EuroBiotech Report—Lilly-Topas, AstraZeneca-Ethris, GSK-BenevolentAI, Roche priority review and Medivir-Ascletis


Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. We start this week with two platform-validating deals for European biotechs. Evotec spinout Topas Therapeutics landed a deal with Eli Lilly on the strength of its immune tolerance platform. Ethris started harvesting the fruits of its research into pulmonary delivery of mRNA by pulling in a €25 million upfront fee from AstraZeneca. BenevolentAI went to Big Pharma looking not for money but for staff—and emerged from the hiring drive with an ex-GlaxoSmithKline research executive. Roche bagged priority review status for its hemophilia A drug. Medivir continued its retreat from hepatitis C, and more.—Nick Taylor

1. Lilly pens deal for Evotec spinout’s immune tolerance drugs

Eli Lilly has secured an option on immune tolerance drugs from Evotec spinout Topas Therapeutics. The multiyear agreement positions Lilly to work with Topas on candidates that convey tolerance to antigens linked to inflammation or autoimmune diseases.


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2. AstraZeneca inks respiratory disease mRNA pact with Ethris

AstraZeneca has expanded its mRNA activities through an agreement with Ethris. The Big Pharma is paying €25 million ($29 million) up front to work with Ethris on respiratory diseases and secure the option to license the fruits of the collaboration.

3. BenevolentAI poaches drug discovery executive from GlaxoSmithKline

BenevolentAI has hired Ian Churcher, D.Phil., from GlaxoSmithKline. The appointment of Churcher as VP of drug discovery furthers the secretive AI-enabled startup’s track record of poaching executives from Big Pharma.

4. Roche gets priority review for hyped hemophilia A prospect

The FDA has granted priority review status to Roche’s hemophilia A candidate emicizumab, setting the Swiss drugmaker up to learn its fate by February 23. Roche enters the review process armed with impressive efficacy data that risks being undermined by safety concerns and a spat with Shire.

5. Medivir sells Chinese rights to hepatitis C drug to Ascletis

Medivir has offloaded the Chinese rights to its early-stage hepatitis C candidate to Ascletis. The deal continues the retreat from infectious diseases Medivir began after Gilead and others cornered the hepatitis C market.

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