Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. sealed a deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. whereby the latter grants an exclusive license to the former for seven pipeline programs, including three clinical-stage assets targeting schizophrenia, treatment-resistant depression and anhedonia. San Diego-based Neurocrine will develop and commercialize all of the included compounds, and Takeda, of Osaka, Japan, stands to collect $120 million up front. Takeda could rake in $495 million more if development goals are met, along with as much as $1.4 billion in commercial milestone payments, and up to double-digit royalties. At certain development events, Takeda may opt in or out of a 50-50 profit split for all clinical programs on an asset-by-asset basis. For any prospect where Takeda goes for the split arrangement, the firm wouldn’t get development or commercial milestone payments. Neurocrine (NASDAQ:NBIX) was trading midday at $117.78, up $2.46.

C4 secures $170 million to advance protein degrader pipeline

C4 Therapeutics Inc., a company focused on destroying disease-causing proteins via degradation, has closed a $170 million financing intended to help move four cancer candidates into the clinic by the end of 2022. The funds comprise a $150 million series B round co-led by existing investor Cobro Ventures and new investor Perceptive Advisors, as well as $20 million in venture debt from Perceptive. C4's last venture round was a $73 million series A raised in 2016.

Ideaya and GSK collaborate in three synthetic lethality programs in oncology

Glaxosmithkline plc (GSK) will collaborate in three of South San Francisco and London-based Ideaya Biosciences Inc.’s synthetic lethality programs, MAT2A, Pol Theta and Werner Helicase, all of which are projected to reach the clinic within three years. Synthetic lethality, one of GSK’s four core research areas in oncology, involves cells tolerating the loss of single genes in isolation but not in combination. Ideaya receives a 50% U.S. profit share and ex-U.S. royalties for the MAT2A and Werner Helicase programs. Ideaya is responsible for 20% of global development costs for licensed products developed with GSK. Ideaya receives global royalties for Pol Theta, while GSK covers all research, development and commercialization costs. GSK is responsible for all commercialization activities and costs globally for licensed products. Ideaya’s stock (NASDAQ:IDYA) fared well on the news as it rose 70% at midday Tuesday.

Dexamethasone shows benefit in treating COVID-19 in Recovery trial

LONDON – In the first major breakthrough in therapeutics for COVID-19 infection, dexamethasone has been shown to have a statistically significant impact on mortality in the most seriously ill patients. There was a one-third reduction in deaths in patients on ventilators, while in patients receiving oxygen therapy there was a 15% reduction in 28-day mortality, in the U.K. Recovery trial. No benefit was seen in patients who were sick enough to be in the hospital but did not need help breathing. The steroid was delivered either orally or intravenously at a dose of 6 mg per day. In total, 2,104 patients were randomized to the active arm and 4,321 to standard of care. There were no serious treatment-related adverse events.

Argentina researchers pitting camelid-based antibody strategy against SARS-CoV-2

CAJICA, Colombia – A team of scientists in Argentina is working on obtaining monoclonal antibodies from hens and llamas in a bid to produce both a vaccine and a drug for SARS-CoV-2, but the development process is highlighting the challenges that researchers and scientists in developing countries with troubled economies can face.

Yisheng unveils PIKA adjuvanted recombinant protein vaccine candidate for COVID-19

BEIJING – One more company is joining the global efforts in developing a vaccine for COVID-19. Beijing-based Yisheng Biopharma Co. Ltd. unveiled YS-SC2-010, which was developed through recombinant protein technology and its proprietary PIKA (polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid-based adjuvant) technology. The company is looking to take it overseas through partnership.

Etherna closes $38M series B round for mRNA vaccine push in COVID-19, cancer

DUBLIN – Etherna Immunotherapies NV raised €34 million (US$38.2 million) in a series B funding round to progress its pipeline of mRNA-based vaccines for cancer and infectious disease. The Niel, Belgium-based firm has up until recently exclusively focused on cancer but is – like many others – extending its immuno-oncology platform into infectious disease because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its ambitions are not limited to SARS-CoV-2, however. Although it is developing a vaccine against the virus, its approach is distinctive and could become a general platform for all respiratory viruses. “It’s potentially very important for us,” CEO Steven Powell told BioWorld

Ona takes on cancer metastases, raises $34M in series A

LONDON – Ona Therapeutics SL has raised €30 million (US$33.9 million) in a series A round, providing the means to advance a new method of treating metastases by blocking the lipid metabolism of cancer cells. The approach rests on preclinical research showing that increased expression of the fatty acid receptor CD36 on the surface of subsets of cancer cells plays a critical role in initiating metastases, in animal models of oral squamous cell carcinoma and other solid tumors.

Drug developers' Golden Ticket

It won't get you the right to see the Oompa Loompas, but a Golden Ticket for MBC Biolabs could be even more valuable to a startup. In addition to a year of lab bench space and access to core facilities at MBC Biolabs' incubator paid for by multiple large drug companies that sponsor the program, the startup also gets an immediate warm relationship with the sponsor, including multiple interactions over the year and potentially beyond. BioWorld highlights the latest winners, sponsored by Abbvie Inc., and looks at the success of previous winners and contrasts the program with in-house incubators run by other pharmas.

Seikagaku, Ono Pharma plan next steps for arthritis drug after positive Japan phase III results

HONG KONG – Japan’s Seikagaku Corp. is contemplating the next move for its ONO-5704/SI-613 (diclofenac etalhyaluronate), a treatment for arthritis that it is co-developing with fellow Japanese company Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. The two partners presented positive results from a phase III study testing the drug on patients with knee osteoarthritis at the 93rd annual meeting of the Japanese Orthopaedic Association on June 11.

Newco news: Diogenx launches new search for holy grail of diabetes

DUBLIN – Beta cell regeneration has been a holy grail for type 1 diabetes (T1D) researchers for several decades. Despite some promising results in animal models, progress in patients has remained frustratingly elusive. Although the therapeutic concept has been widely explored, definitive clinical evidence that it will actually work is still wanting. “What has been lacking is translation of what is found in animal models to humans,” Patrick Collombat told BioWorld. Collombat heads up a diabetes genetics group in the Valrose Biology Institute, which is affiliated with the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. He is also scientific founder of a new startup, Diogenx SA, which has just raised €4.5 million (US$5.1 million) in seed funding to pursue a new approach to beta cell regeneration.

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