Tower Bridge in London [Shutterstock]

#UK­BIO19: Join GSK’s Hal Bar­ron and a group of top biotech ex­ecs for our 2nd an­nu­al biotech sum­mit in Lon­don

John Car­roll

Over the past 10 years I’ve made a point of get­ting to know the Gold­en Tri­an­gle and the spe­cial role the UK bio­phar­ma in­dus­try plays there in drug de­vel­op­ment. The con­cen­tra­tion of world class re­search in­sti­tutes, some of the most ac­com­plished sci­en­tists I’ve ever seen at work and a ris­ing tide of glob­al in­vest­ment cash leaves an im­pres­sion that there’s much, much more to come as biotech hubs are birthed and nur­tured.

Of course, the in­dus­try al­so has to sur­vive Brex­it, trop­i­cal storm Wood­ford and the lat­est prat­falls with in­vestors to ac­tu­al­ly reach the gold­en shores. Why does such a great place have so many self-in­flict­ed wounds to over­come?

These are all meaty sub­jects for us to ex­plore as we host our sec­ond an­nu­al UK biotech sum­mit on Oc­to­ber 8, with SVB spon­sor­ing the event at The Roy­al Col­lege of Physi­cians. SVB’s Nooman Haque has been an in­stru­men­tal or­ga­niz­er and will be co-host­ing the sum­mit.

Hal Bar­ron

GSK re­search chief Hal Bar­ron will be on hand for a one-on-one with me cov­er­ing the new GSK R&D group, when we can dis­cuss the chang­ing cul­ture of the glob­al op­er­a­tions — with a ma­jor role for their cam­pus in Steve­nage. Bar­ron has been steer­ing a group of late-stage pro­grams that GSK has been spot­light­ing as ev­i­dence of bet­ter things to come, along with a longterm con­cen­tra­tion on ge­net­ics and im­munol­o­gy. The phar­ma gi­ant’s R&D group em­ploys some 11,500 staffers, and get­ting this one right af­ter years of side­ways drift is im­por­tant for the com­pa­ny and the UK.

Bahi­ja Jal­lal

This is a half-day event, with pan­el dis­cus­sions on the chang­ing de­signs of can­cer drug stud­ies — a sub­ject that is in­flu­enc­ing every­one in drug de­vel­op­ment — as well as the new world of fi­nanc­ing biotechs, with in­put from Arie Bellde­grun (Vi­da Ven­tures and Al­lo­gene), Mar­tin Mur­phy (Syn­cona), Denise Scots-Knight (Mereo) and Sascha Buch­er (Roivant). SVB life sci­ences ex­ec Nooman Haque will be lead­ing that dis­cus­sion.

The pan­el on tri­al de­signs in­cludes Bahi­ja Jal­lal at Im­muno­core, Pe­ter John­son from CRUK, Chris­t­ian Itin from Au­to­lus and Malte Pe­ters at Mor­phoSys. That one is mine.

You can get tick­ets at this link, along with more de­tails of what we’re plan­ning.

I hope to see you there. Drop me a line if you have any ques­tions.

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In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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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.

Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

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According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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Busi­ness­es and schools can man­date the use of Covid-19 vac­cines un­der EUAs, DOJ says

As public and private companies stare down the reality of the Delta variant, many are now requiring that their employees or students be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to attending school or to returning or starting a new job. Claims that such mandates are illegal or cannot be used for vaccines under emergency use authorizations have now been dismissed.

Setting the record straight, the Department of Justice on Monday called the mandates legal in a new memo, even when used for people with vaccines that remain subject to EUAs.

Ugur Sahin, BioNTech CEO (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP Images)

BioN­Tech is spear­head­ing an mR­NA vac­cine de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for malar­ia, with a tech trans­fer planned for Africa

Flush with the success of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech is now gearing up for one of the biggest challenges in vaccine development — which comes without potential profit.

The German mRNA pioneer says it plans to work on a jab for malaria, then transfer the tech to the African continent, where it will work with partners on developing the manufacturing ops needed to make this and other vaccines.

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

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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Frank Pallone (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP Images)

House com­mit­tee seeks more from FDA on in­spec­tion back­log, when to restart work on for­eign sites

House Energy & Commerce committee leaders are raising fresh questions about the FDA’s ability to conduct foreign manufacturing site inspections and bring down its growing backlog.

“While we understand that the emergence of COVID-19 required the agency to suspend in-person inspection activities temporarily, we remain concerned that more than one year into the pandemic, the strategy for resuming all inspections and addressing the backlog of delayed inspections remains unclear,” E&C chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and a group of five other bipartisan leaders of the committee wrote to FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock.