Deal-Making

J&J boosts autoimmune disease pipeline with $6.5bn Momenta buy

Johnson & Johnson is acquiring Momenta Pharmaceuticals in a $6.5 billion deal that brings the pharma giant a slate of experimental autoimmune disease therapies, including a potential blockbuster antibody drug in late-stage development for a rare type of anemia. Momenta develops treatments for diseases driven by autoantibodies – antibodies produced by the immune system that spark dozens of rare autoimmune disorders. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech’s lead drug candidate, nipocalimab, is in a pivotal clinical trial testing it in warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia…

Ligand strikes $516m deal to buy Pfenex for expression tech

Ligand Pharmaceutical will buy Pfenex to add the latter’s protein expression technology to its core drug discovery and formulation business. The deal – worth $516 million – is expected to complete before the end of the year. Ligand cited Pfenex’s expression technology as a major motivation for the deal, pointing out it is out-licensed for numerous commercial and development-stage programs. CEO John Higgins likened the deal to Ligand’s acquisition of the technology Captisol – gained when the firm bought Cydex…

AbbVie ends vectorized antibody accord with Voyager

AbbVie has ended its Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease collaborations with Voyager Therapeutics. Voyager announced the termination of its tau and alpha-synuclein “vectorized” antibody development accords this week, explaining it retains full rights to the candidates and the vectorization technology on which they are based. Voyage spokesman Paul Cox told us “AbbVie exercised its right to terminate for convenience in accordance with the terms of the agreements,” citing the firm’s 8 K Filing. The tau and alpha-synuclein research collaborations were formed…

Base editing firm Beam licenses Oxford Biomedica’s vector tech

Beam Therapeutics has licensed use of Oxford Biomedica’s Lentivector platform for the development of CAR-T therapies. Under the deal Beam can use the platform – a lentiviral based gene delivery system – for its cancer cell therapy programs. Oxford will also supply Beam with vectors for use in clinical trials for three years. Beam paid Oxford an undisclosed fee and has agreed to make further payments for vector supply. The UK firm will also receive royalties from the sale of…

Forge Bio’s combo model for gene therapies attracts $40m in funding

Forge Biologics has something rare for most early-stage biotech startups: revenue from customers. Now it has $40 million to expand its model, which places contract manufacturing alongside the development of its own gene therapies, the most advanced of which is being readied for tests in humans. From operations in Columbus, Ohio, Forge makes gene therapies for other companies. The company was initially conceived solely as a contract manufacturer, CEO Tim Miller told Xconomy. The explosion of gene therapy research is…

GSK gains 10% stake in mRNA vaccine developer Curevac in manufacturing deal

GSK and Curevac have signed an mRNA vaccine and monoclonal antibody drug manufacturing and commercialization agreement. The agreement will combine Curevac’s mRNA technology and manufacturing capabilities with GSK’s vaccines knowhow, self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine technology platform as well as its monoclonal antibody development and production capacity. The collaboration will focus on five mRNA-based vaccines and mAbs targeting infectious diseases. GSK has agreed to pay €120 million upfront and make an equity investment of €150 million in Curevac. The programs do…

Catalent expands contract with Humanigen for COVID-19 MAb

Catalent will provide end-to-end services to support lenzilumab in a Phase III study in COVID-19 patients. In May, Catalent announced it was clinically supporting Humanigen’s anti-human granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) monoclonal antibody lenzilumab for a Phase III clinical trials for COVID-19. This week, the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) says it has expanded its work with Humanigen to include full end-to-end services for the candidate. “Humanigen and Catalent have been working together since 2007, but shifted focus earlier…

Amgen invests further $421m in China’s Beigene

Amgen has upped its investment in drugmaker Beigene to further access the increasingly large pharmaceutical market, China. Last year, Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen closed a strategic collaboration with BeiGene, investing $2.8 billion to gain a presence in what’s becoming an ever-more essential market for global drug development. The investment earned it an R&D pact and ownership of about one-fifth of the Chinese oncology drug company. Now the firm has snapped up a chunk of additional shares in a move to maintain its…

Samsung Biologics eyes fourth plant as capacity fills

The 364,000 L of bioreactor capacity at Samsung Biologics’ site in Korea will be fully utilized by 2022, says the CDMO as it contemplates a new facility. Contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Samsung Biologics has grown its site in Songdo, Incheon since its inception in 2011 with three plants hosting a total of 364,000 L of mostly stainless-steel bioreactor capacity. Plant number one has 30,000 L of capacity from six 5,000 L tanks. Plant number two offers 150,000 L…

Novavax says COVID $1.6bn funding helps secure US-based supply chain

The ‘Operation Warp Speed’ $1.6 billion funding boost will help support the large-scale manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX‑CoV2373, says Novavax. Novavax has become the beneficiary of the largest funding by Operation Warp Speed – the US government’s response to the expedite vaccines and therapeutics against the novel coronavirus – to date, receiving $1.6 billion it says will be used to aid clinical development and secure manufacturing for NVX‑CoV2373. “In addition to establishing scale-up manufacturing capacity to deliver 100 million…