The Cleveland Clinic's annual list of the most promising medical innovations reads a bit like a biopharma yearbook, name-checking a slew of potential blockbuster treatments and affirming the potential of some of the biggest targets in drug development.
Chris Liang had already forged a compelling profile in drug development when the newly formed Scripps Florida recruited him as head of chemistry back in 2004. Liang, who emigrated from China in 1984 to attend grad school at Princeton, had worked on Sutent early on in his career. He went on to found the first Scripps Florida spinout--Xcovery--with Genzyme founder Sheridan Snyder. And today, Liang put out the word that Xcovery has inked its first big deal for the little biotech with a virtual staff.
Xencor has reacquired the rights to an Amgen-optioned antibody, walking away from the Big Biotech and an arthritis indication with hopes of a new path in rare disease.
Chris Viehbacher took the helm of Sanofi with one clear message about the future: R&D at the Big Pharma had to undergo a radical restructuring. The lost decade in drug development following 2000 proved that Sanofi and others had to mend their ways, he said, forcing the company to reach outside the organization for innovation and shed the dead wood that had accumulated in its research ops.
Aileron Therapeutics has gone back to the well of investor cash and drawn up another $18 million in fresh support for its soon-to-launch, early-stage study of a p53 targeting cancer therapy.
Cara Therapeutics is touting positive data from a trial in which its in-development treatment proved significantly less abuse-friendly than a commonly used opiate, results the company believes could make the drug a standout on the market.
J&J is officially cutting the ribbon on its new partnering office in Shanghai, completing the pharma giant's global plan to hit the ground running in all the world's top biotech hot spots. It's taking the wraps off of a lineup of new discovery deals with universities in the region. And it's spreading out feelers for more deals through satellite offices in Australia, Singapore and Japan.
Chimerix has outlined plans for a small Phase II study of its powerful antiviral brincidofovir as a counterpunch to Ebola.
Daiichi Sankyo's campaign to win approval for its atrial fibrillation drug edoxaban gained some support from regulators at the FDA who were clearly won over by the efficacy data in the NDA. But the internal review of the drug also includes recommendations for limiting its use to patients with abnormal kidney function. And they include a few cautionary notes on the competing drugs that have already made it to the market.
Advent Life Sciences is joining the parade of new biotech funds debuting this year. Based in London with an investment strategy that reaches into Europe and the U.S., Advent's second dedicated life sciences fund has come up with $235 million to invest in about 15 early- to midstage companies in the next few years.
Biopharma giants Amgen, Sanofi and Ono have joined a group of international academics to flesh out a promising but underexplored field of drug development, planning to share their discoveries with the public in hopes of galvanizing global R&D.
Amgen has concluded that its original plan to cut 12% to 15% of its global staff wasn't nearly as ambitious as it should have been. The big biotech put out the word today that it is now planning to chop 20% of its employee roster--a move that will shave up to 1,100 more jobs on top of the 2,900 layoffs already in the works.
Novartis' pharma chief has hailed the company's forthcoming heart failure treatment as "the most exciting launch the company has ever had," and now the drugmaker's CEO has declared a "multi-blockbuster" in the making, joining a chorus of analysts who expect billions in annual sales from LCZ696.
San Diego-based Receptos is on a roll. After the markets closed on Monday, the biotech spread the word that its mid-stage trial for lead drug RCP1063 hit its primary endpoint for spurring remissions and clinical responses among patients suffering from ulcerative colitis in the trial. And the results quickly spurred a 37% spike in its share price, which follows a similar surge when the same drug hit its marks in a mid-stage trial for multiple sclerosis back in the summer.
Late last year F-star spun out one of its early-stage drugs into a separate "asset-centric" company dubbed F-star Alpha. A group of venture players including Atlas and SR One chipped in $12 million to fund the clinical plans for the HER2-targeting antibody fragment FS102. And now Bristol-Myers Squibb has come along and seized the prize, nabbing a buyout option on the spinout as well as worldwide rights for an upfront and near-term milestone payment of $50 million in a deal that is worth up to $475 million.
Watertown, MA's Syros Pharmaceuticals has banked a massive $53 million Series B to support its innovative approach to treating cancer, targeting the genetic switches responsible for tumor growth.
INC Research has spelled out its IPO plans, looking to raise $150 million through the sale of 8.1 million shares at $17 to $20 a share.
Procter & Gamble spinoff Akebia Therapeutics rolled out a batch of promising Phase IIb efficacy data for its experimental anemia drug today, but investors who came in early this year to back the biotech's IPO in the belief that it holds the key to a potential blockbuster were dinged with signs of safety issues.
Pfizer had hung on to high hopes for the drug Remoxy long after the tamper-resistant pain therapy endured its second rejection at the hands of the FDA in 2011. It even officially re-upped for the late-stage comeback try last fall, committing to see it through a third try. But today Pain Therapeutics says that the pharma giant has finally thrown in the towel, handing back rights to the long-delayed treatment and washing its hands of any further development work.
Following a meeting with regulators in September, Sarepta spelled out a new set of data that the FDA is looking for in the application for its closely watched Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen, and the biotech says it will have to delay filing--another dramatic turning point for the company this year, which saw its shares plunge 30% on the news this morning.