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Mid-Year Review of the Top Events in Advanced Therapies 2020

8 July 2020

IPOs, acquisitions, Covid-19 and more…

Well, what a choice of ‘events’ 2020 has given us so far but let’s stick to advanced therapies…

You’ll probably know that a staple part of Phacilitate’s annual meeting in Miami is the ‘Top Ten Events’ presentation which was delivered by Susan Nichols, CEO, Falcon Therapeutics back in January. We’ve decided to take stock mid-year and shine a light on some significant events for our industry that may or may not have been lost amongst what has been a tumultuous 2020.

You can watch the presentation here:

Thanks to Susan for her contribution to this, now let’s see how 2020 is faring so far…

1. Advanced Therapy IPOs are out of this world!
It’s an extremely positive sign to see that investment continues to pour into our industry. We’ve seen a number of filings from a range of therapeutics; Poseida (CAR-T), Nkarta (NK Cells), Generation Bio (gene therapy) and Inventiva (pan PPR-agonist).

Philadelphia-based gene therapy biotech Passage Bio also raised $216 million from their IPO early this year. This was $91 million more than the $125 million goal that was submitted in their filing.

The biggest IPO of the year so far, though, goes to China’s Legend Bio, who raised $424 million from 18.3 million shares, which came fresh off their ASCO myeloma data from the Phase Ib/II CARTITUDE-1 study.

2. Catalent acquisition of MasTherCell for $315m 
In February this year, Catalent finalised the purchase of MasTherCell for $315 million, extending their global reach in both the US and Europe, as well as adding further cell and gene therapy expertise to their portfolio.

We’ve seen consolidation happening steadily across the CDMO landscape and this is further proof of the continuation of this trend and the maturation of the advanced therapies industry, as more therapies move towards commercial-scale manufacturing needs.

3. Clinical trials stopped by pandemic 
It’s inescapable. Covid-19 has impacted our industry and it wouldn’t be a ‘2020 list’ without a mention.

Back in April, we asked our community how the pandemic was going to impact them and 79% said the biggest impact would be on clinical trials (you can see the full results here). At this point, 10% said that their clinical trials had already stopped completely, 30% were operating at half the capacity of pre-Covid and 60% said their clinical trials were slowing down.

Three months later and a researcher from the Berlin Institute of Health, Benjamin Gregory Carlisle, has dug deep into global clinical trial data across the board to find that 1,099 trials (44%)* have been halted by the coronavirus. While his results have not yet been peer-reviewed, we can assume that cell and gene therapy trials are being proportionally affected.

*Among the 2522 clinical trial registry entries on ClinicalTrials.gov that were suspended, terminated or withdrawn (“stopped”) between 2019-12-01 and 2020-05-05, 1099 (44%) were closed with a reported reason that explicitly mentioned Covid-19.

4. Cell therapy companies lead post-ASCO investment
ASCO 2020, like so many other big meetings, was virtual, but this didn’t dull the investment activity that normally follows in its wake. Cell therapy companies were the winners among this year’s big investments.

AdaptImmune’s presentation of phase I data for its TCR therpay ADP-A2M4 saw an investment of $226m in the following weeks. Allogene (CAR-T) and Iovance (TILs) also saw significant investment.

5. Collaborations, alliances and partnerships are our industry’s antidote to surviving the pandemic 
Partnerships and collaborations are the lifeblood of our industry and throughout this pandemic, that’s been a key feature in the collective response to Covid-19. We’ve seen a flurry of partnerships form, both in a Covid-specific capacity as well as ‘business as usual’ partnerships. These include:

  • Vertex Therapeutics and Affina Therapeutics
  • Dyno Therapeutics and Sarepta Therapeutics
  • VIVEBiotech and Xyphos
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Intella Therapeutics
  • Noga Therapeutics and Lonza
  • uniQure and CSL Behring
  • Fate Therapeutics and Janssen
  • Moderna and Lonza
  • Oxford Biomedica and AstraZeneca