Alan Sandler, Zai Lab president and head of global development, oncology (Roche via YouTube)

Un­fazed by OS flop, Zai Lab eyes im­mi­nent Chi­na fil­ing for Macro­Gen­ic­s' HER2 drug

Macro­Gen­ics’ an­ti-HER2 drug may have run in­to some trou­ble with its US da­ta, but in Chi­na, part­ners at Zai Lab are get­ting a clear go-ahead sig­nal.

The an­ti­body, mar­ge­tux­imab, aced a bridg­ing study among Chi­nese pa­tients with ad­vanced HER2 breast can­cer, with a haz­ard ra­tio for pro­gres­sion-free sur­vival of 0.69 fa­vor­ing the com­bi­na­tion of mar­ge­tux­imab plus chemother­a­py, sug­gest­ing con­sis­tent safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy as seen in the glob­al pop­u­la­tion. Zai Lab is now plot­ting a BLA sub­mis­sion by the end of the year — one year af­ter Macro­Gen­ics scored its first FDA ap­proval.

Clos­ing the gap so that Chi­nese pa­tients don’t fall be­hind those in the US and Eu­rope in ac­cess­ing cut­ting-edge drugs has been a key part of Zai Lab’s mis­sion.

“The suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of our bridg­ing study fur­ther demon­strates Zai Lab’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties to pro­duce clin­i­cal da­ta of glob­al qual­i­ty to sup­port reg­u­la­to­ry ap­proval in Chi­na in col­lab­o­ra­tion with our part­ners,” said Alan San­dler, pres­i­dent and head of glob­al de­vel­op­ment, on­col­o­gy.

De­signed to share the same HER2 speci­fici­ty with Roche’s block­buster Her­ceptin, mar­ge­tux­imab, how­ev­er, boasts an en­gi­neered Fc re­gion that Macro­Gen­ics said can in­crease im­mune ac­ti­va­tion.

The SOPHIA tri­al, which had ce­ment­ed its en­try in­to the US mar­ket as Mar­gen­za, showed a 24% re­duc­tion in risk of dis­ease pro­gres­sion or death over Her­ceptin (p=0.033), with a me­di­an PFS of 5.8 months for mar­ge­tux­imab.

But the lat­est da­ta cut out of that Phase III tri­al has mud­dled the rosy pic­ture. Not on­ly did Mar­gen­za fail to hit its pri­ma­ry OS end­point but it ac­tu­al­ly un­der­per­formed Her­ceptin in a third-line pop­u­la­tion. Mar­gen­za plus chemo post­ed a me­di­an OS of 21.6 months com­pared with a me­di­an OS of 21.9 months for pa­tients in the Her­ceptin-chemo arm.

It’s un­clear whether or how those re­sults would af­fect Zai Lab’s prospects or plans in Chi­na.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Geoffrey Porges, new Schrödinger CFO

Long­time an­a­lyst Ge­of­frey Porges de­parts SVB to lead fi­nances at a drug dis­cov­ery shop

Geoffrey Porges has ended his two-decade run as a biotech analyst, as the former SVB Securities vice chair began as CFO of Schrödinger on Thursday.

The long-running analyst, who previously headed up vaccines marketing at Merck before the turn of the millennium, will lead the financial operations of the 700-employee company as Schrödinger broadens its focus from a drug discovery partner to also building out an in-house pipeline, with clinical trial No. 1 set to begin next quarter.

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FDA ap­proves one of the prici­est new treat­ments of all time — blue­bird's gene ther­a­py for be­ta tha­lassemia

The FDA on Wednesday approved the first gene therapy for a chronic condition — bluebird bio’s new Zynteglo (beti-cel) as a potentially curative treatment for those with transfusion-dependent thalassemia.

The thumbs-up from the FDA follows a unanimous adcomm vote in June, with outside experts pointing to extraordinary efficacy, with 89% of subjects with TDT who received beti-cel having achieved transfusion independence.

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James Sabry, Roche global head of pharma partnering

Roche, Genen­tech plunk down $60M up­front to part­ner with Chi­nese phar­ma on PRO­TAC-based prostate can­cer drug

Roche and Genentech are always on the hunt for deals, and on Thursday they found their newest partner.

The pair will team up with the Chinese pharma company Jemincare to push forward a new program for prostate cancer, the companies announced. Roche is ponying up $60 million upfront to get its hands on the candidate and promising up to $590 million in biobucks, plus royalties, down the line.

In return, Genentech will get a worldwide license to develop the program, known as JMKX002992, and bring it to market.

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Kate Haviland, Blueprint Medicines CEO

Blue­print met all its end­points in bid for ex­pand­ed Ay­vak­it la­bel — but stock trends low­er any­way

Blueprint Medicines announced this morning that the second part of its study on Ayvakit in non-advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) — a rare disease in which a type of white blood cells known as mast cells builds up — met all endpoints, but the biopharma left key questions unanswered.

In 212 patients, with 141 in the treatment arm and 71 in the control arm, patients who got Ayvakit saw an average 15.6-point decrease in their symptom scores compared to a 9.2-point decrease in the placebo arm at 24 weeks. In an extension study, those on Ayvakit saw their symptom scores drop by 20.2 points by week 48.

Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia ter­mi­nates Bay­er pact half a year ear­ly, col­lect­ing small por­tion of €240M promised

Bayer and Exscientia are winding down their three-year collaboration, leaving the big German pharma to take the AI-designed compounds born out of the pact further.

London-based Exscientia revealed in its Q2 update that the partners have “mutually agreed to end” their collaboration, which kicked off in early 2020, after recently achieving a drug discovery milestone. In an SEC filing, Exscientia said it terminated the pact on May 30, about six months early.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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