Catalent-Paragon deal highlights the gene therapy rush. One of the most interesting gene therapy deals of the year was just announced—and you may have never even heard of either company. New Jersey’s Catalent is snatching up Baltimore-based Paragon in a proposed $1.2 billion cash bid. So what makes the deal special? Catalent, what’s known as a contract manufacturing organization (CMO) in the pharma world, is one of the larger third-party firms that drug makers rely on for their on-the-ground needs. These kinds of companies help scale complex treatments—and, with the Paragon deal, Catalent is making a clear play in the gene therapy development space. That makes sense; gene therapies are the kind of treatments that pharma companies absolutely need expert partners to manufacture if they’re ever going to make a profit off of them.
Medidata launches A.I. company. Life sciences tech firm Medidata has launched a new A.I.-centric firm called Acorn AI, the company announced Friday. This is one of a wave of all-purpose artificial intelligence upstarts that wants to shepherd drug makers from “molecule to market” with a healthy boost from algorithmic helpers. Some big names will be heading up Acorn, including former Medidata, FDA, and IBM Watson Health executives.