Roundup: Monthly Biotech Updates, September 2018

Spotlight: Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics”

Arthur Ashkin is an American physicist who invented “optical tweezers” – laser probes that can trap and manipulate tiny particles in beams of light. At 96, he is the oldest Nobel laureate in history.

Image source – Twitter

French physicist Gérard Mourou and Canadian physicist Donna Strickland share the other half of the Nobel prize for the development of “chirped pulse amplification” – a method for making ultra-short, high-intensity laser pulses now routinely used in corrective eye surgery and precision machining. Dr. Strickland is also the first female physics laureate in 55 years, and only the third to-date.

Big News

No more excuses to skip fish oil

Vascepa, a purified fish oil medicine, by Amarin Corp is being hailed as a massive breakthrough in medicine. An 8,179 patient prospective cardiovascular outcomes study (REDUCE-IT) found that Vascepa lowered the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients with a very high level of triglycerides. (Read more at Amarin Corp)

Gilead, oh Gilead

In a highly unusual move by a pharmaceutical company who still holds the patent, Gilead Sciences has decided to release generic versions of its hepatitis C drugs, Epclusa and Harvoni. Before the company launched its first hepatitis C drug in 2014, the treatment was 48 weeks long and didn’t guarantee a functional cure. The authorized list price of the generics is $24,000 for the full-treatment course, which is about a third to a quarter of the patented drugs. This move comes after a worldwide criticism of the exorbitant prices of the drugs.

Economics of CRISPRomics™

KSQ Therapeutics has a CRISPRomics™ discovery engine that yielded 12 oncology drug discovery programs in 12 months! The company’s pipeline spans three oncology drug categories: adoptive T-cell therapies, immuno-oncology monotherapies, and targeted therapies. (Read more at KSQ Therapeutics)

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, a Musical

Immunologists James P. Alison and Tasuku Honjo have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in cancer immunotherapy. Their research focuses on removing a molecule that acts as “brake” which will unleash the immune system on the cancer cells. Another interesting thing about Dr. Alison is that he plays harmonica in a blues band called The Checkpoints and they mostly perform during cancer conferences. (Watch a performance by The Checkpoints)

Big Climate Video, literally

Big Deals

Great Point Partners, a Connecticut based private investment company that solely focuses on the healthcare industry, has signed an agreement to sell Clinical Supplies Management (CSM) to a UK based company, Clinigen for $150M initially and up to $240M based on whether the business meets certain milestones. CSM is a leading provider of clinical trials drug packaging, labeling and logistics solutions to the global life science, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. (Read more at Green Point’s press release)

Alexion, a Boston headquartered global biopharma company has announced to acquire Syntimmune for $400M upfront payment and the potential for an additional $800M payment contingent on reaching certain milestones. Syntimmune is a clinical-stage biotech start-up founded in 2013 that develops antibody therapeutics. The start-up had raised $50M series B at a $125M valuation last year. (Read more at Syntimmune press release)

Supernus Pharmaceuticals, a Maryland-based pharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and commercializing treatments of central nervous system (CNS) diseases is set to acquire Biscayne Neurotherapeutics, a Miami based biotech that develops a novel treatment for epilepsy. Supernus will pay $15 million up front, followed by an additional $73 based on development milestones and up to $95 million for sales milestones. (Read more at bizjournals)

Morphic Therapeutic, a Boston-based biotech startup that develops a new generation of oral integrin therapies has completed $80M series B financing to bring its oral, integrin-blocking drugs to human tests. The round was co-led by Omega Funds and Novo Holdings (Read more at Businesswire)

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