gy,” they not­ed. “The Fed­er­al Cir­cuit opin­ion al­so does not pre­clude oth­er pro­ceed­ings, ei­ther at the USP­TO or in the courts, to de­ter­mine which re­search group is the ac­tu­al in­ven­tor and, thus, the prop­er own­er of the tech­nol­o­gy.”


Im­age: Feng Zhang. MIT

Biotech Half­time Re­port: Af­ter a bumpy year, is biotech ready to re­bound?

The biotech sector has come down firmly from the highs of February as negative sentiment takes hold. The sector had a major boost of optimism from the success of the COVID-19 vaccines, making investors keenly aware of the potential of biopharma R&D engines. But from early this year, clinical trial, regulatory and access setbacks have reminded investors of the sector’s inherent risks.

RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

Covid-19 vac­cine boost­ers earn big thumbs up, but Mod­er­na draws ire over world sup­ply; What's next for Mer­ck’s Covid pill?; The C-suite view on biotech; 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.

You may remember that at the beginning of this year, Endpoints News set a goal to go broader and deeper. We are still working towards that, and are excited to share that Beth Snyder Bulik will be joining us on Monday to cover all things pharma marketing. You can sign up for her weekly Endpoints MarketingRx newsletter in your reader profile.

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Roche's Tecen­triq cross­es the fin­ish line first in ad­ju­vant lung can­cer, po­ten­tial­ly kick­ing off gold rush

While falling behind the biggest PD-(L)1 drugs in terms of sales, Roche has looked to carve out a space for its Tecentriq with a growing expertise in lung cancer. The drug will now take an early lead in the sought-after adjuvant setting — but competitors are on the way.

The FDA on Friday approved Tecentriq as an adjuvant therapy for patients with Stage II-IIIA non small cell lung cancer with PD-(L)1 scores greater than or equal to 1, making it the first drug of its kind approved in an early setting that covers around 40% of all NSCLC patients.

No­var­tis de­vel­op­ment chief John Tsai: 'We go deep in the new plat­form­s'

During our recent European Biopharma Summit, I talked with Novartis development chief John Tsai about his experiences over the 3-plus years he’s been at the pharma giant. You can read the transcript below or listen to the exchange in the link above.

John Carroll: I followed your career for quite some time. You’ve had more than 20 years in big pharma R&D and you’ve obviously seen quite a lot. I really was curious about what it was like for you three and a half years ago when you took over as R&D chief at Novartis. Obviously a big move, a lot of changes. You went to work for the former R&D chief of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who had his own track record there. So what was the biggest adjustment when you went into this position?

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Amit Etkin, Alto Neuroscience CEO (Alto via Vimeo)

A star Stan­ford pro­fes­sor leaves his lab for a start­up out to re­make psy­chi­a­try

About five years ago, Amit Etkin had a breakthrough.

The Stanford neurologist, a soft-spoken demi-prodigy who became a professor while still a resident, had been obsessed for a decade with how to better define psychiatric disorders. Drugs for depression or bipolar disorder didn’t work for many patients with the conditions, and he suspected the reason was how traditional diagnoses didn’t actually get at the heart of what was going on in a patient’s brain.

Susan Galbraith, Executive VP, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca

As­traZeneca on­col­o­gy R&D chief Su­san Gal­braith: 'Y­ou're go­ing to need or­thog­o­nal com­bi­na­tion­s'

 

Earlier in the week we broadcast our 4th annual European Biopharma Summit with a great lineup of top execs. One of the one-on-one conversations I set up was with Susan Galbraith, the oncology research chief at AstraZeneca. In a wide-ranging discussion, Galbraith reviewed the cancer drug pipeline and key trends influencing development work at the pharma giant. You can watch the video, above, or stick with the script below. — JC

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Rob Califf (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Biden like­ly to nom­i­nate Ver­i­ly's Rob Califf to lead the FDA again

Capping a controversially long period for the FDA to go without a permanent leader, President Joe Biden is likely to select Verily’s Rob Califf, a former FDA commissioner under President Obama, as the next FDA commissioner nominee.

A former Duke cardiologist and member of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, Califf will be a welcome face for an agency grappling with high-profile retirements in CBER and CDER. He’ll also return to a role that he was comfortable in for a short stint at the end of Obama’s presidency. The Washington Post first reported the news.

FDA ad­comm votes unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of a J&J Covid-19 boost­er two months af­ter one-dose shot

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Friday voted 19-0 in favor of authorizing a second shot of J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine to follow at least two months after the initial dose.

Regulators don’t have to follow VRBPAC’s recommendation, but they almost always do. Considering that the CDC’s advisory committee has already been set to review the expanded EUA, VRBPAC’s recommendation is likely to be adopted.

Jacob Van Naarden, Senior VP, CEO of Loxo Oncology at Lilly; President, Lilly Oncology

Eli Lil­ly bags FDA nod for Verzenio in ear­ly breast can­cer, but a con­tro­ver­sial di­ag­nos­tic could dog its roll­out

As Eli Lilly works to consolidate its internal and Loxo teams into an oncology powerhouse, the drug giant is putting high hopes on CDK 4/6 inhibitor Verzenio to help drive the portfolio into the future. Now, the drug has scored a paradigm-altering win in early breast cancer — but will a controversial companion diagnostic hamstring Lilly’s market plans?

The FDA on Wednesday approved CDK 4/6 inhibitor Verzenio in combination with physician’s-choice endocrine therapy to cut the risk of relapse in patients with high-risk HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, Lilly said in a release.

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