Audentes Therapeutics sold for $3 billion

Astellas to acquire Audentes for $60 per share in cash

Astellas Pharma (ALPMY) and Audentes Therapeutics (BOLD) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Astellas to acquire Audentes at a price of $60.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $3B.

Under the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Astellas and Audentes, Astellas will acquire Audentes through Asilomar Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Astellas US Holding, Inc.

Gene Therapy pays off nicely for Audentes Therapeutics, Stockwinners

Asilomar will commence a tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock of Audentes, for a price of $60.00 per share in cash.

Promptly upon successful completion of the Tender Offer, Asilomar will be merged into Audentes, and any remaining shares of common stock of Audentes will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $60.00 per share price.

Astellas pays $3 billion for Audentes Therapeutics, Stockwinners

The board of directors of Audentes has resolved to recommend that Audentes stockholders tender their shares to Astellas. Consummation of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including US antitrust clearance and the tender of a majority of Audentes’ outstanding shares of common stock.

The offer price represents a premium of 110% to Audentes’ closing share price of $28.61 on December 2, 2019.

The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $3B including the purchase of all common shares, options, restricted stock units and other securities.

The Tender Offer period is expected to commence in the next few weeks and to expire 20 business days after its commencement, unless otherwise extended.

If the Tender Offer conditions are not satisfied, Astellas may be required to extend the Tender Offer under certain circumstances. Astellas is still reviewing the impact of a consummation of the transaction on its financial results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.

Audentes Therapeutics, Inc. focuses on developing and commercializing gene therapy products for patients living with serious, life-threatening rare diseases caused by single gene defects.

The company is developing AT132, which is in Phase I/II clinical studies for the treatment of X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM); AT342 that is in Phase I/II clinical studies to treat crigler-najjar syndrome; AT845, which is in preclinical studies for the treatment of pompe disease; and AT307 to treat CASQ2 subtype of catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. 

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ChemoCentryx shares soar on data

ChemoCentryx, VFMCRP say pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial met primary endpoints

Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma, or VFMCRP, and ChemoCentryx (CCXI) announced positive topline data from the pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial of avacopan, an orally administered selective complement 5a receptor inhibitor, for the treatment of patients with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (ANCA-associated vasculitis or ANCA vasculitis).

ChemoCentryx shares soar on its ANCA drug, Stockwinners

ANCA vasculitis is an autoimmune disease affecting small blood vessels in the body. It is caused by autoantibodies called ANCAs, or Anti-Neutrophilic Cytoplasmic Autoantibodies.

This global study, in which a total of 331 patients with ANCA vasculitis were enrolled, met both of its primary endpoints, disease remission at 26 weeks and sustained remission at 52 weeks, as assessed by the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score, or BVAS.

Remission was defined as a BVAS score of zero and being off glucocorticoid treatment for ANCA vasculitis for at least the preceding four weeks.

BVAS remission at week 26 was achieved in 72.3% of the avacopan treated subjects vs. 70.1% of subjects in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

Sustained remission at 52 weeks was observed in 65.7% of the avacopan treated patients vs. 54.9% in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group, achieving both non-inferiority and superiority to glucocorticoid standard of care.

Importantly, subjects who received avacopan experienced additional benefits compared to those in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

These benefits, assessed as pre-specified secondary endpoints, include: Significant reduction in glucocorticoid-related toxicity; Significant improvement in kidney function in patients with renal disease at baseline; Improvements in health-related quality of life metrics.

The topline safety results revealed an acceptable safety profile in this serious and life threatening disease with fewer subjects having serious adverse events in the avacopan group than in the glucocorticoid standard of care control group.

A full analysis of the data is underway and expanded results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. “These results exceed our expectations,” said Thomas J. Schall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of ChemoCentryx.

“Today we mark the dawn of a new and historic period in the lives of ANCA vasculitis patients. This day we have for the first time demonstrated that a highly targeted therapy aimed at the very center of the ANCA disease process is superior to the traditional approach of broad immune suppression therapy; a therapy which the present findings may make obsolete. Until now ANCA vasculitis patients have had to endure regimens that contain chronic high doses of steroids and all their noxious effects, but with today’s data it is clear that the time of making patients sick with steroid therapy in an attempt to make their acute vasculitis better may at last be over. Working with our partner VFMCRP, we plan to make regulatory submissions for full marketing approval to both the European Medicines Agency and the FDA in 2020.”

CCXI is up $26.68 to $34.65

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BeiGene drug wins FDA approval for rare form of lymphoma

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved BeiGene Ltd’s lymphoma drug, accepting the Chinese drugmaker’s strategy of largely using data from trials held outside the United States to file for approval.

FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma
FDA granted approval to the capsules for treatment of aduls with mantle cell lymphoma, Stockwinners

The company tested the treatment, Brukinsa, in 118 patients with mantle cell lymphoma enrolled in two studies. About three-quarters were Asian, 21% Caucasian, and between 10% to 15% were from the United States, BeiGene said.

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the capsules for treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, who have received at least one prior therapy.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that most often affects men aged over 60. The company estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 new patients were diagnosed in the United States in 2015.

Last month, BeiGene (BGNE) and Amgen (AMGN) announced a global strategic oncology collaboration for the commercialization and development in China of Amgen’s XGEVA, KYPROLIS, and BLINCYTO, and the joint global development of 20 oncology assets in Amgen’s pipeline, with BeiGene responsible for development and commercialization in China.

In connection with the collaboration, Amgen said it will purchase a 20.5% stake in BeiGene for approximately $2.7B in cash at $174.85 per American Depositary Share, or ADS.

BGNE closed at $196.40.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus

Nektar presents new clinical, preclinical data from immuno-oncology pipeline

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced the presentation of five clinical and preclinical data abstracts focused on its immuno-oncology portfolio at the 2019 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting.

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Nektar Therapeutics is in focus, Stockwinners

New clinical results from the PIVOT-02 Phase 1/2 study were shared in an oral presentation titled, “Clinical activity of BEMPEG plus NIVO in previously untreated patients with metastatic melanoma: updated results from the Phase 1/2 PIVOT-02 Study” during the Combination Phase 1-2 Clinical Trials Session on Saturday, November 9th.

Additional preclinical data presented at the annual meeting highlighted NKTR-255, an IL-15 agonist discovered by Nektar.

The presentations demonstrated that NKTR-255 enhanced activity of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity against tumor cells in vitro, and that it also enhanced in vivo efficacy of ADCC-inducing antibodies in models of human solid tumors.

NKTR-255 is designed to engage the IL-15 pathway to stimulate and expand natural killer cells and promote the survival and expansion of memory CD8+ T cells without inducing suppressive regulatory T cells.

Nektar product pipeline, Stockwinners

NKTR-255 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with either relapsed or refractory Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or multiple myeloma.

“The data presented at this year’s SITC meeting continue to showcase the potential of our I-O portfolio, most notably our key IL-2 pathway program, bempeg, and our new IL-15 pathway program, NKTR-255,” said Jonathan Zalevsky, Ph.D., Chief Research & Development Officer at Nektar.

“The 18-month follow-up data presentation for the Stage IV melanoma patients in our PIVOT-02 study reinforces the promise of BEMPEG and NIVO to work synergistically to achieve a deepening of response over time, while maintaining a favorable safety and tolerability profile. We’re pleased that at this 18 month timepoint, 85% of patients who achieved responses have ongoing responses and median PFS has not yet been reached.”

Separately, Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) announced updated results from the first-in-human Phase 1a study of NKTR-358, a novel T regulatory cell stimulator in development for the treatment of autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Nektar reports new data, Stockwinners

The data, which were presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta, show that treatment with NKTR-358 led to a marked and selective dose-dependent expansion in the numbers and proliferative capacity of FoxP3+CD25bright Treg cells, and a measurable activation of Treg cells.

These data are a continuation of initial results reported at 2019 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in June 2019.

NKTR-358 is designed to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions by correcting the immune system imbalance that results from reduced numbers and impaired function of immune-regulating Treg cells.

NKTR-358 works by targeting the interleukin-2 receptor complex to stimulate the proliferation and activation of Treg cells.

NKTR-358 was discovered by Nektar and is being co-developed and commercialized in partnership with Eli Lilly (LLY).

Eli Lilly announces Alimta label expanded by FDA, Stockwinners
Eli Lilly and Nektar report new data, Stockwinners

“We’re pleased to report that final results from our first-in-human Phase 1a study continue to support the positive safety and tolerability profile of NKTR-358, while reinforcing its selective and measurable impact on the numbers, expansion and activation of regulatory T cells or Tregs,” said Brian Kotzin, M.D., senior VP, Clinical Development and NKTR-358 Program Lead at Nektar.

“Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are marked by an imbalance in the body’s self-tolerance and self-regulatory immune pathways, and the ability of NKTR-358 to expand functional Tregs could help restore normal balance.

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BeiGene shares soar on Amgen stake

Amgen to buy 20.5% stake in BeiGene for $2.7B at $174.85 per ADS

BeiGene (BGNE) and Amgen (AMGN) announced a global strategic oncology collaboration for the commercialization and development in China of Amgen’s XGEVA, KYPROLIS, and BLINCYTO, and the joint global development of 20 oncology assets in Amgen’s pipeline, with BeiGene responsible for development and commercialization in China.

Amgen takes 20% stake in BeiGene, Stockwinners

In connection with the collaboration, Amgen will purchase a 20.5% stake in BeiGene for approximately $2.7B in cash at $174.85 per American Depositary Share, or ADS.

Amgen will receive one seat on BeiGene’s Board of Directors.

Under the agreement, BeiGene will commercialize XGEVA, KYPROLIS and BLINCYTO in China for five or seven years, during which time the parties will equally share profits and losses.

Amgen enters Chinese market by taking stake in BeiGene, Stockwinners

Following the commercialization period, BeiGene will have the right to retain one product and will be entitled to receive royalties on sales in China for an additional five years on the products not retained; and XGEVA was approved in China in 2019 for patients with giant cell tumor of the bone and is in development for prevention of skeletal-related events in cancer patients with bone metastases.

Blincyto is indicated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Stockwinners

KYPROLIS is in late-stage development in China for patients with multiple myeloma, and BLINCYTO is in late-stage development in China as a treatment for adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Kyprolis is indicated for multiple myeloma , Stockwinners

BeiGene has agreed to jointly develop 20 Amgen oncology pipeline assets globally, which include targeted small-molecule agents such as AMG 510, a first-in-class investigational KRAS G12C inhibitor, as well as BiTE antibodies, for solid and hematologic malignancies; Amgen and BeiGene will co-fund global development costs, with BeiGene contributing up to $1.25B worth of development services and cash over the term of the collaboration.

BeiGene is entitled to receive royalties from global sales of each product outside of China, with the exception of AMG 510; For each pipeline asset that is approved in China, BeiGene will receive commercial rights for seven years from approval, during which time the parties will share equally in profits and losses.

BeiGene is also entitled to receive royalties from sales in China for five years after the seven-year commercial term; and BeiGene will also have the right to retain approximately one of every three approved pipeline assets, up to a total of six, other than AMG 510, for commercialization in China, during which time the parties will share in profits and losses.

The transactions have been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and are expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to approval by a majority vote of BeiGene’s shareholders pursuant to the listing rules of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the expiration or termination of applicable waiting periods under applicable antitrust laws, and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

BeiGene has already received commitments from shareholders holding approximately 40% of its outstanding shares to vote in favor of the transactions.

BGNE closed at $138.34, last traded at $174.58.

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Takeda and Seattle Genetics Publish Positive Results on T-cell lymphoma

ADCETRIS is an antibody-drug conjugate directed to CD30 which is expressed on CTCL lesions in approximately 50 percent of patients with the disease

Based on the study results, Takeda plans to begin to submit data from the ALCANZA trial to regulatory agencies in its territories in 2017.

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#Takeda (TKPYY) and #SeattleGenetics (SGEN) announced that data from the randomized Phase 3 ALCANZA clinical trial evaluating ADCETRIS in patients with cutaneous T-cell #lymphoma were published in the journal #Lancet.

Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer. The two main forms of lymphoma are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Lymphoma occurs when cells of the immune system called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, grow and multiply uncontrollably. Cancerous lymphocytes can travel to many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood, or other organs, and form a mass called a tumor. The body has two main types of lymphocytes that can develop into lymphomas: B-lymphocytes (B-cells) and T-lymphocytes (T-cells).

Data were previously presented in an oral session at the 58th American Society of Hematology annual meeting in December 2016.

#ADCETRIS is an antibody-drug conjugate directed to CD30 which is expressed on CTCL lesions in approximately 50 percent of patients with the disease.

ADCETRIS is currently not approved for the treatment of CTCL.

ALCANZA is a randomized, open-label Phase 3 study designed to evaluate single-agent ADCETRIS versus a control arm of investigator’s choice of the standard of care therapies methotrexate or bexarotene, in patients with CD30-positive CTCL.

The manuscript highlights data from the trial which achieved its primary endpoint with the ADCETRIS treatment arm demonstrating a highly statistically significant improvement in the rate of objective response lasting at least four months (ORR4) versus the control arm as assessed by an independent review facility.

#ORR4, as assessed by Global Response Score, was 56.3 percent in the ADCETRIS arm compared to 12.5 percent in the control arm.

Key secondary endpoints specified in the protocol, including complete response rate, progression-free survival and reduction in the burden of symptoms during treatment (Skindex-29), were all highly statistically significant in favor of the ADCETRIS arm.

The safety profile associated with ADCETRIS from the ALCANZA trial was generally consistent with the existing prescribing information.

The most common adverse events of any grade include: peripheral neuropathy, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, alopecia, pruritis, pyrexia, decreased appetite and hypertriglyceridemia.

Based on the study results, Takeda plans to begin to submit data from the ALCANZA trial to regulatory agencies in its territories in 2017. The U.S. FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to ADCETRIS for the treatment of the most common subtypes of CTCL, mycosis fungoides and primary cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma .

Seattle Genetics plans to submit these data as part of a supplemental Biologics License Application to the FDA in mid-2017. The ALCANZA trial received a Special Protocol Assessment agreement from the FDA and scientific advice from the European Medicines Agency.

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Shares of bluebird bio Jump on ASCO Presentation

bluebird bio, and Celgene presented data on bb2121, their investigational anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy for multiple myeloma

Leerink says bluebird bio’s bb2121 dose-escalation data in multiple myeloma is among the most impressive early data sets he’s seen

 

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American Society of Clinical Oncology’s #ASCO Annual Meeting is taking place June 2 to June 6 in Chicago. Several pharmaceutical firms and biotechnology companies are presenting their new drugs and/or present progress on the status of their drugs under development. bluebird bio $BLUE is one of the presenters.

#bluebird bio (BLUE) is a clinical-stage company developing potentially transformative gene therapies for severe genetic diseases and T cell-based immunotherapies. The company’s objective is to develop and bring to market the most advanced products based on the transformative potential of gene therapy to provide patients hope for a better life in the face of limited or no long-term safe and effective treatment options.

bluebird bio, and Celgene Corporation (CELG) announced that updated results from the ongoing CRB-401 Phase 1 clinical study of bb2121, an investigational anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy, in 18 patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

The objective of this Phase 1 dose-escalation study is to evaluate safety and efficacy of bb2121 and determine a recommended Phase 2 dose. bluebird bio and Celgene are jointly developing bb2121.

As of the May 4, 2017, 21 patients had been enrolled and dosed in four dose cohorts. All 21 dosed patients were evaluable for safety, and 18 patients have undergone their first multiple myeloma tumor restaging and were evaluable for efficacy. This study has enrolled patients at seven sites in the U.S., with an anticipated total enrollment of up to 50 patients.

Patients received a conditioning regimen of cyclophosphamide and fludarabine, followed by an infusion of bb2121 anti-BCMA CAR T cells. The CAR T cells were produced from each patient’s own blood cells, which were modified using a lentiviral vector encoding the anti-BCMA CAR.

“It is impressive to see objective responses in all patients treated at dose levels of 150 x 106 CAR+ T cells or higher in such a heavily pretreated population, including those with high tumor burden. We are encouraged by the duration and depth of responses, and pleased that the safety profile remains readily manageable,” said David Davidson, M.D., chief medical officer, bluebird bio.

Analysts Reaction

#BMO Capital upgraded bluebird bio to Outperform from Market Perform. Analyst Matthew Luchini says that a trial of the company’s bb2121 drug showed that its efficacy is “compelling,” while its safety is “generally clean.” Raised his price target to $108 from $83.

#SunTrust analyst Edward Nash says that the data for the Phase I trial of bluebird’s bb2121 in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.was “impressive.” He says that the drug’s efficacy was “robust,” while its safety appears to be “manageable.” The analyst keeps a $108 price target and Buy rating on the stock.

#Leerink analyst Michael Schmidt says bluebird bio’s (BLUE) bb2121 dose-escalation data in multiple myeloma is among the most impressive early data sets he’s seen in the #CAR-T space to date. The data sets a high bar for the competition, which includes #Juno Therapeutics (JUNO), #Kite Pharma (KITE) and #Novartis (NVS), Schmidt tells investors in a research note. Being one year ahead of the competition provides bluebird and Celgene (CELG) with an ideal position in multiple myeloma, the analyst adds. He keeps an Outperform rating on bluebird shares with a $100 price target.

Price Action

BLUE last traded at $102.92, up 13% on the day. It has a 52-week trading range of $36.62 – $104.90.

CELG last traded at $116.83, down one percent on the day.   It has a 52-week trading range of $94.42 – $127.64.

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