Vir­tu­al biotech star Mark de Souza signs up to help lead the team on a new co launch; Take­da part­ners with RNA biotech Arc­turus on NASH

Ervin Ep­stein, Pelle­Pharm. Cred­it: chori.org.

Mark de Souza took Lo­tus Tis­sue Re­pair from start­up to Shire buy­out as its sole staffer, the ul­ti­mate in vir­tu­al biotech com­pa­nies. But now he’s work­ing with a team to launch Pelle­Pharm, which will be based in Men­lo Park, CA as it fo­cus­es on a pair of Phase II stud­ies for patideg­ib, a top­i­cal hedge­hog in­hibitor de­signed to treat basal cell car­ci­no­mas, in­clud­ing those in Gor­lin Syn­drome. Bridge­Bio Phar­ma is putting up the cash, which was not spec­i­fied. Mark de Souza is the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the team. “It made sense that a po­tent in­hibitor of the hedge­hog path­way should pro­vide a ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fit for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from Gor­lin Syn­drome, but we need­ed an ap­proach that would al­low us to tar­get the dis­ease at its source with­out elic­it­ing harm­ful tox­i­c­i­ty re­ac­tions,” said Ervin Ep­stein, MD, co-founder of Pelle­Pharm. “We are hope­ful that patideg­ib will pro­vide the bal­ance of tar­get­ed treat­ment with­out the ad­verse events as­so­ci­at­ed with oral for­mu­la­tions.”

Take­da has ex­tend­ed its deal fren­zy to in­clude an RNA de­vel­op­ment pact with San Diego-based Arc­turus Ther­a­peu­tics, fo­cus­ing in on the trendy NASH tar­get and re­lat­ed GI ail­ments.

South Ko­rea’s Eu­ti­lex has wrapped a $21 bil­lion KRW (US $18.9M) Se­ries A fi­nanc­ing.

North­west BIO is giv­ing up on Nas­daq, or the oth­er way around, de­pend­ing on how you look at it. Suf­fice it to say that the trou­bled biotech is pulling out of Nas­daq and will take to the OTC mar­ket, where pen­ny stocks go to floun­der. It’s un­like­ly that in­flu­en­tial UK in­vestor Neil Wood­ford had this out­come in mind when he in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in North­west, which has a can­cer vac­cine in the pipeline. North­west’s shares cratered again, drop­ping 30% to a mere 37 cents on Thurs­day morn­ing.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Den­mark's Gubra to col­lab­o­rate with Bay­er on pep­tides; Sam­sung and Bio­gen re­ceive FDA ap­proval for Lu­cen­tis biosim­i­lar

Danish biotech Gubra announced a research collaboration and license agreement with Bayer to develop peptide therapeutics to treat cardiorenal diseases. The collaboration will utilize Gubra’s peptide drug discovery platform to identify potential candidates.

This is not the first time Gubra has partnered with a company on peptide therapeutics — they partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim back in 2017 to create peptide therapeutics to treat obesity.

Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.

Ex­elix­is pulls a sur­prise win in thy­roid can­cer just days ahead of fi­nal Cabome­tyx read­out

Exelixis added a thyroid cancer indication to its super-seller Cabometyx’s label on Friday — months before the FDA was expected to make a decision, and days before the company was set to unveil the final data at #ESMO21.

At a median follow-up of 10.1 months, differentiated thyroid cancer patients treated with Cabometyx (cabozantinib) lived a median of 11 months without their disease worsening, compared to just 1.9 months for patients given a placebo, Exelixis said on Monday.