A new $1.33 billion oncology deal between Roche Holding AG and Repare Therapeutics Inc. has given the Swiss multinational access to what it hopes will be a best-in-class program targeting DNA damage repair for the treatment of solid tumors. The global licensing agreement, for Repare's midstage camonsertib, gives Roche entrée to a developing race to lead the class alongside other big players, such as Merck KGaA, Bayer AG and Astrazeneca plc. Repare will receive $125 million up front and is eligible to receive up to $1.2 billion in milestones, including up to $55 million near-term payments, plus royalties on net sales, should they materialize. Stock in Repare (NASDAQ:RPTX) rose 30% to $11.87 per share by midday, though are still down 46% year to date.

Immunic says its colitis failure won’t hamper its MS program

Poor phase II top-line data for Immunic Inc.’s lead candidate, vidofludimus calcium (IMU-838), were severely hampering the company’s share price at midday. The study of the selective oral DHODH inhibitor missed its primary endpoint of clinical remission in treating moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. The failure means Immunic won’t pursue a phase III study on its own in the indication, but it won’t affect the company’s planned phase III studies in treating relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) and a phase II in treating progressive MS. The New York-based company’s stock (NASDAQ:IMUX) was taking a drubbing at midday, with shares trading 40% lower, placing them at their lowest price in the past 12 months.

As world hobbles away from COVID-19, research forges on

Although the death toll in the U.S. is nearing 1 million lives lost, signs continue to suggest that an end is in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, the most disruptive global health crisis in a century. Now, into its third year, those at-risk have numerous options and growing numbers of people have achieved immunity through vaccines and infection. “Barring a major antigenic shift towards a deadlier variant (still possible), the days of high deaths and health care system strain seem behind us,” said analyst Brian Abrahams, of RBC Capital Markets.

Investigation into questionable investments prompts executive re-shuffle at China’s Cstone 

Suzhou, China-based Cstone Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. has begun trading again on the Hong Kong exchange (HKEX:02616) after trading was halted on April 1 following investigations over questionable investments during the company’s year-end audit for 2021.

Kavli Neuroscience Prize honors four for genetic discoveries 

Four scientists have shared the 2022 Kavli Prize in neuroscience, "for pioneering the discovery of genes underlying a range of serious brain disorders," together and separately. The prize was awarded on June 1 to Jean-Louis Mandel, of the University of Strasbourg, for insights into fragile X syndrome; Huda Zoghbi, of Baylor College of Medicine, and Harry Orr, of the University of Minnesota, for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1; Zoghbi for Rett syndrome; and Christopher Walsh, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for some epilepsies and developmental brain disorders.

Competition authorities find pricing of rare disease drug ‘excessive’

Following an investigation into Leadiant Group’s pricing of a rare disease drug, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) fined the privately held company about €3.5 million (US$3.76 million) for charging the Italian National Health Service excessive prices since 2017 for Chenodeoxycholic Acid Leadiant. The life-saving drug is used to treat cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis, a rare disease that causes severe disability and leads to early death. The ICA said competition authorities in the Netherlands and Spain are taking similar action against the Italian company.

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