Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller. Imperial College London

Well­come Trust joins warn­ing for no-deal Brex­it, calls on Boris John­son to cast R&D vi­sion

Boris John­son may have pledged to con­tin­ue build­ing on Britain’s “enor­mous strengths” in life sci­ence as he blazes a path to­ward Brex­it, but one of the coun­try’s top fun­ders of bio­med­ical re­search is de­mand­ing more.

In a let­ter to the UK’s new Prime Min­is­ter, Well­come Trust warned that “the fi­nal months of 2019 could be a tip­ping point for UK sci­ence” and leav­ing the EU with­out a deal is a threat to the thriv­ing sec­tor. La­dy Eliza Man­ning­ham-Buller, who chairs the char­i­ty, urged John­son to make a sig­nif­i­cant state­ment on sci­ence to lay out his vi­sion in the face of glob­al health emer­gen­cies and the loom­ing loss of ac­cess to col­lab­o­ra­tion with Eu­ro­pean peers.

But David Grainger of Medicxi, a Lon­don-based VC firm known for its as­set-cen­tric plays around Eu­rope, dis­missed Well­come Trust’s let­ter as “more scare­mon­ger­ing” and as­sert­ed “UK as a place to do sci­ence will be un­af­fect­ed” by Brex­it.

One of John­son’s key promis­es to the par­ty mem­bers who elect­ed him was that he will ex­e­cute the UK’s de­par­ture from the EU by Oc­to­ber 31, come what may.

The con­cerns are hard­ly new. While John­son was still vy­ing for the lead­er­ship role against fel­low Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty MP Je­re­my Hunt, re­searcher or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing Can­cer Re­search UK have sound­ed sim­i­lar alarms. The un­cer­tain­ty around the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship be­tween the UK and oth­er coun­tries in Eu­rope has al­ready jeop­ar­dized re­searchers’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in con­ti­nen­tal re­search pacts, they said.

Man­ning­ham-Buller echoes that “some dam­age has al­ready been done, with loss of re­searchers, and in­flu­ence.” And like Pamela Kearns of CRUK, she raised con­cerns about se­cur­ing mem­ber­ship in Hori­zon Eu­rope, a €100 bil­lion (£89.9 bil­lion) fund­ing pro­gram that fea­tures can­cer as one of its key mis­sions.

“While sci­ence pro­motes glob­al col­lab­o­ra­tion, the bar­ri­ers to suc­cess need to be min­i­mized, in­clud­ing with Eu­rope where our clos­est and most ex­ten­sive sci­ence re­la­tion­ships are,” the let­ter read. “That means ne­go­ti­at­ing as­so­ci­at­ed coun­try sta­tus in the EU’s ‘Hori­zon Eu­rope’ re­search pro­gramme, even if we in­tend to cre­ate our own sys­tems in the years ahead.”

It is up to John­son’s gov­ern­ment to seize the op­por­tu­ni­ty and “spend the sort of mon­ey our com­peti­tors are do­ing” — such as Ger­many — Man­ning­ham-Buller told the BBC.

“The key to this will be to en­sure that in­creased pub­lic in­vest­ment leads to an even greater pri­vate sec­tor con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the de­vel­op­ment and use of new tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing through pa­tient cap­i­tal,” she wrote in her let­ter.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

Endpoints Premium

Premium subscription required

Unlock this article along with other benefits by subscribing to one of our paid plans.

Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 83,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

David Meline (file photo)

Mod­er­na’s new CFO took a cut in salary to jump to the mR­NA rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But then there’s the rest of the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age

David Meline took a little off the top of his salary when he jumped from the CFO post at giant Amgen to become the numbers czar at the upstart vaccines revolutionary Moderna. But the SEC filing that goes with a major hire also illustrates how it puts him in line for a fortune — provided the biotech player makes good as a promising game changer.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the base salary: $600,000. Or the up-to 50% annual cash bonus — an industry standard — that comes with it. True, the 62-year-old earned $999,000 at Amgen in 2019, but it’s the stock options that really count in the current market bliss for all things biopharma. And there Meline did well.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 83,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 83,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 83,200+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.