UCB sketch­es grand plans for new head­quar­ters as it grabs Eli Lil­ly's aban­doned neu­ro R&D cam­pus

Bel­gium’s UCB is set to in­vest more than £1 bil­lion ($1.29 bil­lion) in the UK over the next five years — start­ing with a brand new head­quar­ters built on a cam­pus it’s ac­quir­ing from Eli Lil­ly.

The com­pa­ny has “state-of-the-art re­fur­bish­ment” planned for the 47-acre fa­cil­i­ty in Windle­sham, Sur­rey, be­fore it re­lo­cates from the cur­rent UK home in Slough, Berk­shire. For an idea of its scale, UCB boast­ed that its new cam­pus used to be Lil­ly’s sec­ond-largest re­search site world­wide.

Lil­ly had an­nounced last year that it was shut­ter­ing the out­post, which had been hous­ing a neu­ro­science R&D unit, as it con­sol­i­dat­ed re­search back in­to Cam­bridge, MA. As a re­sult, the phar­ma gi­ant axed 80 jobs and moved the re­main­ing 270 or so em­ploy­ees to a near­by site.

For UCB, it will now nur­ture new pro­grams in gene ther­a­py on top of its lega­cy an­ti­body dis­cov­ery work and oth­ers.

Jean-Christophe Tel­li­er

Sit­u­at­ed on the out­skirts of Lon­don — in fact, just 30 min­utes from its old cam­pus — the new UK hub will al­low sci­en­tists to con­tin­ue col­lab­o­rat­ing with uni­ver­si­ties, biotechs and med­ical re­search char­i­ties, UCB chief Jean-Christophe Tel­li­er not­ed.

“We have a strong track record of dis­cov­er­ing med­i­cines in the UK which go on to make a dif­fer­ence to the lives of pa­tients world­wide,” he said in a state­ment.

The CEO has been bring­ing in new as­sets in neu­rol­o­gy and rare dis­eases to com­ple­ment a pipeline large­ly dom­i­nat­ed by im­munol­o­gy, first bag­ging Ra Phar­ma and its C5 in­hibitor for myas­the­nia gravis in a $2.1 bil­lion buy­out and then pick­ing up En­gage Ther­a­peu­tics for $125 mil­lion up­front.

Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

J&J’s Rem­i­cade — the poster child for how to block biosim­i­lars — fi­nal­ly set­tles Pfiz­er suit

Biosimilars have proven time and again (although mostly in Europe) that competition works to bring down the cost of a once-pricey biologic, and can even expand its use.

J&J’s Remicade, however, has always proven to be an outlier.

Back in 2016, Pfizer won FDA approval for its infliximab biosimilar, known as Inflectra, but when the launch foundered, the company sued J&J, claiming that the company’s plan to block biosimilar competition worked incredibly well. Pfizer even went on to win FDA approval for a second infliximab biosimilar in 2017, known as Ixifi, but decided to never launch it.

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The clock is tick­ing for Iterum af­ter FDA hands down CRL for Pfiz­er castoff an­tibi­ot­ic

Iterum knew its odds were slim as it awaited an FDA ruling on a key urinary tract infection drug with its bank account running low. The FDA, however, wasn’t impressed, and Iterum’s days look numbered.

The FDA has sent the tiny biotech a complete response letter for the antibiotic sulopenem, shutting down hopes at getting the oral medication across the finish line, the drugmaker revealed Monday.

An­oth­er one bites the dust: Bris­tol My­ers Squibb pulls 'dan­gling' ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval for Op­di­vo in liv­er can­cer

Bristol Myers Squibb has agreed to pull a second-line liver cancer indication for its blockbuster Opdivo as a monotherapy, becoming the second PD-(L)1 indication to bite the dust after the FDA’s oncology adcomm reviewed six “dangling” accelerated approvals in April.

The outside experts voted against two of the six indications discussed at the meeting, including Opdivo as a monotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients who have previously been treated with sorafenib, and Merck’s Keytruda as a third-line treatment for stomach cancer. The adcomm voted 5 to 4 not to maintain Opdivo’s indication, after it failed to show clinical benefit in a confirmatory trial.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO (Raphael Lafargue/Abaca/Sipa via AP Images)

Covid-19 roundup: Fau­ci warns that US is head­ed in wrong di­rec­tion, rec­om­mends boost­er; As­traZeneca-Pfiz­er com­bo proves ef­fec­tive in South Ko­rea

A combination of unvaccinated Americans and the Delta variant has led a frustrated NIAID director Anthony Fauci to say the US is headed in the wrong direction, he said on CNN’s show “State of the Union.”

Booster shots may be required for those with suppressed immune systems and public health officials are considering a mask recommendation for those who are already vaccinated, the Associated Press reported. More than 163 million people are vaccinated, but that number is less than half of the US population. And 57% of those who are eligible for the vaccine have been inoculated.

Seth Lederman, Tonix Pharmaceuticals CEO

Small, strug­gling biotech winds up with a 3X los­er as an­oth­er PhI­II of its lead drug col­laps­es

Little Tonix Pharmaceuticals has run into another brick wall as its lead drug — a reformulated muscle relaxant originally approved 44 years ago — has failed another Phase III study, sending shares back into penny stock territory.

Three years after going down in their first Phase III trial of TNX-102 SL (cyclobenzaprine HCl sublingual tablets) for symptoms of PTSD, the biotech — which had been encouraged by a breakthrough designation at the FDA — reported late Friday the drug also failed its second late-stage challenge for pain associated with fibromyalgia. Outside data monitors recommended the Phase III trial be halted for futility after deciding interim data made it unlikely the drug would pass muster.

In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

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If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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