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Daily Brief: AstraZeneca's new San Fran home, Keytruda triumphs again, Novo branches out

A rapid round up from pharma, biotech and healthcare

Hello and welcome to another daily briefing on some of the sector's most eyecatching news

Keytruda scores another hit in lung cancer

Merck & Co. has consolidated its lead in the all-important lung cancer market with new Keytruda data in a key subset of patients.

Topline data from its Keynote 407 study of the drug as a first-line treatment for metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (sNSCLC) met the dual primary endpoints of improved overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) compared to chemo alone.

Previously untreated patients with the squamous NSCLC represent about 25-30% of the overall market, and the results mean Merck & Co. is tightening its grip on the therapy area.

It adds to a similar resounding success in first line treatment of non-squamous patients last month. This puts it in poll position in all the leading NSCLC lung categories, a total global market worth billions.

The results are a blow for Roche and its rival treatment Tecentriq, which recently produced its own impressive data in lung cancer. However while Keytruda has now matched Tecentriq’s progression-free survival, it has gone one further with superior overall survival data.

All the same, knowing the immunotherapy market there are bound to be dramatic developments in the crowded field, with the ASCO cancer congress, which kicks off on 1 June, likely to supply one or two surprises.

R&D DEALS

Novo branches out into kidney disease with Epigen Biosciences

After losing out to Sanofi on acquiring biotech Ablynx, Novo Nordisk is still on the hunt for deals to help it keep growing.

Today is has unveiled a new alliance with San Diego-based biotech Epigen Biosciences for a novel compound to treat diabetic and chronic kidney disease.

The deal is very much adjacent to its core diabetes treatment franchise, in keeping with the Denmark-headquartered company’s focused approach.

Novo has licensed the Epigen’s LPA1 receptor antagonist EPGN696 for development in diabetic and chronic kidney disease and other chronic diseases associated with metabolic syndrome.

EPGN696 has demonstrated efficacy and safety in rodent models of kidney disease by targeting fibrosis, inflammation and growth factor responses.

Epigen will receive upfront and potential milestone payments of up to $200m, and could also receive tiered royalties and milestones on sales of any products which make it to market.

WEST COAST R&D

AstraZeneca opens San Francisco research centre

AZ San Fran

AstraZeneca has cut the ribbon on a brand new research facility in the world’s most famous innovation hub South San Francisco’s Silicon Valley.

The state-of-the-art labs bring together researchers from four parts of the AZ family – the 2013-acquired Pearl Therapeutics, 2015- acquired Acerta Pharma, plus MedImmune, and AstraZeneca’s TIDE (Technology Innovation & Delivery Excellence).

Now all located on the Cove at Oyster Point in the Bay area, the heart of the area’s vibrant biotechnology and tech community, AstraZeneca hopes that is winning innovation is in the air.

The company says the buildings are “custom-designed to encourage collaboration and spark scientific innovation,” with cutting-edge open lab space and an office environment incorporating AstraZeneca’s iWork philosophy, an activity-based working approach that embraces industry best practices.

In keeping with the quirky Silicon Valley office culture, the site has such conveniences as on-site pantries offering organic foods, adjustable desks and ergodynamic chairs, treadmill-equipped team rooms, and an on-campus gym.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

28th May 2018

From: Research

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