With high ex­pec­ta­tions on Provenge, Den­dreon is 'sol­d' (again) in $832M deal

Den­dreon — and its fad­ed can­cer star Provenge — is chang­ing hands for the sec­ond time in less than two years.

Their new own­er is Nan­jing Xin­bai, a de­part­ment store con­glom­er­ate that’s been beef­ing up its phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal busi­ness, which first pro­posed to snap up the prostate can­cer cell ther­a­py last No­vem­ber.

Jim Caggiano

The deal is val­ued at $872 mil­lion (CNY 59,680,000,000), though no cash is in­volved. San­pow­er Group, which cur­rent­ly owns Den­dreon through a Hong Kong-based sub­sidiary called Shid­ing Sheng­wu Biotech­nol­o­gy, is al­so a con­trol­ling stock­hold­er of Xin­bai. Mov­ing Den­dreon in­to pub­licly trad­ed Xin­bai “has been San­pow­er’s long-term plan since ac­quir­ing Den­dreon in 2017,” Den­dreon CEO Jim Caggiano wrote via email.

In ex­change for pass­ing off Shid­ing, San­pow­er’s get­ting 180 mil­lion more of Xin­bai’s shares, boost­ing its hold­ing from 33.1% to 42.43%.

These are ex­pen­sive shares. San­pow­er is ef­fec­tive­ly bet­ting $511 mil­lion on Den­dreon’s fu­ture earn­ing po­ten­tial by pay­ing a 60% pre­mi­um over Xin­bai’s cur­rent stock price. And that’s af­ter pay­ing $820 mil­lion in cash to nab the com­pa­ny from Valeant in the first place.

“San­pow­er sac­ri­ficed CNY3.5 bil­lion of its own in­ter­est to in­fuse Den­dreon in­to Nan­jing Xin­bai as promised,” Guikan Hua, San­pow­er vice pres­i­dent and spokesper­son, told The Pa­per, “show­ing the stock­er­hold­ers’ full sup­port and op­ti­mism to­ward Nan­jing Xin­bai.”

That lev­el of con­fi­dence would fit with the im­pres­sion I got from Caggiano, who told me late last year — be­fore Xin­bai would an­nounce its in­ten­tions to buy the com­pa­ny — that San­pow­er “has proven to be a great part­ner” who’s very hands off in the US while lead­ing the charge to bring Provenge to Hong Kong and main­land Chi­na.

Ac­cord­ing to him, there will be no changes to struc­ture, strat­e­gy or per­son­nel at the com­pa­ny af­ter the change of own­er­ship.

Cur­rent­ly ap­proved in the US, Provenge is an au­tol­o­gous cell ther­a­py that re­quires a quick turn­around in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. With help from San­pow­er, Seal Beach, CA-based Den­dreon has pur­chased an im­munother­a­py man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Hong Kong with goals of fil­ing an NDA in the re­gion soon.

Daphne Koller, Getty

Bris­tol My­er­s' Richard Har­g­reaves pays $70M to launch a neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion al­liance with a star play­er in the ma­chine learn­ing world

Bristol Myers Squibb is turning to one of the star upstarts in the machine learning world to go back to the drawing board and come up with the disease models needed to find drugs that can work against two of the toughest targets in the neuro world.

Daphne Koller’s well-funded insitro is getting $70 million in cash and near-term milestones to use their machine learning platform to create induced pluripotent stem cell-derived disease models for ALS and frontotemporal dementia.

Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks at the Rose Garden, May 26, 2020 (Evan Vucci/AP Images)

Eli Lil­ly lines up a block­buster deal for Covid-19 an­ti­body, right af­ter it failed a NI­AID tri­al

Two days after Eli Lilly conceded that its antibody bamlanivimab was a flop in hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the US government is preparing to make it a blockbuster.

The pharma giant reported early Wednesday that it struck a deal to supply the feds with 300,000 vials of the drug at a cost of $375 million — once it gets an EUA stamp from the FDA. And once that 2-month supply deal is done, the government has an option on another 650,000 doses on the same terms — which could potentially add another $812 million.

Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks (Evan Vucci/AP Images)

A P val­ue of 0.38? NE­JM re­sults raise new ques­tions for Eli Lil­ly's vaunt­ed Covid an­ti­body

Generally, a P value of 0.38 means your drug failed and by a fair margin. Depending on the company, the compound and the trial, it might mean the end of the program. It could trigger layoffs.

For Eli Lilly, though, it was part of the key endpoint on a trial that landed them a $1.2 billion deal with the US government to supply up to nearly 1 million Covid-19 antibodies.

So what does one make of that? Was the endpoint not so important, as Lilly maintains? Or did the US government promise a princely sum for a pedestrian drug?

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Ar­cus and As­traZeneca part­ner on a high stakes an­ti-TIG­IT/PD-L1 PhI­II can­cer study, look­ing to im­prove on a stan­dard of care

For AstraZeneca, the PACIFIC trial in Stage III non-small cell lung cancer remains one of the big triumphs for AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D group. It not only made their PD-L1 Imfinzi a franchise player with a solid advance in a large niche of the lung cancer market, the study — which continues to offer data on the long-range efficacy of their drug — also helped salve the vicious sting of the failure of the CTLA-4 combo in the MYSTIC study.

No­var­tis buys a new gene ther­a­py for vi­sion loss, and this is one pre­clin­i­cal ven­ture that did­n't come cheap

Cyrus Mozayeni got excited when he began to explore the academic work of Ehud Isacoff and John G. Flannery at UC Berkeley.

Together, they were engaged in finding a gene therapy approach to pan-genotypic vision restoration in patients with photoreceptor-based blindness, potentially restoring the vision of a broad group of patients. And they did it by using a vector to deliver the genetic sequence for light sensing proteins.

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Jude Samulski, Marianne De Backer

Bay­er buys a biotech ‘race horse’ with a $4B deal — $2B in cash — aimed at go­ing big in­to gene ther­a­py

In the latest sign that Big Pharma wants a leading place in the push to develop a new generation of cell and gene therapies, Bayer is stepping up today with a $2 billion cash deal to buy out one of the fast-moving pioneers in the field, while adding up to $2 billion more in milestones if the new pharma subsidiary can deliver the goods.

As part of a continuing series of deals engineered by Bayer BD chief Marianne De Backer, the pharma player has snapped up Asklepios, more commonly referred to in more casual fashion as AskBio. And they are paying top dollar for a Research Triangle Park-based company that raised $225 million a little more than a year ago to back the brainchild of Jude Samulski, the gene therapy pioneer out of the University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center.

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Sanofi teams up with Mer­ck to pair Keytru­da with a next-gen IL-2 can­di­date from the Syn­thorx buy­out

Nearly a year after snapping up a next-gen immuno-oncology candidate in its $2.5 billion Synthorx buyout, Sanofi is joining forces with Merck to pair the drug with blockbuster Keytruda.

The pharmas are planning a Phase II trial of Sanofi’s non-alpha IL-2 candidate THOR-707 in combination or sequenced administration with Keytruda for various cancers. While the companies are keeping mum about the financial terms and targets, they said the trials will be Sanofi-sponsored.

Noubar Afeyan, Flagship founder and CEO (Victor Boyko/Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Flag­ship launch­es Sen­da Bio­sciences with $88M in back­ing, look­ing to pi­o­neer the field of 'In­ter­sys­tems Bi­ol­o­gy'

Flagship Pioneering has a fresh company out this week, one that aims to lay the groundwork for a whole new discipline.

Senda Biosciences launched Wednesday with $88 million in Flagship cash. The goal? Gain insights into the molecular connections between people and coevolved nonhuman species like plants and bacteria, paving the way for “Intersystems Biology.”

Guillaume Pfefer has been tapped to run the show, a 25-year biotech veteran who comes from GSK after leading the development of the company’s shingles vaccine.

No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan signs off on a $231M deal to try some­thing new in the R&D fight against SARS-CoV-2

Patrick Amstutz was baptized by pandemic fire early on.

He and colleagues attended the notorious Cowen conference in early March that included some of the top Biogen execs who helped trigger a superspreader event in Boston. Heading back to his post as CEO of Molecular Partners in Switzerland, the outbreak was sweeping through Italy, triggering near panic in some quarters and creeping into the voices of people he knew, including one friend on the Italian side of the country.

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