Fierce Pharma Asia—Otsuka's gene therapy deal; Astellas' $354M plant; Exelixis and Insilico's AI drug pact

Otsuka teamed up with Shape Therapeutics in an eye disease gene therapy deal potentially worth $1.5 billion. Astellas will build its third Irish manufacturing facility. Insilico Medicine out-licensed an AI-discovered cancer drug candidate to Exelixis. And more.

1. Otsuka's eye disease strategy takes Shape with $1.5B biobucks deal

In a deal potentially worth up to $1.5 billion, Otsuka has hired Shape Therapeutics to develop new gene therapies for serious eye diseases. Shape, a 2022 Fierce 15 winner, will apply its adeno-associated virus capsid discovery platform, while Otsuka will design the genetic payload. Shape will provide extra optimization with its transgene engineering technology as well.

2. Astellas lays out plans to build $354M manufacturing facility in Ireland

Astellas plans to invest 330 million euros ($354 million) to build a new manufacturing facility in Tralee, Ireland. Pending planning permits, construction will begin in 2024, and operation is expected to commence in 2028. The plant, Astellas’ third in Ireland, will make aseptic products including antibody drugs.

3. Exelixis links up with AI drug finder Insilico, LIB offloads China rights for PCSK9 inhibitor

Exelixis has in-licensed a phase 1 small molecule from artificial intelligence drug discovery firm Insilico Medicine. For $80 million upfront and undisclosed milestone payments, Exelixis gains worldwide rights to a cancer candidate targeting USP1, which may have value in BRCA-mutated tumors, according to Insilico.

4. Eisai launches 'digital business' Theoria to build out a dementia ecosystem for patients

Eisai has established a first-of-its-kind “digital business.” Called Theoria, the platform aims to build an ecosystem for people living with dementia. Eisai, maker of Alzheimer’s disease drug Leqembi, will launch Theoria in Japan next April. The platform will tap various data and health records to help find people who may be at risk of developing dementia.

5. AstraZeneca, Daiichi Sankyo show off ADC portfolio with safety top of mind

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo have unveiled additional early-stage data for their TROP2 antibody-drug conjugate, nicknamed Dato-DXd. Results from just 14 patients in the phase 1b TROPION-Lung04 study showed that the combination of Dato-DXd and AZ’s PD-L1 inhibitor Imfinzi triggered a 50% tumor response rate. In a cohort of 13 patients who also received chemotherapy, the response rate was 77%.

6. Sandoz, nearing Novartis split, signs up to commercialize Samsung Bioepis' Stelara biosimilar

Sandoz continues to beef up its biosimilar portfolio as a separation from Novartis draws near. Sandoz signed a deal to commercialize Samsung Bioepis’ biosimilar to Johnson & Johnson’s immunology blockbuster Stelara in the U.S., Canada and several European countries. J&J has inked patent settlements with several companies to delay launches for their Stelara copycats until 2025.

Other News of Note:

7. In global access push, Orchid Pharma gains license to manufacture the antibiotic cefiderocol

8. China approves BioRay’s homemade lymphoma rival to Roche’s Rituxan (release)

9. Takeda commits $30M in 5 humanatarian programs (release)