JPM22, Day 1: Bayer strikes a Mammoth deal, no Sunday buyouts, Pfizer delves deeper in gene editing and more

Here we are back again at...our desks. With an abrupt cancellation of the in-person J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference 2022 coming last month, it’s a second year of being virtual (though that hasn’t stopped some airlines and hoteliers from trying to hold on to your cash).

The last few years we’ve seen some mid-size buyout deals coming over the weekend pre-JPM, though this time around things are a little more quiet.

But who knows what the next few days will bring. With the likes of Pfizer and Moderna expecting to make collectively around $50 billion this financial year thanks to their two COVID-19 shots, and up to $100 billion in 2022, there’s firepower out there for some major deals.

Here's your need to know, from Bayer penning a big biobucks pact with Mammoth as it delves deeper into gene-editing to Pfizer’s similar move with Beam.

Want more? Catch the latest news from Fierce Biotech and Fierce Pharma. Check out our round ups from Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4, covering the on-the-ground skinny from Tuesday's action.

UPDATED: Monday 6:15 p.m. ET

Illumina posted new sales records in a sneak peek at its 2021 earnings report, due in full this February. CEO Francis deSouza said the accelerating use of genomics in healthcare pushed the DNA sequencing giant to about $4.517 billion in revenue, an increase of 39% compared to the year before, with 2021 logging the highest number of product shipments in the company’s history.

But the company doesn’t plan to slow down, with projections of an additional 15% growth in 2022, backed up by a slate of new products and partnerships—including Grail’s multi-cancer early detection blood test, and future plans for adding long-read sequencing capabilities to its current short-read machines.

Illumina also launched a multi-year collaboration with Nashville Biosciences, a subsidiary of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, to help build a DNA database derived from about 250,000 human samples, which will help drug developers find new targets for disease. Story

Monday 5:54 p.m. ET

Mirati Therapeutics is already at the FDA’s footsteps for its first potential drug approval. The biotech expects a greenlight next quarter with a launch ready to go for the KRAS inhibitor adagrasib, the company said Monday after hours at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Adagrasib is Mirati’s attempt to catch up to Amgen, which has Lumakras approved for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC ) with a particular genetic mutation called KRAS G12C.

Mirati asked the agency to approve adagrasib as a single treatment in second line NSCLC in the last weeks of 2021, said CEO David Meek, who took the helm of the biotech in September 2021. The CEO said the company has been working on building its commercialization team for the past two years. The KRAS G12C-mutated inhibitor is being tested in multiple other NSCLC studies in combination with other treatments, including Merck’s Keytruda.

“Adagrasib is going to be a very big drug for a very long time,” Meek said. 

Mirati could also ask the agency for approval of sitravatinib in combination with Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo in the second half of this year, Meek said during the presentation. The receptor tyrosine kinase is being tested in the combination as a second- and third-line treatment for non-squamous NSCLC.

Further down the pipeline, Mirati will start a phase 1/2 trial of a PRMT5 inhibitor in MTAP-deleted cancers this quarter. The biotech will also ask the FDA for the go-ahead on trials of MRTX1133 and its SOS1 inhibitor in the second half of this year.

Monday 3 p.m. ET

After pruning back its portfolio in recent years and setting up its upcoming consumer health spinoff for 2023, Johnson & Johnson will be swinging back once more to the acquisitive side of the deal table, according to the company’s new CEO Joaquin Duato, who named a preference for smaller deals for its medtech divisions. “Identifying products that will complement our portfolio, or put us in the higher growth market segments that we are not in today—that's the focus that we are on now,” Duato said during J&J’s presentation.

“I think investors can understand that we tend to prefer small deals, medium-size deals in which we can apply more of our own capabilities on the science, the commercial and the manufacturing sides,” he said. “And that's how we have been able to build 25 billion-dollar platform businesses between medtech and pharma. That’s the secret sauce of Johnson & Johnson.”

Monday 2:29 p.m. ET

Sarepta Therapeutics could ask the FDA as soon as next year to approve its gene transfer therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the biotech said during its Monday presentation. The therapy, dubbed SRP-9001, showed “highly statistical significant” improvements in a functional motor ability test at 48 weeks.   

Based on the data, “there is no doubt” that the gene therapy is a “disease trajectory altering therapy that will benefit kids with Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” CEO and President Doug Ingram said. The company will work on the “fastest potential pathway” with the FDA on getting the therapy approved to treat the rare neuromuscular genetic disease, he said.

Sarepta plans to complete enrollment in the middle of this year on its pivotal trial of SRP-9001, a study known as EMBARK, Ingram said.  

Roche has the exclusive right to launch and market the therapy outside the U.S. Story

Monday 11:51 a.m. ET

Seer launches protein categorization system to provide rapid analysis of protein variants that drive the biologic functions of both life and disease. Story

Monday 10:59 a.m. ET

Acadia Pharmaceuticals and Stoke will work together on finding new therapies for a handful of rare, genetic diseases of the central nervous system. At stake for Stoke is $60 million upfront plus $907 million in potential milestones and royalties. Story

Monday 10:53 a.m. ET

Johnson & Johnson links up with none other than Microsoft to build a cloud-connected software ecosystem around the healthcare giant's digital surgery efforts. Story

Monday 10:30 a.m. ET

Bristol Myers Squibb inks two research deals, including a biobucks pact that could reel in $3 billion for cell therapy biotech Century Therapeutics. Story

Monday 10:15 a.m. ET

Medtronic makes $925 million offer for cardiac ablation technology developer Affera, as CEO Geoff Martha promises rapid growth trajectory for the next year. Story

Monday 10:15 a.m. ET

Exact Sciences drops $190 million for testing laboratory PreventionGenetics in a bet to expand its diagnostics franchise into hereditary cancer screening. Story

Monday 8:30 a.m. ET

Pfizer has penned two deals this morning. COVID vaccine partner BioNTech, also flush with cash, not wanting to be left out has itself signed a new $750 million biobucks pact with Crescendo Biologics for a “multi-target discovery collaboration” focused on combining the two biotechs’ platforms for new immunotherapies in cancer and “other diseases.” Story

Monday 8:15 a.m. ET

Atea Pharmaceuticals used its JPM slot to pitch COVID-19 combination therapies as the only way to stop the rise of “super variants.” One part of Atea’s combination failed phase 2, prompting Roche to cut and run, but the biotech still sees the nucleotide as the backbone of a protease inhibitor cocktail. “It's clear that if we combine all the mutations that we see through the natural evolution in the spike protein, and you combine this with resistance to PI, ... this is where we are going to create some super variants. And the only way to avoid it is combination therapy,” Atea CEO Jean-Pierre Sommadossi said.

Monday 7:30 a.m. ET

Moderna, feeling a little charismatic, has penned a new deal with Carisma Therapeutics to seek out and develop in vivo engineered chimeric antigen receptor monocyte (CAR-M) therapeutics in cancer. It’s a small $45 million upfront deal for the biotech but undisclosed biobucks could also be on their way if the collab pans out. Story

Monday 6:50 a.m. ET

And here's another and another from Pfizer. Destined to be an mRNA powerhouse, the Big Pharma locks down two partners to bulk up its tech, including one small biotech that provided a delivery system for the COVID-19 shot. Story

Monday 6 a.m. ET

Company of the moment Pfizer, thanks to its BioNTech-partnered COVID mRNA vaccines, has some observers hoping their favorite biotech may well be in the crosshairs of the newly-minted company.

There’s still plenty of time left, but the early deal out of the New York Big Pharma isn't a major M&A deal, but rather sees it taking a bigger bite out of the gene editing apple with $300 million upfront in a research collaboration with Beam Therapeutics focused on the biotech's base editing technique. Story

Monday 5 a.m. ET

Novartis has like many pharma seen setbacks in helping COVID patients sick with the disease, but today new, positive data out from partner Molecular Partners for its drug hopeful ensovibep has prompted the Swiss pharma to pay CHF 150 million ($163 million) for an asset that could soon add to the anti-omicron arsenal. Story

Monday 3 a.m. ET

German Pharma Bayer was the company to kickstart J.P. Morgan’s healthcare conference 2022, doubling down on its cutting-edge life sciences aspirations buy tapping CRISPR science from Doudna's lab in $1 billion biobucks Mammoth gene therapy deal.

The collab involves five preselected indications with an initial focus on liver diseases. Story