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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

STAT's 2021 Breakthrough Science Summit is around the corner. See the agenda and learn how to attend the (virtual) event here.

GSK pays richly for an anti-TIGIT immunotherapy

Iteos Therapeutics has sold an experimental cancer antibody to GlaxoSmithKline for $625 million. The immunotherapy, called an anti-TIGIT drug, could ultimately bring the small Cambridge biotech another $1.45 billion, should it perform well clinically. Several large companies have been interested in Iteos’ drug, EOS-448: “It was a competitive contest,” CEO Michel Detheux told STAT. 

TIGIT-targeted drugs are drawing a lot of attention from academics and investors alike, STAT’s Adam Feuerstein writes, as they have the potential to expand the pool of patients who might benefit from such checkpoint inhibitors. They’re meant to accelerate and amplify the activity of immune cells. 

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Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine is strongly protective 

A Covid-19 vaccine from Novavax has performed well in a large, late-stage trial: It offered 100% protection against moderate and severe disease, and 90.4% efficacy overall. The study took place mostly in the U.S. and Mexico, and focused on recruiting people in the communities and demographic groups most affected by the disease, Novavax said. 

Should the vaccine achieve regulatory approval, Novavax plans on manufacturing 150 million doses each month by the end of the year. 

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Patient advocates lambast Alzheimer drug’s price

The Alzheimer’s Association over the weekend sharply criticized the price of Biogen’s controversial new drug, Aduhelm. The company priced the amyloid-clearing medication at $56,000 — which the patient advocacy group deemed “simply unacceptable,” saying it “will pose an insurmountable barrier to access.” The group did, however, express gratitude that the drug was approved. 

The Alzheimer’s Association’s criticisms suggest that Aduhelm could be the newest poster child for drug prices gone wild. Already, signals are emanating from Washington, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes. One Democratic senator called the drug’s cost “unconscionable” and another said it “will likely cost Medicare billions of dollars.” 

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Neurologists scrambling over Aduhelm

Patients are clamoring for more information about Aduhelm — and physicians are poring through reams of confusing data to learn more about the contentious Alzheimer’s drug. There’s some info on the drug's label: It requires that patients get brain imaging in the months following the drug’s infusion, to determine if there’s any brain swells or bleeds. But there aren’t any amyloid PET scans to indicate that the drug’s doing anything it’s purported to do — or if a patient is even a reasonable candidate for the drug.

“There is no cure, so everybody is looking for a drug that actually modifies the progression of the disease so that if you take it, you would be buying yourself more time,” one neurologist told STAT. “And we don’t have enough data to know if this is that drug.”

Read more.

More reads

  • Oxford spinout spies the hidden mechanics of DNA and disease with single-pair resolution method. (FierceBiotech)
  • Biotech rally sparked by Alzheimer’s drug has staying power (Wall Street Journal)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Damian

Monday, June 14, 2021

STAT

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