Thursday, May 07, 2009

Big Web 2.0 Technology Challenges

Big Web 2.0 Technology Challenges: Moderating Biotech, Pharma and Medical User-generated Content (UGC)

I know this post has jumped ahead in order of my planned posts on the technology challenges created in by Web 2.0. However, I recently had a few inquiries in this area (from friends, analysts and colleagues.) As such, I thought it would be beneficial to move this topic up in my series.

In general, moderation of UGC is not a simple prospect. Moderation of UGC in a regulated space is even tougher – especially in the very highly regulated biotech, pharmaceutical and medical industries (where regulation compliance is essentially intended to protect human life). Based on the sensitivity of this topic, it is worth diverting a little of your attention to some disclaimers and background information:

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Friday, March 27, 2009

UPDATE 1-Biogen Acquires Option for Aveo Cancer Drug Rights

Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O) has acquired an option to license the rights to certain experimental cancer drugs being developed by privately held Aveo Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen has the option to acquire ex-U.S. rights to Aveo's ErbB3-targeted antibodies. The option is exercisable following the results of mid-stage clinical trials, Aveo said on Tuesday.

ErbB3 is a tyrosine kinase receptor that belongs to the epidermal growth factor family of receptors which exist on the cell surface. Mutations or over-expression of genes in the EGFR family can lead to cancer.

Other EGFR inhibitors include Tarceva, which is marketed in the United States by Genentech Inc (DNA.N) and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc(OSIP.O), and Iressa, marketed by AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L).

Elan Ezickson, Aveo's chief business officer, said it will be "several years" before its ErbB3 antibodies reach Phase II trials. Biogen will review the results before deciding whether to exercise its option.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Aveo said it will receive an up-front payment and additional payments as certain development goals are met.

Biogen, one of the world's biggest biotech companies, makes the multiple sclerosis drugs Avonex and Tysabri and the cancer drug Rituxan.

Aveo, which is also based in Cambridge, expects shortly to also sign a partnership agreement for rights to its lead product, an oral drug known as AV-951 that is being developed initially for kidney cancer. The company expects to sign a deal before it goes into late-stage clinical trials later this year.

"We think of AV-951 as a "foundational" drug that can be used across many tumor types and in combination with other therapies," said Ezickson. "It is not a niche product."

As a result, Aveo is looking for a partner which already has a strong presence selling drugs in the solid tumor market, or a company that wants to get into the space and is willing to make a "significant commitment to development and commercialization to do so."

The transaction will likely be similar in structure to the Biogen deal, Ezickson said, with Aveo retaining U.S. rights.

There are no shortage of interested partners, he said.

"We view this as one of the most valuable late-stage assets in biotech today because it is a validated target, we have well over 300 patients treated, and it is a well-understood competitive environment," Ezickson said. "It is an unusual asset.

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