Fierce Pharma Asia—Hansoh’s siRNA deals; J&J preps for Legend’s CAR-T launch; Brii’s COVID antibodies

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Hansoh Pharma's deals with OliX Pharmaceuticals and Silence Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson's CAR-T launch preparation, and the market opportunity for COVID-19 antibody drugs made our news this week. (Google)

China's Hansoh Pharma has doubled down on siRNA therapeutics with back-to-back licensing deals. Johnson & Johnson is plotting a personalized patient support program for its Legend Biotech-partnered CAR-T therapy cilta-cel. Brii Biosciences' COVID-19 antibody cocktail could attract more than $1 billion in government contracts next year, SVB Leerink said. And more.

1. Chinese biopharma powerhouse continues charge into siRNA with Silence R&D pact

Hansoh Pharma unveiled back-to-back deals focused on siRNA. First, the Chinese pharma giant paid $6.5 million upfront and committed up to $450 million in milestones to team with OliX Pharmaceuticals on cardiovascular, metabolic and other diseases associated with the liver. It then put down $16 million upfront and committed up to $1.3 billion in milestones to collaborate with Silence Therapeutics on three targets.

2. Johnson & Johnson preps for first CAR-T launch with a new patient support program, a dedicated sales team and more

Johnson & Johnson and Legend Biotech’s BCMA-targeted CAR-T drug, cilta-cel, is expecting an FDA decision in multiple myeloma in November. To prepare for the launch, J&J is planning a personalized patient assistance program to help patients navigate the treatment journey, including access obstacles and logistics, Janssen U.S. oncology chief Serge Messerlian said.

3. Despite Merck's oral COVID-19 drug, antibodies by Regeneron, GSK and others still have billions in sales ahead: analyst

COVID-19 antibodies could still have a big market from uses in disease prevention and treatment despite the success of oral drugs, SVB Leerink analyst Goeffrey Porges said. For Brii Biosciences’ cocktail of BRII-196/198, which is under a rolling submission for an FDA emergency use authorization, Porges projected $1.3 billion in orders from the U.S. and Chinese governments.

4. Takeda crashes out of Wave discovery pact at cost of $23M

Takeda paid Wave Life Sciences $22.5 million to exit the early-stage discovery part of a deal the two signed in 2018. The Japanese pharma still retains rights to license drugs against three targets—C9orf72, HTT and ATXN3—including clinical candidates for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia and Huntington’s disease.

5. Struggling Calithera nabs 2 cheap cancer assets from Takeda for just $10M upfront

Calithera Biosciences is licensing two oncology programs from Takeda. Sapanisertib targets NRF2-mutations in squamous non-small cell lung cancer, while mivavotinib is a SYK inhibitor for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The biotech is going after KEAP1/NRF2-mutant NSCLC with its own drug telaglenastat, which posted a trial failure in kidney cancer in January.

6. Receptos founder returns with ShouTi and $100M for oral drugs to treat chronic diseases

Shanghai-San Francisco biotech ShouTi has collected $100 million in series B funding. The company’s lead program for pulmonary arterial hypertension is slated to finish a phase 1 study by early next year, and its second-in-line drug could enter a human trial early next year for Type 2 diabetes. The firm’s founder, Raymond Stevens, Ph.D., previously sold Receptos to Celgene in 2015.

7. D&D Pharma snags $51M ahead of Korean IPO for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's

D&D Pharmatech has landed $51 million in series C funding, which CEO Yoo-Seok Hong said paves the way for a potential initial public offering in Korea next quarter. The firm has passed the external evaluation stage and is now in discussions with the exchange. The latest financing will bankroll an ongoing phase 2 of the company’s lead drug in Parkinson’s disease, as well.

8. Lupin recalls blood pressure tablets on cancer-causing contamination concerns

Lupin is recalling irbesartan and hydrochlorothiazide, drugs used for high blood pressure and diabetic nephropathy. The withdrawal came after the Indian company found potential cancer-causing impurities in API batches.

9. China clears novel diabetes med Bilessglu by local biotech Chipscreen

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China has approved Bilessglu, or chiglitazar, made by local firm Chipscreen Biosciences, to treat Type 2 diabetes. The drug is a first-in-class PPAR pan-agonist, according to the company. It showed the ability to lower blood sugar levels in two phase 3 trials against placebo or Merck’s Januvia.