Glax­o­SmithK­line R&D re­or­ga­ni­za­tion trig­gers lay­offs at Steve­nage -- and Up­per Prov­i­dence

GSK’s new R&D chief Hal Bar­ron has made no se­cret of the fact that he has a keen in­ter­est in re­fo­cus­ing the R&D group at the phar­ma gi­ant. And that’s start­ing to play out with some lay­offs in its big R&D cen­ter at GSK’s Steve­nage cam­pus as well as its sec­ond big hub near Philadel­phia.

The phar­ma gi­ant put out a state­ment ear­li­er to­day not­ing that a “small num­ber” of roles would be af­fect­ed by the lay­offs in Steve­nage. Their state­ment:

“We have iden­ti­fied where changes are nec­es­sary to en­sure we can ful­ly sup­port our evolv­ing pipeline pri­or­i­ties. We an­tic­i­pate a small num­ber of roles will be di­rect­ly im­pact­ed by these changes but con­tin­ue to ex­pect GSK’s R&D op­er­a­tions to grow over­all with in­creased in­vest­ment.”

In a fol­lowup ex­change, the me­dia team at Glax­o­SmithK­line con­firmed to me that the lay­offs ex­tend to Up­per Prov­i­dence in Penn­syl­va­nia, where GSK con­cen­trat­ed its sec­ond big cam­pus af­ter a re­struc­tur­ing hit op­er­a­tions in North Car­oli­na sev­er­al years ago.

GSK is abuzz about the cuts. Ac­cord­ing to some in­di­vid­u­als fa­mil­iar with the cut­backs, Bar­ron is ax­ing some 240 to 250 staffers in Up­per Prov­i­dence and Steve­nage. That in­cludes a heavy con­cen­tra­tion on chemists, in­clud­ing a few se­nior chemists in the group. Some ad­min­is­tra­tive staffers are al­so get­ting hit.

The R&D group is hir­ing, though, as the group con­tin­ues to shift fo­cus, and the com­pa­ny will like­ly end up at about the same head count in R&D as it had go­ing in­to the re­struc­tur­ing.

Hal Bar­ron

Bar­ron’s key in­ter­est right now is on­col­o­gy, a field where he built his in­ter­na­tion­al rep at Genen­tech. Un­der his guid­ance, GSK bought out Tesaro — fo­cused on PARP — and start­ed do­ing deals in the field, beef­ing up the ear­ly-stage work that was left at the com­pa­ny af­ter its big swap with No­var­tis a few years ago.

In­sid­ers will be look­ing to see if any of the lay­offs in­volve the res­pi­ra­to­ry re­search field, where GSK has been vis­i­bly back­ing away from.

GSK is a top-15 R&D group in the glob­al in­dus­try, but it’s al­ways per­formed with a care­ful eye on the bot­tom line and the part the R&D bud­get plays in that. As a re­sult, when the com­pa­ny ex­pands in one di­rec­tion, it con­tracts in an­oth­er.

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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Scoop: Boehringer qui­et­ly shut­ters a PhII for one of its top drugs — now un­der re­view

Boehringer Ingelheim has quietly shut down a small Phase II study for one of its lead drugs.

The private pharma player confirmed to Endpoints News that it had shuttered a study testing spesolimab as a therapy for Crohn’s patients suffering from bowel obstructions.

A spokesperson for the company tells Endpoints:

Taking into consideration the current therapeutic landscape and ongoing clinical development programs, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to discontinue our program in Crohn’s disease. It is important to note that this decision is not based on any safety findings in the clinical trials.

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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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Matt Gline, Roivant CEO (John Sciulli/Getty Images for GLG)

Roivant chops sick­le cell gene ther­a­py, der­ma­tol­ogy drugs to fo­cus on 'high­er val­ue pro­ject­s'

Roivant is sweeping a suite of drugs, including a gene therapy for sickle cell disease already in the clinic, out of its pipeline.

Six programs from four of its “vants” are being wound down as part of “a company-wide cost optimization and pipeline reprioritization initiative to reduce our expected operating expenses and prioritize our capital resources.”

When reached by Endpoints News, a spokesperson said, “We don’t anticipate a material reduction in headcount but we will likely reassign some folks to higher value projects as part of winding down specific programs.”

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Laurence Reid, Decibel CEO

Still in pre­clin­i­cal test­ing for ear gene ther­a­pies, Deci­bel touts small snap­shot of chemo-in­duced hear­ing loss drug

Though Decibel Therapeutics has largely pivoted toward gene therapies for the inner ear, its lead clinical candidate simply aims to protect cancer patients from chemotherapy-induced hearing loss. On Tuesday, the biotech presented its first efficacy data for the program, and execs like what they see.

Decibel reported interim results from a Phase Ib study showing the experimental drug, dubbed DB-020, largely protected a small group of patients from losing their hearing. Researchers used a particularly unique study design, administering the compound in one of each patients’ ears before they received cisplatin chemotherapy and placebo in the other.

Pearl Huang, Dunad Therapeutics CEO (Ken Richardson, PR Newswire)

Long­time biotech leader Pearl Huang takes the reins as CEO of No­var­tis-backed up­start

It has only been a few months since Pearl Huang exited the top seat at Cygnal Therapeutics, but now she’s back at the helm of another biotech.

After taking a few months off — passing an exam in that time to get her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard — she’s been named CEO of Dunad Therapeutics, a biotech focused on developing a small molecule covalent therapies that was founded in 2020. Huang told Endpoints News that two factors attracted her to going back to the c-suite: the company’s technology and its co-founders.

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Deborah Dunsire, Lundbeck CEO

Af­ter a 5-year re­peat PhI­II so­journ, Lund­beck and Ot­su­ka say they're fi­nal­ly ready to pur­sue OK to use Rex­ul­ti against Alzheimer's ag­i­ta­tion

Five years after Lundbeck and their longtime collaborators at Otsuka turned up a mixed set of Phase III data for Rexulti as a treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia-related agitation, they’ve come through with a new pivotal trial success they believe will finally put them on the road to an approval at the FDA. And if they’re right, some analysts believe they’re a short step away from adding more than $500 million in annual sales for the drug, already approved in depression and schizophrenia.

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Chris Anzalone, Arrowhead CEO

Take­da, Ar­row­head spot­light da­ta from small tri­al show­ing RNAi works in a rare liv­er con­di­tion

Almost two years after Takeda wagered $300 million cash to partner with Arrowhead on an RNAi therapy for a rare disease, the companies are spelling out Phase II data that they believe put them one step closer to their big dreams.

In a small, open label study involving only 16 patients who had liver disease associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), Arrowhead’s candidate — fazirsiran, previously ARO-AAT — spurred substantial reductions in accumulated mutant AAT protein in the liver, a hallmark of the condition. Investigators also tracked improvements in symptoms, with seven out of 12 who received the high, 200 mg dose seeing regression of liver fibrosis.

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Ben Zimmer, Priovant CEO

Roivant un­veils lat­est spin­out as Pfiz­er en­trusts JAK1/TYK2 to Pri­o­vant

In November, Pfizer disclosed it’s spun out the Phase II dual JAK1/TYK2 inhibitor to a startup formed in collaboration with an unnamed, experienced partner.

We now know who the partner is. And as Pfizer and Roivant officially take the wraps off Priovant Therapeutics, the companies reveal that they have started two registrational trials of the drug, brepocitinib, as part of a broader plan to develop a big, first-in-class franchise spanning multiple orphan and specialty autoimmune diseases.