Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Our top two stories this week concern the rise and fall of solid tumor drugs. AstraZeneca is behind the fall, dropping an Amgen-partnered bispecific T-cell engager from its pipeline. Celgene and Evotec are responsible for the rise. The big biotech is paying $65 million to access a source of solid tumor drugs from Evotec. Elsewhere, Novo Nordisk licensed a kidney disease drug from Epigen. Lava Therapeutics raised money to advance bispecific engagers of gamma-delta T cells. Allergy Therapeutics brought its grass pollen prospect through phase 2, teeing up a pivotal trial. And more.—Nick Taylor
AstraZeneca has dropped Amgen-partnered bispecific T-cell engager MEDI-565 from its clinical-phase pipeline. The CEA-CD3 candidate was pitched as a treatment for colorectal cancer but looks to have come unstuck in early-phase trials.
Celgene is paying $65 million upfront to secure an option on cancer drugs discovered by Evotec. The strategic partnership tasks Evotec with applying its R&D toolkit to the discovery of solid tumor drugs that Celgene will then pick up and advance.
3. Novo Nordisk licenses kidney disease drug from Epigen
Novo Nordisk has picked up the worldwide rights to a kidney disease drug in development at Epigen. The agreement gives Novo control of orally-available LPA1 receptor antagonist EPGN696 in exchange for up to $200 million in upfront and milestone payments.
Gilde Healthcare and Versant Ventures have driven Lava Therapeutics to a €16 million ($18.8 million) financing. The round equips Lava to advance bispecific engagers of gamma-delta (γδ) T cells, a small subgroup of lymphocytes involved in natural and induced immunity to cancer.
A phase 2 trial of Allergy Therapeutics’ grass pollen candidate met its primary endpoint of showing a dose-response relationship. With the trial also establishing a recommended dose of the short-course subcutaneous allergen-specific immunotherapy, Allergy is set to move into phase 3 next year.