Why A Spin-off Is A Win-Win For Big Pharma And Startups
Source: Life Science Leader
When Viela Bio spun out of MedImmune in March, it started with six assets — three in clinical trials and three in preclinical development — putting it ahead of most startups and many spin-offs. “Other spin-offs often are developing assets that have been shelved for various reasons or that have been deprioritized,” Bing Yao, Ph.D., CEO, notes. “But for Viela Bio, this is a continuation of the programs, not a handoff.”
Ensuring projects remain on track during the transition is Yao’s highest priority. Hiring the core team that developed these molecules at MedImmune was the best way to do that, along with contracting some transition work back to MedImmune. As a result, Viela Bio’s development team was up to speed from day one.
Viela Bio’s lead project, the Phase 2 trial of inebilizumab for neuromyelitis optica, is a case in point. “Nothing about the clinical trial has changed during the transition. The trial sites and the personnel supervising, conducting, and monitoring the studies remain intact.”
What has changed is the project’s priority. Even though inebilizumab has orphan drug status from the FDA and European Medicines Agency, “At MedImmune, it was one of hundreds of programs,” Yao says, and was in an area — autoimmune and inflammatory diseases — that was outside MedImmune’s core business focus. Advancing this program, however, was one of the main reasons Viela Bio was formed. “Because Viela Bio is smaller, we are able to focus our attention on it.”