Fierce Pharma Asia—Takeda's cell, gene therapy deals; BMS-BeiGene Abraxane brawl

Takeda is investing more in cell and gene therapy through new deals with Poseida Therapeutics and Immusoft targeting liver and neurometabolic disorders, respectively. BeiGene's Abraxane China licensing deal with Bristol Myers Squibb's Celgene is falling apart amid manufacturing problems and a legal battle. And more.

1. Billions club: Takeda taps Poseida for 2nd $1B-plus gene therapy pact in 2 weeks

On the heels of a tie-up with Selecta Biosciences, Takeda has signed another gene therapy deal, this time with Poseida Therapeutics. In a heavily backloaded deal worth up to $3.6 billion, Takeda can license up to eight nonviral, in vivo gene therapies for liver and hematologic diseases from the San Diego biotech’s genetic engineering platform.

2. Takeda bets up to $900M on Immusoft's cell therapies for neurometabolic disorders

Takeda also penned a cell therapy pact with Seattle-based Immunsoft. The pact, worth up to $900 million, focuses on neurometabolic disorders. Immunosoft’s treatments aim to modify a person’s B cells to deliver gene-encoded therapies. The Japanese pharma can exclusively license the programs from the preclinical stage.

3. Bristol Myers Squibb is nixing BeiGene's Abraxane deal in China amid manufacturing woes. Is their cancer rivalry really to blame?

Bristol Myers Squibb is pulling Abraxane's China rights from a basket licensing deal Celgene signed with BeiGene in 2017. Abraxane’s China marketing has been on hold since last March after Chinese regulators noticed manufacturing problems at a U.S. site. Another BMS-owned U.S. facility recently also hit its own problems, putting Abraxane supply in shortage. The two firms are also battling in an arbitration process.

4. Samsung Biologics speeds $2B plant build forecast to boost capacity 70%

Samsung Biologics is eyeing an early completion of its $2 billion manufacturing facility, dubbed the Super Plant, in Incheon, South Korea. Originally planned for late 2023, the plant will be fully ready by mid-2023, a Samsung exec told Bloomberg. The gigantic project will increase the CDMO’s production capacity by about 70% to help the firm meet rising demand for genetic-material-based products.

5. Merck's oral COVID-19 drug sees India's Everest Organics hit start on production

As Merck files Ridgeback Biotherapeutics-partnered molnupiravir for FDA emergency use authorization, India’s Everest Organics has already started making the drug’s active ingredient. So far, the production has been limited at lab scale, according to Everest.

6. Takeda's transplant drug gets unanimous support of FDA AdComm despite concerns over diversity of its study

After several setbacks, Takeda’s late-stage pipeline received a boost. The company’s maribavir won unanimous backing from an FDA advisory committee for transplant recipients with refractory cytomegalovirus infection, setting the stage for a likely approval from the FDA.

7. Aum bags $27M to hit cancer targets pursued by Bayer, Roche

Singapore-based Aum Biosciences landed $27 million in a series A to move its MNK and TRK inhibitors into midphase clinical trials. TRK is also the target of Bayer’s Vitrakvi and Roche’s Rozlytrek, and eFFECTOR Therapeutics’ tomivosertib is a contender against MNK.

8. Pfizer calls in the lawyers to block would-be rival to extended-release Xeljanz

Pfizer is suing Sinotherapeutics for trying to start selling early a generic version of the U.S. pharma’s extended release JAK inhibitor Xeljanz XR. At the center of the dispute is a patent covering a once-daily 11-mg formulation of the drug that’s set to expire in 2034.

Other news of note: 

9. Olympus investigating 'potential cybersecurity incident' on American IT systems, its 2nd in a month

10. Charles River offloads Japanese research model site, Swedish gene therapy CDMO for $115M

11. Brii starts rolling submission for EUA of COVID-19 antibody combo in nonhospitalized patients (release)