A $145M opioid acquisition, biobucks for the holidays, a series A, and diabetes approvals
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Indivior + Opiant
Regeneron + CytomX
About the Show
Life Science Today is your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. Expect weekly highlights about new technologies, pharmaceutical mergers and acquisitions, news about the moves of venture capital and private equity, and how the stock market responds to biotech IPOs. Life Science Today also explores trends around clinical research, including the evolving patterns that determine how drugs and therapies are developed and approved. It’s news, with a dash of perspective, focused on the life science industry.
Welcome to Life Science Today, your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. I’m your host, Dr. Noah Goodson. This week, a $145M opioid acquisition, biobucks for the holidays, a series A, and diabetes approvals.
The views expressed on Life Science Today are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organizations with which they are affiliated.
$145 Opioid Acquisition
Opioids are a dangerous business these days as pharmaceutical companies shutter their doors and everyone from the companies making the drugs to the pharmacies distributing them loses or settles lawsuits. In this market it’s not very often that you hear of opioid companies being acquired. The exception to that is of course, opioid and substance abuse therapeutics. One of the leaders in the space, Indivior PLC announced plans to acquire Opiant Pharmaceuticals for $145M at $20/share upfront with an additional $8/share in milestones. While Opiant has an early phase alcohol abuse therapy, and some preclinical assets, the real value of the deal rests on the pre-NDA nasal spray for opioid overdose. In clinical trials it proved to have a faster onset and longer duration compared to a standard of care naloxone. This grant-backed pipeline was fully funded through both NIDA and BARDA and was submitted to the FDA just at recording of this podcast. Positive outcomes are expected as early as February 2023. While these therapeutics don’t treat the underlying causes of the opioid epidemic and wide availability of synthetic fentanyl, they may cut back on some of the 81,000 deaths that occurred in the last year alone.
Regeneron Signs $2B Biobucks deal with CytomX
Regeneron has signed a biobucks deal with CytomX worth up to $2B with just $30M upfront to develop conditionally-activated bispecific cancer therapeutics. CytomX’s Probody therapeutic platform leverages a specific facet of tumors to decrease the impact on healthy tissue. Imagine the classic Y shape of an antibody. The two extended arms of the Y are where the binding portion that targets a tissue is. Imagine you placed a lid on the ends of the Y and that lid could only be removed in a cancerous micro-environment. That is basically what CytomX’s platform does – the “lid” is called a masking peptide. It’s connected with a substrate linker that can be cleaved by protease enzymes. These occur at high levels in the tumor micro-environment making it much more likely for the antibody to be activated where it’s needed. The second half of this technology duo is that Regeneron hopes to combine these with their Veloci-Bi platform to make bispecific antibodies that are specifically targeted to tumors with decreased impacts on other tissues for novel anti-body drug conjugate approaches. This is all very pre-clinical, but suggests that classic bio-bucks investment in combined technologies are still very much part of how pharma plans to build their portfolios.
Rezo Therapeutics Launches with $78M Series A
Something we have not seen much of in 2022 is substantial series A funding rounds. The San Fransisco based biotech Rezo Therapeutics has bucked this trend coming out of stealth with a $78M funding round back by a range of venture capital partners. What they have to bring in this level of capital in 2022 is basically scientific clout. Their founding talent pool is full of recognized names with a major track record of scientific success. The platform itself is a drug discovery platform, but ultimately this strikes me as a bet on a team more than a specific idea or process. Time will tell what comes out of Rezo, but for now they are off to a good start in a tough year to start a biotech.
Type 1 Diabetes FDA Approval
Provention Bio has secured FDA approval to delay the onset of stage 3 type 1 diabetes in children older than 8 and adults with the infusion therapy TZIELD. The progression from stage 2 to stage 3 diabetes is a major milestone in disease burden and symptoms. Each year this can be delayed not only represents a major decrease in disease burden with increased quality of life, but also significantly reduces the risk for serious life threatening complications. In clinical trials TZIELD effectively delayed the onset of stage 3 for patients with stage 2.
A little over a year ago Provention created a strategic partnership with Sanofi for promotion. This agreement kicks in now, with Sanofi’s major existent diabetes assets like insulin pins and reach being a major asset to expanded rollout and distribution of this novel therapeutic.
Thanks for joining me for Life Science Today, your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. Learn more at LifeScienceTodayPodcast.com. If you like what you hear, please tell a friend. Once again, I’m Dr. Noah Goodson, I’ll see you next week.