💊 Eisai and Bliss Biopharma’s new ADC collab; Boehringer and Ginkgo on the lookout for new therapeutics; Baxter sheds Biopharma for $4.5 billion
#336 | US NIH restarts controversial research grant; Maternal and newborn health suffers; Proposed Ubuntu fund for Africa
Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Kable in a newly pandemic-free world.
In what could be an up to $2 billion deal, Japan’s Eisai and China’s Bliss Biopharmaceutical are co-developing BB-1701, an antibody-drug conjugate which uses the cancer drug Halaven (or Eribulin) as a payload to treat breast, lung and other solid tumours which express HER2. What is starting as an option period may convert into a strategic collaboration in the future, with Eisai potentially gaining global rights to the ADC excluding the Greater China region. The Eisai-Bliss partnership means competition to Enhertu, Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca’s HER2-targeting ADC which has proved to be a blockbuster drug.
Ginkgo Bioworks and Boehringer Ingelheim are joining hands to speed up the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for diseases with high unmet needs. With the new partners mining Ginkgo’s metagenomic sequence database for their work together, Ginkgo is looking at the possibility of earning a total of $406 million as well as royalties on sales.
Baxter, meanwhile, is lightening up by selling BioPharma Solutions, a CDMO known for making sterile injectables, to the private equity firms Advent International and Warburg Pincus for a sum of $4.25 billion. Baxter sure needs the money, with the company having roughly $22.3 billion in liabilities.
EQRx, too, is shedding some weight. Giving up its idealistic ambitions of developing lower-cost treatments, the company is instead cutting its pipeline down to one single drug and saying goodbye to about 170 people – that is over half of its staff.
Diabetes drugs like Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic are ambitious overachievers. Not only are they used in patients of diabetes and obesity, but they are now being studied as therapies for difficult-to-treat brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Coming to Asia, in India, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology has entered a three-year agreement with Israel’s 101 Therapeutics to perform clinical studies for a novel Covid-19 medication.
China’s Junshi Biosciences is collaborating with India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for the development and commercialisation of the anti-PD-1 mAb Toripalimab in 10 countries including India, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and South Africa. Dr Reddy’s may also choose to expand this agreement to Australia, New Zealand and 9 other countries. Junshi stands to earn up to $728.3 million from this deal.
Officials from Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the US FDA have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to enhance cooperation on AI-based medical products.
Now that the pandemic is finito, we hope you – those of you sitting in the US – aren’t doing any at-home Covid tests. Because Roche and SD Biosensor’s at-home kits are possibly contaminated with bacteria, according to the US FDA. The companies have recalled over half a million of these tests but fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or infections so far.
Three years ago, the US National Institutes of Health had, under political pressure, suspended a research grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research organisation studying bat coronaviruses with Chinese partners. Now, NIH has restarted the over half a million dollars per year award, with the 4-year grant being a highly stripped-down version of what had originally been awarded. Initially, the funding had covered controversial - supposedly gain-of-function - research including experiments which mixed parts of different bat viruses linked to SARS, and also a sub-award to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But the re-started award is putting aside these studies and putting in place extensive new accounting rules for EcoHealth, subsequent to findings that the organisation had misreported expenses in the past.
And finally, mpox doesn’t look like it needs a break any time soon; it’s making its presence felt with its highest resurgence since last November in Chicago in the US and also in South Korea with a total of 60 confirmed cases - 16 in the first week of May alone - in the outbreak there so far.