A roundup of some of the biggest stories coming out of the UK pharma industry, including AstraZeneca’s bid for cancer specialist Fusion Pharmaceuticals; the shutdown of Sanofi’s R&D site in Cambridge; the GBP 17.9 million initiative to boster UK clinical trials, and Obsidian Therapeutics’ USD 160.5 million Series C funding raise.


Britain sees launch of Lilly’s weight-loss drug Mounjaro (Reuters)

Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro is being launched in Britain, making the UK the fourth European country to introduce the highly-anticipated obesity drug.
British pharmacy and beauty chain Superdrug said that eligible private patients could seek prescriptions for Mounjaro, also approved for diabetes, through its Online Doctor, service.

The retail chain added, however, it would prioritise its stock of Mounjaro for National Health Service (NHS) patients, citing likely strong demand as indicated by the popularity of Novo Nordisk’s rival weight-loss drug Wegovy, which was introduced in the UK last year.


England won’t adopt EU river pollution rules for pharma and cosmetics firms (The Guardian)

New EU rules which introduce “polluter pays” principles to get pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies to pay for the pollution they cause in rivers will not be adopted by the government in England, as campaigners say the country is falling behind.

Lawmakers in Europe have signed off on an update to the urban waste water treatment (UWWT) directive, which is to further tighten restrictions on pollution. More nutrients from agricultural waste and sewage will have to be removed from waterways under the new rules. It also for the first time applies standards to micropollutants such as chemicals from pharmaceutical waste.


AstraZeneca to buy Canadian cancer specialist Fusion for $2.4bn (The Guardian)

Britain’s biggest drugmaker, AstraZeneca, is to buy a Canadian cancer specialist focused on next-generation treatments for $2.4bn (£1.9bn), the latest in a string of acquisitions made to strengthen its portfolio of new medicines.

The Anglo-Swedish company struck an agreement to acquire Fusion Pharmaceuticals, which is developing next-generation radioconjugates that offer an alternative to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It has emerged as a new type of cancer treatment in recent years, and delivers a radioactive isotope directly to cancer cells through precise targeting using molecules such as antibodies, peptides or small molecules.


Sanofi shutting down R&D site at UK biotech hub, displacing 90 workers (Fierce Biotech)

Sanofi will be closing the doors to a research facility in the biotech hub of Cambridge, U.K., a move that will impact around 90 people, a spokesperson for the French Pharma told Fierce Biotech.

The site previously belonged to antibody developer Kymab, a biotech that Sanofi acquired in 2021 for $1.1 billion upfront. The deal centered around an anti-OX40L monoclonal antibody designed to improve outcomes in patients with atopic dermatitis. That drug hit the main goals of a phase 2b trial last June, spurring talks of a phase 3 launch.


Positive pharma and biotech response to UK Budget proposals (The Pharma Letter)

The UK’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology trade groups welcomed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget to unlock investment in medical research and manufacturing that was announced on Wednesday.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) noted that drug manufacturing alone is responsible for £16.4 billion ($20.8 million) in GVA to the UK economy each year.


Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre network to bolster clinical trial infrastructure in the UK (BIA)

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Innovate UK, the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre Network and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) today announce a £17.9 million strategic initiative to enhance the UK environment for advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP) clinical trials and to keep the UK as a location of choice for advanced therapy research.

The initiative will provide a further four years of funding for the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre Network (ATTC Network). The funding will come from NIHR, Innovate UK will provide oversight of the funds and CGT Catapult provide co-ordination of the network.


GSK’s Jemperli shows promise in endometrial cancer trial (Clinical Trials Arena)

GSK has announced promising results from the Phase III RUBY/ENGOT-EN6/GOG3031/NSGO clinical trial of the programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1)-hindering antibody Jemperli (dostarlimab) in adults with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer.

The global, double-blind, randomised, multicentre trial consisted of two parts. Part I portion of the study has been designed to compare the effects of dostarlimab plus carboplatin-paclitaxel followed by dostarlimab against chemotherapy plus placebo, followed by placebo.


PrecisionLife and NATA announce R&D partnership to jointly develop new motor neurone disease (BIA)

The pioneering precision medicine company, PrecisionLife, and the MRC nucleic acid therapy research unit, NATA, today announce a collaboration to co-develop novel oligonucleotide therapies for sporadic ALS. The collaboration combines NATA’s expertise in NAT design and optimization with PrecisionLife’s deep understanding of complex disease biology and the mechanisms, drug targets and treatments that are relevant to specific ALS patient subgroups.

The target and mechanism of the first programme is predicted to have a prevalence amongst ALS patients of 15-30x that of SOD1 (the gene target for tofersen).


Obsidian Therapeutics rakes in $160M for solid tumor cell therapy program (Endpoints)

Obsidian Therapeutics announced Wednesday that it raised $160.5 million to push its tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) program further in clinical trials.

The Series C raise comes after Obsidian reported initial data from six patients with advanced melanoma who received its tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte cell therapy. With the new $160.5 million, Obsidian plans to push its TIL therapy, OBX-115, forward in multicenter studies in both melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer.