Snippet roundup: Deals for Boston and Astra, data for Novo and an approval for Biosurfit


Welcome to your weekly roundup of EP Vantage’s snippets – short takes on smaller news items.

This week, November 28-December 2, 2016, we had thoughts on the following: Boston does an Mvalve on Neovasc; Bicycle rides to Astra deal; Novo’s costly devotion to Tresiba; Biosurfit’s doctor’s office diabetes test hits Europe. 

Boston does an Mvalve on Neovasc

December 2, 2016

Sooner or later someone was going to make a move on Neovasc, one of the last transcatheter mitral valve start-ups to remain independent, and Boston Scientific has duly stepped in. The deal is not an outright takeover; rather Boston has bought Neovasc’s biological tissue business for $69m in cash and has also taken a 15% equity stake in the group for $7m. The deal is reminiscent of the one Boston struck with MValve Technologies back in October 2015, when it invested in the Israeli group and optioned rights to acquire it. The Neovasc deal nets Boston the biological tissue technology used in its CE-marked catheter-mounted aortic valve, Lotus – Boston could doubtless use this to develop a mitral valve too. Meanwhile Neovasc’s own clinical-stage transcatheter mitral valve, Tiara, remains where it is. Arguably this might mean Neovasc remains a takeover target – but the Boston deal caused its shares to double in price, so it is now a more expensive fruit to pick.

Bicycle rides to Astra deal

December 1, 2016

Astrazeneca’s deal with Bicycle Therapeutics is the smaller UK group’s first big pharma collaboration, but it raises more questions than answers. All the companies will say is that they will identify and develop bicyclic peptides, known as Bicycles, for the treatment of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. According to privately held Bicycle, these peptides have the affinity and target specificity of antibodies, but in a small molecule format, allowing rapid tissue penetration and easier administration. But the groups are not disclosing which targets, or even how many, they will look at, and are also keeping quiet about the up-front deal value. If all goes well, Bicycle will be eligible for over $1bn, but most of this is surely in the form of biodollars that might never emerge. The agreement is outside Bicycle’s core oncology focus – its lead candidate is a Bicycle drug conjugate targeting membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), which is highly expressed in many solid tumours. Bicycle hopes to begin clinical testing in 2017. The company also signed a deal with ThromboGenics in 2013 to develop Bicycles for ophthalmic diseases.

Novo’s costly devotion to Tresiba

November 30, 2016

Novo Nordisk’s long-acting insulin Tresiba has once again proven itself as effective as Sanofi’s Lantus at lowering blood sugar, similarly benign on cardiac safety measures and better at preventing serious hypoglycaemic events, including those that happen at night. With FDA approval already in the bag, this positive readout from the Devote cardiovascular outcome study was to be expected. Novo now plans to get data on the control of hypoglycaemia on the label to help further differentiate it from Lantus, and hopefully grab market share. However considering that Tresiba is the most costly of the basal insulins and that US payers are already pivoting towards Eli Lilly’s Lantus knock-off, Basaglar, this is a bold stance to be taking. Diabetes is an increasingly price sensitive market. So Novo can argue as hard as it likes that its hypoglycaemia data is an important differentiator, but unless it can prove that Tresiba has a measurably different impact on mortality or morbidity endpoints, its price tag will be a big influence on its usage.

Biosurfit’s doctor’s office diabetes test hits Europe

November 30, 2016

Today’s CE mark approval means the 10-year-old Lisbon-based company Biosurfit can offer a point-of-care haemoglobin A1c test, allowing doctors to diagnose and monitor type 2 diabetes without having to collect and send blood samples to a central laboratory. The test is, like Biosurfit’s c-reactive protein and blood count tests, performed using the group’s Spinit instrument, and Biosurfit says this ought to allow “significant” cost savings as haematology, immunoassay and clinical chemistry tests can all be run on the same point-of-care machine. This claim should be music to investors’ ears, but in fact Biosurfit has not obtained a great deal of venture funding, with the last it announced being a €2m series B round in 2010. Since then it has sustained itself with a grant and last year obtained a loan of €12m from the European Investment Bank.

These snippets were previously published daily via twitter.

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