Graybug Vision Inc. reported results from the phase IIb Altissimo study testing GB-102 as a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that didn't live up to expectations set by the phase I/IIa Adagio study.
During a panel discussion at Biocom California's Global Life Sciences Partnering Conference, business development executives at various pharmaceutical companies advised biotech companies on everything from funding to manufacturing to deal structure.
Debiopharm International SA is more interested in developing drugs than marketing them. Bertrand Ducrey, CEO of Debiopharm, said he envisions the drugs the company is stewarding through development as a "living pipeline" that needs to be refreshed as drugs get to late-stage development. So Debiopharm is shipping global rights to xevinapant (Debio-1143) and its follow-on inhibitor of apoptosis proteins antagonist, Debio-4028, to Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany.
Gilead Sciences Inc. was looking to get into oncology in a big way. Arcus Biosciences Inc. had a pipeline of cancer drugs it didn't want to break up. While a little unusual, the landmark 10-year pact the companies made last year just made sense, company executives explained during a session at Biocom California's Global Life Science Partnering Conference.
The 2017 FDA approval of Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl, Roche Holding AG) spurred a race to create the next gene therapy for the eye. The organ is very amenable to gene therapy given that it's a confined space with post-mitotic cells that has immune privilege and requires substantially smaller amounts of viral vector compared to systemic treatments.
With the FDA approval of Keytruda (pembrolizumab, Merck & Co. Inc.) in the front-line setting of metastatic or unresectable, recurrent head and neck cancer squamous cell carcinoma, the space has become a race to develop drugs using a variety of mechanisms of action to improve the efficacy of the anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody.
The 2020 World Conference on Lung Cancer, which was scheduled to take place in Singapore last August, is set to kick off virtually later this week. The postponement gave companies time to generate additional data as they battle to treat patients with their targeted therapies.
The 39th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference was sans Celgene Corp.'s annual tradition of kicking off the conference with preliminary revenue and earnings from the previous year, but plenty of other companies stepped up and offered preliminary results of their own. Unfortunately, some companies continued to face headwinds selling drugs during the pandemic as patients avoided their doctors' offices.
Money is flowing into gene therapy as investors have started looking favorably on the risk-reward prospects of the space. "I believe the risk has really substantially decreased as regulatory path has become clearer. There are more projects with lower risk," said Sarah Bhagat, a partner at Sofinnova Investments.
Prevail Therapeutics Inc. won't be prevailing on its own. Eli Lilly and Co. is acquiring the gene therapy company for $880 million up front plus an earn-out of up to $160 million if Lilly can gain regulatory approval for at least one of Prevail's drugs.