Friday, April 21, 2017

The Readout by Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Welcome to The Readout, where we keep you on top of the latest in biotech. For more in-depth coverage of biopharma, subscribe to STAT Plus. On Twitter: @damiangarde@megkesh, and @statnews.

Glybera is dead, but gene therapy lives on

UniQure's pioneering gene therapy has long been a commercial nonentity, and it's soon to stop being a product whatsoever.

But gene therapy experts see no reason to fret about the future of the field. UniQure's treatment, Glybera, had the unfortunate combination of middling efficacy and an untenable price. The next wave of gene therapies looks much more promising in the clinic, scientists said, which should make it considerably easier to justify what are likely to be high prices.

Read more in STAT Plus.

Amgen's lawyers make it rain once more

Amgen presumably bristles at the epithet that it’s a law firm with a biotech attached. But then it goes ahead and files another lawsuit.

The company is suing Sanofi and Regeneron on claims that their latest blockbuster hopeful, the eczema treatment Dupixent, infringed Amgen’s patents. The back story: In 2014, Amgen was at work on a drug for severe asthma and got a patent for antibodies that target a protein called IL-4. Dupixent happens to bond to IL-4, as well, and Amgen claims the drug steps on its intellectual property — even though its own antibody has long since fallen out of development.

If that sounds familiar, it’s basically the same thing that happened in the cholesterol space, where Amgen claimed to have broad rights to blocking the protein PCSK9 and sued Regeneron and Sanofi for infringement. That effort resulted in a temporary injunction that has since been lifted, and analysts widely expect the parties to settle.

Sanofi told the Boston Business Journal that Amgen’s claims are bunk, and that it will “vigorously protect and defend our innovative product.”

Smile for the aerial camera. Then march?

double-duty signage. (alnylam)

Time to break out the glitter and brush up on your science puns: At 10 a.m. this Saturday, Boston biotechers are invited to head over to Kendall Square to mug for the aerial camera. On the corner of Vassar and Main, a photographer will be perched up high, with aims to capture the diversity of Kendall Square’s biotech scene. 

“I think this all started with the industry seeing the executive order on immigration,” said Zachary Stanley, who heads up marketing for MassBio. It’s since expanded to represent dissent against federal cuts to science funding.

The Kendall aerial photo is separate from the March for Science, but signage is encouraged. 

Speaking of the march (and of signs), we've compiled the 31 best pro-science placards we've seen from around the country. Enjoy.

(Unless, of course, you agree with some that it's all a bad idea.)

Remember the 'biblical values' investor with a yen for biotech?

His name is Robert Netzly, and his evangelical ETFs are still chugging along, with the bigger one trading up a few points despite setbacks for Incyte, its largest holding. The fund hit its lowest point on March 9, coincidentally the day it got profiled in STAT, but it's now apparently doing well enough to merit Netzly ringing the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange.

More reads

  • Grail wants to recruit 120,000 women to help it develop a pan-cancer blood test. (Press release)
  • Washington state agency deals PTC a setback for its Duchenne drug. (STAT Plus)
  • EU crushes U.K. hopes of retaining EMA after Brexit. (FierceBiotech)
  • Biotech blogger Derek Lowe does an Ask Me Anything. (Reddit)

Have a news tip or comment you want to send us?

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We'll be covering the March for Science in multiple cities tomorrow, so check out our homepage for updates and photos. We'll be back with another Readout on Monday.

Damian & Meghana

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