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Daily brief: Novartis spends big on ezcema, Kite invests, another gene therapy IPO

A round up from pharma, biotech and healthcare

Novartis

Novartis eczema deal worth up to $1bn for biotechs

MorphoSys and Galapagos have signed a major new deal with Novartis on their atopic dermatitis candidate MOR106, an IL-17c antibody.

The companies have co-developed the molecule, and have now handed over all development and marketing rights to the Swiss pharma company, sharing $111 million (€95 million) in an upfront payment with potential milestone payments of up to $1 billion (€850 million).

Novartis is already a big player in psoriasis with its own IL-17a drug Cosentyx, but is looking to expand its presence in atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.

Novartis already has ZPL389 in its pipeline, a phase II ezcema treatment it gained with the acquisition of Ziarco two years ago.

There is plenty of competition in the field, with Pfizer’s Eucrisa and Regeneron and Sanofi’s Dupixent already on the market.

The deal adds to MorphoSys’ momentum, as it launched its listing on the Nasdaq earlier this year and raised $207 million. This will allow it to fund development of its anti-CD19 antibody, called MOR208, which it aims to bring to market on its own for B cell malignancies.

Gene therapy company MeiraGTx raises $75m in IPO

Funding continues to pour into the gene therapy field, with UK-based company MeiraGTx, raising $75 million through an initial public offering (IPO).

The company listed on the Nasdaq exchange last week, and has been supported by its long-term backers the UCL Technology Fund (UCLTF).

This fund is managed by Albion Capital in collaboration with UCL Business (UCLB), UCL’s commercialisation company, which is focused on bringing the world class university’s research in life and physical sciences to commercial reality.

TMeiraGTx is its first investment to IPO. MeiraGTx has strong roots in UCL- its rare eye diseases business emerged from the labs of Professor Robin Ali, a human molecular genetics expert at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, which is a world leader in ocular gene therapy.

MeiraGTx is developing therapies for diseases of the eye, salivary glands and central nervous system. Its expertise in viral vector design and optimisation, advanced gene therapy manufacturing, and technology providing temporal control of gene therapies.

The company, based in London and New York, has four ongoing clinical programmes, one compassionate use programme and a broad pipeline of preclinical and research programmes. Funds raised from the IPO will enable MeiraGTx to progress its product candidates to treat inherited rare eye diseases, xerostomia (‘dry mouth’) and neurodegenerative diseases.

The company was founded in the UK in 2015 in a series of deals which combined the assets and expertise of MeiraGTx and UCLB spinout Athena Vision.

Christoph Ruedig, partner at Albion Capital, says:MeiraGTx is revolutionising the treatment of ocular, nerve and salivary gland diseases with highly specialised, flexible gene therapies which have the potential to dramatically decrease morbidity and improve quality of life.

“We are impressed by the way the company combines cutting-edge science, a nimble platform and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to deliver life-changing gene treatments. We look forward to supporting the business’s ongoing development through the next stage of its journey as a public company.”

Kite invests in Gadeta’s gamma delta T cell receptors

Gilead acquired Kite last year for its leadership in cutting edge CAR-T drugs – and the now approved Yescarta – and now it has extended its reach into another novel cell therapy platform.

Kite has signed a deal with Netherlands-based Gadeta,  a privately-held company focused on developing of novel cancer immunotherapies based on gamma delta T cell receptors (TCRs).

The financial scale of the deal hasn’t been disclosed, but Kite will provide R&D funding for the collaboration and Gadeta will be eligible to receive future payments upon achievement of certain regulatory milestones. In addition, Kite will make an upfront purchase of equity in Gadeta from Gadeta's shareholders and may acquire additional equity in Gadeta upon achievement of certain R&D milestones. Kite will have the exclusive option to acquire Gadeta.

Gadeta has developed a proprietary technology to engineer alpha beta T cells with gamma delta TCRs, called TEGs, for the potential treatment of various haematological cancers and solid tumours.

This platform has the potential to combine the advantages of conventional T cells, which express alpha and beta TCR chains, with TCRs derived from gamma delta T cells that recognise novel targets in cancer cells, according to preclinical models evaluating the lead TEG candidates.

Gadeta was founded in 2015 by Professor Jürgen Kuball, Mark de Boer, Utrecht Holdings and venture fund Medicxi, its founding investor.

Alessandro Riva, MD, Gilead's executive vice president, Oncology Therapeutics & Head, Cell Therapy said: “This research collaboration adds an additional new platform to our current capabilities in research and cell manufacturing, and deepens our commitment to develop novel approaches to treat solid tumours."

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

19th July 2018

From: Research

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