June's top stories: Takeda and Biological E. collaborated, J&J completed Actelion acquisition

Takeda and Biological E. collaborated to develop affordable combination vaccines, and J&J completed the Actelion acquisition for $30bn. Pharmaceutical-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from June.


Takeda and Biological E. collaborated to develop affordable combination vaccines

Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda entered two licensing agreements with Indian firm Biological E. to accelerate the development and supply of low-cost combination vaccines.

Under the agreements, Biological E. will commercialise the affordable combination vaccines in India, China and other low-income and middle-income countries worldwide with large, unmet public health requirements.

Takeda vaccine business unit chief operating officer Rahul Singhvi said: “Access to medicines is one of Takeda’s core values, and these agreements align with Takeda’s strategic goals to make high-impact contributions to global public health, either alone or through partners.

“These two agreements, along with our current vaccine pipeline, underscore our global commitment to address important infectious diseases across the globe.”


J&J completed Actelion acquisition for $30bn

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) completed the acquisition of Actelion Pharmaceuticals for approximately $30bn in an all-cash transaction through its Swiss subsidiary Janssen Holding.

The European Commission approved the acquisition, which was notified on 12 April, under the EU merger regulation on 9 June.

The deal is expected to expand Janssen’s portfolio with Actelion PAH franchise’s differentiated in-market medicines and late-stage therapies such as Opsumit, Uptravi and Tracleer.


CRT and Merck extended partnership to discover new cancer drugs

UK-based Cancer Research Technology (CRT) extended its collaboration with US pharmaceutical company Merck to discover new cancer drugs targeting the Hippo pathway.

The completion of the deal between the two parties follows a successful one-year target validation and drug discovery feasibility collaboration between CRT’s Discovery Laboratories (CRT-DL) in London, UK, and Cambridge and Merck at Darmstadt, Germany.

The alliance has helped develop an enhanced understanding of the role of the Hippo pathway in cancer and the best drug for the key targets.


Valeant completed sale of Dendreon to Sanpower for $819.9m

Canadian company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International completed the sale of all outstanding equity interests in its subsidiary Dendreon Pharmaceuticals to the Sanpower Group for $819.9m.

Under the deal, Valeant Pharmaceuticals will use net proceeds from the sale to permanently repay term loan debt under its senior credit facility.

Upon closing of the transaction, the company expects to pay down $5bn in debt from the sale proceeds and free cash-flow within 18 months after next month.


New NIH study revealed mutations in gene CABLES1 may lead to Cushing syndrome

A new study conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that mutations in the gene CABLES1 may lead to Cushing syndrome, a rare disorder that makes the human body produce excess stress hormone cortisol.

The cortisol found in Cushing syndrome can be generated from certain steroid medications or from tumours of the pituitary or adrenal glands.

Patients suffering from the disease may have certain symptoms such as obesity, muscle weakness, fatigue, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, depression and anxiety.


Roche, Pfizer and Aspen under investigation over cancer drug pricing

The Competition Commission of South Africa initiated separate investigations against three global pharmaceutical companies over suspected excessive pricing of cancer medicines.

The three companies under probe are Swiss-based Roche, US firm Pfizer and South African holding company Aspen Pharmacare.

Competition Commission commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said: “The Commission has identified the healthcare sector, and in particular pharmaceuticals, as a priority sector for its enforcement efforts due to the likely negative impact that anti-competitive conduct in that sector would have on consumers in general and specifically the poor and vulnerable.”


Study showed certain genetic faults help predict immunotherapy success in cancer

New research conducted by John Hopkins University in Baltimore, US, found that a certain group of genetic faults can be used to predict the success of immunotherapy in cancer patients.

The study revealed that a significant number of patients whose tumours had defects in genes involved in DNA repair responded to the immunotherapy treatment, pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

The researchers discovered that all patients who responded to pembrolizumab had cancers with defects in a set of genes, known as mismatch repair genes.


CSL agreed to purchase 80% stake in Chinese firm Ruide for $352m

Global biotechnology company CSL agreed to buy 80% stake in Chinese plasma-derived therapies manufacturer Wuhan Zhong Yuan Rui De Biological Products (Ruide) from Humanwell Healthcare Group for $352m.

With the completion of the acquisition, CSL will develop a strategic presence in the Chinese domestic plasma fractionation market and complement the 20-year long position of its CSL Behring business in China as a supplier of imported albumin.

CSL managing director and chief executive officer Paul Perreault said: “We will contribute our extensive plasma manufacturing expertise with a goal to expand and grow plasma collection capabilities and introduce new products into this high-growth market.

“In co-operation with Humanwell, we intend to work closely with local regulators and the sector to help improve plasma safety and quality, as well as enhance the plasma donor experience.”


AbCellera and Teva expanded research collaboration for new antibodies

Canadian biotechnology company AbCellera Biologics entered a new therapeutic antibody discovery collaboration with Israeli-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to discover new antibodies against membrane protein targets.

The current agreement followed a successful first collaboration completed between the two companies last year.

AbCellera founding chief executive officer Carl Hansen said: “We are excited to expand our relationship with the innovative team at Teva.

“This follow-on project marks an important step in establishing AbCellera's platform as an enabling technology for difficult target classes that have proven intractable by conventional antibody discovery methods.”


Pfizer began construction of new R&D facility in Missouri, US

US-based biopharmaceutical company Pfizer began construction of its latest and advanced research and development (R&D) and process development facility in the country.

Located in Chesterfield, Missouri, the new facility will be owned by the company.

Pfizer will bring together more than 450 employees currently working at several other locations and is expected to hire 80 additional workers over the coming years to support research at the Missouri site.