Genentech Signs Billion Dollar Deal with Sosei Heptares and Skyhawk

Genentech Inks Deal With Skyhawk And Sosei

Introduction

Genentech and Convelo Therapeutics collaborated to accelerate their discovery of the drugs to deal with different targets, such as the patients who are suffering from neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS). The two companies decided to work together to discover the therapies for MS as well as other myelin disorders. According to the deal, Convelo will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and also some support during the search from Genentech. 

Since the financial terms of Convelo were not disclosed, Genentech decided to enter into another deal whose worth is $1 billion today. The deal was between Genentech and Japan-based Sosei group. They joined hands in the discovery of novel medicines that would modulate G Protein-Coupled Receptor GPCR targets.

Genentech inks discovery deals with Skyhawk, Convelo

Genentech made a deal of $100 million ($1 billion) biobucks with G Protein-Coupled Receptor (GPCR) specialist Sosei Heptares and under this deal; both the companies will work on new meds that modulate GPCR targets. According to Nature, it is believed that between one third and one-half of all marketed drugs act by binding to GPCRs. If this is true, then it completely explains why Genentech was interested in this target.

They decided to focus on two things; one focused on cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and the other focused on neurological disorders.

For this purpose, Sosei Heptares will combine its GPCR focused structure bases drug design with Genentech’s experiment and Skyhawk will use its Sky STAR technology to find out about small molecules that can modulate RNA splicing and treat numerous oncology and neurological disorders. 

Moreover, the good news is that Genentech is now going to discover both oncology and neurodegeneration and promises to develop market drugs for multiple diseases. In exchange, it only demands the promise of future payments and royalties. 

This agreement proves to be very helpful and exclusive for Genentech all over the world, as it gets the license to develop potential therapeutics that is directed to multiple targets. On the other hand, Skyhawk receives an upfront payment and gets the eligibility to receive all the future payments and royalties. This agreement also says that, if anything happens to clinical development or commercialization, Genentech would be held responsible for that. 

The Genentech collaboration comes to two months after Skyhawk teamed up with Takeda Pharmaceutical and after a year, it penned $60 million with Celgene, and now they could license up to five new drug candidates from the deal. 

As for the deal with Convelo, both Genentech and Convelo will work on new therapies for a better treatment that might revive fatty substances which not only protects but also gives a covering on nerve fibers that appears just like some coating. 

According to James Sabry,

“We believe that GPCRs are that class which plays a great role to cure many diseases. Thanks to Sosei Heptares, because of him, there are more and more drugs being discovered every year, his outstanding capabilities accelerated the discovery of drugs.”

Mallinckrodt and Silence Therapeutics Partner up for RNAi

At first, you need to have a little introduction to these two companies. They both are pharmaceuticals. They provide medicines and research related to medicine. What are they and what do they do? Here’s the introduction.

Mallinckrodt

An Irish–tax registered manufacturer, known as Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of specialty pharmaceuticals, generic drugs, and imaging agent in 2017 generated 90% of sales from the U.S. healthcare system. With such a large network, it is one of the finest and leading pharmaceuticals.

Silence Therapeutics

A biotechnology company that develops therapeutic gene technology based on RNA interference. They are responsible and have major involvement in developmental research of targeted RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases.

What is RNAi?

RNAi or RNA Interference is a biological process in our internal body. RNA interferes with RNA to cut it down from double-stranded RNA to single and then to further more pieces. This process inhibits gene expression or translation by targeting RNA and neutralizing it. 

Mallinckrodt and Silence Therapeutics Partnership

Mallinckrodt is the finest and leading pharmaceutical you can find. With such a vast network, it has the power to change, the power to reach out and help maximum. The one problem they were facing was lack of research and information about RNAi. Silence Therapeutics had all the knowledge of RNAi. With that knowledge, you could even treat deadly cancerous diseases. You may have guessed it until now.

One of the ten principles of microeconomics says Trade can make everyone better off. So, Mallinckrodt holding power to reach out and change and Silence Therapeutics with the information made a deal and became partners.

There were some noticeable points made at the time of their partnership. Some of them are mentioned below.

•    This partnership will allow Silence’s platform in the field of RNAi technology to advance. With more advancement, new ways would come out to solve deadly diseases.

•    The agreement provides Mallinckrodt with an exclusive worldwide license for one preclinical asset that targets a specific protein in the complement pathway, C3 (SLN500), and an option for up to two additional assets with different complement protein targets

•    $20 million upfront payment, long-term development, commercial milestones, and royalties on net sales will be received by Silence.

This collaboration will allow both companies to develop an RNAi drug. This drug would be a group of proteins that are involved in the immune system to fight different diseases. These proteins play an important role in the development of inflammation.

These proteins are also considered to contribute to the pathogenesis of many diseases, including autoimmune diseases. This would change the medical world and show it a better path to find more ways to fight deadly diseases.

Not only will this partnership help in the medical field but would also leave an impact on other companies to indulge themselves in these healthy partnerships to produce the best possible outcome. The business world is a dirty place, and it needs to have examples like these.

Inventor of CRISPR, Feng Chang is Targeting Alzheimer’s

Crispr Pioneer Is Aiming Towards Brain Diseases

In recent news, a CRISPR pioneer, Feng Zhang, from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has started up his own pharma company. Dubbed as Beam Therapeutics, it has made headlines because Zhang has collected up to USD 222 million for research funds and development. Zhang largely focusing on editing gene structure and has recently released a ground breaking invention that is expected to be able to manipulate RNA in genes.

This may equip researchers and scientists to one find cures for different brain diseases, such as the likes of Alzheimer’s. The system developed by Zhang and his co-workers is commonly known as RNA Editing for Specific C to U Exchange, or RESCUE for short. Keep reading to find out everything to know about this new invention and what we can expect.

1.    How does it work?

In their research journal, Zhang and his colleagues explain exactly how this new technology works. To put it simply, the technology works inside the cells of the body and alters the gene responsible for late-onset Alzheimer’s to a non-pathogenic form. Previously, the method used for this purpose caused the DNA to split at certain points, posing the risk of altering the DNA chains permanently.

Zhang’s invention targets RNA instead of DNA by using a muted version of another enzyme. To get into the particular, ‘RESCUE’ targets on the base chains of RNA called Cytosine. Cytosine can then be converted into Uridine, which can help manipulate the process of protein synthesis or similar processes that have to do with the genetic restructuring. 

2.    The science behind the project

Speaking in terms of brain disease, as aforementioned, RESCUE can alter the genetic structure in RNA to alter the variant that poses a risk of Alzheimer’s to a non-pathogenic state. According to Zhang and his team, this removes the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s altogether. RESCUE and RNA editing can also be used to reverse certain synthesis processes to promote healing of wounds. RESCUE largely works on the principle of altering RNA and activates certain hormones in the body to help further the process.  

3.    Future Projections

Taking inspiration from Zhang’s model, other companies and research groups have also begun work on similar technologies. For the future, researchers are confident that these cures can be extended to help with other diseases as well, including Parkinson’s and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. There is still plenty more work that needs to be done on RESCUE itself before it can be used practically. Zhang has said that clinical trials are still a little way down the road. This is because there is a very specific set of technologies needed to develop RESCUE.

Conclusion   

Even though CRISPR technology and RESCUE has some ground to cover before it can be used on people, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to the fight against brain diseases. However, using advanced programming and enhancing the precision of RNA editing, some promising results can be expected shortly.

Conversations with a CEO: Biotech Brothers Interviews Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov

As someone who writes about pharma and the biotech industry, I get invited to join the sidelines in hearing the stories of innovators in our field. I truly enjoy the idea of reporting about the research and innovations that scientists and CEOs take on.

When I first heard about the opportunity to sit down and talk to Dr. Alex, the founder of an artificial intelligence company in healthcare, I felt a rush. The chance to have a glimpse of the future in drug discovery.  As I was getting ready for the interview, what came to my mind was movies I saw as a child. Do you remember the film I,ROBOT the one with Will Smith? A very futuristic idea when people first hear about it, yet we arrived at an era where it no longer seems impossible.

Image via Pexels

Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov is the CEO and founder of Insilico Medicine. A company with the mission to have you living past the age of 150 years, maybe, even more.

What would you do if you knew you could live to 150 years?

Not only is he leading that project, but he has taken the ambitious goal of starting pharma.ai, young.ai, and chemistry.ai. Companies that are working together to harness the power of deep learning, where algorithms scour through images, videos, and genomic data recognizing trends and patterns to design compounds and molecules for medicine. (Woah)

Pharma.ai is one of his projects that uses genomic data to develop drugs. He has collaborations and partnerships with the biggest pharmaceuticals in the world, AstraZeneca and WuXi APPtech. A CEO that is changing the way that drugs are developed.

This is big. Drug discovery in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology is expensive and costly when trying to find the next billion-dollar drug. It takes a decade to have a drug approved, and 99% of the time, drugs fail phase III because it didn’t reach their endpoints. If you’re an investor that invested millions of dollars, you can kiss that money goodbye. Better hope the company has another IND (Investigational New Drug). 

His company has been cited more than 3,000 times, something that should not be left unnoticed. His goal is to publish an article every week. As a scientist, it is essential to note that publishing research is vital for transparency. It is what allows you to talk and be reviewed by other scientists about your research, experiment, results, and form a discussion of ways to improve experimental designs.

 I decided to ask him some more personal questions. I wanted to know more about the person behind the CEO and Scientist.

What does Dr. Alex do in his free time?

Dr. Zhavoronkov made sure to let me know that in his free time, he works. A workaholic determined to reach his goals.

What inspires Dr. Alex?

He said Jeff Bezos and Deep Mind. I’m sure the world knows who Jeff Bezos is by now if you have Alexa or an Amazon account you’re using his technology. Jeff Bezo’s has artificial intelligence in every part of Amazon. This has allowed him to build one of the wealthiest company in the world. Deep Mind is a company aiming to solve the most complex problems in the world without teaching a computer to solve the problem.

If you could have any answer in the world, what would it be?

He made sure to let me know that living forever. As someone who knew the story to his company, I wasn’t surprised that he continues his ambitions for longevity.

If you want to learn more about Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, I invite you to visit his site. Artificial intelligence is the future of biology and chemistry. With innovators like Dr. Alex leading the way, who knows how long will it take to create a drug that will treat and cure diseases. I’m betting it will be soon.

Do you want to live forever? Comment your thoughts!

Make more than $500K working in Biotech

The 1%.  This a term popularized by the infamous Occupy Wallstreet movement.  It was the first time the term had truly gained traction in the media.  People from all over the world were watching the United States have a national dialogue regarding its own inequity issues.

The term 1% comes from the statistic that only 1% of Americans earn around $500,000 a year or more.  A large part of the negative connotation surrounding the 1% is that the rules and laws typically favor the 1%.  The average American citizen does not get the same fair treatment and equal opportunities as the 1%.  And as social inequity discord grows in America, so does the backlash against this particular class of people. 

But one slightly concerning issue that has recently been exposed is how the 1% class has become interconnected with our healthcare system.   As part of the Dodd- Frank Act, publically traded health companies are now required to disclose medium employee compensation.  Reports have shown that some biotech companies have medium annual salaries as high at $800,000.

 These figures place these employees well into the 1% class.  So one has to ask the question, how exactly are these biotech employees making so much money?  And what kinds of systems are in place that incentives these type of pay plans?  First, let’s look at some of the numbers.

The Biomedical Industry at a Glance

Biomedical and drug companies are among the most profitable companies in the entire USA.  A big reason for this is that these companies tend to specialize in extremely rare and hard to treat disorders.  This allows a company to have an effective monopoly over the cure to a disorder, simply because no other companies put the time and research into treating these issues.

A perfect example of this was when Martin Shkreli, former hedge fund manager of Elea Capital, famously raised the price of an anti-patristic drug called Daraprim by over 6000%.  At the time, only 1 company was actively making the drug, and Shkreli’s hedge fund purchased the patent.  Then Shkreli dramatically raised the price of the drug, enabling his group to reap billions of dollars in profits off the drug. 

While on the surface this action may seem morally reprehensible, it was in fact totally legal.  In fact, Shkreli was only found guilty on fraud charges associated with another matter, not because he raised the price of the drug.  So while Shkreli found himself facing the wrath of the country, his business partners were able to carve out a handsome profit for themselves.   

The Future of Biomedical and Drug Company Pay

For most people in the nation, the  Shkreli story was their venture into the high stakes world of drug profits.  It’s safe to say that the average American did not realize just how much money various drug companies and CEO’s were making off of them.  And as drug prices and drug company employee pay increases, so do the mistrust. 

A recent Senate Judicial hearing in the United States proved this, as a new bipartisan effort has emerged to rein in both healthcare costs and drug prices in the USA.   These efforts will ultimately affect drug company profitability and employee pay.

So what do you think?  Do you think Drug company pay will continue to put workers in the 1% class? 

Let us know in the comment sections below. 

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