EuroBiotech Report—COVID-19 vaccine, Ipsen cans trial, AstraZeneca, Boehringer and Roche

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Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. We start this week with the U.K. government's response to COVID-19. With a University of Oxford group hoping to get a vaccine into the clinic next month, the government has committed cash to the project and a related effort to scale up production. Elsewhere, Ipsen terminated a study of rare disease drug palovarotene in response to an ongoing partial clinical hold. AstraZeneca teamed up with Silence Therapeutics to develop siRNA therapies. Boehringer Ingelheim dropped a Zealand Pharma diabetes prospect. Roche struck an antibiotic R&D pact. And more. — Nick Taylor
1. U.K. gov backs push to start COVID-19 vaccine trial in April

The U.K. government has backed a University of Oxford effort to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. Officials handed out the cash to help Sarah Gilbert’s team deliver on its plans to get a vaccine against the novel coronavirus into clinical testing next month.
2. Ipsen scraps pivotal trial as partial clinical hold drags on
Ipsen has terminated a pivotal trial of its troubled rare disease drug palovarotene in response to the ongoing clinical hold. The action likely deprives Ipsen of a shot at generating data to bring a drug it bought in a $1.3 billion (€1.2 billion) deal to market in a blockbuster indication.

3. AstraZeneca pays Silence $60M to take siRNA beyond the liver

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AstraZeneca is set to pay Silence Therapeutics $60 million (€55 million) to work on siRNA therapies against cardiovascular, renal, metabolic and respiratory disease targets. The upfront cash fee is part of a suite of payments that could see Silence reel in billions of dollars through the deal. 
4. Boehringer kicks back unwanted Amylin analog drug work to Zealand Pharma

German pharma Boehringer Ingelheim has decided it will no longer work on Zealand Pharma’s experimental diabetes therapy, leaving the biotech to think about next steps for the program.
5. Roche forges antibiotics pact as it sees beyond COVID-19 threats to public health

Swiss major Roche, already ramping up tests for the COVID-19 pandemic, isn’t taking its eye off of the infectious disease ball. Today, it’s penned a deal worth up to $190.5 million with Forge Therapeutics to work on a new drug to treat not viruses, but bacteria.
And more articles of note>>   

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