Check Up: Samsung and Big Pharma give big thumbs up to biotech sector
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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A look into the strategies of global companies could offer crucial insights into what the next trend will be, or which direction a sector is heading towards.
In a sign that the biotech industry could be making a big rebound, global giant Samsung has just announced a US$360 billion investment over the next five years into microchips and drugs development programs.
Samsung promised to create 80,000 new jobs by 2026, mostly in semiconductors and biotech.
At last week’s BIO world biotech event at San Diego, Samsung Biologics said it will explore M&A opportunities to add cell therapy and mRNA production companies to its biotech portfolio.
“The Samsung Group has said biotechnology will be the second arm of growth beyond Samsung Electronics,” said Samsung Biologics CEO, John Rim.
“There’s a huge amount of focus and attention around that area. And South Korea is focused on biotechnology because they see that as an ongoing growth industry,” Rim added.
Samsung’s move comes as Big Pharma firms in the US and Europe have begun to spin off their sideline businesses to focus on drugs development.
GlaxoSmithKline, a UK pharma giant, has rebranded itself as pure play biopharma company by selling off its over-the-counter drugstore assets like Advil and Tums.
US-based General Electric will also spin off its healthcare operations, GE Healthcare, in 2023. The standalone public company is going to focus solely on precision health, which GE believes will position it better for long term growth.
Other pharma giants that have restructured their businesses recently to focus on discovering new drugs include Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Bristol Myers.
Pfizer completed its transformation to a pure-play biopharma in late 2020 when it spun off a division that sold off-patent drugs.
But according to experts, the new business model could be risky and backfire for some companies.
“By taking away stable revenue streams that cushioned the ups and downs of the drug-discovery business, it could turn Big Pharma stocks from buy-and-stuff-under-the-mattress blue chips into riskier bets,” said experts at Barron’s.
The strategy of focusing on core businesses has also been replicated in Australia, albeit it at a much lower scale.
Healius (ASX:HLS) for example, has said that it wants to advance its portfolio simplification as a diagnostics operator, after completing the sale of its Adora Fertility business this month.
To the ASX, where we have the list here of the best and worst performing ASX biotechs over the past week.
Respiri was up 32% this week after announcing that Brad Snow has been appointed as a non-executive director of the company.
Snow has 25 years of extensive commercial, operations and business development experience in mid-tech and biotechs in the US.
He is currently the CEO of and on the board of directors at Angel-Medical Systems Inc.
Recce advanced after reporting good safety and tolerability profiles among 10 healthy male subjects in its Phase 1 clinical trial of Recce-327 (R327).
The study is evaluating the safety and pharmacokinetics of R327 in 7 to 10 healthy subjects per dose, across eight sequential dosing cohorts.
Cohort 6, which dosed patients at 4,000mg and represented an 80-fold increase from Cohort 1 at 50mg, was completed this week.
An Independent Safety Committee will now review the Cohort 6 data, with a recommendation expected to progress the trial to the next level.
Protteomics jumped after securing an exclusive worldwide licence from QIMR Berghofer to commercialise biomarkers that can test for oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of oesophageal cancer.
The QIMR Berghofer intellectual property biomakers will now allow PIQ to develop and commercialise a simple blood test for oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
Proteomics CEO, Dr Richard Lipscombe, said the test would be targeted at patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, a pre-malignant condition associated with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer.
Race shot higher after a study of lead drug Zantrene in cancer immunotherapy has demonstrated positive results in a mouse model.
Interim results from Race’s preclinical melanoma research program have shown that Zantrene, when used in combination with immunotherapy, leads to shrinkage of mouse melanoma tumours that don’t respond to immunotherapy alone.
Used at low concentrations, Zantrene was found to enhance cancer immunotherapy in three ways.
First, it directly kills melanoma cells. Second, it activates immune cells positively for better targeting of tumours. And thirdly, it reduces the expression of immune evasion genes in the tumour.
Smartphone-based respiratory diagnostic maker, ResApp Health, was one of the worst performing healthcare stocks this week after plunging by 30%.
This came after the company announced that its cough app might need a bit of fine tuning.
An independent study released today revealed that ResApp’s COVID-19 cough algorithm achieved a sensitivity of only 84% and a specificity of 58%, significantly lower than the results of ResApp’s own pilot study.
They’re also significantly lower than the thresholds specified under the acquisition terms with Pfizer, which set a minimum sensitivity of 86% and a minimum specificity of 71%.
As a result, Pfizer’s acquisition price will now be reduced from 20.7c to 14.6 per ResApp share in cash, representing an equity value of $127 million.
Only a week earlier, RAP’s share price had jumped by 50% after Pfizer increased its offer to 20.7c, valuing the company at $180m.